Category Archives: Cloud

Q&A with Marshall Van Alstyne, Professor, Boston University School of Management and Research Scientist MIT Center for Digital Business

By The Open Group

The word “platform” has become a nearly ubiquitous term in the tech and business worlds these days. From “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) to IDC’s Third Platform to The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™ Forum, the concept of platforms and building technology frames and applications on top of them has become the next “big thing.”

Although the technology industry tends to conceive of “platforms” as the vehicle that is driving trends such as mobile, social networking, the Cloud and Big Data, Marshall Van Alstyne, Professor at Boston University’s School of Management and a Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Digital Business, believes that the radical shifts that platforms bring are not just technological.

We spoke with Van Alstyne prior to The Open Group Boston 2014, where he presented a keynote, about platforms, how they have shifted traditional business models and how they are impacting industries everywhere.

The title of your session at the Boston conference was “Platform Shift – How New Open Business Models are Changing the Shape of Industry.” How would you define both “platform” and “open business model”?

I think of “platform” as a combination of two things. One, a set of standards or components that folks can take up and use for production of goods and services. The second thing is the rules of play, or the governance model – who has the ability to participate, how do you resolve conflict, and how do you divide up the royalty streams, or who gets what? You can think of it as the two components of the platform—the open standard together with the governance model. The technologists usually get the technology portion of it, and the economists usually get the governance and legal portions of it, but you really need both of them to understand what a ‘platform’ is.

What is the platform allowing then and how is that different from a regular business model?

The platform allows third parties to conduct business using system resources so they can actually meet and exchange goods across the platform. Wonderful examples of that include AirBnB where you can rent rooms or you can post rooms, or eBay, where you can sell goods or exchange goods, or iTunes where you can go find music, videos, apps and games provided by others, or Amazon where third parties are even allowed to set up shop on top of Amazon. They have moved to a business model where they can take control of the books in addition to allowing third parties to sell their own books and music and products and services through the Amazon platform. So by opening it up to allow third parties to participate, you facilitate exchange and grow a market by helping that exchange.

How does this relate to the concept of the technology industry is defining the “third platform”?

I think of it slightly differently. The tech industry uses mobile and social and cloud and data to characterize it. In some sense this view offers those as the attributes that characterize platforms or the knowledge base that enable platforms. But we would add to that the economic forces that actually shape platforms. What we want to do is give you some of the strategic tools, the incentives, the rules that will actually help you control their trajectory by helping you improve who participates and then measure and improve the value they contribute to the platform. So a full ecosystem view is not just the technology and the data, it also measures the value and how you divide that value. The rules of play really become important.

I think the “third platform” offers marvelous concepts and attributes but you also need to add the economics to it: Why do you participate, who gets what portions of the value, and who ultimately owns control.

Who does control the platform then?

A platform has multiple parts. Determining who controls what part is the art and design of the governance model. You have to set up control in the right way to motivate people to participate. But before we get to that, let’s go back and complete the idea of what’s an ‘open platform.’

To define an open platform, consider both the right of access and the right to manipulate platform resources, then consider granting those rights to four different parties. One is the user—can they access one another, can they access data, can they access system resources? Another group is developers—can they manipulate system resources, can they add new features to it, can they sell through the platform? The third group is the platform providers. You often think of them as those folks that facilitate access across the platform. To give you an example, iTunes is a single monolithic store, so the provider is simply Apple, but Android, in contrast, allows multiple providers, so there’s a Samsung Android store, an LTC Android store, a Google Android store, there’s even an Amazon version that uses a different version of Android. So that platform has multiple providers each with rights to access users. The fourth group is the party that controls the underlying property rights, who owns the IP. The ability modify the underlying standard and also the rights of access for other parties is the bottom-most layer.

So to answer the question of what is ‘open,’ you have to consider the rights of access of all four groups—the users, developers, the providers and IP rights holders, or sponsors, underneath.

Popping back up a level, we’re trying to motivate different parties to participate in the ecosystem. So what do you give the users? Usually it’s some kind of value. What do you give developers? Usually it’s some set of SDKs and APIs, but also some level of royalties. It’s fascinating. If you look back historically, Amazon initially tried a publishing royalty where they took 70% and gave a minority 30% back to developers. They found that didn’t fly very well and they had to fall back to the app store or software-style royalty, where they’re taking a lower percentage. I think Apple, for example, takes 30 percent, and Amazon is now close to that. You see ranges of royalties going anywhere from a few percent—an example is credit cards—all the way up to iStock photo where they take roughly 70 percent. That’s an extremely high rate, and one that I don’t recommend. We were just contracting for designs at 99Designs and they take a 20 percent cut. That’s probably more realistic, but lower might perhaps even be better—you can create stronger network effect if that’s the case.

Again, the real question of control is how you motivate third parties to participate and add value? If you are allowing them to use resources to create value and keep a lot of that value, then they’re more motivated to participate, to invest, to bring their resources to your platform. If you take most of the value they create, they won’t participate. They won’t add value. One of the biggest challenges for open platforms—what you might call the ‘Field of Dreams’ approach—is that most folks open their platform and assume ‘if you build it, they will come,’ but you really need to reward them to do so. Why would they want to come build with you? There are numerous instances of platforms that opened but no developer chooses to add value—the ecosystem is too small. You have to solve the chicken and egg problem where if you don’t have users, developers don’t want to build for you, but if you don’t have developer apps, then why do users participate? So you’ve got a huge feedback problem. And those are where the economics become critical, you must solve the chicken and egg problem to build and roll out platforms.

It’s not just a technology question; it’s also an economics and rewards question.

Then who is controlling the platform?

The answer depends on the type of platform. Giving different groups a different set of rights creates different types of platform. Consider the four different parties: users, developers, providers, and sponsors. At one extreme, the Apple Mac platform of the 1980s reserved most rights for development, for producing hardware (the provider layer), and for modifying the IP (the sponsor layer) all to Apple. Apple controlled the platform and it remained closed. In contrast, Microsoft relaxed platform control in specific ways. It licensed to multiple providers, enabling Dell, HP, Compaq and others to sell the platform. It gave developers rights of access to SDKs and APIs, enabling them to extend the platform. These control choices gave Microsoft more than six times the number of developers and more than twenty times the market share of Apple at the high point of Microsoft’s dominance of desktop operating systems. Microsoft gave up some control in order to create a more inclusive platform and a much bigger market.

Control is not a single concept. There are many different control rights you can grant to different parties. For example, you often want to give users an ability to control their own data. You often want to give developers intellectual property rights for the apps that they create and often over the data that their users create. You may want to give them some protections against platform misappropriation. Developers resent it if you take their ideas. So if the platform sees a really clever app that’s been built on top of its platform, what’s the guarantee that the platform simply doesn’t take it or build a competing app? You need to protect your developers in that case. Same thing’s true of the platform provider—what guarantees do they provide users for the quality of content provided on their ecosystem? For example, the Android ecosystem is much more open than the iPhone ecosystem, which means you have more folks offering stores. Simultaneously, that means that there are more viruses and more malware in Android, so what rights and guarantees do you require of the platform providers to protect the users in order that they want to participate? And then at the bottom, what rights do other participants have to control the direction of the platform growth? In the Visa model, for example, there are multiple member banks that help to influence the general direction of that credit card standard. Usually the most successful platforms have a single IP rights holder, but there are several examples of that have multiple IP rights holders.

So, in the end control defines the platform as much as the platform defines control.

What is the “secret” of the Internet-driven marketplace? Is that indeed the platform?

The secret is that, in effect, the goal of the platform is to increase transaction volume and value. If you can do that—and we can give you techniques for doing it—then you can create massive scale. Increasing the transaction value and transactions volume across your platform means that the owner of the platform doesn’t have to be the sole source of content and new ideas provided on the platform. If the platform owner is the only source of value then the owner is also the bottleneck. The goal is to consummate matches between producers and consumers of value. You want to help users find the content, find the resources, find the other people that they want to meet across your platform. In Apple’s case, you’re helping them find the music, the video, the games, and the apps that they want. In AirBnB’s case, you’re helping them find the rooms that they want, or Uber, you’re helping them find a driver. On Amazon, the book recommendations help you find the content that you want. In all the truly successful platforms, the owner of the platform is not providing all of that value. They’re enabling third parties to add that value, and that’s one reasy why The Open Group’s ideas are so important—you need open systems for this to happen.

What’s wrong with current linear business models? Why is a network-driven approach superior?

