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Are You Ready for the Convergence of New, Disruptive Technologies?

By Chris Harding, The Open Group

The convergence of technical phenomena such as cloud, mobile and social computing, big data analysis, and the Internet of things that is being addressed by The Open Group’s Open Platform 3.0 Forum™ will transform the way that you use information technology. Are you ready? Take our survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/convergent_tech

What the Technology Can Do

Mobile and social computing are leading the way. Recently, the launch of new iPhone models and the announcement of the Twitter stock flotation were headline news, reflecting the importance that these technologies now have for business. For example, banks use mobile text messaging to alert customers to security issues. Retailers use social media to understand their markets and communicate with potential customers.

Other technologies are close behind. In Formula One motor racing, sensors monitor vehicle operation and feed real-time information to the support teams, leading to improved design, greater safety, and lower costs. This approach could soon become routine for cars on the public roads too.

Many exciting new applications are being discussed. Stores could use sensors to capture customer behavior while browsing the goods on display, and give them targeted information and advice via their mobile devices. Medical professionals could monitor hospital patients and receive alerts of significant changes. Researchers could use shared cloud services and big data analysis to detect patterns in this information, and develop treatments, including for complex or uncommon conditions that are hard to understand using traditional methods. The potential is massive, and we are only just beginning to see it.

What the Analysts Say

Market analysts agree on the importance of the new technologies.

Gartner uses the term “Nexus of Forces” to describe the convergence and mutual reinforcement of social, mobility, cloud and information patterns that drive new business scenarios, and says that, although these forces are innovative and disruptive on their own, together they are revolutionizing business and society, disrupting old business models and creating new leaders.

IDC predicts that a combination of social cloud, mobile, and big data technologies will drive around 90% of all the growth in the IT market through 2020, and uses the term “third platform” to describe this combination.

The Open Group will identify the standards that will make Gartner’s Nexus of Forces and IDC’s Third Platform commercial realities. This will be the definition of Open Platform 3.0.

Disrupting Enterprise Use of IT

The new technologies are bringing new opportunities, but their use raises problems. In particular, end users find that working through IT departments in the traditional way is not satisfactory. The delays are too great for rapid, innovative development. They want to use the new technologies directly – “hands on”.

Increasingly, business departments are buying technology directly, by-passing their IT departments. Traditionally, the bulk of an enterprise’s IT budget was spent by the IT department and went on maintenance. A significant proportion is now spent by the business departments, on new technology.

Business and IT are not different worlds any more. Business analysts are increasingly using technical tools, and even doing application development, using exposed APIs. For example, marketing folk do search engine optimization, use business information tools, and analyze traffic on Twitter. Such operations require less IT skill than formerly because the new systems are easy to use. Also, users are becoming more IT-savvy. This is a revolution in business use of IT, comparable to the use of spreadsheets in the 1980s.

Also, business departments are hiring traditional application developers, who would once have only been found in IT departments.

Are You Ready?

These disruptive new technologies are changing, not just the IT architecture, but also the business architecture of the enterprises that use them. This is a sea change that affects us all.

The introduction of the PC had a dramatic impact on the way enterprises used IT, taking much of the technology out of the computer room and into the office. The new revolution is taking it out of the office and into the pocket. Cell phones and tablets give you windows into the world, not just your personal collection of applications and information. Through those windows you can see your friends, your best route home, what your customers like, how well your production processes are working, or whatever else you need to conduct your life and business.

This will change the way you work. You must learn how to tailor and combine the information and services available to you, to meet your personal objectives. If your role is to provide or help to provide IT services, you must learn how to support users working in this new way.

To negotiate this change successfully, and take advantage of it, each of us must understand what is happening, and how ready we are to deal with it.

The Open Group is conducting a survey of people’s reactions to the convergence of Cloud and other new technologies. Take the survey, to input your state of readiness, and get early sight of the results, to see how you compare with everyone else.

To take the survey, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/convergent_tech

Dr. Chris Harding is Director for Interoperability and SOA at The Open Group. He has been with The Open Group for more than ten years, and is currently responsible for managing and supporting its work on interoperability, including SOA and interoperability aspects of Cloud Computing, and the Platform 3.0 Forum. He is a member of the BCS, the IEEE and the AEA, and is a certified TOGAF® practitioner.

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Future Technologies

By Dave Lounsbury, The Open Group

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why is Cloud Adoption Taking so Long?

By Chris Harding, The Open Group

At the end of last year, Gartner predicted that cloud computing would become an integral part of IT in 2013 (http://www.gartner.com/DisplayDocument?doc_cd=230929). This looks a pretty safe bet. The real question is, why is it taking so long?

