Tag Archives: IT

The Open Group Boston 2014 – Day Two Highlights

By Loren K. Bayes, Director, Global Marketing Communications

Enabling Boundaryless Information Flow™  continued in Boston on Tuesday, July 22Allen Brown, CEO and President of The Open Group welcomed attendees with an overview of the company’s second quarter results.

The Open Group membership is at 459 organizations in 39 countries, including 16 new membership agreements in 2Q 2014.

Membership value is highlighted by the collaboration Open Group members experience. For example, over 4,000 individuals attended Open Group events (physically and virtually whether at member meetings, webinars, podcasts, tweet jams). The Open Group website had more than 1 million page views and over 105,000 publication items were downloaded by members in 80 countries.

Brown also shared highlights from The Open Group Forums which featured status on many upcoming white papers, snapshots, reference models and standards, as well as individiual Forum Roadmaps. The Forums are busy developing and reviewing projects such as the Next Version of TOGAF®, an Open Group standard, an ArchiMate® white paper, The Open Group Healthcare Forum charter and treatise, Standard Mils™ APIs and Open Fair. Many publications are translated into multiple languages including Chinese and Portuguese. Also, a new Forum will be announced in the third quarter at The Open Group London 2014 so stay tuned for that launch news!

Our first keynote of the day was Making Health Addictive by Joseph Kvedar, MD, Partners HealthCare, Center for Connected Health.

Dr. Kvedar described how Healthcare delivery is changing, with mobile technology being a big part. Other factors pushing changes are reimbursement paradigms and caregivers being paid to be more efficient and interested in keeping people healthy and out of hospitals. The goal of Healthcare providers is to integrate care into the day-to-day lives of patients. Healthcare also aims for better technologies and architecture.

Mobile is a game-changer in Healthcare because people are “always on and connected”. Mobile technology allows for in-the-moment messaging, ability to capture health data (GPS, accelerator, etc.) and display information in real time as needed. Bottom-line, smartphones are addictive so they are excellent tools for communication and engagement.

But there is a need to understand and address the implications of automating Healthcare: security, privacy, accountability, economics.

The plenary continued with Proteus Duxbury, CTO, Connect for Health Colorado, who presented From Build to Run at the Colorado Health Insurance Exchange – Achieving Long-term Sustainability through Better Architecture.

Duxbury stated the keys to successes of his organization are the leadership and team’s shared vision, a flexible vendor being agile with rapidly changing regulatory requirements, and COTS solution which provided minimal customization and custom development, resilient architecture and security. Connect for Health experiences many challenges including budget restraints, regulation and operating in a “fish bowl”. Yet, they are on-track with their three-year ‘build to run’ roadmap, stabilizing their foundation and gaining efficiencies.

During the Q&A with Allen Brown following each presentation, both speakers emphasized the need for standards, architecture and data security.

Brown and DuxburyAllen Brown and Proteus Duxbury

During the afternoon, track sessions consisted of Healthcare, Enterprise Architecture (EA) & Business Value, Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), Security & Risk Management, Professional Development and ArchiMate Tutorials. Chris Armstrong, President, Armstrong Process Group, Inc. discussed Architecture Value Chain and Capability Model. Laura Heritage, Principal Solution Architect / Enterprise API Platform, SOA Software, presented Protecting your APIs from Threats and Hacks.

The evening culminated with a reception at the historic Old South Meeting House, where the Boston Tea Party began in 1773.

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IMG_2814Networking Reception at Old South Meeting House

A special thank you to our sponsors and exhibitors at The Open Group Boston 2014: BiZZdesign, Black Duck, Corso, Good e-Learning, Orbus and AEA.

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Loren K. BaynesLoren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing Communications, joined The Open Group in 2013 and spearheads corporate marketing initiatives, primarily the website, blog and media relations. Loren has over 20 years experience in brand marketing and public relations and, prior to The Open Group, was with The Walt Disney Company for over 10 years. Loren holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas A&M University. She is based in the US.