The fundamental reason why the linear business model no longer works is that it does not manage network effects. Network effects allow you to build platforms where users attract other users and you get feedback that grows your system. As more users join your platform, more developers join your platform, which attracts more users, which attracts more developers. You can see it on any of the major platforms. This is also true of Google. As advertisers use Google Search, the algorithms get better, people find the content that they want, so more advertisers use it. As more drivers join Uber, more people are happier passengers, which attracts more drivers. The more merchants accept Visa, the more consumers are willing to carry it, which attracts more merchants, which attracts more consumers. You get positive feedback.

The consequence of that is that you tend to get market concentration—you get winner take all markets. That’s where platforms dominate. So you have a few large firms within a given category, whether this is rides or books or hotels or auctions. Further, once you get network effects changing your business model, the linear insights into pricing, into inventory management, into innovation, into strategy breakdown.

When you have these multi-sided markets, pricing breaks down because you often price differently to one side than another because one side attracts the other. Inventory management practices breakdown because you’re selling inventory that you don’t even own. Your R&D strategies breakdown because now you’re motivating innovation and research outside the boundaries of the firm, as opposed to inside the internal R&D group. And your strategies breakdown because you’re not just looking for cost leadership or product differentiation, now you’re looking to shape the network effects as you create barriers to entry.

One of the things that I really want to argue strenuously is that in markets where platforms will emerge, platforms beat product every time. So the platform business model will inevitably beat the linear, product-based business model. Because you’re harnessing new forces in order to develop a different kind of business model.

Think of it the following way–imagine that value is growing as users consume your product. Think of any of the major platforms, as more folks use Google, search gets better, the more recommendations improve on Amazon, and the easier it is to find a ride on Uber, so more folks want to be on there. It is easier to scale network effects outside your business than inside your business. There’s simply more people outside than inside. The moment that happens, the locus control, the locus of innovation, moves from inside the firm to outside the firm. So the rules change. Pricing changes, your innovation strategies change, your inventory policies change, your R&D changes. You’re now managing resources outside the firm, rather than inside, in order to capture scale. This is different than the traditional industrial supply economies of scale.

Old systems are giving away to new systems. It’s not that the whole system breaks down, it’s simply that you’re looking to manage network effects and manage new business models. Another way to see this is that previously you were managing capital. In the industrial era, you were managing steel, you were managing large amounts of finance in banking, you were managing auto parts—huge supply economies of scale. In telecommunications, you were managing infrastructure. Now, you’re managing communities and these are managed outside the firm. The value that’s been created at Facebook or WhatsApp or Instagram or any of the new acquisitions, it’s not the capital that’s critical, it’s the communities that are critical, and these are built outside the firm.

There is a lot of talk in the industry about the Nexus of Forces as Gartner calls it, or Third Platform (IDC). The Open Group calls it Open Platform 3.0. Your concept goes well beyond technology—how does Open Platform 3.0 enable new business models?

Those are the enablers—they’re shall we say necessary, but they’re not sufficient. You really must harness the economic forces in addition to those enablers—mobile, social, Cloud, data. You must manage communities outside the firm, that’s the mobile and the social element of it. But this also involves designing governance and setting incentives. How are you capturing users outside the organization, how are they contributing, how are they being motivated to participate, why are they spreading your products to their peers? The Cloud allows it to scale—so Instagram and What’s App and others scale. Data allows you to “consummate the match.” You use that data to help people find what they need, to add value, so all of those things are the enablers. Then you have to harness the economics of the enablers to encourage people to do the right thing. You can see the correct intuition if you simply ask what happens if all you offer is a Cloud service and nothing more. Why will anyone use it? What’s the value to that system? If you open APIs to it, again, if you don’t have a user base, why are developers going to contribute? Developers want to reach users. Users want valuable functionality.

You must manage the motives and the value-add on the platform. New business models come from orchestrating not just the technology but also the third party sources of value. One of the biggest challenges is to grow these businesses from scratch—you’ve got the cold start chicken and egg problem. You don’t have network effects if you don’t have a user base, if you don’t have users, you don’t have network effects.

Do companies need to transform themselves into a “business platform” to succeed in this new marketplace? Are there industries immune to this shift?

There is a continuum of companies that are going to be affected. It starts at one end with companies that are highly information intense—anything that’s an information intensive business will be dramatically affected, anything that’s community or fashion-based business will be dramatically affected. Those include companies involved in media and news, songs, music, video; all of those are going to be the canaries in the coalmine that see this first. Moving farther along will be those industries that require some sort of certification—those include law and medicine and education—those, too, will also be platformized, so the services industries will become platforms. Farther down that are the ones that are heavily, heavily capital intensive where control of physical capital is paramount, those include trains and oil rigs and telecommunications infrastructure—eventually those will be affected by platform business models to the extent that data helps them gain efficiencies or add value, but they will in some sense be the last to be affected by platform business models. Look for the businesses where the cost side is shrinking in proportion to the delivery of value and where the network effects are rising as a proportional increase in value. Those forces will help you predict which industries will be transformed.

How can Enterprise Architecture be a part of this and how do open standards play a role?

The second part of that question is actually much easier. How do open standards play a role? The open standards make it much easier for third parties to attach and incorporate technology and features such that they can in turn add value. Open standards are essential to that happening. You do need to ask the question as to who controls those standards—is it completely open or is it a proprietary standard, a published standard but it’s not manipulable by a third party.

There will be at least two or three different things that Enterprise Architects need to do. One of these is to design modular components that are swappable, so as better systems become available, the better systems can be swapped in. The second element will be to watch for components of value that should be absorbed into the platform itself. As an example, in operating systems, web browsing has effectively been absorbed into the platform, streaming has been absorbed into the platform so that they become aware of how that actually works. A third thing they need to do is talk to the legal team to see where it is that the third parties property rights can be protected so that they invest. One of the biggest mistakes that firms make is to simply assume that because they own the platform, because they have the rights of control, that they can do what they please. If they do that, they risk alienating their ecosystems. So they should talk to their potential developers to incorporate developer concerns. One of my favorite examples is the Intel Architecture Lab which has done a beautiful job of articulating the voices of developers in their own architectural plans. A fourth thing that can be done is an idea borrowed from SAP, that builds Enterprise Architecture—they articulate an 18-24 month roadmap where they say these are the features that are coming, so you can anticipate and build on those. Also it gives you an idea of what features will be safe to build on so you won’t lose the value you’ve created.

What can companies do to begin opening their business models and more easily architect that?

What they should do is to consider four groups articulated earlier— those are the users, the providers, the developers and the sponsors—each serve a different role. Firms need to understand what their own role will be in order that they can open and architect the other roles within their ecosystem. They’ll also need to choose what levels of exclusivity they need to give their ecosystem partners in a different slice of the business. They should also figure out which of those components they prefer to offer themselves as unique competencies and where they need to seek third party assistance, either in new ideas or new resources or even new marketplaces. Those factors will help guide businesses toward different kinds of partnerships, and they’ll have to be open to those kinds of partners. In particular, they should think about where are they most likely to be missing ideas or missing opportunities. Those technical and business areas should open in order that third parties can take advantage of those opportunities and add value.

 

vanalstynemarshallProfessor Van Alstyne is one of the leading experts in network business models. He conducts research on information economics, covering such topics as communications markets, the economics of networks, intellectual property, social effects of technology, and productivity effects of information. As co-developer of the concept of “two sided networks” he has been a major contributor to the theory of network effects, a set of ideas now taught in more than 50 business schools worldwide.

Awards include two patents, National Science Foundation IOC, SGER, SBIR, iCorp and Career Awards, and six best paper awards. Articles or commentary have appeared in Science, Nature, Management Science, Harvard Business Review, Strategic Management Journal, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

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New Health Data Deluges Require Secure Information Flow Enablement Via Standards, Says The Open Group’s New Healthcare Director

By The Open Group

Below is the transcript of The Open Group podcast on how new devices and practices have the potential to expand the information available to Healthcare providers and facilities.

Listen to the podcast here.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to a special BriefingsDirect Thought Leadership Interview coming to you in conjunction with The Open Group’s upcoming event, Enabling Boundaryless Information Flow™ July 21-22, 2014 in Boston.

GardnerI’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions and I’ll be your host and moderator for the series of discussions from the conference on Boundaryless Information Flow, Open Platform 3.0™, Healthcare, and Security issues.

One area of special interest is the Healthcare arena, and Boston is a hotbed of innovation and adaption for how technology, Enterprise Architecture, and standards can improve the communication and collaboration among Healthcare ecosystem players.

And so, we’re joined by a new Forum Director at The Open Group to learn how an expected continued deluge of data and information about patients, providers, outcomes, and efficiencies is pushing the Healthcare industry to rapid change.

WJason Lee headshotith that, please join me now in welcoming our guest. We’re here with Jason Lee, Healthcare and Security Forums Director at The Open Group. Welcome, Jason.

