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WICSA5 - Ontology-Based Architecture
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  1. WICSA5 - Ontology-Based Architecture Art Akerman & Jeff Tyree November 9, 2005

  2. Key Realizations (Based on Capital One experience with software architecture) • Architecture decisions are the primary representation of architecture • Architecture results from effective decision making, not from architectural view construction* • Architecting is primarily concerned with architecture assets, the business-driven decisions that transform these assets, and the roadmap that implements these decisions. *J. Tyree and A. Akerman, "Architecture Decisions: Demystifying Architecture," IEEE Software, vol. 22, pp. 19-27, March. 2005

  3. Problems with our current architecture development method & descriptions • Lack of Focus on What’s Important • Lack of Precision and Clarity • Lack of Repository Support • Lack of Support for Impact Analysis (Decisions to Concerns, Decisions to Decisions, and Decisions to Architecture Assets) • Difficulty in Linking with the Views • Lack of Support for Temporal Mapping

  4. Solution • Architecture meta-model • Focus on “information about architecture that an organization cares about” instead of diagrams and views. Architecture is captured as an ontology. • Tool support to enable effective decision making and “on-demand” view creation

  5. Conceptual Architecture Meta-Model

  6. Architecture Meta-Model (Details) • Concerns • Decisions • Roadmap • Assets

  7. Ontology Tool – Protégé • Open source • Easy to use interface • Plug-ins and scripting – can use to extend functionality and to import / export data

  8. Simple Process Utilizing Ontology to Develop Architecture • Populate model with Key Concerns • Populate model with existing architecture assets • Define placeholders for architecture decisions • Create appropriate diagrams (As-Is and Target) to help visualize aspects of architecture • Define architecture decisions • Assign implications to initiatives or projects • Generate architecture documentation

  9. Step 1 – Populate model with Key Concerns • Identify key concerns to be addressed by architecture • Impacted business processes (AKA capabilities) • Key business (functional) requirements • System qualities (AKA non-functional requirements)

  10. Step 2 – Populate model with existing architecture assets • Existing systems in scope • Existing interfaces between systems • Physical nodes and systems allocated to them • Major data elements and systems which manage them

  11. Step 3 – Define placeholders for architecture decisions • Create a list of decision placeholders by making sure that each concern is addressed by at least one decision. Decision status – “Under Construction” • Determine decision impact (based on urgency to make a decision, its impact on ongoing planning activities, etc.) • Each placeholder can be assigned to a member of architecture team.

  12. Step 4 – Create appropriate diagrams (As-Is and Target) to help visualize aspects of architecture • Business process flows (ARIS) • IT System View (Visio) • Operational View (Visio)

  13. Step 5 – Define architecture decisions • Start with “High” impact placeholder decisions and populate them with data in the model (assumptions, alternatives, etc) • After you select an alternative to become your final decision write the implications. • Create new decision placeholders for implications which require additional decisions. Determine impact level of new decisions. • Define how implications impact architecture assets (create, modify, retire, use). Create new assets as required (systems, interfaces) • When done with all “High” impact decisions, move to “Medium” and then “Low”

  14. Step 6 – Assign implications to initiatives or projects • Create list of initiatives, assign projects to them • Each decision implication, which is not addressed by another decision, should be assigned to an initiative or project to be implemented* *For agile projects associate implications with project backlog items. Backlog items then get associated with sprints

  15. Step 7 – Generate architecture documentation* • Architecture Decisions document • Generate architecture decision using template format • Architecture Overview document • Generate list of systems and interfaces • Generate list of business processes (capabilities) and decisions addressing them • Data entities to systems mapping • NFRs to decisions mapping • Operational Model • Logical to physical nodes mapping *First export Protégé data into SQL database and the use VBA / SQL Queries to generate documentation