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The Open Group Boston 2014 – Q&A with Proteus Duxbury, Connect for Health Colorado

By The Open Group

The U.S. healthcare industry is undergoing a major sea change right now due in part to the Affordable Care Act, as well as the need to digitize legacy systems that have remained largely paper-based in order to better facilitate information exchange.

Proteus Duxbury, the CTO for the state of Colorado’s health insurance exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, has a wide and varied background in healthcare IT ranging from IT consulting and helping to lead a virtual health medicine group to his current position running the supporting technologies operating the Colorado exchange. Duxbury joined Connect for Health Colorado early 2014 as the exchange was going through its first major enrollment period.

We spoke to Duxbury in advance of his keynote on July 22 at The Open Group Boston 2014 conference about the current state of healthcare IT and how Enterprise Architecture will play an integral part in the Connect for Health Colorado exchange moving forward as the organizations transitions from a start-up culture to a maintenance and run mode.

Below is a transcript of that conversation.

What factors went into making the roll-out of Connect for Health Colorado healthcare exchange a success?

There were three things. The first is we have an exceptional leadership team. The CEO, especially, is a fantastic leader and was able to create a strong vision and have her team rally quickly behind it. The executive team was empowered to make decisions quickly and there was a highly dedicated work force and a powerful start-up culture. In addition, there was a uniformly shared passion to see healthcare reform successfully implemented in Colorado.

The second reason for success was the flexibility and commitment of our core vendor—which is CGI—and their ability to effectively manage and be agile with rapidly changing regulatory requirements and rapidly changing needs. These systems had never been built anywhere else before; it really was a green field program of work. There was a shared commitment to achieving success and very strong contracting in place ensuring that we were fully protected throughout the whole process.

The third is our COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) solution that was selected. Early on, we established an architecture principle of deploying out-of-the-box products rather than trying to build from scratch, so there was minimal customization and development effort. Scope control was tight. We implemented the hCentive package, which is one of the leading health insurance exchange software packages. Best-of-breed solutions were implemented around the edges where it was necessary to meet a niche need, but we try to build as much into the single product as we can. We have a highly resilient and available architecture. The technical architecture scales well and has been very robust and resilient through a couple of very busy periods at the end of open enrollment, particularly on March 31st and toward the end of December, as the deadline for enrollment in 2014 plans approached.

Why are you putting together an Enterprise Architecture for the exchange?

We’re extremely busy right now with a number of critical projects. We’re still implementing core functionality but we do have a bit of a breather on the horizon. Going into next year things will get lighter, and now is the time for a clear roadmap to achieve the IT strategic objectives that I have set for the organization.

We are trying to achieve a reduction in our M&O (maintenance and operations) expense because we need to be self-sustaining from a budgetary point of view. Our federal funding will be going away starting 2015 so we need to consolidate architecture and systems and gain additional efficiencies. We need to continue to meet our key SLAs, specifically around availability—we have a very public-facing set of systems. IT needs to be operationalized. We need to move from the existing start-up culture to the management of IT in a CMM (Capability Maturity Model) or ITIL-type fashion. And we also need to continue to grow and hold on to our customer base, as there is always a reasonable amount of churn and competing services in a relatively uncertain marketplace. We need to continue to grow our customer base so we can be self-sustaining. To support this, we need to have a more operationalized, robust and cost-efficient IT architecture, and we need a clear roadmap to get there. If you don’t have a roadmap or design that aligns with business priorities, then those things are difficult to achieve.

Finally, I am building up an IT team. To date, we’ve been highly reliant on contractors and consultants to get us to where we are now. In order to reduce our cost base, we are building out our internal IT team and a number of key management roles. That means we need to have a roadmap and something that we can all steer towards—a shared architecture roadmap.

What benefits do you expect to see from implementing the architecture?

Growing our customer base is a critical goal—we need to stabilize the foundations of our IT solution and use that as a platform for future growth and innovation. It’s hard to grow and innovate if you haven’t got your core IT platform stabilized. By making our IT systems easier to be maintained and updated we hope to see continued reduction in IT M&O. High availability is another benefit I expect to see, as well as closer alignment with business goals and business processes and capabilities.

