Tag Archives: Infrastructure Architecture

The Cloud Infrastructure for Next-Generation – Big Data Computing

By Pethuru Raj, Wipro Consulting Services

There are several remarkable trends in the IT field. Business-automation and acceleration technologies, open and industry-strength standards, adaptive architectures, facilitating frameworks, best practices for software engineering, converged platforms, Cloud infrastructures, lean processes, design patterns, enabling tools, and key implementation guidelines are flourishing for simplified IT, which is more tuned for business and customer-centricity. Businesses are consciously striving to achieve strategic transformations on their business operation model, the information captured, catalogued and stocked, and for sharply enhancing the user-experience in the extremely connected world.

The device ecosystem is growing faster with the ready availability of gadgets for personal and professional use. The application landscape is on the climb with the addition of Cloud, social, mobile and sensor services. Then, there are introspective middleware solutions built to integrate disparate, distributed and decentralised systems and data sources. Amongst the most captivating technologies, the Cloud technology stands out.

Clouds as the next-generation IT Infrastructure

As we all know, the Cloud paradigm has laid the foundation for fulfilling the grand vision of IT infrastructure optimization through a seamless synchronization of several enterprise-scale and mission-critical technologies. This pioneering evolution has impacted business as well as IT. Clouds are being positioned as the highly consolidated, virtualized, and shared and automated IT environments for hosting and compactly delivering a galaxy of diverse IT resources and business services for anyone, anytime and anywhere through any device and service. That is, all kinds of services, applications and data are now being modernized and migrated to Cloud platforms and infrastructures in order to reap all the Cloud’s benefits to end users and businesses.

Cloud Computing has become a versatile IT phenomenon and has inspired many to come out with a number of -centric services, products and platforms that facilitate scores of rich applications. There have also been a variety of generic and specific innovations in the form of best practices   for managing the rising complexity of IT and enhancing IT agility, autonomy and affordability.

All of the improvisations happening in the IT landscape with the adaption of Cloud are helping worldwide business enterprises to achieve the venerable mission of “achieving more with less.” Thus, Cloud as the core infrastructure and driver behind the business changes taking place today lead to   a brighter future for all businesses.

The Eruption of Big Data Computing

The most noteworthy trend today is the data explosion. As there are more machines and sensors deployed and managed in our everyday environments, machine-generated data has become much larger than the man-generated data. Furthermore, the data structure varies from non-structured to semi-structured and structured style, and there are pressures to unearth fresh database systems, such as Cloud-based NoSQL databases in order to swiftly capture, store, access and retrieve large-scale and multi-structured data.

Data velocity is another critical factor to be considered in order to extract actionable insights and to contemplate the next-course of actions. There are Cloud integration appliances and solutions in order to effortlessly integrate date across Clouds – private, public and hybrid.

Besides Big Data storage and management, Big Data analytics has become increasingly important as data across Cloud, social, mobile and enterprise spaces needs to be identified and aggregated, subjected to data mining, processing and analysis tasks through well-defined policies in order to benefit any organization. The Hadoop framework, commodity hardware and specific data appliances are the prominent methods being used to accommodate terabytes and even petabytes of incongruent data, empowering executives, entrepreneurs and engineers to make informed decisions with actionable data. The data architecture for new-generation enterprises will go through a tectonic shift, and leading market watchers predict that Big Data management and intelligence will become common and led to the demise of conventional data management solutions.

Clouds are set to become the optimised, adaptive and real-time infrastructure for Big Data storage, management and analysis. I have authored a book with the title, “Cloud Enterprise Architecture.” I have written extensively about the positive impacts of the transformative and disruptive Cloud technology on enterprises. I have also written about the futuristic enterprise data architecture with the maturity and stability of the Cloud paradigm.  In a nutshell, with Cloud in connivance with mobile, social and analytic technologies, the aspects such as business acceleration, automation and augmentation are bound to see a drastic and decisive growth.