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a simple concept. IT resources are made available, within an environment that enables them to be used, via a communications network, as a service. It is used within enterprises to enable IT departments to meet users’ needs more effectively, and by external providers to deliver better IT services to their enterprise customers.

There are established vendors of products to fit both of these scenarios. The potential business benefits are well documented. There are examples of real businesses gaining those benefits, such as Netflix as a public cloud user (see http://www.zdnet.com/the-biggest-cloud-app-of-all-netflix-7000014298/ ), and Unilever and Lufthansa as implementers of private cloud (see http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240114043/Unilever-and-Lufthansa-Systems-deploy-Azure-Private-cloud ).

Slow Pace of Adoption

Yet we are still talking of cloud computing becoming an integral part of IT. In the 2012 Open Group Cloud ROI survey, less than half of the respondents’ organizations were using cloud computing, although most of the rest were investigating its use. (See http://www.opengroup.org/sites/default/files/contentimages/Documents/cloud_roi_formal_report_12_19_12-1.pdf ). Clearly, cloud computing is not being used for enterprise IT as a matter of routine.

Cloud computing is now at least seven years old. Amazon’s “Elastic Compute Cloud” was launched in August 2006, and there are services that we now regard as cloud computing, though they may not have been called that, dating from before then. Other IT revolutions – personal computers, for example – have reached the point of being an integral part of IT in half the time. Why has it taken Cloud so long?

The Reasons

One reason is that using Cloud requires a high level of trust. You can lock your PC in your office, but you cannot physically secure your cloud resources. You must trust the cloud service provider. Such trust takes time to earn.

Another reason is that, although it is a simple concept, cloud computing is described in a rather complex way. The widely-accepted NIST definition (see http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-145/SP800-145.pdf ) has three service models and four deployment models, giving a total of twelve distinct delivery combinations. Each combination has different business drivers, and the three service models are based on very different technical capabilities. Real products, of course, often do not exactly correspond to the definition, and their vendors describe them in product-specific terms. This complexity often leads to misunderstanding and confusion.

A third reason is that you cannot “mix and match” cloud services from different providers. The market is consolidating, with a few key players emerging as dominant at the infrastructure and platform levels. Each of them has its own proprietary interfaces. There are no real vendor-neutral standards. A recent Information Week article on Netflix (http://www.informationweek.co.uk/cloud-computing/platform/how-netflix-is-ruining-cloud-computing/240151650 ) describes some of the consequences. Customers are beginning to talk of “vendor lock-in” in a way that we haven’t seen since the days of mainframes.

The Portability and Interoperability Guide

The Open Group Cloud Computing Portability and Interoperability Guide addresses this last problem, by providing recommendations to customers on how best to achieve portability and interoperability when working with current cloud products and services. It also makes recommendations to suppliers and standards bodies on how standards and best practice should evolve to enable greater portability and interoperability in the future.

The Guide tackles the complexity of its subject by defining a simple Distributed Computing Reference Model. This model shows how cloud services fit into the mix of products and services used by enterprises in distributed computing solutions today. It identifies the major components of cloud-enabled solutions, and describes their portability and interoperability interfaces.

Platform 3.0

Cloud is not the only new game in town. Enterprises are looking at mobile computing, social computing, big data, sensors, and controls as new technologies that can transform their businesses. Some of these – mobile and social computing, for example – have caught on faster than Cloud.

Portability and interoperability are major concerns for these technologies too. There is a need for a standard platform to enable enterprises to use all of the new technologies, individually and in combination, and “mix and match” different products. This is the vision of the Platform 3.0 Forum, recently formed by The Open Group. The distributed computing reference model is an important input to this work.

The State of the Cloud

It is now at least becoming routine to consider cloud computing when architecting a new IT solution. The chances of it being selected however appear to be less than fifty-fifty, in spite of its benefits. The reasons include those mentioned above: lack of trust, complexity, and potential lock-in.

The Guide removes some of the confusion caused by the complexity, and helps enterprises assess their exposure to lock-in, and take what measures they can to prevent it.

The growth of cloud computing is starting to be constrained by lack of standards to enable an open market with free competition. The Guide contains recommendations to help the industry and standards bodies produce the standards that are needed.

Let’s all hope that the standards do appear soon. Cloud is, quite simply, a good idea. It is an important technology paradigm that has the potential to transform businesses, to make commerce and industry more productive, and to benefit society as a whole, just as personal computing did. Its adoption really should not be taking this long.