Are there any particular challenges in setting up an Enterprise Architecture for a statewide health exchange? What are they?

I think there are some unique challenges. The first is budget. We do need to be self-sustaining, and there is not a huge amount of budget available for additional capital investments. There is some, but it has to be very carefully allocated, managed and spent diligently. We do work within a tightly controlled federal set of regulations and constraints and are frequently under the spotlight from auditors and others.

There are CMS (Center for Medicaid Services) regulations that define what we can and cannot do with our technology. We have security regulations that we have to exist within and a lot of IRS requirements that we have to meet and be compliant with. We have a complex set of partners to work with in Colorado and nationally—we have to work with Colorado state agencies such as the Department of Insurance and Medicaid (HCPF), we have to work very closely with a large number—we’ve currently got 17—of carriers. We have CMS and the federal marketplace (Federal Data Services Hub). We have one key vendor—CGI—but we are in a multi-vendor environment and all our projects involve having to manage multiple different organizations towards success.

The final challenge is that we’re very busy still building applications and implementing functionality, so my job is to continue to be focused on successful delivery of two very large projects, while ensuring our longer term architecture planning is completed, which is going to be critical for our long-term sustainability. That’s the classic Enterprise Architecture conundrum. I feel like we’ve got a handle on it pretty well here—because they’re both critical.

What are some of the biggest challenges that you see facing the Healthcare industry right now?

Number one is probably integration—the integration of data especially between different systems. A lot of EMR (electronic medical record) systems are relatively closed to the outside world, and it can be expensive and difficult to open them up. Even though there are some good standards out there like HL7 and EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), everyone seems to be implementing them differently.

Personal healthcare tech (mHealth and Telehealth) is not going to take off until there is more integration. For example, between whatever you’re using to track your smoking, blood pressure, weight, etc., it needs to be integrated seamlessly with your medical records and insurance provider. And until this data can be used for meaningful analytics and care planning, until they solve this integration nightmare, it’s going to be difficult really to make great strides.

Security is the second challenge. There’s a huge proliferation of new technology endpoints and there’s a lot of weak leaks around people, process and technology. The regulators are only really starting to catch up, and they’re one step behind. There’s a lot of personal data out there and it’s not always technology that’s the weak leak. We have that pretty tightly controlled here because we’re highly regulated and are technology is tightly controlled, but on the provider side especially, it’s a huge challenge and every week we see a new data breach.

The third challenge is ROI. There’s a lot of investment being made into personal health technology but because we’re in a private insurance market and a private provider market, until someone has really cracked what the ROI is for these initiatives, whether it’s tied to re-admissions or reimbursements, it’s never going to really become mainstream. And until it becomes part of the fabric of care delivery, real value is not going to be realized and health outcomes not significantly improved.

But models are changing—once the shift to outcome-based reimbursement takes hold, providers will be more incentivized to really invest in these kind of technologies and get them working. But that shift hasn’t really occurred yet, and I’ve yet to see really compelling ROI models for a lot of these new investments. I’m a believer that it really has to be the healthcare provider that drives and facilitates the engagement with patients on these new technologies. Ultimately, I believe, people, left to their own devices, will experiment and play with something for a while, but unless their healthcare provider is engaging them actively on it, it’s not something that they will persist in doing. A lot of the large hospital groups are dipping their toe in the water and seeing what sticks, but I don’t really see any system where these new technologies are becoming part of the norm of healthcare delivery.

Do you feel like there are other places that are seeing more success in this outside of the US?

I know in the UK, they’re having a lot of success with their Telehealth pilots. But their primary objective is to make people healthier, so it’s a lot easier in that environment to have a good idea, show that there’s some case for improving outcomes and get funding. In the US, proving outcomes currently isn’t enough. You have to prove that there’s some revenue to be made or cost to be saved. In some markets, they’ve experienced problems similar to the US and in some markets it’s probably been easier. That doesn’t mean they’ve had an easy time implementing them—the UK has had huge problems with integration and with getting EMR systems deployed and implemented nationally. But a lot of those are classical IT problems of change management, scope control and trying to achieve too much too quickly. The healthcare industry is about 20 years behind other industries. They’re going through all the pain with the EMR rollouts that most manufacturing companies went through with ERP 20 years ago and most banks went through 40 years ago.

