Tag Archives: enterprise IT

Flexibility, Agility and Open Standards

By Jose M. Sanchez Knaack, IBM

Flexibility and agility are terms used almost interchangeably these days as attributes of IT architectures designed to cope with rapidly changing business requirements. Did you ever wonder if they are actually the same? Don’t you have the feeling that these terms remain abstract and without a concrete link to the design of an IT architecture?

This post searches to provide clear definitions for both flexibility and agility, and explain how both relate to the design of IT architectures that exploit open standards. A ‘real-life’ example will help to understand these concepts and render them relevant to the Enterprise Architect’s daily job.

First, here is some context on why flexibility and agility are increasingly important for businesses. Today, the average smart phone has more computing power than the original Apollo mission to the moon. We live in times of exponential change; the new technological revolution seems to be always around the corner and is safe to state that the trend will continue as nicely visualized in this infographic by TIME Magazine.

The average lifetime of a company in the S&P 500 has fallen by 80 percent since 1937. In other words, companies need to adapt fast to capitalize on business opportunities created by new technologies at the price of loosing their leadership position.

Thus, flexibility and agility have become ever present business goals that need to be supported by the underlying IT architecture. But, what is the precise meaning of these two terms? The online Merriam-Webster dictionary offers the following definitions:

Flexible: characterized by a ready capability to adapt to new, different, or changing requirements.

Agile: marked by ready ability to move with quick easy grace.

To understand how these terms relate to IT architecture, let us explore an example based on an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) scenario.

An ESB can be seen as the foundation for a flexible IT architecture allowing companies to integrate applications (processes) written in different programming languages and running on different platforms within and outside the corporate firewall.

ESB products are normally equipped with a set of pre-built adapters that allow integrating 70-80 percent of applications ‘out-of-the-box’, without additional programming efforts. For the remaining 20-30 percent of integration requirements, it is possible to develop custom adapters so that any application can be integrated with any other if required.

In other words, an ESB covers requirements regarding integration flexibility, that is, it can cope with changing requirements in terms of integrating additional applications via adapters, ‘out-of-the-box’ or custom built. How does this integration flexibility correlate to integration agility?

Let’s think of a scenario where the IT team has been requested to integrate an old manufacturing application with a new business partner. The integration needs to be ready within one month; otherwise the targeted business opportunity will not apply anymore.

The picture below shows the underlying IT architecture for this integration scenario.

jose diagram

Although the ESB is able to integrate the old manufacturing application, it requires an adapter to be custom developed since the application does not support any of the communication protocols covered by the pre-built adapters. To custom develop, test and deploy an adapter in a corporate environment is likely going to take longer that a month and the business opportunity will be lost because the IT architecture was not agile enough.

This is the subtle difference between flexible and agile.

Notice that if the manufacturing application had been able to communicate via open standards, the corresponding pre-built adapter would have significantly shortened the time required to integrate this application. Applications that do not support open standards still exist in corporate IT landscapes, like the above scenario illustrates. Thus, the importance of incorporating open standards when road mapping your IT architecture.

The key takeaway is that your architecture principles need to favor information technology built on open standards, and for that, you can leverage The Open Group Architecture Principle 20 on Interoperability.

Name Interoperability
Statement Software and hardware should conform to defined standards that promote interoperability for data, applications, and technology.

In summary, the accelerating pace of change requires corporate IT architectures to support the business goals of flexibility and agility. Establishing architecture principles that favor open standards as part of your architecture governance framework is one proven approach (although not the only one) to road map your IT architecture in the pursuit of resiliency.

linkedin - CopyJose M. Sanchez Knaack is Senior Manager with IBM Global Business Services in Switzerland. Mr. Sanchez Knaack professional background covers business aligned IT architecture strategy and complex system integration at global technology enabled transformation initiatives.

 

 

 

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On Demand Broadcasts from Day One at The Open Group Conference in Newport Beach

By The Open Group Conference Team

Since not everyone could make the trip to The Open Group Conference in Newport Beach, we’ve put together a recap of day one’s plenary speakers. Stay tuned for more recaps coming soon!

Big Data at NASA

In his talk titled, “Big Data at NASA,” Chris Gerty, deputy program manager, Open Innovation Program, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), discussed how Big Data is being interpreted by the next generation of rocket scientists. Chris presented a few lessons learned from his experiences at NASA:

  1. A traditional approach is not always the best approach. A tried and proven method may not translate. Creating more programs for more data to store on bigger hard drives is not always effective. We need to address the never-ending challenges that lie ahead in the shift of society to the information age.
  2. A plan for openness. Based on a government directive, Chris’ team looked to answer questions by asking the right people. For example, NASA asked the people gathering data on a satellite to determine what data was the most important, which enabled NASA to narrow focus and solve problems. Furthermore, by realizing what can also be useful to the public and what tools have already been developed by the public, open source development can benefit the masses. Through collaboration, governments and citizens can work together to solve some of humanity’s biggest problems.
  3. Embrace the enormity of the universe. Look for Big Data where no one else is looking by putting sensors and information gathering tools. If people continue to be scared of Big Data, we will be resistant to gathering more of it. By finding Big Data where it has yet to be discovered, we can solve problems and innovate.

