Through the years, software and systems engineering has matured and because of this, there is a clear need for an architectural view of systems, which is also defined in the ANSI/IEEE Standard 1471-2000. One of the different levels of architecture developed is Enterprise Architecture (EA). Early conception of EA can also be rooted several years ago when Cap Gemini Ernst & Young has developed an analytic and developmental approach on enterprise and project level architectures now known as the Integrated Architecture Framework (IAF). Now on its third revision, this approach was developed due to the collaborative efforts of architects on real projects and since then has been used on many hundreds of small and large engagements across the world.
IAF also recognizes the four levels of abstraction that are used to analyze related areas in business operations. These are the following: (a) contextual level combines business vision and strategy into a set of principles with their own priorities and implications. This set of statements are used in the decision making process with traceable roots on original business drivers to effectively demonstrate business-systems alignment; (b) conceptual level details the interactions between services in support of the principles defined on the contextual level, therefore providing a solid foundation from which the logical architecture can be derived; (c) logical level describes a clear definition of the collaboration and integration contracts between components and services; and (d) physical level defines the design principles, guidelines and standards that provides a framework to accelerate the development of physical architecture, reduction of project risks and improvement in the quality of the architecture by using proven solutions.