How can organizations such as The Open Group and its Healthcare Forum better work with the Healthcare industry to help them achieve better results?

I think firstly bringing a perspective from other industries. Healthcare IT conferences and organizations tend to be largely made up of people who have been in healthcare most of their working lives. The Open Group brings in perspective from other industries. Also reference architectures—there’s a shortage of good reference architectures in the healthcare space and that’s something that is really The Open Group’s strong point. Models that span the entire healthcare ecosystem—including payers, providers, pharma and exchanges, IT process and especially IT architecture process—can be improved in healthcare. Healthcare IT departments aren’t as mature as other industries because the investment has not been there until now. They’re in a relative start-up mode. Enterprise Architecture—if you’re a large healthcare provider and you’re growing rapidly through M&O (like so many are right now), that’s a classic use case for having a structured Enterprise Architecture process.

Within the insurance marketplace movement, things have grown very quickly; it’s been tough work. A handful of the states have been very successful, and I think we’re not unique in that we’re a start-up organization and it’s going to be several years until we mature to fully functional, well measured l IT organization. Architecture rigor and process is key to achieving sustainability and maturity.

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duxbury_0Proteus Duxbury joined Connect for Health Colorado as Chief Technology Officer in February 2014, directing technology strategy and operations. Proteus previously served at Catholic Health Initiatives, where he led all IT activities for Virtual Health Services, a division responsible for deploying Telehealth solutions throughout the US. Prior to that, Proteus served as a Managing Consultant at the PA Consulting Group, leading technology change programs in the US and UK primarily in the healthcare and life science industry. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Management from Bournemouth University.

 

 

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The Open Group Boston 2014 Preview: Talking People Architecture with David Foote

By The Open Group

Among all the issues that CIOs, CTOs and IT departments are facing today, staffing is likely near the top of the list of what’s keeping them up at night. Sure, there’s dealing with constant (and disruptive) technological changes and keeping up with the latest tech and business trends, such as having a Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) or a mobile strategy, but without the right people with the right skills at the right time it’s impossible to execute on these initiatives.

Technology jobs are notoriously difficult to fill–far more difficult than positions in other industries where roles and skillsets may be much more static. And because technology is rapidly evolving, the roles for tech workers are also always in flux. Last year you may have needed an Agile developer, but today you may need a mobile developer with secure coding ability and in six months you might need an IoT developer with strong operations or logistics domain experience—with each position requiring different combinations of tech, functional area, solution and “soft” skillsets.

According to David Foote, IT Industry Analyst and co-founder of IT workforce research and advisory firm Foote Partners, the mash-up of HR systems and ad hoc people management practices most companies have been using for years to manage IT workers have become frighteningly ineffective. He says that to cope in today’s environment, companies need to architect their people infrastructure similar to how they have been architecting their technical infrastructure.

“People Architecture” is the term Foote has coined to describe the application of traditional architectural principles and practices that may already be in place elsewhere within an organization and applying them to managing the IT workforce. This includes applying such things as strategy and capability roadmaps, phase gate blueprints, benchmarks, performance metrics, governance practices and stakeholder management to human capital management (HCM).

HCM components for People Architecture typically include job definition and design, compensation, incentives and recognition, skills demand and acquisition, job and career paths, professional development and work/life balance.

Part of the dilemma for employers right now, Foote says, is that there is very little job title standardization in the marketplace and too many job titles floating around IT departments today. “There are too many dimensions and variability in jobs now that companies have gotten lost from an HR perspective. They’re unable to cope with the complexity of defining, determining pay and laying out career paths for all these jobs, for example. For many, serious retention and hiring problems are showing up for the first time. Work-around solutions used for years to cope with systemic weaknesses in their people management systems have stopped working,” says Foote. “Recruiters start picking off their best people and candidates are suddenly rejecting offers and a panic sets in. Tensions are palpable in their IT workforce. These IT realities are pervasive.”

