Tag Archives: Cloud Computing Work Group

Future Technologies

By Dave Lounsbury, The Open Group

The Open Group is looking toward the future – what will happen in the next five to ten years?

Those who know us think of The Open Group as being all about consensus, creating standards that are useful to the buy and supply side by creating a stable representation of industry experience – and they would be right. But in order to form this consensus, we must keep an eye on the horizon to see if there are areas that we should be talking about now. The Open Group needs to keep eyes on the future in order to keep pace with businesses looking to gain business advantage by incorporating emerging technologies. According to the McKinsey Global institute[1], “leaders need to plan for a range of scenarios, abandoning assumptions about where competition and risk could come from and not to be afraid to look beyond long-established models.”

To make sure we have this perspective, The Open Group has started a series of Future Technologies workshops. We initiated this at The Open Group Conference in Philadelphia with the goal of identifying emerging business and technical trends that change the shape of enterprise IT.  What are the potential disruptors? How should we be preparing?

As always at The Open Group, we look to our membership to guide us. We assembled a fantastic panel of experts on the topic who offered up insights into the future:

  • Dr. William Lafontaine, VP High Performance Computing, Analytics & Cognitive Markets at IBM Research: Global technology Outlook 2013.
  • Mike Walker, Strategy and Enterprise Architecture Advisor at HP: An Enterprise Architecture’s Journey to 2020.

If you were not able to join us in Philadelphia, you can view the Livestream session on-demand.

Dr. William Lafontaine shared aspects of the company’s Global Technology Outlook 2013, naming the top trends that the company is keeping top of mind, starting with a confluence of social, mobile analytics and cloud.

According to Lafontaine and his colleagues, businesses must prepare for not “mobile also” but “mobile first.” In fact, there will be companies that will exist in a mobile-only environment.

  • Growing scale/lower barrier of entry – More data created, but also more people able to create ways of taking advantage of this data, such as companies that excel at personal interface. Multimedia analytics will become a growing concern for businesses that will be receiving swells of information video and images.
  • Increasing complexity – the Confluence of Social, Mobile, Cloud and Big Data / Analytics will result in masses of data coming from newer, more “complex” places, such as scanners, mobile devices and other “Internet of Things”. Yet, these complex and varied streams of data are more consumable and will have an end-product which is more easily delivered to clients or user.  Smaller businesses are also moving closer toward enterprise complexity. For example, when you swipe your credit card, you will also be shown additional purchasing opportunities based on your past spending habits.  These can include alerts to nearby coffee shops that serve your favorite tea to local bookstores that sell mysteries or your favorite genre.
  •  Fast pace – According to Lafontaine, ideas will be coming to market faster than ever. He introduced the concept of the Minimum Buyable Product, which means take an idea (sometimes barely formed) to inventors to test its capabilities and to evaluate as quickly as possible. Processes that once took months or years can now take weeks. Lafontaine used the MOOC innovator Coursera as an example: Eighteen months ago, it had no clients and existed in zero countries. Now it’s serving over 4 million students around the world in over 29 countries. Deployment of open APIs will become a strategic tool for creation of value.
  • Contextual overload – Businesses have more data than they know what to do with: our likes and dislikes, how we like to engage with our mobile devices, our ages, our locations, along with traditional data of record. The next five years, businesses will be attempting to make sense of it.
  • Machine learning – Cognitive systems will form the “third era” of computing. We will see businesses using machines capable of complex reasoning and interaction to extend human cognition.  Examples are a “medical sieve” for medical imaging diagnosis, used by legal firms in suggesting defense / prosecution arguments and in next generation call centers.
  • IT shops need to be run as a business – Mike Walker spoke about how the business of IT is fundamentally changing and that end-consumers are driving corporate behaviors.  Expectations have changed and the bar has been raised.  The tolerance for failure is low and getting lower.  It is no longer acceptable to tell end-consumers that they will be receiving the latest product in a year.  Because customers want their products faster, EAs and businesses will have to react in creative ways.
  • Build a BRIC house: According to Forrester, $2.1 trillion will be spent on IT in 2013 with “apps and the US leading the charge.” Walker emphasized the importance of building information systems, products and services that support the BRIC areas of the world (Brazil, Russia, India and China) since they comprise nearly a third of the global GDP. Hewlett-Packard is banking big on “The New Style of IT”: Cloud, risk management and security and information management.  This is the future of business and IT, says Meg Whitman, CEO and president of HP. All of the company’s products and services presently pivot around these three concepts.
  • IT is the business: Gartner found that 67% of all EA organizations are either starting (39%), restarting (7%) or renewing (21%). There’s a shift from legacy EA, with 80% of organizations focused on how they can leverage EA to either align business and IT standards (25%), deliver strategic business and IT value (39%) or enable major business transformation (16%).