Dr. Pethuru Raj is an enterprise architecture (EA) consultant in Wipro Technologies, Bangalore, India. He has been providing technology advisory service for worldwide companies for smoothly enabling them to transition into smarter organizations. He has been writing book chapters for a number of technology books (BPM, SOA, Cloud Computing, enterprise architecture, and Big Data) being edited by internationally acclaimed professors and professionals. He has authored a solo book with the title “Cloud Enterprise Architecture” through the CRC Press, USA. 

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Enterprise Transformation, Innovation, Emergence and the Sewers of Vienna

By Stuart Boardman, KPN 

Enterprise transformation is a topic central to The Open Group’s agenda these days, so I don’t suppose the following assertion is exactly radical. The success of transformation starts by understanding the drivers for change, the goals of the transformation and the factors that can be expected to have a positive or negative influence on it.

Transformation doesn’t necessarily have to involve innovation but it often does. Sometimes innovation is itself a driver for transformation. For some organizations innovation is a fundamental part of their business model. Apple, for example, wouldn’t have survived without it. You can have the best user interface and the grooviest products but to reach a wider market or indeed to get your existing market to buy new stuff, you need to keep innovating. And to do that well you have to enjoy doing it and you have to understand how it works.

Once upon a time, giants like the old IBM and the old Microsoft didn’t need to do that, because they owned so much of the market. But that’s changed too, because, partly as a result of their own competition, there is now an ecosystem of all kinds of players (from a Google or an Apple to the huge number of startups and app developers), who can and do come out of left field with disruptive innovation. And this isn’t only true in the technology world.

These days it’s hard to read about innovation without coming across the concept of emergence. Emergent innovation develops through interaction in an ecosystem and cannot simply be explained by looking at what each individual member of the ecosystem does. This kind innovation is in a sense serendipitous and is never going to be achieved via the traditional R&D approach. It’s cheaper and faster than that and, exactly because of the way it has developed, more likely to be of immediately applicable value. Achieving transformation with emergent innovation is about the ability to recognize, adopt, adapt and “productize” that innovation. This applies equally whether the innovation is outwardly (product/service) or inwardly (operations) oriented.

Back to transformation. We need, as I said, to be able to understand the factors that will positively or negatively affect the success of our transformation. If we haven’t properly understood them, they might turn out to be very urgent drivers for (re)transformation.

At the beginning of this century mobile communications providers were trying to transform their business models and operations in order to get their share of the internet revolution. They wanted to reach a new market and to escape the trap of becoming just a “bit pipe” for other people’s value added services. The operators spent a lot of money on 3G. The equipment manufacturers spent a lot of money developing new phones and interfaces. By 2003 we already had all the necessary technological capabilities and there was no shortage of marketing but it simply didn’t take off.

Why? It wasn’t really cost, because, when the iPhone arrived a few years later and turned everything around, data was still expensive (and the phone even more so). And it wasn’t really speed or usability, because the download speed was adequate for the services on offer and there were some pretty nifty devices. It just wasn’t very interesting. There was simply not enough valuable content available to justify the outlay. So the operators just reverted to milking the reliable voice and text cow.

When the iPhone arrived, what really made the difference was the ecosystem that came with it. Suddenly there was a world of app developers producing things people didn’t know they needed but discovered were cool. And there was the App Store that made it easy to get your product to market and easy for the customer to discover it. Yes, of course it was a groovy device and a revolutionary interface but without the ecosystem it would have been restricted to a market of Apple fans and people with lots of money to spend on looking hip.

So then what happened? Well the mobile operators (those who could get their hands on the device) finally started getting a return on their investment in 3G. What was largely a new group of smartphone manufacturers (HTC, Samsung, LG etc.) rushed to produce their own versions. And then Google came along with Android and we finally had a really large ecosystem built around innovation.

With that came another form of emergence as the users and the app developers started discovering all kinds of things you could do with these devices and the information available on and via them. That had a negative influence on the mobile operators’ revenues, as people used a whole range of IP based services (with the Mbs paid for in their monthly bundle) to avoid the expensive voice and text services. This was something the operators had ignored, even though they’d predicted years before that it would happen, which of course was exactly what provoked the earlier attempted transformation. In other words, they failed to understand what was going on in their ecosystem and how it might affect them.