To view Chris’s presentation, please watch the broadcasted session here: http://new.livestream.com/opengroup/Gerty-NPB13

Bringing Order to the Chaos

David Potter, chief technical officer at Promise Innovation and Ron Schuldt, senior partner at UDEF-IT, LLC discussed how The Open Group’s evolving Quantum Lifecycle Management (QLM) standard coupled with its complementary Universal Data Element Framework (UDEF) standard help bring order to the terminology chaos that faces Big Data implementations.

The QLM standard provides a framework for the aggregation of lifecycle data from a multiplicity of sources to add value to the decision making process. Gathering mass amounts of data is useless if it cannot be analyzed. The QLM framework provides a means to interpret the information gathered for business intelligence. The UDEF allows each piece of data to be paired with an unambiguous key to provide clarity. By partnering with the UDEF, the QLM framework is able to separate itself from domain-specific semantic models. The UDEF also provides a ready-made key for international language support. As an open standard, the UDEF is data model independent and as such supports normalization across data models.

One example of successful implementation is by Compassion International. The organization needed to find a balance between information that should be kept internal (e.g., payment information) and information that should be shared with its international sponsors. In this instance, UDEF was used as a structured process for harmonizing the terms used in IT systems between funding partners.

The beauty of the QLM framework and UDEF integration is that they are flexible and can be applied to any product, domain and industry.

To view David and Ron’s presentation, please watch the broadcasted session here: http://new.livestream.com/opengroup/potter-NPB13

Big Data – Panel Discussion

Moderated by Dana Gardner, Interarbor Solution, Robert Weisman , Build The Vision, Andras Szakal, IBM, Jim Hietala, The Open Group, and Chris Gerty, NASA, discussed the implications of Big Data and what it means for business architects and enterprise architects.

Big Data is not about the size but about analyzing that data. Robert mentioned that most organizations store more data than they need or use, and from an enterprise architect’s perspective, it’s important to focus on the analysis of the data and to provide information that will ultimately aid it in some way. When it comes to security, Jim explained that newer Big Data platforms are not built with security in mind. While data is data, many security controls don’t translate to new platforms or scale with the influx of data.

Cloud Computing is Big Data-ready, and price can be compelling, but there are significant security and privacy risks. Robert brought up the argument over public and private Cloud adoption, and said, “It’s not one size fits all.” But can Cloud and Big Data come together? Andras explained that Cloud is not the almighty answer to Big Data. Every organization needs to find the Enterprise Architecture that fits its needs.

The fruits of Big Data can be useful to more than just business intelligence professionals. With the trend of mobility and application development in mind, Chris suggested that developers keep users in mind. Big Data can be used to tell us many different things, but it’s about finding out what is most important and relevant to users in a way that is digestible.

Finally, the panel discussed how Big Data bringing about big changes in almost every aspect of an organization. It is important not to generalize, but customize. Every enterprise needs its own set of architecture to fit its needs. Each organization finds importance in different facets of the data gathered, and security is different at every organization. With all that in mind, the panel agreed that focusing on the analytics is the key.

To view the panel discussion, please watch the broadcasted session here: http://new.livestream.com/opengroup/events/1838807

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Big Data Security Tweet Jam

By Patty Donovan, The Open Group

On Tuesday, January 22, The Open Group will host a tweet jam examining the topic of Big Data and its impact on the security landscape.

Recently, Big Data has been dominating the headlines, analyzing everything about the topic from how to manage and process it, to the way it will impact your organization’s IT roadmap. As 2012 came to a close, analyst firm, Gartner predicted that data will help drive IT spending to $3.8 trillion in 2014. Knowing the phenomenon is here to stay, enterprises face a new and daunting challenge of how to secure Big Data. Big Data security also raises other questions, such as: Is Big Data security different from data security? How will enterprises handle Big Data security? What is the best approach to Big Data security?

It’s yet to be seen if Big Data will necessarily revolutionize enterprise security, but it certainly will change execution – if it hasn’t already. Please join us for our upcoming Big Data Security tweet jam where leading security experts will discuss the merits of Big Data security.