Good as these views are, they only represent two data points on a line that The Open Group wants to draw out toward the end of the decade. So we will be continuing these Future Technologies sessions to gather additional views, with the next session being held at The Open Group London Conference in October.  Please join us there! We’d also like to get your input on this blog.  Please post your thoughts on:

  • Perspectives on what business and technology trends will impact IT and EA in the next 5-10 years
  • Points of potential disruption – what will change the way we do business?
  • What actions should we be taking now to prepare for this future?

[1] McKinsey Global Institute, Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy. May 2013

Dave LounsburyDave Lounsbury is The Open Group‘s Chief Technology Officer, previously VP of Collaboration Services.  Dave holds three U.S. patents and is based in the U.S.

1 Comment

Filed under Cloud, Enterprise Architecture, Future Technologies, Open Platform 3.0

Thinking About Big Data

By Dave Lounsbury, The Open Group

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

- Albert Einstein

The growing consumerization of technology and convergence of technologies such as the “Internet of Things”, social networks and mobile devices are causing big changes for enterprises and the marketplace. They are also generating massive amounts of data related to behavior, environment, location, buying patterns and more.

Having massive amounts of data readily available is invaluable. More data means greater insight, which leads to more informed decision-making. So far, we are keeping ahead of this data by smarter analytics and improving the way we handle this data. The question is, how long can we keep up? The rate of data production is increasing; as an example, an IDC report[1] predicts that the production of data will increase 50X in the coming decade. To magnify this problem, there’s an accompanying explosion of data about the data – cataloging information, metadata, and the results of analytics are all data in themselves. At the same time, data scientists and engineers who can deal with such data are already a scarce commodity, and the number of such people is expected to grow only by 1.5X in the same period.

It isn’t hard to draw the curve. Turning data into actionable insight is going to be a challenge – data flow is accelerating at a faster rate than the available humans can absorb, and our databases and data analytic systems can only help so much.

Markets never leave gaps like this unfilled, and because of this we should expect to see a fundamental shift in the IT tools we use to deal with the growing tide of data. In order to solve the challenges of managing data with the volume, variety and velocities we expect, we will need to teach machines to do more of the analysis for us and help to make the best use of scarce human talents.

The Study of Machine Learning

Machine Learning, sometimes called “cognitive computing”[2] or “intelligent computing”, looks at the study of building computers with the capability to learn and perform tasks based on experience. Experience in this context includes looking at vast data sets, using multiple “senses” or types of media, recognizing patterns from past history or precedent, and extrapolating this information to reason about the problem at hand. An example of machine learning that is currently underway in the healthcare sector is medical decision aids that learn to predict therapies or to help with patient management, based on correlating a vast body of medical and drug experience data with the information about the patients under treatment

A well-known example of this is Watson, a machine learning system IBM unveiled a few years ago. While Watson is best known for winning Jeopardy, that was just the beginning. IBM has since built six Watsons to assist with their primary objective: to help health care professionals find answers to complex medical questions and help with patient management[3]. The sophistication of Watson is the reaction of all this data action that is going on. Watson of course isn’t the only example in this field, with others ranging from Apple’s Siri intelligent voice-operated assistant to DARPA’s SyNAPSE program[4].

