Data Architecture

Every business, small or large SHOULD have a data architecture. In the core a data architecture gives the overview and insights into the only one real value of your IT: Information. A data architecture gives overviews, visuals and describes e.g.:

  • What data is used where and how.
  • Who owns what data.
  • How is information created from data sources.
  • Internal and external data sources used.
  • Privacy & Security aspects of data (so be sure to have an data owner)
  • What structures, objects and relations are the core of your information model?

Tools for creating a data architecture

To speed up the process for creating a data architecture you SHOULD use tools. Below is a selection of tools that will speed up the process of creating your data architecture. Be aware that data modelling and database design are two very different activities.  The emphase for a data architecture SHOULD be on the conceptual and logical data models. In general  physical data models are related to the sql or nosql storage engine used, in combination with scalability(performance) and security requirements.

  • Data Principles. Using data principles saves you time and cost. Especially in the long term. Selecting data principles you need in your project of a solid collection gives you a head start.
  • Protégé. Protégé is a free, open source ontology editor and knowledge-base framework. This open-source ontology editor and framework can be used for for building intelligent systems. The tool is developed by the Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research and has a large and active community of users and developers.
  • Archi.  Archi™ GUI tool for creating an architecture, using the ArchiMate modelling™ language. Since Archi is targeted to all architecture aspects, this tool is usuable for creating conceptual, logical and physical data models too.
  • WWW SQL Designer.  This tool allows you to draw and create database schemas (E-R diagrams) directly in browser. A physical data model (sql) can also be imported and adjusted visually.
  • MySQL Workbench. MySQL Workbench enables a DBA, developer, or data architect to visually design, model, generate, and manage databases. It includes everything a data modeler needs for creating complex ER models, forward and reverse engineering, and also delivers key features for performing difficult change management and documentation tasks that normally require much time and effort.
  • JSON Schema. Nice short book that gives you help with creating your JSON Schema.


Data Architecture Templates

To speed up the process of create your data architecture you SHOULD make use of standardized open templates. The following templates are provided:

Business Architecture

A Business Architecture defines the structure of your organization in terms of its governance structure, business processes, business services and products, business information and stakeholders. A business architecture outlines the relation to strategic goals towards a working system. So in short a business architecture can be regarded as a blueprint of the working of an organization. By using a business architecture your organisation can handle changes and problems with less cost and in less time since you know all the important dependencies, relation and information flows.  Every successful organisation, small or large, SHOULD have a business architecture. A business architecture does not have to be fully descriptive, complete or created among a certain standard. Designing organisations and describing the working of an organisation is know to be complex and hard. However simple tools exist to create a meaningful business architecture for your organisation.

This section is created to speed up the process for creating a real business architecture.

You can use one of the following tools:

  • Business architecture template(s)
  • (Re)use  business principles
  • Modelling your business processes
  • Defining your business products

Tools for creating a business architecture

To speed up the process of creating your business architecture you can make use of one of the following tools:

  • (Generic) Business principles
  • Archi.  Archi™ GUI tool for creating a business architecture using the ArchiMate modelling™ language. The Archi tool is targeted toward all levels of Architects. The tool is MIT Licensed, so it provides a low cost solution to users who are looking for a free, open ArchiMate modelling tool.
  • Camunda Modeler. Camunda Modeler is an OSS desktop application for editing BPMN process diagrams(2.0) and DMN decision tables. It is very easy to use, which means that business analysts can use it as well as developers, working on the same diagrams. Camunda Modeler is part of an open source platform for workflow and business process management. So when you use the Camunda suite you can also use the execution engine for your processes you have modelled.
  • Protégé. Protégé is an OSS web or desktop application that can be used for building business ontologies.

Business architecture templates

Creating a business architecture means doing real business research. However for a quality business architecture it make sense to make use of a draft template. From a template you can easily add, remove or change subjects that need special attention within your context. Also since architecture documents always should be created for a clear business goal and to be used by different stakeholders, all quality documents SHOULD contain some default reusable text blocks.


Using business viewpoints

Viewpoints can provide benefit to address specific concerns for certain stakeholders. Below a list of most used viewpoint within a business architecture:

  • Motivation view: describes what the business achieves for itself and its stakeholders (direct and indirect value).
  • Capability view: describes how the business delivers direct and indirect value in response to the challenges of the environment.
  • Activity view: describes the day-to-day behaviour of the business.
  • Responsibility view: captures the relationships between individuals and organizations in terms of responsibilities and commitments. These  relationships and organizational interfaces may be represented as business services.

Help for creating a business architecture




Smart people have been thinking on how to create IT architectures as long as there has been computers. Ideas come and go, however creating a good architectures can still be complex and time consuming. Especially when you try to invent the wheel for yourself. With this interactive playbook you can create your IT architecture better and faster. The focus of this architecture playbook is in on:

  1. Knowledge reuse. Why reinvent the wheel again? It is far and more fun to create a better wheel for your organisation or IT project instead! Focus on the hard complex context specific issues. Use good open tools and knowledge for the easy 80%!
  2. Easier creation of architecture documents and deliverables. This playbook has an extensive list of all(*) open tools available for creating your IT architecture or design. Using these open tools will speed up the process of creating your architecture deliverables and reduce your risks.
  3. Quality improvement. By making use of content parts provided for various architecture deliverables you will lower your business risks. Complex business IT projects will fail. Now and in future. But if you make use of proven methods and tools developed from decades of IT architecture scientific research you will lower the risk for your project. Architecture will help to make your projects more successful in terms of costs, speed and profitability.

(*) If you miss a good open tool that is also usable for IT architecture creation, do not hesitate to contribute to this open publication!