Jason Lee: Thank you so much, Dana. Good to be here.

Gardner: Great to have you. I’m looking forward to the Boston conference and want to remind our listeners and readers that it’s not too late to sign up. You can learn more at http://www.opengroup.org.

Jason, let’s start by talking about the relationship between Boundaryless Information Flow, which is a major theme of the conference, and healthcare. Healthcare perhaps is the killer application for Boundaryless Information Flow.

Lee: Interesting, I haven’t heard it referred to that way, but healthcare is 17 percent of the US economy. It’s upwards of $3 trillion. The costs of healthcare are a problem, not just in the United States, but all over the world, and there are a great number of inefficiencies in the way we practice healthcare.

We don’t necessarily intend to be inefficient, but there are so many places and people involved in healthcare, it’s very difficult to get them to speak the same language. It’s almost as if you’re in a large house with lots of different rooms, and every room you walk into they speak a different language. To get information to flow from one room to the other requires some active efforts and that’s what we’re undertaking here at The Open Group.

Gardner: What is it about the current collaboration approaches that don’t work? Obviously, healthcare has been around for a long time and there have been different players involved. What’s the hurdle? What prevents a nice, seamless, easy flow and collaboration in information that gets better outcomes? What’s the holdup?

Lee: There are many ways to answer that question, because there are many barriers. Perhaps the simplest is the transformation of healthcare from a paper-based industry to a digital industry. Everyone has walked into an office, looked behind the people at the front desk, and seen file upon file and row upon row of folders, information that’s kept in a written format.

When there’s been movement toward digitizing that information, not everyone has used the same system. It’s almost like trains running on a different gauge track. Obviously if the track going east to west is a different gauge than going north to south, then trains aren’t going to be able to travel on those same tracks. In the same way, healthcare information does not flow easily from one office to another or from one provider to another.

Gardner: So not only do we have disparate strategies for collecting and communicating health data, but we’re also seeing much larger amounts of data coming from a variety of new and different places. Some of them now even involve sensors inside of patients themselves or devices that people will wear. So is the data deluge, the volume, also an issue here?

Lee: Certainly. I heard recently that an integrated health plan, which has multiple hospitals involved, contains more elements of data than the Library of Congress. As information is collected at multiple points in time, over a relatively short period of time, you really do have a data deluge. Figuring out how to find your way through all the data and look at the most relevant for the patient is a great challenge.

Gardner: I suppose the bad news is that there is this deluge of data, but it’s also good news, because more data means more opportunity for analysis, a better ability to predict and determine best practices, and also provide overall lower costs with better patient care.

So it seems like the stakes are rather high here to get this right, to not just crumble under a volume or an avalanche of data, but to master it, because it’s perhaps the future. The solution is somewhere in there too.

Lee: No question about it. At The Open Group, our focus is on solutions. We, like others, put a great deal of effort into describing the problems, but figuring out how to bring IT technologies to bear on business problems, how to encourage different parts of organizations to speak to one another and across organizations to speak the same language, and to operate using common standards and language. That’s really what we’re all about.

And it is, in a large sense, part of the process of helping to bring healthcare into the 21st Century. A number of industries are a couple of decades ahead of healthcare in the way they use large datasets — big data, some people refer to it as. I’m talking about companies like big department stores and large online retailers. They really have stepped up to the plate and are using that deluge of data in ways that are very beneficial to them, and healthcare can do the same. We’re just not quite at the same level of evolution.

Gardner: And to your point, the stakes are so much higher. Retail is, of course, a big deal in the economy, but as you pointed out, healthcare is such a much larger segment and portion. So just making modest improvements in communication, collaboration, or data analysis can reap huge rewards.

Lee: Absolutely true. There is the cost side of things, but there is also the quality side. So there are many ways in which healthcare can improve through standardization and coordinated development, using modern technology that cannot just reduce cost, but improve quality at the same time.

Gardner: I’d like to get into a few of the hotter trends, but before we do, it seems that The Open Group has recognized the importance here by devoting the entire second day of their conference in Boston, that will be on July 22, to Healthcare.

Maybe you could give us a brief overview of what participants, and even those who come in online and view recorded sessions of the conference at http://new.livestream.com/opengroup should expect? What’s going to go on July 22nd?

Lee: We have a packed day. We’re very excited to have Dr. Joe Kvedar, a physician at Partners HealthCare and Founding Director of the Center for Connected Health, as our first plenary speaker. The title of his presentation is “Making Health Additive.” Dr. Kvedar is a widely respected expert on mobile health, which is currently the Healthcare Forum’s top work priority. As mobile medical devices become ever more available and diversified, they will enable consumers to know more about their own health and wellness. A great deal of data of potentially useful health data will be generated. How this information can be used–not just by consumers but also by the healthcare establishment that takes care of them as patients, will become a question of increasing importance. It will become an area where standards development and The Open Group can be very helpful.

Our second plenary speaker, Proteus Duxbury, Chief Technology Officer at Connect for Health Colorado,will discuss a major feature of the Affordable Care Act—the health insurance exchanges–which are designed to bring health insurance to tens of millions of people who previously did not have access to it. Mr. Duxbury is going to talk about how Enterprise Architecture–which is really about getting to solutions by helping the IT folks talk to the business folks and vice versa–has helped the State of Colorado develop their Health Insurance Exchange.

After the plenaries, we will break up into 3 tracks, one of which is Healthcare-focused. In this track there will be three presentations, all of which discuss how Enterprise Architecture and the approach to Boundaryless Information Flow can help healthcare and healthcare decision-makers become more effective and efficient.

One presentation will focus on the transformation of care delivery at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. Another will address stewarding healthcare transformation using Enterprise Architecture, focusing on one of our Platinum members, Oracle, and a company called Intelligent Medical Objects, and how they’re working together in a productive way, bringing IT and healthcare decision-making together.

Then, the final presentation in this track will focus on the development of an Enterprise Architecture-based solution at an insurance company. The payers, or the insurers–the big companies that are responsible for paying bills and collecting premiums–have a very important role in the healthcare system that extends beyond administration of benefits. Yet, payers are not always recognized for their key responsibilities and capabilities in the area of clinical improvements and cost improvements.

With the increase in payer data brought on in large part by the adoption of a new coding system–the ICD-10–which will come online this year, there will be a huge amount of additional data, including clinical data, that become available. At The Open Group, we consider payers—health insurance companies (some of which are integrated with providers)–as very important stakeholders in the big picture..

In the afternoon, we’re going to switch gears a bit and have a speaker talk about the challenges, the barriers, the “pain points” in introducing new technology into the healthcare systems. The focus will return to remote or mobile medical devices and the predictable but challenging barriers to getting newly generated health information to flow to doctors’ offices and into patients records, electronic health records, and hospitals data keeping and data sharing systems.

We’ll have a panel of experts that responds to these pain points, these challenges, and then we’ll draw heavily from the audience, who we believe will be very, very helpful, because they bring a great deal of expertise in guiding us in our work. So we’re very much looking forward to the afternoon as well.

Gardner: It’s really interesting. A couple of these different plenaries and discussions in the afternoon come back to this user-generated data. Jason, we really seem to be on the cusp of a whole new level of information that people will be able to develop from themselves through their lifestyle, new devices that are connected.

We hear from folks like Apple, Samsung, Google, and Microsoft. They’re all pulling together information and making it easier for people to not only monitor their exercise, but their diet, and maybe even start to use sensors to keep track of blood sugar levels, for example.

In fact, a new Flurry Analytics survey showed 62 percent increase in the use of health and fitness application over the last six months on the popular mobile devices. This compares to a 33 percent increase in other applications in general. So there’s an 87 percent faster uptick in the use of health and fitness applications.

Tell me a little bit how you see this factoring in. Is this a mixed blessing? Will so much data generated from people in addition to the electronic medical records, for example, be a bad thing? Is this going to be a garbage in, garbage out, or is this something that could potentially be a game-changer in terms of how people react to their own data and then bring more data into the interactions they have with care providers?

Lee: It’s always a challenge to predict what the market is going to do, but I think that’s a remarkable statistic that you cited. My prediction is that the increased volume of person- generated data from mobile health devices is going to be a game-changer. This view also reflects how the Healthcare Forum members (which includes members from Capgemini, Philips, IBM, Oracle and HP) view the future.

The commercial demand for mobile medical devices, things that can be worn, embedded, or swallowed, as in pills, as you mentioned, is growing ever more. The software and the applications that will be developed to be used with the devices is going to grow by leaps and bounds. As you say, there are big players getting involved. Already some of the pedometer type devices that measure the number of steps taken in a day have captured the interest of many, many people. Even David Sedaris, serious guy that he is, was writing about it recently in ‘The New Yorker’.

