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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.

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

Cloud Conference — and Unconference

By Dr. Chris Harding, The Open Group

The Wednesday of The Open Group Conference in San Diego included a formal Cloud Computing conference stream. This was followed in the evening by an unstructured CloudCamp, which made an interesting contrast.

The Cloud Conference Stream

The Cloud conference stream featured presentations on Architecting for Cloud and Cloud Security, and included a panel discussion on the considerations that must be made when choosing a Cloud solution.

In the first session of the morning, we had two presentations on Architecting for Cloud. Both considered TOGAF® as the architectural context. The first, from Stuart Boardman of Getronics, explored the conceptual difference that Cloud makes to enterprise architecture, and the challenge of communicating an architecture vision and discussing the issues with stakeholders in the subsequent TOGAF® phases. The second, from Serge Thorn of Architecting the Enterprise, looked at the considerations in each TOGAF® phase, but in a more specific way. The two presentations showed different approaches to similar subject matter, which proved a very stimulating combination.

This session was followed by a presentation from Steve Else of EA Principals in which he shared several use cases related to Cloud Computing. Using these, he discussed solution architecture considerations, and put forward the lessons learned and some recommendations for more successful planning, decision-making, and execution.

We then had the first of the day’s security-related presentations. It was given by Omkhar Arasaratnam of IBM and Stuart Boardman of Getronics. It summarized the purpose and scope of the Security for the Cloud and SOA project that is being conducted in The Open Group as a joint project of The Open Group’s Cloud Computing Work Group, the SOA Work Group, and Security Forum. Omkhar and Stuart described the usage scenarios that the project team is studying to guide its thinking, the concepts that it is developing, and the conclusions that it has reached so far.

The first session of the afternoon was started by Ed Harrington, of Architecting the Enterprise, who gave an interesting presentation on current U.S. Federal Government thinking on enterprise architecture, showing clearly the importance of Cloud Computing to U.S. Government plans. The U.S. is a leader in the use of IT for government and administration, so we can expect that its conclusions – that Cloud Computing is already making its way into the government computing fabric, and that enterprise architecture, instantiated as SOA and properly governed, will provide the greatest possibility of success in its implementation – will have a global impact.

We then had a panel session, moderated by Dana Gardner with his usual insight and aplomb, that explored the considerations that must be made when choosing a Cloud solution — custom or shrink-wrapped — and whether different forms of Cloud Computing are appropriate to different industry sectors. The panelists represented different players in the Cloud solutions market – customers, providers, and consultants – so that the topic was covered in depth and from a variety of viewpoints. They were Penelope Gordon of 1Plug Corporation, Mark Skilton of Capgemini, Ed Harrington of Architecting the Enterprise, Tom Plunkett of Oracle, and TJ Virdi of the Boeing Company.

In the final session of the conference stream, we returned to the topic of Cloud Security. Paul Simmonds, a member of the Board of the Jericho Forum®, gave an excellent presentation on de-risking the Cloud through effective risk management, in which he explained the approach that the Jericho Forum has developed. The session was then concluded by Andres Kohn of Proofpoint, who addressed the question of whether data can be more secure in the Cloud, considering public, private and hybrid Cloud environment.

CloudCamp

The CloudCamp was hosted by The Open Group but run as a separate event, facilitated by CloudCamp organizer Dave Nielsen. There were around 150-200 participants, including conference delegates and other people from the San Diego area who happened to be interested in the Cloud.

Dave started by going through his definition of Cloud Computing. Perhaps he should have known better – starting a discussion on terminology and definitions can be a dangerous thing to do with an Open Group audience. He quickly got into a good-natured argument from which he eventually emerged a little bloodied, metaphorically speaking, but unbowed.

We then had eight “lightning talks”. These were five-minute presentations covering a wide range of topics, including how to get started with Cloud (Margaret Dawson, Hubspan), supplier/consumer relationship (Brian Loesgen, Microsoft), Cloud-based geographical mapping (Ming-Hsiang Tsou, San Diego University), a patterns-based approach to Cloud (Ken Klingensmith, IBM), efficient large-scale data processing (AlexRasmussen, San Diego University), using desktop spare capacity as a Cloud resource (Michael Krumpe, Intelligent Technology Integration), cost-effective large-scale data processing in the Cloud (Patrick Salami, Temboo), and Cloud-based voice and data communication (Chris Matthieu, Tropo).

The participants then split into groups to discuss topics proposed by volunteers. There were eight topics altogether. Some of these were simply explanations of particular products or services offered by the volunteers’ companies. Others related to areas of general interest such as data security and access control, life-changing Cloud applications, and success stories relating to “big data”.

I joined the groups discussing Cloud software development on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. These sessions had excellent information content which would be valuable to anyone wishing to get started in – or already engaged in – software development on these platforms. They also brought out two points of general interest. The first is that the dividing line between IaaS and PaaS can be very thin. AWS and Azure are in theory on opposite sides of this divide; in practice they provide the developer with broadly similar capabilities. The second point is that in practice your preferred programming language and software environment is likely to be the determining factor in your choice of Cloud development platform.