Please join us on Tuesday, January 22 at 9:00 a.m. PT/12:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. GMT for a tweet jam, moderated by Dana Gardner (@Dana_Gardner), ZDNet – Briefings Direct, that will discuss and debate the issues around big data security. Key areas that will be addressed during the discussion include: data security, privacy, compliance, security ethics and, of course, Big Data. We welcome Open Group members and interested participants from all backgrounds to join the session and interact with our panel of IT security experts, analysts and thought leaders led by Jim Hietala (@jim_hietala) and Dave Lounsbury (@Technodad) of The Open Group. To access the discussion, please follow the #ogChat hashtag during the allotted discussion time.

And for those of you who are unfamiliar with tweet jams, here is some background information:

What Is a Tweet Jam?

A tweet jam is a one hour “discussion” hosted on Twitter. The purpose of the tweet jam is to share knowledge and answer questions on Big Data security. Each tweet jam is led by a moderator and a dedicated group of experts to keep the discussion flowing. The public (or anyone using Twitter interested in the topic) is encouraged to join the discussion.

Participation Guidance

Whether you’re a newbie or veteran Twitter user, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Have your first #ogChat tweet be a self-introduction: name, affiliation, occupation.
  • Start all other tweets with the question number you’re responding to and the #ogChat hashtag.
    • Sample: “Q1 enterprises will have to make significant adjustments moving forward to secure Big Data environments #ogChat”
    • Please refrain from product or service promotions. The goal of a tweet jam is to encourage an exchange of knowledge and stimulate discussion.
    • While this is a professional get-together, we don’t have to be stiff! Informality will not be an issue!
    • A tweet jam is akin to a public forum, panel discussion or Town Hall meeting – let’s be focused and thoughtful.

If you have any questions prior to the event or would like to join as a participant, please direct them to Rod McLeod (rmcleod at bateman-group dot com). We anticipate a lively chat and hope you will be able to join!

 

patricia donovanPatricia Donovan is Vice President, Membership & Events, at The Open Group and a member of its executive management team. In this role she is involved in determining the company’s strategic direction and policy as well as the overall management of that business area. Patricia joined The Open Group in 1988 and has played a key role in the organization’s evolution, development and growth since then. She also oversees the company’s marketing, conferences and member meetings. She is based in the U.S.

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Challenges of Emergent Architecture

By Balasubramanian Somasundram, Honeywell Technology Solutions Ltd.

In 2009, Gartner had coined a term called ‘Emergent Architecture’ advocating the need for a re-orientation in Enterprise Architecture practice. According to this paradigm, Gartner suggests Enterprise Architects must adopt a new style of Enterprise Architecture to respond to a growing variety and complexity in markets, economics, nations, networks and companies. Gartner had also listed some of the characteristics of such an Emergent Architecture and the kind of changes that we can foresee in near future.

After two years, I wanted to take a closer look at this observation and correlate some of my personal experiences from Enterprise IT.

To set the context, would like to quote the emergence of situational applications. In simple terms, situational applications solve immediate business challenges by addressing a situation in hand. The key characteristics of situational applications are – unique situation, highly personalized, immediate and time-sensitive nature of business scenario.  A “situational application” is a broader term that includes concrete implementations such as Mashups and Composite applications.

So far, Enterprise IT has been busy with ERP/CRM and packaged applications and custom developed web applications. Now, that era of “hand coding” is almost saturated and hit a plateau due to couple of reasons such as – Enterprise roll-outs of ERP/CRM are complete, custom developed applications are rationalized and consolidated with ERP suites and demands for new custom developed applications are challenged for solid business cases.

However, the unique business situations still demand for small/nimble IT solutions that wouldn’t wait for long lead times, big business cases. What is the solution?

Situational Applications can help.

The key characteristic of these situational applications is that business doesn’t have the details about the requirements or responses. All it has is the outcome that needs to be achieved. Sometimes, business just wants to experiment with multiple options before zeroing on one solution. In some cases, business wants to build just a pilot, scaled-down version of the actual solution and eventually evolve it to an enterprise-class solution. Sound familiar?

I would say this is one of the categories of emergence scenarios that Enterprise Architecture needs to deal with, for both business and IT stakeholders.

In contrast to what Gartner states, the key challenges that EA needs help solving are not just macro issues such as geopolitical risks or outsourcing governance etc., but micro issues that would help executing day-to-day projects much more effectively. This will build the credibility of EA groups at grassroots level and drive some real changes in business/IT. I would like to list some of those challenges to be solved:

  1. Given the uncertainty in requirements and technologies, what is the best way to cater to these business requests for building situational applications? Certainly, agile methods can help to certain extent. But the scenarios that revolve around situational applications are much more dynamic and need much faster results. Another way to look at this challenge is, how do these unique business situations fit in the overall business architecture?
  2. How do we engage business users to gather requirements in creative ways, especially when business users themselves may not have all the data upfront?
  3. If we need to build nimble, simple IT solutions, we need to have a solid architecture foundation. How can EA help both segments? – foundational and situational
  4. How do we make sure we create an ecosystem where the new architecture ‘evolves” as the requirements and solutions themselves evolve over a period of time?  How do we make sure architecture not only evolves, but translatable to an enterprise-scale solution?