What we will find is that many of the health indicators that we used to have to go to the doctor or nurse or lab to get information on will become available to us through these remote devices.

There will be a question, of course, as to reliability and validity of the information, to your point about garbage in, garbage out, but I think standards development will help here This, again, is where The Open Group comes in. We might also see the FDA exercising its role in ensuring safety here, as well as other organizations, in determining which devices are reliable.

The Open Group is working in the area of mobile data and information systems that are developed around them, and their ability to (a) talk to one another and (b) talk to the data devices/infrastructure used in doctors’ offices and in hospitals. This is called interoperability and it’s certainly lacking in the country.

There are already problems around interoperability and connectivity of information in the healthcare establishment as it is now. When patients and consumers start collecting their own data, and the patient is put at the center of the nexus of healthcare, then the question becomes how does that information that patients collect get back to the doctor/clinician in ways in which the data can be trusted and where the data are helpful?

After all, if a patient is wearing a medical device, there is the opportunity to collect data, about blood sugar level let’s say, throughout the day. And this is really taking healthcare outside of the four walls of the clinic and bringing information to bear that can be very, very useful to clinicians and beneficial to patients.

In short, the rapid market dynamic in mobile medical devices and in the software and hardware that facilitates interoperability begs for standards-based solutions that reduce costs and improve quality, and all of which puts the patient at the center. This is The Open Group’s Healthcare Forum’s sweet spot.

Gardner: It seems to me a real potential game-changer as well, and that something like Boundaryless Information Flow and standards will play an essential role. Because one of the big question marks with many of the ailments in a modern society has to do with lifestyle and behavior.

So often, the providers of the care only really have the patient’s responses to questions, but imagine having a trove of data at their disposal, a 360-degree view of the patient to then further the cause of understanding what’s really going on, on a day-to-day basis.

But then, it’s also having a two-way street, being able to deliver perhaps in an automated fashion reinforcements and incentives, information back to the patient in real-time about behavior and lifestyles. So it strikes me as something quite promising, and I look forward to hearing more about it at the Boston conference.

Any other thoughts on this issue about patient flow of data, not just among and between providers and payers, for example, or providers in an ecosystem of care, but with the patient as the center of it all, as you said?

Lee: As more mobile medical devices come to the market, we’ll find that consumers own multiple types of devices at least some of which collect multiple types of data. So even for the patient, being at the center of their own healthcare information collection, there can be barriers to having one device talk to the other. If a patient wants to keep their own personal health record, there may be difficulties in bringing all that information into one place.

So the interoperability issue, the need for standards, guidelines, and voluntary consensus among stakeholders about how information is represented becomes an issue, not just between patients and their providers, but for individual consumers as well.

Gardner: And also the cloud providers. There will be a variety of large organizations with cloud-modeled services, and they are going to need to be, in some fashion, brought together, so that a complete 360-degree view of the patient is available when needed. It’s going to be an interesting time.

Of course, we’ve also looked at many other industries and tried to have a cloud synergy, a cloud-of-clouds approach to data and also the transaction. So it’s interesting how what’s going on in multiple industries is common, but it strikes me that, again, the scale and the impact of the healthcare industry makes it a leader now, and perhaps a driver for some of these long overdue structured and standardized activities.

Lee: It could become a leader. There is no question about it. Moreover, there is a lot Healthcare can learn from other companies, from mistakes that other companies have made, from lessons they have learned, from best practices they have developed (both on the content and process side). And there are issues, around security in particular, where Healthcare will be at the leading edge in trying to figure out how much is enough, how much is too much, and what kinds of solutions work.

There’s a great future ahead here. It’s not going to be without bumps in the road, but organizations like The Open Group are designed and experienced to help multiple stakeholders come together and have the conversations that they need to have in order to push forward and solve some of these problems.

Gardner: Well, great. I’m sure there will be a lot more about how to actually implement some of those activities at the conference. Again, that’s going to be in Boston, beginning on July 21, 2014.

We’ll have to leave it there. We’re about out of time. We’ve been talking with a new Director at The Open Group to learn how an expected continued deluge of data and information about patients and providers, outcomes and efficiencies are all working together to push the Healthcare industry to rapid change. And, as we’ve heard, that might very well spill over into other industries as well.

So we’ve seen how innovation and adaptation around technology, Enterprise Architecture and standards can improve the communication and collaboration among Healthcare ecosystem players.

It’s not too late to register for The Open Group Boston 2014 (http://www.opengroup.org/boston2014) and join the conversation via Twitter #ogchat #ogBOS, where you will be able to learn more about Boundaryless Information Flow, Open Platform 3.0, Healthcare and other relevant topics.

So a big thank you to our guest. We’ve been joined by Jason Lee, Healthcare and Security Forums Director at The Open Group. Thanks so much, Jason.

Lee: Thank you very much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™ Starts to Take Shape

By Dr. Chris Harding, Director for Interoperability, The Open Group

The Open Group published a White Paper on Open Platform 3.0™ at the start of its conference in Amsterdam in May 2014. This article, based on a presentation given at the conference, explains how the definition of the platform is beginning to emerge.

Introduction

Amsterdam is a beautiful place. Walking along the canals is like moving through a set of picture postcards. But as you look up at the houses beside the canals, and you see the cargo hoists that many of them have, you are reminded that the purpose of the arrangement was not to give pleasure to tourists. Amsterdam is a great trading city, and the canals were built as a very efficient way of moving goods around.

This is also a reminder that the primary purpose of architecture is not to look beautiful, but to deliver business value, though surprisingly, the two often seem to go together quite well.

When those canals were first thought of, it might not have been obvious that this was the right thing to do for Amsterdam. Certainly the right layout for the canal network would not be obvious. The beginning of a project is always a little uncertain, and seeing the idea begin to take shape is exciting. That is where we are with Open Platform 3.0 right now.

We started with the intention to define a platform to enable enterprises to get value from new technologies including cloud computing, social computing, mobile computing, big data, the Internet of Things, and perhaps others. We developed an Open Group business scenario to capture the business requirements. We developed a set of business use-cases to show how people are using and wanting to use those technologies. And that leads to the next step, which is to define the platform. All these new technologies and their applications sound wonderful, but what actually is Open Platform 3.0?

The Third Platform

Looking historically, the first platform was the computer operating system. A vendor-independent operating system interface was defined by the UNIX® standard. The X/Open Company and the Open Software Foundation (OSF), which later combined to form The Open Group, were created because companies everywhere were complaining that they were locked into proprietary operating systems. They wanted applications portability. X/Open specified the UNIX® operating system as a common application environment, and the value that it delivered was to prevent vendor lock-in.

The second platform is the World Wide Web. It is a common services environment, for services used by people browsing web pages or for web services used by programs. The value delivered is universal deployment and access. Any person or company anywhere can create a services-based solution and deploy it on the web, and every person or company throughout the world can access that solution.

Open Platform 3.0 is developing as a common architecture environment. This does not mean it is a replacement for TOGAF®. TOGAF is about how you do architecture and will continue to be used with Open Platform 3.0. Open Platform 3.0 is about what kind of architecture you will create. It will be a common environment in which enterprises can do architecture. The big business benefit that it will deliver is integrated solutions.

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Figure 1: The Third Platform

With the second platform, you can develop solutions. Anyone can develop a solution based on services accessible over the World Wide Web. But independently-developed web service solutions will very rarely work together “out of the box”.

There is an increasing need for such solutions to work together. We see this need when looking at The Open Platform 3.0 technologies. People want to use these technologies together. There are solutions that use them, but they have been developed independently of each other and have to be integrated. That is why Open Platform 3.0 has to deliver a way of integrating solutions that have been developed independently.

Common Architecture Environment

The Open Group has recently published its first thoughts on Open Platform 3.0 in the Open Platform 3.0 White Paper. This lists a number of things that will eventually be in the Open Platform 3.0 standard. Many of these are common architecture artifacts that can be used in solution development. They will form a common architecture environment. They are:

  • Statement of need, objectives, and principles – this is not part of that environment of course; it says why we are creating it.
  • Definitions of key terms – clearly you must share an understanding of the key terms if you are going to develop common solutions or integrable solutions.
  • Stakeholders and their concerns – an understanding of these is an important aspect of an architecture development, and something that we need in the standard.
  • Capabilities map – this shows what the products and services that are in the platform do.
  • Basic models – these show how the platform components work with each other and with other products and services.
  • Explanation of how the models can be combined to realize solutions – this is an important point and one that the white paper does not yet start to address.
  • Standards and guidelines that govern how the products and services interoperate – these are not standards that The Open Group is likely to produce, they will almost certainly be produced by other bodies, but we need to identify the appropriate ones and probably in some cases coordinate with the appropriate bodies to see that they are developed.

