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Re: [ontolog-forum] the Zachman Enterprise Ontology

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "doug foxvog" <doug@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2011 17:05:57 -0400 (EDT)
Message-id: <64754.>
On Tue, October 11, 2011 11:09, marc.l.walker@xxxxxx said:
> I was asked a question the other day and as I don't think I reached a
> satisfactory answer  I thought I would seek more learned opinion and post
> the question to this board. The question I was asked was "what does it
> mean when the new Zachman framework declares itself as an ontology and
> specifically the Enterprise Ontology" and to quote the Zachman.com website
> "the Framework is the ontology for describing the Enterprise"    (01)

Unfortunately, there are multiple definitions of the word "ontology" in IT.
The now standard one is "a formal, explicit specification of a shared
conceptualization".  A far weaker one, "an explicit specification of
conceptualization", does not require an ontology to be logically formal
or for a shared conceptualization.  The new Zachman framework fits the
second definition, but not the first.    (02)

Then new framework is basically a cross product of the standard set of
media questions (as a vector) crossed with a set of "audience perspectives"
http://www.zachman.com/images/ZI_PIcs/ZF3.0.jpg with both the columns and
rows being mapped to different words so that the cell names and names of
nodes and links in graphs for that node can be generated by appending the
term from the audience perspective to the term from the question word.    (03)

Column Name   Cell Modifier    Node name     Link name
Who           Responsibility   Role          Work Product
What          Inventory        Entity        Relationship
Where         Distribution     Location      Connection
When          Timing           Interval      Moment
How           Process          Transform     Input/Output
Why           Motivation       End           Means    (04)

Row  Name     Cell Name        Node & Link modifier
  Management  Definition       Business
Architect     Representation   System
Engineer      Specification    Technology
Technician    Configuration    Tool
Enterprise    Instantiations   Operations
Executive     Identification      List of "Types" instead of graph    (05)

E.g. the cell in the Architect Perspective row and How column is named
"Process Representation" and has a graph of "System Transform" nodes
connected by "System Input/Output" links.  The cell at the intersection
of What and Executive Perspective is named "Inventory Identification"
and has a list of "Inventory Types".    (06)

This is certainly "an explicit specification of conceptualization",
but it is not a logically formal specification.    (07)

> So what does something have to be to call itself an ontology and perhaps
> more so in the commercial sector. Don't get me wrong as I have a lot of
> respect for the work John Zachman has done and I have used the framework
> on several occasions as an aid to strategy and architecture.  I was
> unfortunately unable to say to my colleague that I thought it represented
> a formal ontology in the way I am familiar with.  I explained that I
> worked for three years on an ontology that had undergone over 10 years of
> research, testing  and construction in Protégé and that it was formally
> accepted by public bodies in the UK and is in active use in the health
> sector. There are other major ontologies that have undergone similar if
> not more effort to construct. Yet without that formal approach how are you
> able to depend upon the model?    (08)

> So our discussion lead to several conclusions;    (09)

> 1/ Perhaps the Zachman Framework is enough in itself to be called an
> ontology as why should it have to be developed with an ontology editor and
> undergo formal construction and reviews and acceptance by a public body
> (maybe it has and this is not in the public domain). It is not the kind of
> ontology developed in the science fields and used for example in the
> health sector.  Zachman International is a private company and thus is
> free to declare what it wants.    (010)

It doesn't fit the most standard definition of an IT ontology.  It does
fit a far looser definition, but that does not mean that it is useful
for logical processing or the Semantic Web.    (011)

> 2/ The Zachman framework is more of a metamodel and collection of concepts
> that a company then licences the Framework to build their own enterprise
> ontology. This of course places all of the hard work on the company unless
> Zachman International plans to provide an OWL or Frames ontology  in the
> future.    (012)

Sure, it is a metamodel.  I'm not sure what can be licensed or not.    (013)

> 3/ Finally, a more controversial conclusion that this is not enough and is
> more of a marketing ploy to capitalise on the increasing interest in the
> commercial sector in ontologies and the semantic web.    (014)

I am shocked that someone would consider that an entity in the commercial
sector would use a marketing ploy.  8)#    (015)

-- doug foxvog    (016)

> Perhaps I am viewing this incorrectly and being too formal in my thinking.
> I would be grateful for any thoughts that might provide a better
> conclusion.
> Thanks,
> Marc    (017)

doug foxvog    doug@xxxxxxxxxx   http://ProgressiveAustin.org    (018)

"I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great
initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours."
    - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
=============================================================    (019)

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