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TOGAF Architecture Building Blocks

TOGAF fundamental and critical components are the building blocks. A combination of these building blocks helps address specific business problems. TOGAF Architecture Building Blocks are reusable and modular components representing a particular aspect of enterprise architecture and serving as the foundation for designing and developing solutions.    

TOGAF is a popular enterprise architecture framework used by over 900 organisations worldwide, according to The Open Group. In this guide, we give a detailed overview of the TOGAF Architecture Building Blocks concept, including what they are and how they work.   

Table of Contents

1) Introduction to Building Blocks in TOGAF  

   a) Characteristics of good building blocks  

2) TOGAF Architecture Building Blocks: Explained   

   a) Relationship with Solution Building Blocks  

3) Conclusion  

Introduction to Building Blocks in TOGAF  

In the context of TOGAF Terminology, a building block is a basic package of functionality representing a specific aspect of an enterprise architecture. Building blocks serve as a fundamental unit of architecture design and development, describing the key elements of enterprise architecture and how they relate to one another.  

Building blocks are designed to be reused, enabling them to support common business needs across different architectures. Using building blocks, organisations can create a scalable and flexible enterprise architecture that can adapt to changing business needs.    

Building blocks aid in the simplification of the architecture design process, allowing organisations to concentrate on core business functions and processes while ensuring that all aspects of the architecture are aligned with business objectives and goals.   

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Characteristics of good building blocks  

According to TOGAF, good building blocks have the following characteristics   

a) Considers implementation and usage   

b) Exploits technology and standards as it evolves   

c) Can be assembled from other building blocks   

d) Can be a sub-assembly of other building blocks   

e) Reusable   

f) Well-specified    

g) Replaceable   

Depending on the architectural development stage, the building blocks can be defined in detail. Some building blocks can only contain a group of functionalities at some stages. For instance, some blocks can only comprise a group of functionalities like customers' data and a few retrieval tools during the early stages of their development. Building blocks at this level of functionality are described as the Architecture Building Blocks (ABB) by TOGAF.   

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TOGAF Architecture Building Blocks: Explained  

Architecture Building Blocks (ABBs) are core components designed to be reusable and generic, which means they can be used across multiple solutions. They are the foundation of enterprise architecture and represent key elements independent of specific solutions. ABBs are typically defined at a high level of abstraction and are used to capture the enterprise's key business requirements, goals, and objectives.   

ABBs are related to the Architecture Continuum and are defined and selected through the Architecture Development Method (ADM). They capture requirements regarding data, technology, application and business architecture.  

According to the TOGAF, the Architecture Building Blocks have the following characteristics:  

a) It defines the functionality that will be implemented  

b) Captures technical and business requirements  

c) It will guide the development of Solutions Building Blocks (SBB)  

d) These are reusable components that can be used across multiple solutions in an enterprise architecture.   

e) Abstract and generic.   

f) They have a modular design, meaning they can be combined or assembled in various ways to create different solutions. 

The Architecture Building Blocks will minimum have the following specifications: 

a) A distinguishing name that identifies the ABB and description of its purpose, scope, and function.    

b) It may be dependent on other ABBs or enterprise architecture components.    

c) Follows a set of architectural standards and principles that govern the enterprise architecture's design and development.     

d) Attributes describing its characteristics include performance, security, scalability, and manageability.     

e) ABBs should have a designated owner who oversees maintaining and updating the ABB.   

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Relationship with Solution Building Blocks  

Relationship of Architecture Building Blocks with SBB

There is a close relationship between ABB and SBB. Let's look at an example to get a better understanding. In the image above, the ABB is a specification for a web server. Several possible web servers applications, like Apache Tomcat and Jetty, are available on the market. These web server applications are SBBs. These are specific components used in the implementation or delivery of a solution. SBBs are built upon ABBs and are intended to meet the specific requirements of a solution.    

SBBs are usually more detailed than ABBs and eventually replace the basic functionalities of ABBs with specific solutions or real products. SBBs are related to the Solutions Continuum and may be procured or custom developed. An understanding of  TOGAF Architecture Principles help in exploring the relationship with the SBBs. 

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TOGAF Architecture Building Blocks are critical components of enterprise architecture because they provide a modular and scalable framework for designing and developing solutions. Organisations can create a flexible and adaptable enterprise architecture that aligns with business objectives and goals by incorporating the minimum specifications and characteristics of ABBs. 

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