Evolution of the Technological Landscape

As the consumerization of technology continues to grow and converge, our way of constructing business models and systems need to evolve as well. We need to let data drive the business process, and incorporate intelligent machines like Watson into our infrastructure to help us turn data into actionable results.

There is an opportunity for information technology and companies to help drive this forward. However, in order for us to properly teach computers how to learn, we first need to understand the environments in which they will be asked to learn in – Cloud, Big Data, etc. Ultimately, though, any full consideration of these problems will require a look at how machine learning can help us make decisions – machine learning systems may be the real platform in these areas.

The Open Group is already laying the foundation to help organizations take advantage of these convergent technologies with its new forum, Platform 3.0. The forum brings together a community of industry thought leaders to analyze the use of Cloud, Social, Mobile computing and Big Data, and describe the business benefits that enterprises can gain from them. We’ll also be looking at trends like these at our Philadelphia conference this summer.  Please join us in the discussion.


2 Comments

Filed under Cloud, Cloud/SOA, Data management, Enterprise Architecture

Welcome to Platform 3.0

By Dave Lounsbury, The Open Group

The space around us is forever changing.

As I write now, the planet’s molten core is in motion far beneath my feet, and way above my head, our atmosphere and the universe are in constant flux too.

Man also makes his own changes as well. Innovation in technology and business constantly create new ways to work together and create economic value.

Over the past few years, we have witnessed the birth, evolution and use of a number of such changes, each of which has the potential to fundamentally change the way we engage with one another. These include: Mobile, Social (both Social Networks and Social Enterprise), Big Data, the Internet of Things, Cloud Computing as well as devices and application architectures.

Now however, these once disparate forces are converging – united by the growing Consumerization of Technology and the resulting evolution in user behavior – to create new business models and system designs.

You can see evidence of this convergence of trends in the following key architectural shifts:

  • Exponential growth of data inside and outside organizations converging with end point usage in mobile devices, analytics, embedded technology and Cloud hosted environments
  • Speed of technology and business innovation is rapidly changing the focus from asset ownership to the usage of services, and the predication of more agile architecture models to be able to adapt to new technology change and offerings
  • New value networks resulting from the interaction and growth of the Internet of Things and multi-devices and connectivity targeting specific vertical industry sector needs
  • Performance and security implications involving cross technology platforms , cache and bandwidth strategies, existing across federated environments
  • Social behavior and market channel changes resulting in multiple ways to search and select IT and business services
  • Cross device and user-centric driven service design and mainstream use of online marketplace platforms for a growing range of services

The analyst community was the first to recognize and define this evolution in the technological landscape which we are calling Platform 3.0.

At Gartner’s Symposium conference, the keynote touched on the emergence of what it called a ‘Nexus of Forces,’ and warning that it would soon render existing Business Architectures “obsolete.”

However, for those organizations who could get it right, Gartner called the Nexus a “key differentiator of business and technology management” and recommended that “strategizing on how to take advantage of the Nexus should be a top priority for companies around the world.”[i]

Similarly, according to IDC Chief Analyst, Frank Gens, “Vendors’ ability (or inability) to compete on the 3rd Platform [Platform 3.0] right now — even at the risk of cannibalizing their own 2nd Platform franchises — will reorder leadership ranks within the IT market and, ultimately, every industry that uses IT.”[ii]

Of course, while organizations will be looking to make use of Platform 3.0 to create innovative new products and services, this will not be an easy transition for many. Significantly, there will be architectural issues and structural considerations to consider when using and combining these convergent technologies which will need to be overcome. Accomplishing this will in turn require cooperation among suppliers and users of these products and services.