The Open Group Cloud Computing Portability and Interoperability Guide is available from The Open Group bookstore at https://www2.opengroup.org/ogsys/catalog/G135

Dr. Chris Harding is Director for Interoperability and SOA at The Open Group. He has been with The Open Group for more than ten years, and is currently responsible for managing and supporting its work on interoperability, including SOA and interoperability aspects of Cloud Computing, and the Platform 3.0 Forum. He is a member of the BCS, the IEEE and the AEA, and is a certified TOGAF® practitioner.

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Thinking About Big Data

By Dave Lounsbury, The Open Group

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

- Albert Einstein

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

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

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

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

The Study of Machine Learning

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

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

Evolution of the Technological Landscape

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

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

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


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Why Business Needs Platform 3.0

By Chris Harding, The Open Group

The Internet gives businesses access to ever-larger markets, but it also brings more competition. To prosper, they must deliver outstanding products and services. Often, this means processing the ever-greater, and increasingly complex, data that the Internet makes available. The question they now face is, how to do this without spending all their time and effort on information technology.

Web Business Success

The success stories of giants such as Amazon are well-publicized, but there are other, less well-known companies that have profited from the Web in all sorts of ways. Here’s an example. In 2000 an English illustrator called Jacquie Lawson tried creating greetings cards on the Internet. People liked what she did, and she started an e-business whose website is now ranked by Alexa as number 2712 in the world, and #1879 in the USA. This is based on website traffic and is comparable, to take a company that may be better known, with toyota.com, which ranks slightly higher in the USA (#1314) but somewhat lower globally (#4838).

A company with a good product can grow fast. This also means, though, that a company with a better product, or even just better marketing, can eclipse it just as quickly. Social networking site Myspace was once the most visited site in the US. Now it is ranked by Alexa as #196, way behind Facebook, which is #2.

So who ranks as #1? You guessed it – Google. Which brings us to the ability to process large amounts of data, where Google excels.

The Data Explosion

The World-Wide Web probably contains over 13 billion pages, yet you can often find the information that you want in seconds. This is made possible by technology that indexes this vast amount of data – measured in petabytes (millions of gigabytes) – and responds to users’ queries.

The data on the world-wide-web originally came mostly from people, typing it in by hand. In future, we will often use data that is generated by sensors in inanimate objects. Automobiles, for example, can generate data that can be used to optimize their performance or assess the need for maintenance or repair.

The world population is measured in billions. It is estimated that the Internet of Things, in which data is collected from objects, could enable us to track 100 trillion objects in real time – ten thousand times as many things as there are people, tirelessly pumping out information. The amount of available data of potential value to businesses is set to explode yet again.

A New Business Generation

It’s not just the amount of data to be processed that is changing. We are also seeing changes in the way data is used, the way it is processed, and the way it is accessed. Following The Open Group conference in January, I wrote about the convergence of social, Cloud, and mobile computing with Big Data. These are the new technical trends that are taking us into the next generation of business applications.

We don’t yet know what all those applications will be – who in the 1990’s would have predicted greetings cards as a Web application – but there are some exciting ideas. They range from using social media to produce market forecasts to alerting hospital doctors via tablets and cellphones when monitors detect patient emergencies. All this, and more, is possible with technology that we have now, if we can use it.

The Problem

But there is a problem. Although there is technology that enables businesses to use social, Cloud, and mobile computing, and to analyze and process massive amounts of data of different kinds, it is not necessarily easy to use. A plethora of products is emerging, with different interfaces, and with no ability to work with each other.  This is fine for geeks who love to play with new toys, but not so good for someone who wants to realize a new business idea and make money.

The new generation of business applications cannot be built on a mish-mash of unstable products, each requiring a different kind of specialist expertise. It needs a solid platform, generally understood by enterprise architects and software engineers, who can translate the business ideas into technical solutions.

The New Platform

Former VMware CEO and current Pivotal Initiative leader Paul Maritz describes the situation very well in his recent blog on GigaOM. He characterizes the new breed of enterprises, that give customers what they want, when they want it and where they want it, by exploiting the opportunities provided by new technologies, as consumer grade. Paul says that, “Addressing these opportunities will require new underpinnings; a new platform, if you like. At the core of this platform, which needs to be Cloud-independent to prevent lock-in, will be new approaches to handling big and fast (real-time) data.”

The Open Group has announced its new Platform 3.0 Forum to help the industry define a standard platform to meet this need. As The Open Group CTO Dave Lounsbury says in his blog, the new Forum will advance The Open Group vision of Boundaryless Information Flow™ by helping enterprises to take advantage of these convergent technologies. This will be accomplished by identifying a set of new platform capabilities, and architecting and standardizing an IT platform by which enterprises can reap the business benefits of Platform 3.0.