The Open Platform 3.0 White Paper contains an initial statement of needs, objectives and principles, definitions of some key terms, a first-pass list of stakeholders and their concerns, and half a dozen basic models. The basic models are in an analysis of the business use-cases for Open Platform 3.0 that were developed earlier.

These are just starting points. The white paper is incomplete: each of the sections is incomplete in itself, and of course the white paper does not contain all the sections that will be in the standard. And it is all subject to change.

An Example Basic Model

The figure shows a basic model that could be part of the Open Platform 3.0 common architecture environment.

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Figure 2: Mobile Connected Device Model

This is the Mobile Connected Device Model: one of the basic models that we identified in the snapshot. It comes up quite often in the use-cases.

The stack on the left is a mobile device. It has a user, it has apps, it has a platform which would probably be Android or iOS, it has infrastructure that supports the platform, and it is connected to the World Wide Web, because that’s part of the definition of mobile computing.

On the right you see, and this is a frequently encountered pattern, that you don’t just use your mobile device for running apps. Maybe you connect it to a printer, maybe you connect it to your headphones, maybe you connect it to somebody’s payment terminal, you can connect it to many things. You might do this through a Universal Serial Bus (USB). You might do it through Bluetooth. You might do it by Near Field Communications (NFC). You might use other kinds of local connection.

The device you connect to may be operated by yourself (e.g. if it is headphones), or by another organization (e.g. if it is a payment terminal). In the latter case you typically have a business relationship with the operator of the connected device.

That is an example of the basic models that came up in the analysis of the use-cases. It is captured in the White Paper. It is fundamental to mobile computing and is also relevant to the Internet of Things.

Access to Technologies

This figure captures our understanding of the need to obtain information from the new technologies, social media, mobile devices, sensors and so on, the need to process that information, maybe on the cloud, to manage it and, ultimately, to deliver it in a form where there is analysis and reasoning that enables enterprises to take business decisions.

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Figure 3: Access to Technologies

The delivery of information to improve the quality of decisions is the source of real business value.

User-Driven IT

The next figure captures a requirement that we picked up in the development of the business scenario.

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Figure 4: User-Driven IT

Traditionally, you would have had the business use in the business departments of an enterprise, and pretty much everything else in the IT department. But we are seeing two big changes. One is that the business users are getting smarter, more able to use technology. The other is they want to use technology themselves, or to have business technologists closely working with them, rather than accessing it indirectly through the IT department.

The systems provisioning and management is now often done by cloud service providers, and the programming and integration and helpdesk by cloud brokers, or by an IT department that plays a broker role, rather than working in the traditional way.

The business still needs to retain responsibility for the overall architecture and for compliance. If you do something against your company’s principles, your customers will hold you responsible. It is no defense to say, “Our broker did it that way.” Similarly, if you break the law, your broker does not go to jail, you do. So those things will continue to be more associated with the business departments, even as the rest is devolved.

In short, businesses have a new way of using IT that Open Platform 3.0 must and will accommodate.

Integration of Independently-Developed Solutions

The next figure illustrates how the integration of independently developed solutions can be achieved.

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Figure 5: Architecture Integration

It shows two solutions, which come from the analysis of different business use-cases. They share a common model, which makes it much easier to integrate them. That is why the Open Platform 3.0 standard will define common models for access to the new technologies.

The Open Platform 3.0 standard will have other common artifacts: architectural principles, stakeholder definitions and descriptions, and so on. Independently-developed architectures that use them can be integrated more easily.

Enterprises develop their architectures independently, but engage with other enterprises in business ecosystems that require shared solutions. Increasingly, business relationships are dynamic, and there is no time to develop an agreed ecosystem architecture from scratch. Use of the same architecture platform, with a common architecture environment including elements such as principles, stakeholder concerns, and basic models, enables the enterprise architectures to be integrated, and shared solutions to be developed quickly.

Completing the Definition

How will we complete the definition of Open Platform 3.0?

The Open Platform 3.0 Forum recently published a set of 22 business use-cases – the Nexus of Forces in Action. These use-cases show the application of Social, Mobile and Cloud Computing, Big Data, and the Internet of Things in a wide variety of business areas.

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Figure 6: Business Use-Cases

The figure comes from that White Paper and shows some of those areas: multimedia, social networks, building energy management, smart appliances, financial services, medical research, and so on.

Use-Case Analysis

We have started to analyze those use-cases. This is an ArchiMate model showing how our first business use-case, The Mobile Smart Store, could be realized.

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Figure 7: Use-Case Analysis

As you look at it you see common models. Outlined on the left is a basic model that is pretty much the same as the original TOGAF Technical Reference Model. The main difference is the addition of a business layer (which shows how enterprise architecture has moved in the business direction since the TRM was defined).

But you also see that the same model appears in the use-case in a different place, as outlined on the right. It appears many times throughout the business use-cases.

Finally, you can see that the Mobile Connected Device Model has appeared in this use-case (outlined in the center). It appears in other use-cases too.

As we analyze the use-cases, we find common models, as well as common principles, common stakeholders, and other artifacts.

The Development Cycle

We have a development cycle: understanding the value of the platform by considering use-cases, analyzing those use-cases to derive common features, and documenting the common features in a specification.

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Figure 8: The Development Cycle

The Open Platform 3.0 White Paper represents the very first pass through that cycle, further passes will result in further White Papers, a snapshot, and ultimately The Open Platform 3.0 standard, and no doubt more than one version of that standard.

Conclusions

Open Platform 3.0 provides a common architecture environment. This enables enterprises to derive business value from social computing, mobile computing, big data, the Internet-of-Things, and potentially other new technologies.

Cognitive computing, for example, has been suggested as another technology that Open Platform 3.0 might in due course accommodate. What would that lead to? There would be additional use-cases, which would lead to further analysis, which would no doubt identify some basic models for cognitive computing, which would be added to the platform.

Open Platform 3.0 enables enterprise IT to be user-driven. There is a revolution in the way that businesses use IT. Users are becoming smarter and more able to use technology, and want to do so directly, rather than through a separate IT department. Business departments are taking in business technologists who understand how to use technology for business purposes. Some companies are closing their IT departments and using cloud brokers instead. In other companies, the IT department is taking on a broker role, sourcing technology that business people use directly.Open Platform 3.0 will be part of that revolution.

Open Platform 3.0 will deliver the ability to integrate solutions that have been independently developed. Businesses typically exist within one or more business ecosystems. Those ecosystems are dynamic: partners join, partners leave, and businesses cannot standardize the whole architecture across the ecosystem; it would be nice to do so but, by the time it was done, the business opportunity would be gone. Integration of independently developed architectures is crucial to the world of business ecosystems and delivering value within them.

Call for Input

The platform will deliver a common architecture environment, user-driven enterprise IT, and the ability to integrate solutions that have been independently developed. The Open Platform 3.0 Forum is defining it through an iterative process of understanding the content, analyzing the use-cases, and documenting the common features. We welcome input and comments from other individuals within and outside The Open Group and from other industry bodies.

If you have comments on the way Open Platform 3.0 is developing or input on the way it should develop, please tell us! You can do so by sending mail to platform3-input@opengroup.org or share your comments on our blog.

References

The Open Platform 3.0 White Paper: https://www2.opengroup.org/ogsys/catalog/W147

The Nexus of Forces in Action: https://www2.opengroup.org/ogsys/catalog/W145

TOGAF®: http://www.opengroup.org/togaf/

harding

Dr. Chris Harding is Director for Interoperability at The Open Group. He has been with The Open Group for more than ten years, and is currently responsible for managing and supporting its work on interoperability, including SOA and interoperability aspects of Cloud Computing, and the Open Platform 3.0™ Forum. He is a member of the BCS, the IEEE and the AEA, and is a certified TOGAF® practitioner.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Onion & The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™

By Stuart Boardman, Senior Business Consultant, KPN Consulting, and Co-Chair of The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™

Onion1

The onion is widely used as an analogy for complex systems – from IT systems to mystical world views.Onion2

 

 

 

It’s a good analogy. From the outside it’s a solid whole but each layer you peel off reveals a new onion (new information) underneath.

And a slice through the onion looks quite different from the whole…Onion3

What (and how much) you see depends on where and how you slice it.Onion4

 

 

 

 

The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™ is like that. Use-cases for Open Platform 3.0 reveal multiple participants and technologies (Cloud Computing, Big Data Analytics, Social networks, Mobility and The Internet of Things) working together to achieve goals that vary by participant. Each participant’s goals represent a different slice through the onion.