That is why we’re excited to announce the formation of a new – as yet unnamed – forum, specifically designed to advance The Open Group vision of Boundaryless Information Flow™ by helping enterprises to take advantage of these convergent technologies. This will be accomplished by identifying a set of new platform capabilities, and architecting and standardizing an IT platform by which enterprises can reap the business benefits of Platform 3.0. It is our intention that these capabilities will enable enterprises to:

  • Process data “in the Cloud”
  • Integrate mobile devices with enterprise computing
  • Incorporate new sources of data, including social media and sensors in the Internet of Things
  • Manage and share data that has high volume, velocity, variety and distribution
  • Turn the data into usable information through correlation, fusion, analysis and visualization

The forum will bring together a community of industry experts and thought leaders whose purpose it will be to meet these goals, initiate and manage programs to support them, and promote the results. Owing to the nature of the forum it is expected that this forum will also leverage work underway in this area by The Open Group’s existing Cloud Work Group, and would coordinate with other forums for specific overlapping or cross-cutting activities.

Looking ahead, the first deliverables will analyze the use of Cloud, Social, Mobile Computing and Big Data, and describe the business benefits that enterprises can gain from them. The forum will then proceed to describe the new IT platform in the light of this analysis.

If this area is as exciting and important to you and your organization as it is to us, please join us in the discussion. We will use this blog and other communication channels of The Open Group to let you know how you can participate, and we’d of course welcome your comments and thoughts on this idea.

21 Comments

Filed under Enterprise Architecture, Professional Development

How Should we use Cloud?

By Chris Harding, The Open Group

How should we use Cloud? This is the key question at the start of 2013.

The Open Group® conferences in recent years have thrown light on, “What is Cloud?” and, “Should we use Cloud?” It is time to move on.

Cloud as a Distributed Processing Platform

The question is an interesting one, because the answer is not necessarily, “Use Cloud resources just as you would use in-house resources.” Of course, you can use Cloud processing and storage to replace or supplement what you have in-house, and many companies are doing just that. You can also use the Cloud as a distributed computing platform, on which a single application instance can use multiple processing and storage resources, perhaps spread across many countries.

It’s a bit like contracting a company to do a job, rather than hiring a set of people. If you hire a set of people, you have to worry about who will do what when. Contract a company, and all that is taken care of. The company assembles the right people, schedules their work, finds replacements in case of sickness, and moves them on to other things when their contribution is complete.

This doesn’t only make things easier, it also enables you to tackle bigger jobs. Big Data is the latest technical phenomenon. Big Data can be processed effectively by parceling the work out to multiple computers. Cloud providers are beginning to make the tools to do this available, using distributed file systems and map-reduce. We do not yet have, “Distributed Processing as a Service” – but that will surely come.

Distributed Computing at the Conference

Big Data is the main theme of the Newport Beach conference. The plenary sessions have keynote presentations on Big Data, including the crucial aspect of security, and there is a Big Data track that explores in depth its use in Enterprise Architecture.

There are also Cloud tracks that explore the business aspects of using Cloud and the use of Cloud in Enterprise Architecture, including a session on its use for Big Data.

Service orientation is generally accepted as a sound underlying principle for systems using both Cloud and in-house resources. The Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) movement focused initially on its application within the enterprise. We are now looking to apply it to distributed systems of all kinds. This may require changes to specific technology and interfaces, but not to the fundamental SOA approach. The Distributed Services Architecture track contains presentations on the theory and practice of SOA.

Distributed Computing Work in The Open Group

Many of the conference presentations are based on work done by Open Group members in the Cloud Computing, SOA and Semantic Interoperability Work Groups, and in the Architecture, Security and Jericho Forums. The Open Group enables people to come together to develop standards and best practices for the benefit of the architecture community. We have active Work Groups and Forums working on artifacts such as a Cloud Computing Reference Architecture, a Cloud Portability and Interoperability Guide, and a Guide to the use of TOGAF® framework in Cloud Ecosystems.

The Open Group Conference in Newport Beach

Our conferences provide an opportunity for members and non-members to discuss ideas together. This happens not only in presentations and workshops, but also in informal discussions during breaks and after the conference sessions. These discussions benefit future work at The Open Group. They also benefit the participants directly, enabling them to bring to their enterprises ideas that they have sounded out with their peers. People from other companies can often bring new perspectives.

