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Introduction to Concepts

Learning ArchiMate Part 6 – Introduction to Concepts

Published: November 11, 2013
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The ArchiMate Business Layer: Introduction to Concepts

ArchiMate layers were introduced in Part 1 of this series, and Part 5 provided a bit more detail on how they benefit enterprise architects.

Please click through to the Interactive Appendix for examples of how to use ArchiMate elements.

The Business, Application, and Technology Layers are broken down into three types of concepts: Passive Structure, Behavior, and Active Structure.

  • Passive structure elements are written to and read from Active structure elements.
  • Behavior elements describe the transaction between the Active and Passive structure elements as well as between Active structure elements. Examples of Passive structure elements include contracts, data objects, and products.
  • Actors, roles, collaboration, and others represent active structure elements.

Functions, processes, and events are some of the elements that represent Behavior structure elements.

The following sections cover the many aspects of the Business, Application, and Technology layers in ArchiMate.

Business Layer Structural Concepts

The ArchiMate Business Layer identifies the concepts and relationships at the highest level of the enterprise architecture: the end product and the customer delivery system. This part of the architecture represents the realization of the goals and requirements of the senior executives, which motivate the implementation of an enterprise architecture framework.

The following list is accompanied by the ArchiMate graphic with which it is associated.

ArchiMate Banner

ArchiMate Structural Elements/ Structural Concepts

The structural aspect of the Business Layer is the static structure of an organization. In other words, it shows the entities that make up the organization and the relationships between them.

Structure is the focus of many architectural descriptions.

There are two types of structural entities:

  1. Active entities are the subjects (e.g., actors or roles) that perform behavior such as business processes or functions. Business actors may be individual persons (e.g., customers or employees), groups of people (organization units), or resources that have a permanent or long-term status within the organization
  2. Passive entities (Business Objects) are manipulated by behavior, such as business processes or functions. The passive entities represent the important concepts with which the business thinks about a domain

Architectural descriptions focus on structure, and so the inter-relationships of entities within an organization play an important role. This is represented by the concept of ‘Business Collaboration’.

Business Collaborations were inspired by collaborations as defined in the UML 2.0 standard, although the UML collaborations apply to components in the application layer. ArchiMate’s Business Collaboration concept also has a strong resemblance to the ‘community’ concept as defined in the RM-ODP Enterprise Language, as well as to the ‘interaction point’ concept, which is defined in Amber as the place where interactions occur.

The Business Interface concept explicitly models how locations (both logical and physical) and channels can access the services that a role offers. The same service may be offered on a number of different interfaces, such as by mail, by telephone, or via the internet.

Please click through to the Interactive Appendix for examples of how to use these elements.

Active structural elements

  • Business Actor – an organizational entity that is capable of performing a behavior

A business actor performs the behavior assigned to Business Roles. A business actor is an organizational entity as opposed to a technical entity: it belongs to the Business Layer. Actors may, however, include entities outside the actual enterprise, such as customers and partners. Examples of business actors include humans, departments, and business units. A business actor may be assigned to one or more Business Roles.

business actor
  • Business Role – a defined responsibility that authorizes an actor to perform actions

Business processes and business functions are assigned to a single Business Role with certain responsibilities or skills. A business actor who is assigned to a Business Role ultimately performs the corresponding behavior. In addition to the relation of a Business Role with behavior, a Business Role is also useful in an organizational sense, such as in the division of labor within an organization. A Business Interface or an application interface may be used by a Business Role, while a Business Interface may be part of a Business Role.

business role
  • Business Collaboration – an aggregate of two or more Business Roles that work together to perform collective behavior

A Business Collaboration is a (possibly temporary) collection of roles within an organization that performs collaborative behavior (interactions). Unlike a department, which may also include group roles, a Business Collaboration does not have an official (permanent) status within the organization. Instead, it is aimed at a specific interaction or set of interactions between roles.

A Business Collaboration may be composed of a number of Business Roles and may be assigned to one or more business interactions. A Business Interface or an application interface may be used by a Business Collaboration. A Business Collaboration may also have Business Interfaces (through the composition relationship).

Business Collaboration
  • Business Interface – a point of access where a business service is made available to the environment

A Business Interface exposes the functionality of a business service to other Business Roles or expects functionality from other business services. It is often referred to as a channel (telephone, internet, local office, etc.). The same business service may be exposed through different interfaces.

A Business Interface may be part of a Business Role through a composition relationship, which is not shown in the standard notation. A Business Interface may also be used by a Business Role. A Business Interface may be assigned to one or more business services, which means that these services are exposed by the interface.

Business Interface
  • Location – where in physical space actors reside

The Location concept is used to model the distribution of structural elements such as business actors, application components, and devices. This is modeled by means of an assignment relationship from Locations to structural elements. Indirectly, a Location can also be assigned to a behavior element to indicate where the behavior is performed.

Business InterfacePassive structural elements

  • Business Object – an element of a system upon which the system operates

Business Objects represent the important ‘informational’ or ‘conceptual’ elements in which the business thinks about a domain. Generally, a Business Object is used to model an object type (cf. a UML class) of which several instances may exist within the organization. A wide variety of types of Business Objects can be defined. Business Objects are passive in the sense that they do not trigger or perform processes.

Business Objects may be accessed by a business process, function, business interaction, business event, or business service. A Business Object may have association, specialization, aggregation, or composition relationships with other Business Objects. A Business Object may be realized by a representation or by a data object (or both).

Business ObjectConclusion

This article covered the structural concepts of the ArchiMate Business Layer, which describes the static structure of an organization represented by entities making up the organization and the relationships between them. The Business Layer is the part of the ArchiMate model that represents the closest level of a business to the customer, but its concepts are also relevant to internal-facing organizations.

Next time…

The next article explains the Behavioral concepts of the Business Layer.