The Ecosystem View
We commonly use the idea of peeling off layers to understand large ecosystems, which could be Open Platform 3.0 systems like the energy smart grid but could equally be the workings of a large cooperative or the transport infrastructure of a city. We want to know what is needed to keep the ecosystem healthy and what the effects could be of the actions of individuals on the whole and therefore on each other. So we start from the whole thing and work our way in.

Onion5

The Service at the Centre of the Onion

If you’re the provider or consumer (or both) of an Open Platform 3.0 service, you’re primarily concerned with your slice of the onion. You want to be able to obtain and/or deliver the expected value from your service(s). You need to know as much as possible about the things that can positively or negatively affect that. So your concern is not the onion (ecosystem) as a whole but your part of it.

Right in the middle is your part of the service. The first level out from that consists of other participants with whom you have a direct relationship (contractual or otherwise). These are the organizations that deliver the services you consume directly to enable your own service.

One level out from that (level 2) are participants with whom you have no direct relationship but on whose services you are still dependent. It’s common in Platform 3.0 that your partners too will consume other services in order to deliver their services (see the use cases we have documented). You need to know as much as possible about this level , because whatever happens here can have a positive or negative effect on you.

One level further from the centre we find indirect participants who don’t necessarily delivery any part of the service but whose actions may well affect the rest. They could just be indirect materials suppliers. They could also be part of a completely different value network in which your level 1 or 2 “partners” participate. You can’t expect to understand this level in detail but you know that how that value network performs can affect your partners’ strategy or even their very existence. The knock-on impact on your own strategy can be significant.

We can conceive of more levels but pretty soon a law of diminishing returns sets in. At each level further from your own organization you will see less detail and more variety. That in turn means that there will be fewer things you can actually know (with any certainty) and not much more that you can even guess at. That doesn’t mean that the ecosystem ends at this point. Ecosystems are potentially infinite. You just need to decide how deep you can usefully go.

Limits of the Onion
At a certain point one hits the limits of an analogy. If everybody sees their own organization as the centre of the onion, what we actually have is a bunch of different, overlapping onions.

Onion6

And you can’t actually make onions overlap, so let’s not take the analogy too literally. Just keep it in mind as we move on. Remember that our objective is to ensure the value of the service we’re delivering or consuming. What we need to know therefore is what can change that’s outside of our own control and what kind of change we might expect. At each visible level of the theoretical onion we will find these sources of variety. How certain of their behaviour we can be will vary – with a tendency to the less certain as we move further from the centre of the onion. We’ll need to decide how, if at all, we want to respond to each kind of variety.

But that will have to wait for my next blog. In the meantime, here are some ways people look at the onion.

Onion7   Onion8

 

 

 

 

SONY DSCStuart Boardman is a Senior Business Consultant with KPN Consulting where he leads the Enterprise Architecture practice and consults to clients on Cloud Computing, Enterprise Mobility and The Internet of Everything. He is Co-Chair of The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™ Forum and was Co-Chair of the Cloud Computing Work Group’s Security for the Cloud and SOA project and a founding member of both The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group and The Open Group SOA Work Group. Stuart is the author of publications by KPN, the Information Security Platform (PvIB) in The Netherlands and of his previous employer, CGI as well as several Open Group white papers, guides and standards. He is a frequent speaker at conferences on the topics of Open Platform 3.0 and Identity.

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One Year Later: A Q&A Interview with Chris Harding and Dave Lounsbury about Open Platform 3.0™

By The Open Group

The Open Group launched its Open Platform 3.0™ Forum nearly one year ago at the 2013 Sydney conference. Open Platform 3.0 refers to the convergence of new and emerging technology trends such as Mobile, Social, Big Data, Cloud and the Internet of Things, as well as the new business models and system designs these trends are pushing organizations toward due to the consumerization of IT and evolving user behaviors. The Forum was created to help organizations address the architectural and structural considerations that businesses must consider to take advantage of and benefit from this evolutionary shift in how technology is used.

We sat down with The Open Group CTO Dave Lounsbury and Open Platform 3.0 Director Dr. Chris Harding at the recent San Francisco conference to catch up on the Forum’s activities and progress since launch and what they’ll be working on during 2014.

The Open Group’s Forum, Open Platform 3.0, was launched almost a year ago in April of 2013. What has the Forum been working on over the past year?

Chris Harding (CH): We launched at the Sydney conference in April of last year. What we’ve done since then first of all was to look at the requirements for the platform, and we did this using the proven TOGAF® technique of the Business Scenario. So over the course of last summer, the summer of 2013, we developed a Business Scenario capturing the requirements for Open Platform 3.0 and that was published just before The Open Group conference in October. Following that conference, the main activity that we’ve been doing is in fact furthering the requirements space. We’ve been developing analysis of use cases, so currently we have 22 different use cases that members of the forum have put together which are illustrating the use of the convergent technologies and most importantly the use of them in combination with each other.

What we’re doing here in this meeting in San Francisco is to obtain from that basis of requirements and use cases an understanding of what the platform fundamentally should be because it is our intention to produce a Snapshot definition of the platform by the end of March. So in the first year of the Forum, we hope that we will finish that year by producing a Snapshot definition of Open Platform 3.0.

Dave Lounsbury (DL): First, the roots of the Open Platform go deeper. Previous to that we had a number of works groups in the areas of Cloud, SOA and some other ones in terms of Semantic Interoperability. All of those were early pieces, and what we saw at the beginning of 2013 was a coalescing of that into this concept that businesses were looking for a new platform for their operations that combined aspects of Social, Mobile, Cloud computing, Big Data and the analytics that go along with it. We saw that emerging in the marketplace, and we formed the Forum to develop that direction. The Open Group always takes an end-to-end view of any problem – we like to look at the whole ecosystem. We want to make sure that the technical standards aren’t just point targets and actually address a business need.

Some of the work groups within The Open Group, such as Quantum Lifecycle Management (QLM) and Semantic Interoperability, have been brought under the umbrella of Open Platform 3.0, most notably the Cloud Work Group. How will the work of these groups continue under Platform 3.0?

CH: Some of the work already going on in The Open Group was directly or indirectly relevant to Open Platform 3.0. And that first and most importantly was the work of the Cloud Work Group, Cloud being one of the convergent technologies, and the Cloud Work Group became a part of Platform 3.0. Two other activities also became a part of Open Platform 3.0, one was of these was the Semantic Interoperability Work Group, and that is because we recognized that Semantic Interoperability has to be an important part of how these technologies work with each other. Though it may not be that we have a full definition of that in the first version of the standard – it’s a notoriously difficult area – but over the course of time, we hope to incorporate a Semantic Interoperability component in the Platform definition and that may well build on the work that we’ve been doing with the Universal Data Element Framework, the UDEF project, which is currently undergoing a major restructuring. The key thing from the Open Platform 3.0 perspective is how the semantic convention relates to the convergence of the technologies in the platform.

In terms of QLM, that became part become of Open Platform 3.0 because one of the key convergent technologies is the Internet of Things, and QLM overlaps significantly with that. QLM is not about the Internet of Things, as such, but it does have a strong component of understanding the way networked sensors and controls work, so that’s become an important contribution to the new Forum.

DL: Like in any platform there’s going to be multiple components. In Open Platform 3.0, one of the big drivers for this change is Big Data. Big Data is very trendy, right? But where does Big Data come from? Well, it comes from increased connectivity, increased use of mobile devices, increased use of sensors –  the ‘Internet of Things.’ All of these things are generating data about usage patterns, where people are, what they’re doing, what that they‘re buying, what they’re interested in and what their likes and dislikes are, creating a massive flood of data. Now the question becomes ‘how do you compute on that data?’ You need to handle that massively scalable stream of data. You need massively scalable computing  underneath it, you need the ability to move large amounts of information from one place to another. When you think about the analysis of data like that, you have algorithms that do a lot of data access and they’ll have big spikes of computation, as they create some model of it. If you’re going to look at 10 zillion records, you don’t want to buy enough computers so you can always look at 10 zillion records, you want to be able to turn that on, do your analysis and turn it back off.  That’s, of course, why Cloud is a critical component of Open Platform 3.0.

Open Platform 3.0 encompasses a lot of different technologies as well as how they are converging. How do you piece apart everything that Platform 3.0 entails to begin to formulate a standard for it?

CH: I mentioned that we developed 22 use cases. The way that we’re addressing this is to look at use cases and the business and technical ecosystems that those use cases exemplify and to abstract from that some fundamental architectural patterns. These we believe will be the basis for the initial definition of the platform.