Most enterprises now know what Cloud is. Many have identified specific opportunities where they will use it. The challenge now for enterprise architects is determining how best to do this, either by replacing in-house systems, or by using the Cloud’s potential for distributed processing. This is the question for discussion at The Open Group Conference in Newport Beach. I’m looking forward to an interesting conference!

Dr. 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. He is a member of the BCS, the IEEE and the AEA, and is a certified TOGAF practitioner.

1 Comment

Filed under Cloud, Conference

2013 Open Group Predictions, Vol. 1

By The Open Group

A big thank you to all of our members and staff who have made 2012 another great year for The Open Group. There were many notable achievements this year, including the release of ArchiMate 2.0, the launch of the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE™) Technical Standard and the publication of the SOA Reference Architecture (SOA RA) and the Service-Oriented Cloud Computing Infrastructure Framework (SOCCI).

As we wrap up 2012, we couldn’t help but look towards what is to come in 2013 for The Open Group and the industries we‘re a part of. Without further ado, here they are:

Big Data
By Dave Lounsbury, Chief Technical Officer

Big Data is on top of everyone’s mind these days. Consumerization, mobile smart devices, and expanding retail and sensor networks are generating massive amounts of data on behavior, environment, location, buying patterns – etc. – producing what is being called “Big Data”. In addition, as the use of personal devices and social networks continue to gain popularity so does the expectation to have access to such data and the computational power to use it anytime, anywhere. Organizations will turn to IT to restructure its services so it meets the growing expectation of control and access to data.

Organizations must embrace Big Data to drive their decision-making and to provide the optimal service mix services to customers. Big Data is becoming so big that the big challenge is how to use it to make timely decisions. IT naturally focuses on collecting data so Big Data itself is not an issue.. To allow humans to keep on top of this flood of data, industry will need to move away from programming computers for storing and processing data to teaching computers how to assess large amounts of uncorrelated data and draw inferences from this data on their own. We also need to start thinking about the skills that people need in the IT world to not only handle Big Data, but to make it actionable. Do we need “Data Architects” and if so, what would their role be?

In 2013, we will see the beginning of the Intellectual Computing era. IT will play an essential role in this new era and will need to help enterprises look at uncorrelated data to find the answer.

Security

By Jim Hietala, Vice President of Security

As 2012 comes to a close, some of the big developments in security over the past year include:

  • Continuation of hacktivism attacks.
  • Increase of significant and persistent threats targeting government and large enterprises. The notable U.S. National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace started to make progress in the second half of the year in terms of industry and government movement to address fundamental security issues.
  • Security breaches were discovered by third parties, where the organizations affected had no idea that they were breached. Data from the 2012 Verizon report suggests that 92 percent of companies breached were notified by a third party.
  • Acknowledgement from senior U.S. cybersecurity professionals that organizations fall into two groups: those that know they’ve been penetrated, and those that have been penetrated, but don’t yet know it.

In 2013, we’ll no doubt see more of the same on the attack front, plus increased focus on mobile attack vectors. We’ll also see more focus on detective security controls, reflecting greater awareness of the threat and on the reality that many large organizations have already been penetrated, and therefore responding appropriately requires far more attention on detection and incident response.

We’ll also likely see the U.S. move forward with cybersecurity guidance from the executive branch, in the form of a Presidential directive. New national cybersecurity legislation seemed to come close to happening in 2012, and when it failed to become a reality, there were many indications that the administration would make something happen by executive order.

Enterprise Architecture

By Leonard Fehskens, Vice President of Skills and Capabilities

Preparatory to my looking back at 2012 and forward to 2013, I reviewed what I wrote last year about 2011 and 2012.

Probably the most significant thing from my perspective is that so little has changed. In fact, I think in many respects the confusion about what Enterprise Architecture (EA) and Business Architecture are about has gotten worse.

The stress within the EA community as both the demands being placed on it and the diversity of opinion within it increase continues to grow.  This year, I saw a lot more concern about the value proposition for EA, but not a lot of (read “almost no”) convergence on what that value proposition is.