Twenty-five years ago, Foote says, defining roles in IT departments was easier. But then the Internet exploded and technology became far more customer-facing, shifting basic IT responsibilities from highly technical people deep within companies to roles requiring more visibility and transparency within and outside the enterprise. Large chunks of IT budgets moved into the business lines while traditional IT became more of a business itself.

According to Foote, IT roles became siloed not just by technology but by functional areas such as finance and accounting, operations and logistics, sales, marketing and HR systems, and by industry knowledge and customer familiarity. Then the IT professional services industry rapidly expanded to compete with their customers for talent in the marketplace. Even the architect role changed: an Enterprise Architect today can specialize in applications, security or data architecture among others, or focus on a specific industry such as energy, retail or healthcare.

Foote likens the fragmentation of IT jobs and skillsets that’s happening now to the emergence of IT architecture 25 years ago. Just as technical architecture practices emerged to help make sense of the disparate systems rapidly growing within companies and how best to determine the right future tech investments, a people architecture approach today helps organizations better manage an IT workforce spread through the enterprise with roles ranging from architects and analysts to a wide variety of engineers, developers and project and program managers.

“Technical architecture practices were successful because—when you did them well—companies achieved an understanding of what they have systems-wise and then connected it to where they were going and how they were going to get there, all within a process inclusive of all the various stakeholders who shared the risk in the outcome. It helped clearly define enterprise technology capabilities and gave companies more options and flexibility going forward,” according to Foote.

“Right now employers desperately need to incorporate in human capital management systems and practice the same straightforward, inclusive architecture approaches companies are already using in other areas of their businesses. This can go a long way toward not just lessening staffing shortages but also executing more predictably and being more agile in face of constant uncertainties and the accelerating pace of change. Ultimately this translates into a more effective workforce whether they are full-timers or the contingent workforce of part-timers, consultants and contractors.

“It always comes down to your people. That’s not a platitude but a fact,” insists Foote. “If you’re not competitive in today’s labor marketplace and you’re not an employer where people want to work, you’re dead.”

One industry that he says has gotten it right is the consulting industry. “After all, their assets walk out the door every night. Consulting groups within firms such as IBM and Accenture have been good at architecting their staffing because it’s their job to get out in front of what’s coming technologically. Because these firms must anticipate customer needs before they get the call to implement services, they have to be ahead of the curve in already identifying and hiring the bench strength needed to fulfill demand. They do many things right to hire, develop and keep the staff they need in place.”

Unfortunately, many companies take too much of a just-in-time approach to their workforce so they are always managing staffing from a position of scarcity rather than looking ahead, Foote says. But, this is changing, in part due to companies being tired of never having the people they need and being able to execute predictably.

The key is to put a structure in place that addresses a strategy around what a company needs and when. This applies not just to the hiring process, but also to compensation, training and advancement.

“Architecting anything allows you to be able to, in a more organized way, be more agile in dealing with anything that comes at you. That’s the beauty of architecture. You plan for the fact that you’re going to continue to scale and continue to change systems, the world’s going to continue to change, but you have an orderly way to manage the governance, planning and execution of that, the strategy of that and the implementation of decisions knowing that the architecture provides a more agile and flexible modular approach,” he said.

Foote says organizations such as The Open Group can lend themselves to facilitating People Architecture in a couple different ways. First, through extending the principles of architecture to human capital management, and second through vendor-independent, expertise and experience driven certifications, such as TOGAF® or OpenCA and OpenCITS, that help companies define core competencies for people and that provide opportunities for training and career advancement.

“I’m pretty bullish on many vendor-independent certifications in general, particularly where a defined book of knowledge exists that’s achieved wide acceptance in the industry. And that’s what you’ve got with The Open Group. Nobody’s challenging the architectural framework supremacy of TOGAF that that I’m aware of. In fact, large vendors with their own certifications participated actively in developing the framework and applying it very successfully to their business models,” he said.