This architecture playbook is divided in the commonly used architecture sections:

  • Business
  • Data
  • Applications and of course
  • Technology Infrastructure (TI)

This playbook is primarily created for on-line usage. But also ePUB and PDF versions are available.


Why this architecture playbook?

Creating a business IT architecture has many benefits. However creating a complete architecture is known to be:

  • Difficult
  • Time consuming

Of course many tools have been developed the last 30 years to make creating architecture (documents) easier. However many tools force you into a very tight harness without the needed flexibility. Complex problems need flexible solutions and tools should not slow you down in creating sketches, documents and typical architecture deliverables. A one size fits tool for solving complex business IT problems does not exist. And since creating good architectures is knowledge intensive work that delivers real value for business you should be aware of vendor lock-ins and using methods and tools that do not share knowledge sharing. Open Source tools and open access documentation offer a default head start for reuse and improvement of knowledge work in IT architecture.

You can buy and read many many books on how to do architecture well. All books claim a magic method and promise ultimate success when followed. We love books and reading methods. E.g. TOGAF.  However this playbook is different. This architecture playbook is not about describing how you should create your architecture. You are free to use every method you want. This architecture playbook is all about giving you direct usable content and tools that you can use and reuse for your architecture challenge.

So this playbook brings you ultimate freedom and flexibility. You can export the results from certain tools in any desired format. In this way you can still use your architecture enterprise tool(s) that you already have invested deeply in. So use the outcome of tools within this playbook in combination with the enterprise architecture tool that are mandatory within your organisation.


What is in this architecture playbook?

Many good books and courses already exist that cover the why and how of (Enterprise) IT architecture. So this book will not explain aspects and concepts of the very broad field of IT architecture. This playbook is targeted on providing practical tools for creating your IT architecture or design faster and better. So the focus is 100% on the real thing by using the following leading principles:

  1. Tools that speed up creating your business IT Architecture.
  2. Templates ready to use for creating business IT Architecture documents.
  3. Collections of principles, requirements, standards and reference architecture that speed up the creation of your architecture deliverable.
  4. Collection of various Architecture OSS Tools that speed up creating your business IT architecture.
  5. Collection of architecture QA  tools to control and manage your IT projects.
  6. Collection of reusable reference architectures, foundation architecture, architecture journals and more. Knowing where you can find what in an easy way will reduce your time. So you will have more time to spend on solving your problem in your organization.


Caution: This architecture playbook contains OPEN material only!

This architecture playbook is created to be open. This means that:

  1. This architecture playbook is licensed using a liberal license (CC-BY-SA). This means that you can reuse remix, transform, and build upon the material in this architecture playbook for any purpose.
  2. All tools mentioned within this architecture playbook are licensed under a OSS license and all documents referenced to is licensed under an CC license whenever possible.

This gives you the opportunity to reuse and mix content from this architecture playbook the way you want. This also means that all tools mentioned to in this architecture playbook are open and free to use without costs. We believe that sharing tools and knowledge, especially knowledge for making better architectures SHOULD be free. If you want to host this Architecture Playbook on your own company site, Intranet or just want to have more information on the OSS tools: Contact Us, or visit the github repository.

Using the templates

The various templates can be downloaded in html or depending on your browser preferences directly opened in another browser tab. The templates can be easily used within various office suites (e.g. MSWord, OpenOffice, GoogleDocs). When you press [CTRL+A] and [CTRL+C] and paste the complete content into your favourite text editor with [CTRL+V] you can directly work on the various sections as outlined in the template. In case you need the template in another format of have other questions regarding using the templates: Just contact us!

Notational Conventions

This architecture playbook uses the key words “MUST”, “MUST NOT”, “REQUIRED”, “SHALL”, “SHALL NOT”, “SHOULD”, “SHOULD NOT”, “RECOMMENDED”, “MAY”, and “OPTIONAL”. This key words are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119. Using these key words gives clarity and avoids confusion.

Serverless Architecture

Staying up to date in the complex field of business IT trends is hard. Since I felt my knowledge of the  AWS (Amazone Web Services) Cloud portfolio was no longer up to date I was happy to have the opportunity to visit the 2016 AWS Global Summit organised on the May 24 in the Netherlands. The number of visitors that this AWS Summit attracted was far beyond my expectations. But since this was my first AWS Summit experience I did not really know what to expect of course. Continue reading “Serverless Architecture”

Rapid Application Development and Architecture

Programming web applications and creating IT systems has long been a complex and slow job. Following the usual software engineering life cycles the development phase could not start before requirements were written, architecture was approved and a lot of Unified Modeling Language (UML) diagrams were drawn. So even before the project produced something of value tons of documentation was produced.

Due to the success of agile software development methods as e.g. scrum and devops often architects grown up with traditional development approaches, are experienced as a barrier for speeding up. So the role of traditional IT architects and architecture for creating solid design documentation has become under immense pressure. Continue reading “Rapid Application Development and Architecture”

How Security Personas will help you

One of the tools of IT architects and UX designers is to work with so called ‘Personas’. Personas are fictional characters created to represent the different user types that might use a system, website, product or service. Using personas is common practice when dealing with UX design. But when developing a security architecture for a new system, service or website security personas are also valuable to use. Security Personas force you to think different about the goals and behaviour of attackers that are going to hit your system. Continue reading “How Security Personas will help you”

Complex attack vectors

Good security is goal oriented. A good security architecture is tailored to your situation.
When defining a product or new (IT) service one of the key activities is to define your specific security requirements. Defining requirements is known to be hard, time consuming and complex. Especially when you have an iterative development cycles and you do not have yet a clear defined view of your final product or service to be created. Continue reading “Complex attack vectors”