Last year I wrote “As I expected at this time last year, the conventional wisdom about Enterprise Architecture continues to spin its wheels.”  No need to change a word of that. What little progress at the leading edge was made in 2011 seems to have had no effect in 2012. I think this is largely a consequence of the dust thrown in the eyes of the community by the ascendance of the concept of “Business Architecture,” which is still struggling to define itself.  Business Architecture seems to me to have supplanted last year’s infatuation with “enterprise transformation” as the means of compensating for the EA community’s entrenched IT-centric perspective.

I think this trend and the quest for a value proposition are symptomatic of the same thing — the urgent need for Enterprise Architecture to make its case to its stakeholder community, especially to the people who are paying the bills. Something I saw in 2011 that became almost epidemic in 2012 is conflation — the inclusion under the Enterprise Architecture umbrella of nearly anything with the slightest taste of “business” to it. This has had the unfortunate effect of further obscuring the unique contribution of Enterprise Architecture, which is to bring architectural thinking to bear on the design of human enterprise.

So, while I’m not quite mired in the slough of despond, I am discouraged by the community’s inability to advance the state of the art. In a private communication to some colleagues I wrote, “the conventional wisdom on EA is at about the same state of maturity as 14th century cosmology. It is obvious to even the most casual observer that the earth is both flat and the center of the universe. We debate what happens when you fall off the edge of the Earth, and is the flat earth carried on the back of a turtle or an elephant?  Does the walking of the turtle or elephant rotate the crystalline sphere of the heavens, or does the rotation of the sphere require the turtlephant to walk to keep the earth level?  These are obviously the questions we need to answer.”

Cloud

By Chris Harding, Director of Interoperability

2012 has seen the establishment of Cloud Computing as a mainstream resource for enterprise architects and the emergence of Big Data as the latest hot topic, likely to be mainstream for the future. Meanwhile, Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) has kept its position as an architectural style of choice for delivering distributed solutions, and the move to ever more powerful mobile devices continues. These trends have been reflected in the activities of our Cloud Computing Work Group and in the continuing support by members of our SOA work.

The use of Cloud, Mobile Computing, and Big Data to deliver on-line systems that are available anywhere at any time is setting a new norm for customer expectations. In 2013, we will see the development of Enterprise Architecture practice to ensure the consistent delivery of these systems by IT professionals, and to support the evolution of creative new computing solutions.

IT systems are there to enable the business to operate more effectively. Customers expect constant on-line access through mobile and other devices. Business organizations work better when they focus on their core capabilities, and let external service providers take care of the rest. On-line data is a huge resource, so far largely untapped. Distributed, Cloud-enabled systems, using Big Data, and architected on service-oriented principles, are the best enablers of effective business operations. There will be a convergence of SOA, Mobility, Cloud Computing, and Big Data as they are seen from the overall perspective of the enterprise architect.

Within The Open Group, the SOA and Cloud Work Groups will continue their individual work, and will collaborate with other forums and work groups, and with outside organizations, to foster the convergence of IT disciplines for distributed computing.

3 Comments

Filed under Business Architecture, Cloud, Cloud/SOA, Cybersecurity, Enterprise Architecture

San Francisco Conference Observations: Enterprise Transformation, Enterprise Architecture, SOA and a Splash of Cloud Computing

By Chris Harding, The Open Group 

This week I have been at The Open Group conference in San Francisco. The theme was Enterprise Transformation which, in simple terms means changing how your business works to take advantage of the latest developments in IT.

Evidence of these developments is all around. I took a break and went for coffee and a sandwich, to a little cafe down on Pine and Leavenworth that seemed to be run by and for the Millennium generation. True to type, my server pulled out a cellphone with a device attached through which I swiped my credit card; an app read my screen-scrawled signature and the transaction was complete.

Then dinner. We spoke to the hotel concierge, she tapped a few keys on her terminal and, hey presto, we had a window table at a restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf. No lengthy phone negotiations with the Maitre d’. We were just connected with the resource that we needed, quickly and efficiently.