DL: That gets back to this question about how were starting up. Again it’s The Open Group’s mantra that we look at a business problem as an end-to-end problem. So what you’ll see in Open Platform 3.0, is that we’ve done the Business Scenario to figure out what’s the business motivator, what do business people need to get this done, and we’re fleshing that out with these details in these detailed use cases.

One of the things that we’re very careful about in The Open Group is that we don’t replicate what’s going on in other standards bodies. If you look at what’s going on in Cloud, and what continues to go on in Cloud under the Open Platform 3.0, banner, we really focused in on what do business people really need in the cloud guides – those are how business people really use it.  We’ve stayed away for a long time from the bits and bytes – we’re now doing a Cloud Reference Architecture – but we’ve also created the Cloud Ecosystem Reference Model, which was just published. That Cloud Ecosystem Reference Model, if you read through it, isn’t about how bits flow around, it’s about how partners interact with each other – what to look for in your Cloud partner, who are the players? When you go to use Cloud in your business, what players do you have to engage with? What are the roles that you have to engage with them on? So again it’s really that business level of guidance that The Open Group is really good at, and we do liaison with other organizations in order to get technical stuff if we need it – or if not, we’ll create it ourselves because we’ve got very competent technical people – but again, it’s that balanced business approach that distinguishes The Open Group way.

Many industry pundits have said that Open Platform 3.0 is ultimately about a shift toward user-driven IT. How does that change the standards making process when most standards are ultimately put in place by technologists not necessarily end-users?

CH:  It’s an interesting question. I mentioned the Business Scenario that we developed over the summer – one of the key things that came out of that was that there is this shift towards a more direct use of the technologies by business users.  And that is partly because it’s becoming more possible. Cloud is one of the key factors that has shortened the cycle of procuring and putting IT in place to support business use, and made it more possible to manage IT directly. At the same time [users are] becoming impatient with delay and wanting to gain the benefits of technology directly and not at arms length through the IT department. We’re seeing in connection with these phenomena such as the business technologist, the technical specialist who works with or is employed by the business department rather than within a separate IT department, and one of whose key strengths is an understanding of the business.  So that is certainly an important dimension that we’re seeing and one of the requirements for the Platform is that it should be usable in an environment where business is using IT more directly.

But that wasn’t the question you asked. The question was, ‘isn’t it a problem that the standards are defined by technologists?’ We don’t believe it’s a problem provided that the technologists do have an understanding of the business environment. That was why in the Business Scenario activity that we conducted, one of the key inputs was a roundtable workshop with CIO level people, and that is where a lot of our perspective on why things are changing comes from. Open Platform 3.0 certainly does have dimension of fundamental architecture patterns and part of that is business architecture patterns but it also has a technical dimension, and obviously you do really need the technical people to explore that dimension though they do always need to keep in mind the technology is there to serve the business.

DL: If you actually look at trends in the marketplace about how IT is done, and in fact if you look at the last blog post that Allen [Brown] did about agile, the whole thrust of agile methodologies and its successor DevOps is to really get the implementers right next to the business people and have a very tight arrangement in order to get fast iteration and really have the implementer do what the business person needs. I actually view consumerization not as some outside threat but actually a logical extension of that trend. What’s happening in my opinion is that people who are not technologists, who are not part of the IT department, are getting comfortable using and managing their own technology. And so they’re making decisions that used to be made by the IT department years ago – or what used to be the IT department. First there was the big mainframe, and you handed in your cards at a window and you got your printout in your little cubby hole. Then the IT department bought your PC, and now we bring our own devices. There’s nothing wrong with that, that’s people getting comfortable with technology and making decisions. I think that’s one of the reasons we have need for an Open Platform 3.0 approach – to develop business guidance and eventually technical standards on how we keep up with that trend. Because it’s a very natural trend – people want to control the resources they need to get their job done, and if those resources are technical resources, and they’re comfortable doing that, great!

Convergence and Open Platform 3.0 seem to take us closer and closer to The Open Group’s vision of Boundaryless Information Flow™.  Is Open Platform 3.0 the fulfillment of that vision?

DL: I think I’d be crazy to say that it’s the endpoint of that vision. I think being able to move large amounts of data and make decisions on it is a significant step forward in Boundaryless Information Flow, but this is a two-edged sword. I talked about all that data being generated by mobile devices and sensors and retail networks and social networks and things like that. That data is growing exponentially.  The number of people who can make decisions on that data are growing at best linearly and not very quickly. So if there’s all this data out there and nobody to look at it, we need to ask if we have we lowered the boundary for communications or have we actually raised it by creating a pile of data that no one can climb? That’s why I think a next step is, in fact, more machine-assisted analytics and predictive analytics and machine learning that will help humans digest and understand that data. That will be, I think, yet another step toward Boundaryless Information Flow. Moving bits around does not equate to information flow – its only information when it moves from data to being information in a human’s brain. Until we lower that barrier as well, we’re not there. And even beyond that, there’s still lots of things that can be done, in terms of breaking down human language barriers and things like that or social networks in more intuitive ways. I think there’s a long way to go. I think this is a really important step forward, but fulfillment is too strong a word.

CH:  Not in itself, I don’t believe. It is a major contribution towards the vision of Boundaryless Information Flow but it is not the complete fulfillment of that vision. Since we’ve formulated the problem statement of Boundaryless Information Flow there have been a number of developments that have impacted on it and maybe helped to bring it closer. So you might think of SOA as an important enabling technology for Boundaryless Information Flow, replacing the information silos with interacting services. Now we’re seeing Open Platform 3.0, which is certainly going to have a service-oriented flavor, shall we say, although it probably will not look exactly like traditional SOA. The Boundaryless Information Flow requirement was a very far-reaching problem statement. The Interoperable Business Scenario was where it was first set out and since then we’ve been gradually making process toward it. Open Platform 3.0 will bring it closer, but I’m sure there will be other things still needed to make it happen. 

One of the key things for Boundaryless Information Flow is Enterprise Architecture. So within a particular enterprise, the business and IT needs to be architected to enable Boundaryless Information Flow, and TOGAF is the method that is defined and maintained by The Open Group for how enterprises define enterprise architectures. Open Platform 3.0 will complement that by providing a ‘this is what an architecture looks like that enables the business to take advantage of this new converging technologies.’ But there will still be a need for the Enterprise Architect to put that together with the other particular factors involved in an enterprise to create an architecture for Boundaryless Information Flow within that enterprise.

When can we expect the first standard from Open Platform 3.0?

DL: Well, we published the Cloud Ecosystem Reference Guide, and again the understanding of how business partners relate in the Cloud world is a key component of Open Platform 3.0. The Forum has a roadmap, and will start publishing the case studies still in process.

The message I would say is there’s already early value in the Cloud Ecosystem Reference Model, which is a logical continuation of cloud work that had already gone on in the Work Group, but is now part of the Forum as part of Open Platform 3.0.

CH: That’s always a tricky question however I can tell you what is planned. The intention, as I said, was to produce a Snapshot definition by the end of March and, given we are a quarter of the way through the meeting at this conference, which is the key meeting that will define the basis for that, the progress has been good so far, so I’m optimistic. A Snapshot is not a Standard. A Snapshot is a statement of ‘this is what we are thinking and might be what it will look like,’ but it’s not guaranteed in any way that the Standard will follow the Snapshot. We are intending to produce the first Standard definition of the platform in about a year’s time after the Snapshot.  That will give the opportunity for people not only within The Open Group but outside The Open Group to give us input and further understanding of the way people intend to use the platform as feedback on the snapshot, which should be the basis for the first published standard.

For more on the Open Platform 3.0 Forum, please visit: http://www3.opengroup.org/subjectareas/platform3.0.

If you have any questions about Open Platform 3.0 or if you would like to join the new Forum, please contact Chris Harding (c.harding@opengroup.org) for queries regarding the Forum or Chris Parnell (c.parnell@opengroup.org) for queries regarding membership.

Chris HardingDr. Chris Harding is Director for Interoperability and SOA at The Open Group. He has been with The Open Group for more than ten years, and is currently responsible for managing and supporting its work on interoperability, including SOA and interoperability aspects of Cloud Computing, and the Open Platform 3.0 Forum. He is a member of the BCS, the IEEE and the AEA, and is a certified TOGAF® practitioner.

Dave LounsburyDave is Chief Technical Officer (CTO) and Vice President, Services for The Open Group. As CTO, he ensures that The Open Group’s people and IT resources are effectively used to implement the organization’s strategy and mission.  As VP of Services, Dave leads the delivery of The Open Group’s proven collaboration processes for collaboration and certification both within the organization and in support of third-party consortia. Dave holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and is holder of three U.S. patents.