Business Focus

A business set up to design greetings cards should not spend its time designing communications networks and server farms. It cannot afford to spend time on such things. Someone else will focus on its core business and take its market.

The Web provided a platform that businesses of its generation could build on to do what they do best without being overly distracted by the technology. Platform 3.0 will do this for the new generation of businesses.

Help It Happen!

To find out more about the Platform 3.0 Forum, and take part in its formation, watch out for the Platform 3.0 web meetings that will be announced by e-mail and twitter, and on our home page.

Dr. Chris Harding is Director for Interoperability and SOA at The Open Group. He has been with The Open Group for more than ten years, and is currently responsible for managing and supporting its work on interoperability, including SOA and interoperability aspects of Cloud Computing, and the Platform 3.0 Forum. He is a member of the BCS, the IEEE and the AEA, and is a certified TOGAF practitioner.

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Beyond Big Data

By Chris Harding, The Open Group

The big bang that started The Open Group Conference in Newport Beach was, appropriately, a presentation related to astronomy. Chris Gerty gave a keynote on Big Data at NASA, where he is Deputy Program Manager of the Open Innovation Program. He told us how visualizing deep space and its celestial bodies created understanding and enabled new discoveries. Everyone who attended felt inspired to explore the universe of Big Data during the rest of the conference. And that exploration – as is often the case with successful space missions – left us wondering what lies beyond.

The Big Data Conference Plenary

The second presentation on that Monday morning brought us down from the stars to the nuts and bolts of engineering. Mechanical devices require regular maintenance to keep functioning. Processing the mass of data generated during their operation can improve safety and cut costs. For example, airlines can overhaul aircraft engines when it needs doing, rather than on a fixed schedule that has to be frequent enough to prevent damage under most conditions, but might still fail to anticipate failure in unusual circumstances. David Potter and Ron Schuldt lead two of The Open Group initiatives, Quantum Lifecycle management (QLM) and the Universal Data Element Framework (UDEF). They explained how a semantic approach to product lifecycle management can facilitate the big-data processing needed to achieve this aim.

Chris Gerty was then joined by Andras Szakal, vice-president and chief technology officer at IBM US Federal IMT, Robert Weisman, chief executive officer of Build The Vision, and Jim Hietala, vice-president of Security at The Open Group, in a panel session on Big Data that was moderated by Dana Gardner of Interarbor Solutions. As always, Dana facilitated a fascinating discussion. Key points made by the panelists included: the trend to monetize data; the need to ensure veracity and usefulness; the need for security and privacy; the expectation that data warehouse technology will exist and evolve in parallel with map/reduce “on-the-fly” analysis; the importance of meaningful presentation of the data; integration with cloud and mobile technology; and the new ways in which Big Data can be used to deliver business value.

More on Big Data

In the afternoons of Monday and Tuesday, and on most of Wednesday, the conference split into streams. These have presentations that are more technical than the plenary, going deeper into their subjects. It’s a pity that you can’t be in all the streams at once. (At one point I couldn’t be in any of them, as there was an important side meeting to discuss the UDEF, which is in one of the areas that I support as forum director). Fortunately, there were a few great stream presentations that I did manage to get to.

On the Monday afternoon, Tom Plunkett and Janet Mostow of Oracle presented a reference architecture that combined Hadoop and NoSQL with traditional RDBMS, streaming, and complex event processing, to enable Big Data analysis. One application that they described was to trace the relations between particular genes and cancer. This could have big benefits in disease prediction and treatment. Another was to predict the movements of protesters at a demonstration through analysis of communications on social media. The police could then concentrate their forces in the right place at the right time.

Jason Bloomberg, president of Zapthink – now part of Dovel – is always thought-provoking. His presentation featured the need for governance vitality to cope with ever changing tools to handle Big Data of ever increasing size, “crowdsourcing” to channel the efforts of many people into solving a problem, and business transformation that is continuous rather than a one-time step from “as is” to “to be.”

Later in the week, I moderated a discussion on Architecting for Big Data in the Cloud. We had a well-balanced panel made up of TJ Virdi of Boeing, Mark Skilton of Capgemini and Tom Plunkett of Oracle. They made some excellent points. Big Data analysis provides business value by enabling better understanding, leading to better decisions. The analysis is often an iterative process, with new questions emerging as answers are found. There is no single application that does this analysis and provides the visualization needed for understanding, but there are a number of products that can be used to assist. The role of the data scientist in formulating the questions and configuring the visualization is critical. Reference models for the technology are emerging but there are as yet no commonly-accepted standards.