The power of ubiquitous technology to transform the enterprise was the theme of the inspirational plenary presentation given by Andy Mulholland, Global CTO at Capgemini. Mobility, the Cloud, and big data are the three powerful technical forces that must be harnessed by the architect to move the business to smarter operation and new markets.

Jeanne Ross of the MIT Sloan School of Management shared her recipe for architecting business success, with examples drawn from several major companies. Indomitable and inimitable, she always challenges her audience to think through the issues. This time we responded with, “Don’t small companies need architecture too?” Of course they do, was the answer, but the architecture of a big corporation is very different from that of a corner cafe.

Corporations don’t come much bigger than Nissan. Celso Guiotoko, Corporate VP and CIO at the Nissan Motor Company, told us how Nissan are using enterprise architecture for business transformation. Highlights included the concept of information capitalization, the rationalization of the application portfolio through SOA and reusable services, and the delivery of technology resource through a private cloud platform.

The set of stimulating plenary presentations on the first day of the conference was completed by Lauren States, VP and CTO Cloud Computing and Growth Initiatives at IBM. Everyone now expects business results from technical change, and there is huge pressure on the people involved to deliver results that meet these expectations. IT enablement is one part of the answer, but it must be matched by business process excellence and values-based culture for real productivity and growth.

My role in The Open Group is to support our work on Cloud Computing and SOA, and these activities took all my attention after the initial plenary. If you had, thought five years ago, that no technical trend could possibly generate more interest and excitement than SOA, Cloud Computing would now be proving you wrong.

But interest in SOA continues, and we had a SOA stream including presentations of forward thinking on how to use SOA to deliver agility, and on SOA governance, as well as presentations describing and explaining the use of key Open Group SOA standards and guides: the Service Integration Maturity Model (OSIMM), the SOA Reference Architecture, and the Guide to using TOGAF for SOA.

We then moved into the Cloud, with a presentation by Mike Walker of Microsoft on why Enterprise Architecture must lead Cloud strategy and planning. The “why” was followed by the “how”: Zapthink’s Jason Bloomberg described Representational State Transfer (REST), which many now see as a key foundational principle for Cloud architecture. But perhaps it is not the only principle; a later presentation suggested a three-tier approach with the client tier, including mobile devices, accessing RESTful information resources through a middle tier of agents that compose resources and carry out transactions (ACT).

In the evening we had a CloudCamp, hosted by The Open Group and conducted as a separate event by the CloudCamp organization. The original CloudCamp concept was of an “unconference” where early adopters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas. Its founder, Dave Nielsen, is now planning to set up a demo center where those adopters can experiment with setting up private clouds. This transition from idea to experiment reflects the changing status of mainstream cloud adoption.

The public conference streams were followed by a meeting of the Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group. This is currently pursuing nine separate projects to develop standards and guidance for architects using cloud computing. The meeting in San Francisco focused on one of these – the Cloud Computing Reference Architecture. It compared submissions from five companies, also taking into account ongoing work at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), with the aim of creating a base from which to create an Open Group reference architecture for Cloud Computing. This gave a productive finish to a busy week of information gathering and discussion.

Ralph Hitz of Visana, a health insurance company based in Switzerland, made an interesting comment on our reference architecture discussion. He remarked that we were not seeking to change or evolve the NIST service and deployment models. This may seem boring, but it is true, and it is right. Cloud Computing is now where the automobile was in 1920. We are pretty much agreed that it will have four wheels and be powered by gasoline. The business and economic impact is yet to come.

So now I’m on my way to the airport for the flight home. I checked in online, and my boarding pass is on my cellphone. Big companies, as well as small ones, now routinely use mobile technology, and my airline has a frequent-flyer app. It’s just a shame that they can’t manage a decent cup of coffee.