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

By Stuart Boardman, KPN

What does the apocalyptic vision of Blade Runner have to do with The Open Group’s Open Platform 3.0™ Forum?

Throughout history, from the ancient Greeks and the Talmud, through The Future Eve and Metropolis to I Robot and Terminator, we seem to have been both fascinated and appalled by the prospect of an autonomous “being” with its own consciousness and aspirations.

Hal-2001

But right now it’s not the machines that bother me. It’s how we try to do what we try to do with them. What we try to do is to address problems of increasingly critical economic, social and environmental importance. It bothers me because, like it or not, these problems can only be addressed by a partnership of man and (intelligent) machine and yet we seem to want to take the intelligence out of both partners.

Two recent posts that came my way via Twitter this week provoked me to write this blog. One is a GE Report that looks very thoroughly, if somewhat uncritically at what it calls the Industrial Internet. The other, by Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, appeared in Forbes under the title There Is No Internet of Things and laments the lack of interconnectedness in most “Smart” technologies.hammer

What disturbs me about both of those pieces is the suggestion that if we sort out some interoperability and throw masses of computing power and smart algorithms at a problem, everything will be dandy.

Actually it could just make things worse. Technically everything will work but the results will be a matter of chance. The problem lies in the validity of the models we use. And our ability to effectively model complex problems is at best unproven. If the model is faulty and the calculation perfect, the results will be wrong. In fact, when the systems we try to model are complex or chaotic, no deterministic model can deliver correct results other than by accident. But we like deterministic models, because they make us feel like we’re in control. I discussed this problem and its effects in more detail in my article on Ashby’s Law Of Requisite Variety. There’s also an important article by Joyce Hostyn, which explains how a simplistic view of objectivity leads to (at best) biased results. “Data does not lie. It just does not (always) mean what you think it does” (Claudia Perlich, Chief Scientist at Dstillery via CMSWire).

Now that doesn’t detract from the fact that developing a robot vacuum cleaner that actually “learns” the layout of a room is pretty impressive. That doesn’t mean that the robot is aware that it is a vacuum cleaner and that it has a (single) purpose in life. And just as well. It might get upset about us continually moving the furniture and decide to get revenge by crashing into our best antique glass cabinet.

With the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data in particular, we’re deploying machines to carry out analyses and take decisions that can be critical for the success of some human endeavor. If the models are wrong or only sometimes right, the consequences can be disastrous for health, the environment or the economy. In my Ashby piece I showed how unexpected events can result in an otherwise good model leading to fundamentally wrong reactions. In a world where IoT and Big Data combine with Mobility (multiple device types, locations and networks) and Cloud, the level of complexity is obviously high and there’s scope for a large number of unexpected events.
IoT Society

If we are to manage the volume of information coming our way and the speed with which it comes or with which we must react we need to harness the power of machine intelligence. In an intelligent manner. Which brings me to Cognitive Computing Systems.

On the IBM Research Cognitive Computing page I found this statement: “Far from replacing our thinking, cognitive systems will extend our cognition and free us to think more creatively.”  Cognitive Computing means allowing the computer to say “listen guys, I’m not really sure about this but here are the options”. Or even “I’ve actually never seen one of these before, so maybe you’d like to see what you can make of it”. And if the computer is really really not sure, maybe we’d better ride the storm for a while and figure out what this new thing is. Cognitive Computing means that we can, in a manner of speaking, discuss this with the computer.

It’s hard to say how far we are from commercially viable implementations of this technology. Watson has a few children but the family is still at the stage of applied research. But necessity is the mother of invention and, if the technologies we’re talking about in Platform 3.0 really do start collectively to take on the roles we have envisaged for them, that could just provide the necessary incentive to develop economically feasible solutions.

spacemenIn the meantime, we need to put ourselves more in the centre of things, to make the optimal use of the technologies we do have available to us but not shirk our responsibilities as intelligent human beings to use that intelligence and not seek easy answers to wicked problems.

 

 

I’ll leave you with 3 minutes and 12 seconds of genius:
marshalldavisjones
Marshall Davis Jones: “Touchscreen”


Stuart BoardmanStuart Boardman is a Senior Business Consultant with KPN where he co-leads the Enterprise Architecture practice as well as the Cloud Computing solutions group. He is co-lead of The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group’s Security for the Cloud and SOA project and a founding member of both The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group and The Open Group SOA Work Group. Stuart is the author of publications by the Information Security Platform (PvIB) in The Netherlands and of his previous employer, CGI. He is a frequent speaker at conferences on the topics of Cloud, SOA, and Identity.

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Filed under Cloud, Cloud/SOA, Open Platform 3.0, Platform 3.0

Evolving Business and Technology Toward an Open Platform 3.0™

By Dave Lounsbury, Chief Technical Officer, The Open Group

The role of IT within the business is one that constantly evolves and changes. If you’ve been in the technology industry long enough, you’ve likely had the privilege of seeing IT grow to become integral to how businesses and organizations function.

In his recent keynote “Just Exactly What Is Going On in Business and Technology?” at The Open Group London Conference in October, Andy Mulholland, former Global Chief Technology Officer at Capgemini, discussed how the role of IT has changed from being traditionally internally focused (inside the firewall, proprietary, a few massive applications, controlled by IT) to one that is increasingly externally focused (outside the firewall, open systems, lots of small applications, increasingly controlled by users). This is due to the rise of a number of disruptive forces currently affecting the industry such as BYOD, Cloud, social media tools, Big Data, the Internet of Things, cognitive computing. As Mulholland pointed out, IT today is about how people are using technology in the front office. They are bringing their own devices, they are using apps to get outside of the firewall, they are moving further and further away from traditional “back office” IT.

Due to the rise of the Internet, the client/server model of the 1980s and 1990s that kept everything within the enterprise is no more. That model has been subsumed by a model in which development is fast and iterative and information is constantly being pushed and pulled primarily from outside organizations. The current model is also increasingly mobile, allowing users to get the information they need anytime and anywhere from any device.

At the same time, there is a push from business and management for increasingly rapid turnaround times and smaller scale projects that are, more often than not, being sourced via Cloud services. The focus of these projects is on innovating business models and acting in areas where the competition does not act. These forces are causing polarization within IT departments between internal IT operations based on legacy systems and new external operations serving buyers in business functions that are sourcing their own services through Cloud-based apps.

Just as UNIX® provided a standard platform for applications on single computers and the combination of servers, PCs and the Internet provided a second platform for web apps and services, we now need a new platform to support the apps and services that use cloud, social, mobile, big data and the Internet of Things. Rather than merely aligning with business goals or enabling business, the next platform will be embedded within the business as an integral element bringing together users, activity and data. To work properly, this must be a standard platform so that these things can work together effectively and at low cost, providing vendors a worthwhile market for their products.

Industry pundits have already begun to talk about this layer of technology. Gartner calls it the “Nexus of Forces.” IDC calls it the “third platform.” At the The Open Group, we refer to it as Open Platform 3.0™, and we announced a new Forum to address how organizations can address and support these technologies earlier this year. Open Platform 3.0 is meant to enable organizations (including standards bodies, users and vendors) coordinate their approaches to the new business models and IT practices driving the new platform to support a new generation of interoperable business solutions.

As is always the case with technologies, a point is reached where technical innovation must transition to business benefit. Open Platform 3.0 is, in essence, the next evolution of computing. To help the industry sort through these changes and create vendor-neutral standards that foster the cohesive adoption of new technologies, The Open Group must also evolve its focus and standards to respond to where the industry is headed.

The work of the Open Platform 3.0 Forum has already begun. Initial actions for the Forum have been identified and were shared during the London conference.  Our recent survey on Convergent Technologies confirmed the need to address these issues. Of those surveyed, 95 percent of respondents felt that converged technologies were an opportunity for business, and 84 percent of solution providers are already dealing with two or more of these technologies in combination. Respondents also saw vendor lock-in as a potential hindrance to using these technologies underscoring the need for an industry standard that will address interoperability. In addition to the survey, the Forum has also produced an initial Business Scenario to begin to address these industry needs and formulate requirements for this new platform.

If you have any questions about Open Platform 3.0 or if you would like to join the new Forum, please contact Chris Harding (c.harding@opengroup.org) for queries regarding the Forum or Chris Parnell (c.parnell@opengroup.org) for queries regarding membership.

 

Dave LounsburyDave is Chief Technical Officer (CTO) and Vice President, Services for The Open Group. As CTO, he ensures that The Open Group’s people and IT resources are effectively used to implement the organization’s strategy and mission.  As VP of Services, Dave leads the delivery of The Open Group’s proven collaboration processes for collaboration and certification both within the organization and in support of third-party consortia. Dave holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and is holder of three U.S. patents.

 

 

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