Although the process of implementing People Architecture can be difficult and may take several years to master (much like Enterprise Architecture), Foote says it is making a huge difference for companies that implement it.

To learn more about People Architecture and models for implementing it, plan to attend Foote’s session at The Open Group Boston 2014 on Tuesday July 22. Foote’s session will address how architectural principles are being applied to human capital so that organizations can better manage their workforces from hiring and training through compensation, incentives and advancement. He will also discuss how career paths for EAs can be architected. Following the conference, the session proceedings will be available to Open Group members and conference attendees at www.opengroup.org.

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footeDavid Foote is an IT industry research pioneer, innovator, and one of the most quoted industry analysts on global IT workforce trends and multiple facets of the human side of technology value creation. His two decades of groundbreaking deep research and analysis of IT-business cross-skilling and technology/business management integration and leading the industry in innovative IT skills demand and compensation benchmarking has earned him a place on a short list of thought leaders in IT human capital management.

A former Gartner and META Group analyst, David leads the research and analytical practice groups at Foote Partners that reach 2,300 customers on six continents.

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Filed under architecture, Conference, Open CA, Open CITS, Professional Development, Standards, TOGAF®, Uncategorized

The Financial Incentive for Health Information Exchanges

By Jim Hietala, VP, Security, The Open Group

Health IT professionals have always known that interoperability would be one of the most important aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Now doctors have financial incentive to be proactive in taking part in the process of exchange information between computer systems.

According to a recent article in MedPage Today, doctors are now “clamoring” for access to patient information ahead of the deadlines for the government’s “meaningful use” program. Doctors and hospitals will get hit with fines for not knowing about patients’ health histories, for patient readmissions and unnecessary retesting. “Meaningful use” refers to provisions in the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which authorized incentive payments through Medicare and Medicaid to clinicians and hospitals that use electronic health records in a meaningful way that significantly improves clinical care.
Doctors who accept Medicare will find themselves penalized for not adopting or successfully demonstrating meaningful use of a certified electronic health record (EHR) technology by 2015. Health professionals’ Medicare physician fee schedule amount for covered professional services will be adjusted down by 1% each year for certain categories.  If less than 75% of Eligible Professionals (EPs) have become meaningful users of EHRs by 2018, the adjustment will change by 1% point each year to a maximum of 5% (95% of Medicare covered amount).

With the stick, there’s also a carrot. The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs provide incentive payments to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) as they adopt, implement, upgrade or demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology. Eligible professionals can receive up to $44,000 through the Medicare EHR Incentive Program and up to $63,750 through the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

According to HealthIT.Gov, interoperability is essential for applications that interact with users (such as e-prescribing), systems that communicate with each other (such as messaging standards) information processes and management (such as health information exchange) how consumer devices integrate with other systems and applications (such as tablet, smart phones and PCs).

The good news is that more and more hospitals and doctors are participating in data exchanges and sharing patient information. On January 30th, the eHealth Exchange, formerly the Nationwide Health Information Network, and operated by Healtheway, reported a surge in network participation numbers and increases in secure online transactions among members.

According to the news release, membership in the eHealth Exchange is currently pegged at 41 participants who together represent some 800 hospitals, 6,000 mid-to-large medical groups, 800 dialysis centers and 850 retail pharmacies nationwide. Some of the earliest members to sign on with the exchange were the Veterans Health Administration, Department of Defense, Kaiser Permanente, the Social Security Administration and Dignity Health.

While the progress in health information exchanges is good, there is still much work to do in defining standards, so that the right information is available at the right time and place to enable better patient care. Devices are emerging that can capture continuous information on our health status. The information captured by these devices can enable better outcomes, but only if the information is made readily available to medical professionals.