Dr. 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. Before joining The Open Group, he was a consultant, and a designer and development manager of communications software. With a PhD in mathematical logic, he welcomes the current upsurge of interest in semantic technology, and the opportunity to apply logical theory to practical use. He has presented at Open Group and other conferences on a range of topics, and contributes articles to on-line journals. He is a member of the BCS, the IEEE, and the AOGEA, and is a certified TOGAF practitioner.

Comments Off

Filed under Cloud, Cloud/SOA, Conference, Enterprise Architecture, Enterprise Transformation, Service Oriented Architecture, Standards

What does the Amazon EC2 downtime mean?

By Mark Skilton, Capgemini

The recent announcement of the Amazon EC2 outage in April this year triggers some thoughts about this very high-profile topic in Cloud Computing. How secure and available is your data in the Cloud?

While the outage was more to do with the service level availability (SLA) of data and services from your Cloud provider, the recent, potentially more concerning risk of Epsilon e-mail data stolen, and as I write this the Sony email theft is breaking news, further highlights this big topic in Cloud Computing.

My initial reaction on hearing the about the outage was that it was due to over-allocation due to high demand in the US EAST 2 region, which led to a cascade system failure. I subsequently read that Amazon said it was a network glitch, which triggered storage backups to automatically create more than needed, consuming the elastic block storage. This in turn, I theorized, seems to have created the supply unavailability problem.

From a business perspective, this focuses on the issues of using a primary Cloud provider. The businesses like Quora.com and foursquare.com that were affected “live in the Cloud,” yet backup and secondary Cloud support needs are clearly important.  Some of these are economic decisions, trade-offs between loss of business and business continuity. It highlights the vulnerability of these enterprises even though a highly successful organization like Amazon makes this a rare event. Consumers of Cloud services need to consider taking mitigating actions such as disruption insurance; having secondary backups; and the issues of assurances of SLAs, which are largely out of the hands of SMB Market users. A result of outages in Cloud providers has been the emergence of a new market called “Cloud Backup,” which is starting to gain favor with customers and providers in providing added levels of protection of service fail over.

While these are concerning issues, I believe most outage issues may be addressed by taking due diligence in the procurement and usage behavior of any service that involves a third party. I’ve expanding the definition of due diligence in Cloud Computing to include at least six key processes that any prospective Cloud buyer should be aware and make contingency for, as you would with any purchase of a business critical service:

  • Security management
  • Compliance management
  • Service Management (ITSM and License controls)
  • Performance management
  • Account management
  • Ecosystem standards management

I don’t think publishing a bill of rights for consumers is enough to insure against failure. One thing that Cloud Computing design has taught me is that part of the architectural shift brought about by Cloud is the emergence of automation as an implicit part of the operating model design to enable elasticity. This automation may have been a factor, ironically, in the Amazon situation, but overall the benefits of Cloud far outweigh the downsides, which can be re-engineered and resolved.

A useful guide to address some of the business impact can be found in a new book by The Open Group on Cloud Computing for Business that we plan to publish this quarter. The topics of the book address many of these challenges in understanding and driving the value of the Cloud Computing in the language of business. The book covers chapters relating to business use of cloud and includes topics of risk management of the Cloud. Check The Open Group website for more information on The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group and the Cloud publications in the bookstore at http://www.opengroup.org.

Cloud Computing isa key topic of discussion at The Open Group Conference, London, May 9-13, which is currently underway. 

Mark Skilton, Director, Capgemini, is the Co-Chair of The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group. He has been involved in advising clients and developing of strategic portfolio services in Cloud Computing and business transformation. His recent contributions include the publication of Return on Investment models on Cloud Computing widely syndicated that achieved 50,000 hits on CIO.com and in the British Computer Society 2010 Annual Review. His current activities include development of a new Cloud Computing Model standards and best practices on the subject of Cloud Computing impact on Outsourcing and Off-shoring models and contributed to the second edition of the Handbook of Global Outsourcing and Off-shoring published through his involvement with Warwick Business School UK Specialist Masters Degree Program in Information Systems Management.

1 Comment

Filed under Cloud/SOA