All organizations inhabit an ecosystem consisting of their customers, partners, suppliers and in many cases legal and regulatory bodies (and arguably their competitors too). Ecosystems are really the heart of this blog, so here’s a definition. An ecosystem is a collection of entities, whose members are (at least partially) interdependent. Specifically we’re looking at what Jack Martin Leith calls a Business Ecosystem. Jack’s definition is further amended by Ruth Malan to “A business ecosystem is a network of organizations that affect each other, possibly indirectly.” What we see today is that for many (maybe most) organizations the ecosystem is becoming bigger and more diffuse. Apart from the examples above, this is apparent in the extended enterprise, Cloud and social business – and the effect is amplified by emergence.

Now one of the things about an ecosystem is that not all the members are necessarily aware of each other. But as the definition makes clear, they all have an influence on and are influenced by the ecosystem as a whole. Each organization has its own view on the ecosystem, which really defines its enterprise. That doesn’t mean it can’t be affected by what goes on elsewhere in the ecosystem.

A little while ago Peter Bakker published a provocative little blog with the title “Infrastructure Architecture is way more important than Enterprise Architecture.” After a flurry of comments and replies, I understood that Peter was talking about the infrastructure of complete ecosystems. He used the example of the infrastructure of the City of New York. It consists of all the road, rail and waterways, the transportation services (passengers and freight), construction and maintenance services, energy supply, port and harbor services and planning, regulatory and licensing activities. And that’s leaving aside the electronic communications infrastructure and the voice, data and TV services that run on it. These products and services are delivered by multiple providers (commercial organizations, the city council and other public bodies), who are all part of an ecosystem, which also includes the users of the infrastructure (people and organizations including of course the providers themselves). So yes, this infrastructure is much bigger than any one of the enterprises that contributes to it and it is critical to the health of the ecosystem (the efficient functioning of the City of New York) in a way that no individual member could be – not even the City Council.

But that information isn’t much use to us unless we can do something with it. So I set off on a journey to see if I could find a way of modeling such an ecosystem as a sort of Enterprise Architecture. That probably sounds a bit grandiose but you need to see this as just a set of techniques, which could help us create a usable and meaningful overview of an ecosystem – something you can project your proposed changes onto.

It’s not about details. Even if I thought one could capture all the details, the result would be unmanageable and therefore unusable! So the detailed view is constrained to the individual enterprise from whose perspective one is viewing this.

The journey’s just begun. I’ve built the basics of the story, which is about the mythical city of Metropolis. I’m sticking to this city infrastructure example, because it’s familiar to everyone and doesn’t need too much background explanation. I’m now looking at the techniques that might be useful in achieving this. I’m looking at and have started working on Customer Journeys. If you’re interested, you can find some text here and images here.

I think it will be very useful to create a Business Model Canvas (or some similar technique of your preference) for some or all of the organizations involved. In the most cases we’d be looking at generic organization types. So for, example, there won’t be a canvas for every single bus company but the fact that there usually are multiple passenger transport companies means that competition is an important factor.

So we probably need an additional model, which is capable of taking that into account – like Tom Graves’s Enterprise Canvas. I’m also considering a service model (what are all the relevant services, how do they interact, etc.). Stafford Beer’s Viable Systems Model may be a good way to capture the system as a whole, so I’m working on that now. I’d be only too pleased to exchange ideas about the whole approach with anyone who doesn’t think I’ve taken leave of my senses – and maybe even with those who do! My thanks to Jack, Ruth, Peter, Tom and Charles for the good ideas and encouragement. Please don’t blame them, if you think it’s rubbish.

So finally – you might be wondering what this has to do with the sewers of Vienna. If you’ve seen The Third Man, you might figure it out. For those who haven’t: in the film Orson Wells plays Harry Lime, a wanted man in the Western sector of post-war Vienna. He fakes his death and disappears to the Russian controlled East – and continues his operation in the West using the sewer system to get across (under) the city avoiding all control posts and remaining effectively invisible. It’s just a somewhat lighthearted example of an innovative (one might say emergent) transformation of an infrastructure to serve a totally different purpose. And it does illustrate how you can get caught out if you don’t understand your ecosystem properly.

Stuart 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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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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