The Open Group recently formed The Open Group Healthcare Forum, which focuses on bringing  Boundaryless Information Flow™ to the healthcare industry enabling data to flow more easily throughout the complete healthcare ecosystem.  By leveraging the discipline and principles of Enterprise Architecture, including TOGAF®, an Open Group standard, the forum aims to develop standardized vocabulary and messaging that will result in higher quality outcomes, streamlined business practices and innovation within the industry.

62940-hietalaJim Hietala, CISSP, GSEC, is the Vice President, Security for The Open Group, where he manages all IT security, risk management and healthcare programs and standards activities. He participates in the SANS Analyst/Expert program and has also published numerous articles on information security, risk management, and compliance topics in publications including The ISSA Journal, Bank Accounting & Finance, Risk Factor, SC Magazine, and others.

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Evolving Business and Technology Toward an Open Platform 3.0™

By Dave Lounsbury, Chief Technical Officer, The Open Group

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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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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Data Governance: A Fundamental Aspect of IT

By E.G. Nadhan, HP

In an earlier post, I had explained how you can build upon SOA governance to realize Cloud governance.  But underlying both paradigms is a fundamental aspect that we have been dealing with ever since the dawn of IT—and that’s the data itself.

In fact, IT used to be referred to as “data processing.” Despite the continuing evolution of IT through various platforms, technologies, architectures and tools, at the end of the day IT is still processing data. However, the data has taken multiple shapes and forms—both structured and unstructured. And Cloud Computing has opened up opportunities to process and store structured and unstructured data. There has been a need for data governance since the day data processing was born, and today, it’s taken on a whole new dimension.

“It’s the economy, stupid,” was a campaign slogan, coined to win a critical election in the United States in 1992. Today, the campaign slogan for governance in the land of IT should be, “It’s the data, stupid!”

Let us challenge ourselves with a few questions. Consider them the what, why, when, where, who and how of data governance.

What is data governance? It is the mechanism by which we ensure that the right corporate data is available to the right people, at the right time, in the right format, with the right context, through the right channels.

Why is data governance needed? The Cloud, social networking and user-owned devices (BYOD) have acted as catalysts, triggering an unprecedented growth in recent years. We need to control and understand the data we are dealing with in order to process it effectively and securely.

When should data governance be exercised? Well, when shouldn’t it be? Data governance kicks in at the source, where the data enters the enterprise. It continues across the information lifecycle, as data is processed and consumed to address business needs. And it is also essential when data is archived and/or purged.

Where does data governance apply? It applies to all business units and across all processes. Data governance has a critical role to play at the point of storage—the final checkpoint before it is stored as “golden” in a database. Data Governance also applies across all layers of the architecture:

  • Presentation layer where the data enters the enterprise
  • Business logic layer where the business rules are applied to the data
  • Integration layer where data is routed
  • Storage layer where data finds its home

Who does data governance apply to? It applies to all business leaders, consumers, generators and administrators of data. It is a good idea to identify stewards for the ownership of key data domains. Stewards must ensure that their data domains abide by the enterprise architectural principles.  Stewards should continuously analyze the impact of various business events to their domains.

How is data governance applied? Data governance must be exercised at the enterprise level with federated governance to individual business units and data domains. It should be proactively exercised when a new process, application, repository or interface is introduced.  Existing data is likely to be impacted.  In the absence of effective data governance, data is likely to be duplicated, either by chance or by choice.

In our data universe, “informationalization” yields valuable intelligence that enables effective decision-making and analysis. However, even having the best people, process and technology is not going to yield the desired outcomes if the underlying data is suspect.

How about you? How is the data in your enterprise? What governance measures do you have in place? I would like to know.

A version of this blog post was originally published on HP’s Journey through Enterprise IT Services blog.

NadhanHP Distinguished Technologist and Cloud Advisor, E.G.Nadhan has more than 25 years of experience in the IT industry across the complete spectrum of selling, delivering and managing enterprise level solutions for HP customers. He is the founding co-chair for The Open Group SOCCI project, and is also the founding co-chair for the Open Group Cloud Computing Governance project. Connect with Nadhan on: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Journey Blog.

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