Rethinking Zachman – the 'Where' column

Next column to the right on the amended Zachman framework is ‘Where‘.

Zachman describes this as ‘node / line’, and “the locations relevant to the organisation”, which is fair enough as long as we expand the meaning of ‘node’, ‘location’ and ‘line’ (or ‘link’) to cover the broader range of ‘What’-type segments:

  • physical: geographic locations, building/room-numbers and other physical locations
    • model-types: logistics maps, schematics, map-coordinates, etc
  • virtual: network locations, IP addresses, web-addresses, Java-style code-addresses, telephone numbers
    • model-types: network-maps, network-coordinates, number-allocation maps, address-hierarchies, file-hierarchies etc
  • relational: relative locations for people
    • model-types: social-network maps, reporting-relationship matrices, etc
  • aspirational and/or abstract: value-webs, dependencies
    • model-types: Porter value-chains, dependency-trails, audit-trails, etc

As with the How column, we’ll often find composites across the segments, for example:

  • IT network map, showing both physical and virtual relationships of servers, routers etc
  • organisation/region map, showing physical and relational locations of key staff or business units
  • logistics value-web map, showing physical and value-step (aspirational/abstract) locations in multi-partner value-chains

In any case, we’ll usually find ‘Where’ as part of a complex composite with What, How and other columns, for example:

  • org-chart: role (Who) plus relationships (Where » relational); sometimes geographic location (Where » physical), also actual person (What » relational)
  • full IT-network map: physical (Where » physical) and IP addresses (Where » virtual) of servers, routers etc, with hardware IDs (What » physical) and roles (Who » relational) or persons (What » relational) responsible for their maintenance, and identifiers for the applications (How » virtual) that run on them

As before, we need to be able to separate out the Where primitives from the others in the composites as required, so as to be able to re-use architecturally the same patterns elsewhere.

The ‘link’ relationships of the primitive are fairly straightforward: as we move downward through the Zachman rows, we can the same kind of expanding decompositions as for What, without the primitive-to-composite complications we met in the How column.

Not hard, anyway. The item at a location is usually some kind of What, and hence usually making some kind of composite with Where; but the primitive Where is location – in whatever form that location might take.

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