Thanks to The Open Group, we have robust frameworks and methodologies for building deterministic enterprise architectures. It will be interesting to see how The Open Group addresses the demands and challenges of nondeterministic/emergent enterprise architectures as stated above, in the future.

Enterprise Architecture is a subject that will be discussed in depth during The Open Group Conference, London, May 9-13. Join us for best practices and case studies on Enterprise Architecture, Cloud, Security and more, presented by preeminent thought leaders in the industry.

Balasubramanian Somasundaram is an Enterprise Architect with Honeywell Technology Solutions Ltd, Bangalore, a division of Honeywell Inc, USA. Bala has been with Honeywell Technology Solutions for the past five years and contributed in several technology roles. His current responsibilities include Architecture/Technology Planning and Governance, Solution Architecture Definition for business-critical programs, and Technical oversight/Review for programs delivered from Honeywell IT India center. With more than 12 years of experience in the IT services industry, Bala has worked with variety of technologies with a focus on IT architecture practice.  His current interests include Enterprise Architecture, Cloud Computing and Mobile Applications. He periodically writes about emerging technology trends that impact the Enterprise IT space on his blog. Bala holds a Master of Science in Computer Science from MKU University, India.

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Enterprise IT’s Inflection Point!

By Balasubramanian Somasundram, Honeywell Technology Solutions Ltd.

Of late, the online media is flooded with plenty of articles/opinions on the future of Enterprise IT and CIO roles in next decades! It’s interesting to read many different perspectives on the possibilities.

But the biggest question is – Why now? Why do we see such futuristic, inspirational, transformational viewpoints doing the rounds these days? I strongly believe that Enterprise IT is at its inflection point due to two main mega trends happening in the industry.

One is the introduction of Cloud Computing, and another is IT getting pervasive and embedded in almost all products and services that touch the end consumer. The irony is, these trends pose the biggest threats and biggest opportunities! I am going to talk about the opportunities here.

As mentioned in the CIO.com article, “The Cloud CIO: A Tale of Two IT Futures,” one of the potential approaches for leveraging these trends could be to push Enterprise IT’s non-core portfolio to Cloud Computing and divest those saved efforts in partnering with business to build new products and services. Here is an interesting perspective published in InformationWeek where Chris Murphy takes a stand that IT must create products, not just cut costs.

I also believe the fundamental capability that would enable the Enterprise IT to accomplish this transition is IT’s Enterprise Architecture competencies. Enterprise IT organizations that have their strengths in architecture competencies — such as Technology Architecture, Business Architecture, Solution Architecture and Infrastructure Architecture — are bound to succeed in the mega trends of Cloud Computing and business partnering!

Adoption of emerging technologies and combining them with suitable business scenarios to deliver a compelling business solution calls for a strong Solution Architecture practice. The Solution Architecture is the System/Technical Architecture that realizes the Business Architecture scenarios.  Similarly, identification of non-core areas in the business/IT portfolio and transitioning to Cloud Computing requires a systemic view of the Enterprise and it should address the critical concerns such as data governance, security and infrastructure architecture.

In addition, IT’s traditional strengths such as project management, cost efficiency, security, licensing and software maintenance would be a big boon for software-intensive product businesses. These competencies in combination with Enterprise Architecture would be the stepping stone for the next biggest leap of Enterprise IT!

Balasubramanian Somasundaram is an Enterprise Architect with Honeywell Technology Solutions Ltd, Bangalore, a division of Honeywell Inc, USA. Bala has been with Honeywell Technology Solutions for the past five years and contributed in several technology roles. His current responsibilities include Architecture/Technology Planning and Governance, Solution Architecture Definition for business-critical programs, and Technical oversight/Review for programs delivered from Honeywell IT India center. With more than 12 years of experience in the IT services industry, Bala has worked with variety of technologies with a focus on IT architecture practice.  His current interests include Enterprise Architecture, Cloud Computing and Mobile Applications. He periodically writes about emerging technology trends that impact the Enterprise IT space on his blog. Bala holds a Master of Science in Computer Science from MKU University, India.

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Cloud spending: What do you think?

A recent article estimated that 65% or more of new enterprise IT spending will be cloud-based by 2015. Tell us what you think.

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