You may not be surprised to learn that I have been following this discussion with some interest! I agree with the reasons given by various members of the thread for the lack of tool uptake; an organisation should have a process and methodology embedded before it can select a tool; the tool needs to support the objectives of the organisations EA, therefore these must be known before tool selection; many EA tools are either poorly constructed or were designed for something else, i.e. BPM, and have been adapted to EA; the organisation itself is not sufficiently mature; to name but a few, and I was very pleased to see that The Essential Project received a couple of mentions.
Firstly David Baker pointed out that using free, open source tools as a starting point would seem like a good idea and he wondered why more organisations didn’t do this, speculating that data migration at a later date might be the issue. To deal with this particular point, Essential does have a data export option, so if an organisation starts with Essential and decides that it doesn’t suit its needs once it has defined its exact requirements, the data can easily be migrated to the tool of choice.
Later in the discussion Ric Phillips noted that ‘A good enterprise architecture will allow flexible modelling (primary ontology) that can allow architects to build rich (hyper-connected) models of the actual organisations in which they work – which do not always conform to the grammar and lexicon of the big frameworks’, and that uncoupling the presentation and analysis layers from the data layer is possible and desirable. He points out (thanks very much!) that The Essential Project is the only EA Tool currently to take this approach. He also notes that the ontology is relatively easy to modify, again something we felt was important, however, personally I would be cautious about his idea to throw away the ontology and build your own from scratch. Obviously this is doable (we have done it!) but it is by no means a trivial exercise and in the best traditions of EA and reusability it seems hasty to throw it away and start again!
The tool debate is an interesting one in terms of when an organisation should start to use a tool, as obviously it is crucial to understand the business problem that your EA is to solve and what is required of your tool before you make an investment. However, in practice a tool would often be useful fairly early on in the process, before any such investment would be prudent, and this is precisely where and why Essential was born, to give many of the benefits of a traditional tool, much beyond the capability of Visio or Excel, without the investment required of a traditional tool.