I hope this letter finds you well.
As shepherd of the ArchiMate standard, you are currently working on its next iteration. As I am not part of the ArchiMate Forum, I am going to send you a few open letters with suggestions for improvement of the language and what to do an not to do. I will be voicing some stern/harsh criticisms on ArchiMate in these letters, please don’t take it personal, I’m only interested in strengthening the language which I already find useful as it is. And I apologise beforehand for my language here and there.
Today, I want to write to you about the small issue of the names of a few elements.
I suspect that the Used-By relation will be renamed to an active verb form. I recall having seen this in a LinkedIn discussions a while ago.
If you’re at it, you might also change the names of some other elements.
A major candidate for this is System Software. This name has been carried over from before ArchiMate 1, when it was positioned as the behaviour of hardware (operating systems a long time ago were seen as the software that manages the hardware and makes it behave in a certain way).
In ArchiMate 2, the element became an active element (as a full sibling of Device) and Infrastructure Function was added to model behaviour in that layer. This was an improvement. Now, the standard says:
System software is a specialization of a node that is used to model the software environment in which artifacts run.
May I (as a first step) suggest that the best term for this is Platform (or maybe Software Platform — given that Device is a Hardware Platform)? It would really be helpful if the element was named away from the time that it more or less stood for an operating system. I now have to explain to people that a database system (or any other platform) according to ArchiMate is “system software”. That is awkward, to say the least, and though it is a small matter, things like this really have a negative effect on people starting with the language.
We should probably go a step further. Is everything that is considered ‘infrastructure layer software’ a platform? I suspect not. A database that does not support embedded programmer-defined logic is not a platform in the above sense, just a way to access passive data.
So, maybe it is even better to rename System Software to Infrastructure Software. And then it would be clean to rename Application Component to Application Software if you’re up to it. Given that you’re probably also going to add some way to model the physical side of enterprise and not only the data-manipulating side, this is well doable.
I think “Infrastructure Component” would be a confusing new name for System Software, as it kind of overlaps with Node. Maybe, it is better to rename Node to Infrastructure Component (so it is the infra-variant of Application Component) and rename Device too. That would give us the following cleaned-up set:
- Infrastructure Component (formerly: Node)
- Infrastructure Software (or Software Platform. Formerly: System Software)
- Infrastructure Hardware (or Hardware Platform. Formerly: Device)
- Infrastructure Function
- Infrastructure Service
- Infrastructure Interface
- Application Component
- Application Function
- Application Service
- Application Interface
Infrastructure Hardware would cover the basics of the IT world hardware: storage, network, compute and any specialised combination of these (such as a desktop PC, smartphone hardware, or a network router).
It all depends a bit on how you’re going to address the physical side of organisations which is the best fit (e.g. in some variants you may end up with Application Software and Application Hardware below Application Component, where the current Application Component has changed to Application Software).
But at least, drop the really outdated name of System Software.
Former Lead Architect of APG Asset Management and of the Dutch Judiciary
Team Coordinator Architecture & Design at the All Pension Group (APG)
Author of Mastering ArchiMate and Chess and the Art of Enterprise Architecture
PS. High brow enterprise architects seldom pay much attention to infrastructure. They’re busy ‘architecting enterprises’ and the infrastructure is way to far down in the muck for their taste. So, I suspect this part of ArchiMate is getting far less attention than the rest. Maybe that is why nobody ever made a problem of this last-century terminology. But I can tell you: infrastructure is hot, these days, cloud, software defined anything and all. The business and application layer, application rationalisation and such (note, the link gets you to a story on InfoWorld where ArchiMate is mentioned!), are so much yesterday’s news, really… 😉