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A framework for information systems architecture

Award plaque by J. A. Zachman

With increasing size and complexity of the implementations of information systems, it is necessary to use some logical construct (or architecture) for defining and controlling the interfaces and the integration of all of the components of the system. This paper defines information systems architecture by creating a descriptive framework from disciplines quite independent of information systems, then by analogy specifies information systems architecture based upon the neutral, objective framework. Also, some preliminary conclusions about the implications of the resultant descriptive framework are drawn. The discussion is limited to architecture and does not include a strategic planning methodology.

Originally published:

IBM Systems Journal, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp. 276-292 (1987).


This paper describes a fundamental conceptual framework on which to build an architecture for information systems which support complex business enterprises. Using concepts commonly understood in the design and construction of buildings, a framework for describing data, processes, and networks is shown for models of the business, information system, technology, and the implementation of the technology. This framework indicates the differing views of the architecture and shows the relationship of business models to models of information systems.

This paper is one of the most highly cited papers ever published in the IBM Journals.


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