Technical Architecture Framework for Information Management (TAFIM)

What is Technical Architecture Framework for Information Management (TAFIM)?

The Technical Architectural Framework for Information Management (TAFIM) reference model was developed by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to guide the evolution of Department of Defense (DoD) systems, including sustaining base, strategic, and tactical systems, as well as interfaces to weapon systems. Application of the TAFIM reference model is required on most DoD systems. TAFIM is a set of services, standards, design components, and configurations that are used in design, implementation, and enhancement of information management system architectures. The intent is that the DoD infrastructure will have a common architecture that will, over time, be a fully flexible and interoperable enterprise. Details on the TAFIM model are available in a seven volume TAFIM document, but are primarily in Volume 3 [TAFIM 94].[1]

The TAFIM Methodology

TAFIM describes Enterprise Architecture practice as a seven-step iterative process including documenting baseline and then target states, analyzing the gaps between them, preparing implementation plans, and following them (TAFIM 1996b). TAFIM recommends describing four domains of EA: work organization, information, applications, and technology (TAFIM 1996b). The TAFIM methodology is shown in the Figure below

The Seven Steps of TAFIM
source: Svyatoslav Kotusev

TAFIM provides a set of volumes for guiding the evolution of the DoD’s technical architecture, which consists of multiple environments with each environment accommodating one or more ISAs. The TAFIM consists of multiple volumes in various states of development and maturity. The volumes that constitute Version 3.0 of the TAFIM are listed below.

  • Volume 1: Overview.
  • Volume 2: Technical Reference Model provides the conceptual model for information system services and their interfaces.
  • Volume 3: Architecture Concepts and Design Guidance provides concepts and guidance needed to support the development of technical architectures in the DoD.
  • Volume 4: DoD Standards-Based Architecture Planning Guide provides a standards-based architecture planning methodology that will help architects, technical integrators, and developers to plan and build information systems that meet mission, functional, and application area requirements. The methodology provides a translation of functional requirements to the selection of services, standards, components, configurations, their phasing, and the acquisition of products that implement them.
  • Volume 5: Program Managers Guide for Open Systems describes how to use the TAFIM guidance in the acquisition of IT and IM products.
  • Volume 6: DoD Goal Security Architecture (DGSA) addresses security requirements commonly found within DoD organizations’ missions or derived as a result of examining mission threats. Further, the DGSA provides a general statement about a common collection of security services and mechanisms that an information system might offer through its generic components. The DGSA also specifies principles, concepts, functions, and services that target security capabilities to guide system architects in developing their specific architectures. The generic security architecture provides an initial allocation of security services and functions and begins to define the types of components and security mechanisms that are available to implement security services. In addition, examples are provided of how to use the DGSA in developing mission-level technical architectures.
  • Volume 7: Adopted Information Technology Standards (AITS) is the definitive set of IT standards to be used in DoD. It is intended to guide DoD acquisitions and the migration of legacy systems and, by providing definitive standards, to support broader TAFIM objectives such as interoperability, reduced life-cycle costs, and security.
  • Volume 8: DoD Human-Computer Interface (HCI) Style Guide provides a common framework for HCI design and implementation.[2]

The Purpose of TAFIM
The TAFIM provides guidance for the evolution of the DoD technical infrastructure. The TAFIM does not provide a specific system architecture. Rather, it provides the services, standards, design concepts, components, and configurations that can be used to guide the development of technical architectures that meet specific mission requirements. The TAFIM is independent of mission-specific applications and their associated data. It introduces and promotes interoperability, portability, and scalability of DoD information systems. The TAFIM is an Enterprise Level2 guide for developing technical architectures that satisfy specific functional requirements. It also provides an organizational level guide and link to the Enterprise Level. Proper application of the TAFIM guidance can:

  • Promote integration, interoperability, modularity, and flexibility

Scope and Applicability The TAFIM applies to information system technical architectures at all DoD organization levels and environments (e.g., tactical, strategic, sustaining base, interfaces to weapons systems). As the figure below shows, the TAFIM is intended to guide the development of architectures that satisfy requirements across missions, functional areas, and functional activities [DoD 8020.1-M]. The TAFIM is mandatory for use in DoD. The specific technical architectures for missions and functions will be developed using standard architecture guidance and development methodologies provided by the TAFIM.

Technical Architecture Framework for Information Management
source: DISA

Historical Backgroud
The development of TAFIM started around 1986 at the US Defense Information Systems Agency/Center for Information Management. The first concept of TAFIM was derived from the NIST Application Portability Profile and the POSIX (or IEEE P1003.00SE) model. The first draft of TAFIM was completed in 1991 with the TAFIM Technical Reference Model (TAFIM TRM). Developed by a team led by Burnes St. Patrick Hollyman, James M. Kerr and John Keane, this technical reference model wanted to use open systems and new technologies available in the commercial market, to develop a DoD-wide application. The TAFIM project has resulted in an eight-volume Information Technology Architecture "how-to" manual, see image. Before being officially published in 1996 by the Department of Defense, the approach was successfully piloted at both the U.S. Marine Corps and the DoD Health Affairs by teams led by Hollyman, Kerr, Keane. The original development of TOGAF Version 1 in 1995 was based on the Technical Architecture Framework for Information Management. The US Department of Defense gave The Open Group explicit permission and encouragement to create TOGAF by building on the TAFIM, which itself was the result of many years of development effort and many millions of dollars of US Government investment. The 1996 US DoD publication on TAFIM was the latest version published. TAFIM has been cancelled as a stand-alone document in 1999. In 2000 the whole TAFIM concept and its regulations have been re-evaluated and found inconsistent with the newly developed DoDAF architecture direction. For this reason all references to TAFIM have been removed from DoD documentation since then. TAFIM was abruptly cancelled due to the following flaws:

  • TAFIM required a large investment of both time and money
  • The elapsed time required to produce the architecture makes it close to obsolete before completion
  • Architectures of such complexity required specialized and reasonably uncommon IT expertise to complete. The end result is normally incomprehensible to a business-oriented audience and is harder to trace to the business strategy[3]

See Also


  1. Definition - What does Technical Architecture Framework for Information Management (TAFIM) Mean? Enterprise Architecture Blog
  2. What is Technical Architecture Framework for Information Management (TAFIM) Defense Information Systems Agency Center for Standards
  3. Historical Overview of TAFIM Wikipedia