Overall, the CloudCamp was a great opportunity for people to absorb the language and attitudes of the Cloud community, to discuss ideas, and to pick up specific technical knowledge. It gave an extra dimension to the conference, and we hope that this can be repeated at future events by The Open Group.

Cloud and SOA are a topic of discussion at The Open Group Conference, San Diego, which is currently underway.

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.

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An SOA Unconference

By Dr. Chris Harding, The Open Group

Monday at The Open Group Conference in San Diego was a big day for Interoperability, with an Interoperability panel session, SOA and Cloud conference streams, meetings of SOA and UDEF project teams, and a joint meeting with the IEEE on next-generation UDEF. The Tuesday was quieter, with just one major interoperability-related session: the SOACamp. The pace picks up again today, with a full day of Cloud meetings, followed by a Thursday packed with members meetings on SOA, Cloud, and Semantic Interoperability.

Unconferences

The SOACamp was an unstructured meeting, based on the CloudCamp Model, for SOA practitioners and people interested in SOA to ask questions and share experiences.

CloudCamp is an unconference where early adopters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas. The CloudCamp organization is responsible for these events. They are frequent and worldwide; 19 events have been held or arranged so far for the first half of 2011 in countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, New Zealand, Nigeria, Spain, Turkey, and the USA. The Open Group has hosted CloudCamps at several of its Conferences, and is hosting one at its current conference in San Diego today.

What is an unconference? It is an event that follows an unscripted format in which topics are proposed and presented by volunteers, with the agenda being made up on the fly to address whatever the attendees most want to discuss. This format works very well for Cloud, and we thought we would give it a try for SOA.

The SOA Hot Topics

So what were the SOA hot topics? Volunteers gave 5-minute “lightning talks” on five issues, which were then considered as the potential agenda items for discussion:

  • Does SOA Apply to Cloud service models?
  • Vendor-neutral framework for registry/repository access to encourage object re-use
  • Fine-grained policy-based authorization for exposing data in the Cloud
  • Relation of SOA to Cloud Architecture
  • Are all Cloud architectures SOA architectures?

The greatest interest was in the last two of these, and they were taken together as a single agenda item for the whole meeting: SOA and Cloud Architecture. The third topic, fine-grained policy-based authorization for exposing data in the Cloud, was considered to be more Cloud-related than SOA-related, and it was agreed to keep it back for the CloudCamp the following day. The other two topics, SOA and Cloud service models and vendor-neutral framework for registry/repository access were considered by separate subgroups meeting in parallel.

The discussions were lively and raised several interesting points.

SOA and Cloud Architecture

Cloud is a consumption and delivery model for SOA, but Cloud and SOA services are different. All Cloud services are SOA services, but not all SOA services are Cloud services, because Cloud services have additional requirements for Quality of Service (QoS) and delivery consumption.

Cloud requires a different approach to QoS. Awareness of the run-time environment and elasticity is crucial for Cloud applications.

Cloud architectures are service-oriented, but they need additional architectural building blocks, particularly for QoS. They may be particularly likely to use a REST-ful approach, but this is still service-oriented.

A final important point is that, within a service-oriented architecture, the Cloud is transparent to the consumer. The service consumer ultimately should not care whether a service is on the Cloud.

Vendor-Neutral Framework for Registry/Repository Access

The concept of vendor-neutral access to SOA registries and repositories is good, but it requires standard data models and protocols to be effective.

The Open Group SOA ontology has proved a good basis for a modeling framework.

Common methods for vendor-neutral access could help services in the Cloud connect to multiple registries and repositories.

Does SOA Apply to Cloud service Models?

The central idea here is that the cloud service models – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) – could be defined as services in the SOA sense, with each of them exposing capabilities through defined interfaces.

This would require standards in three key areas: metrics/QoS, brokering/subletting, and service prioritization.

Is The Open Group an appropriate forum for setting and defining Cloud customer and provider standards? It has a standards development capability. The key determining factor is the availability of member volunteers with the relevant expertise.

Are Unconferences Good for Discussing SOA?

Cloud is an emerging topic while SOA is a mature one, and this affected the nature of the discussions. The unconference format is great for enabling people to share experience in new topic areas. The participants really wanted to explore new developments rather than compare notes on SOA practice, and the result of this was that the discussion mostly focused on the relation of SOA to the Cloud. This wasn’t what we expected – but resulted in some good discussions, exposing interesting ideas.

So is the unconference format a good one for SOA discussions? Yes it is – if you don’t need to produce a particular result. Just go with the flow, and let it take you and SOA to interesting new places.

Cloud and SOA are a topic of discussion at The Open Group Conference, San Diego, which is currently underway.

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.

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