The New Enterprise Platform

Jogging is a great way of taking exercise at conferences, and I was able to go for a run most mornings before the meetings started at Newport Beach. Pacific Coast Highway isn’t the most interesting of tracks, but on Tuesday morning I was soon up in Castaways Park, pleasantly jogging through the carefully-nurtured natural coastal vegetation, with views over the ocean and its margin of high-priced homes, slipways, and yachts. I reflected as I ran that we had heard some interesting things about Big Data, but it is now an established topic. There must be something new coming over the horizon.

The answer to what this might be was suggested in the first presentation of that day’s plenary, Mary Ann Mezzapelle, security strategist for HP Enterprise Services, talked about the need to get security right for Big Data and the Cloud. But her scope was actually wider. She spoke of the need to secure the “third platform” – the term coined by IDC to describe the convergence of social, cloud and mobile computing with Big Data.

Securing Big Data

Mary Ann’s keynote was not about the third platform itself, but about what should be done to protect it. The new platform brings with it a new set of security threats, and the increasing scale of operation makes it increasingly important to get the security right. Mary Ann presented a thoughtful analysis founded on a risk-based approach.

She was followed by Adrian Lane, chief technology officer at Securosis, who pointed out that Big Data processing using NoSQL has a different architecture from traditional relational data processing, and requires different security solutions. This does not necessarily mean new techniques; existing techniques can be used in new ways. For example, Kerberos may be used to secure inter-node communications in map/reduce processing. Adrian’s presentation completed the Tuesday plenary sessions.

Service Oriented Architecture

The streams continued after the plenary. I went to the Distributed Services Architecture stream, which focused on SOA.

Bill Poole, enterprise architect at JourneyOne in Australia, described how to use the graphical architecture modeling language ArchiMate® to model service-oriented architectures. He illustrated this using a case study of a global mining organization that wanted to consolidate its two existing bespoke inventory management applications into a single commercial off-the-shelf application. It’s amazing how a real-world case study can make a topic come to life, and the audience certainly responded warmly to Bill’s excellent presentation.

Ali Arsanjani, chief technology officer for Business Performance and Service Optimization, and Heather Kreger, chief technology officer for International Standards, both at IBM, described the range of SOA standards published by The Open Group and available for use by enterprise architects. Ali was one of the brains that developed the SOA Reference Architecture, and Heather is a key player in international standards activities for SOA, where she has helped The Open Group’s Service Integration Maturity Model and SOA Governance Framework to become international standards, and is working on an international standard SOA reference architecture.

Cloud Computing

To start Wednesday’s Cloud Computing streams, TJ Virdi, senior enterprise architect at The Boeing Company, discussed use of TOGAF® to develop an Enterprise Architecture for a Cloud ecosystem. A large enterprise such as Boeing may use many Cloud service providers, enabling collaboration between corporate departments, partners, and regulators in a complex ecosystem. Architecting for this is a major challenge, and The Open Group’s TOGAF for Cloud Ecosystems project is working to provide guidance.

Stuart Boardman of KPN gave a different perspective on Cloud ecosystems, with a case study from the energy industry. An ecosystem may not necessarily be governed by a single entity, and the participants may not always be aware of each other. Energy generation and consumption in the Netherlands is part of a complex international ecosystem involving producers, consumers, transporters, and traders of many kinds. A participant may be involved in several ecosystems in several ways: a farmer for example, might consume energy, have wind turbines to produce it, and also participate in food production and transport ecosystems.

Penelope Gordon of 1-Plug Corporation explained how choice and use of business metrics can impact Cloud service providers. She worked through four examples: a start-up Software-as-a-Service provider requiring investment, an established company thinking of providing its products as cloud services, an IT department planning to offer an in-house private Cloud platform, and a government agency seeking budget for government Cloud.

Mark Skilton, director at Capgemini in the UK, gave a presentation titled “Digital Transformation and the Role of Cloud Computing.” He covered a very broad canvas of business transformation driven by technological change, and illustrated his theme with a case study from the pharmaceutical industry. New technology enables new business models, giving competitive advantage. Increasingly, the introduction of this technology is driven by the business, rather than the IT side of the enterprise, and it has major challenges for both sides. But what new technologies are in question? Mark’s presentation had Cloud in the title, but also featured social and mobile computing, and Big Data.

The New Trend

On Thursday morning I took a longer run, to and round Balboa Island. With only one road in or out, its main street of shops and restaurants is not a through route and the island has the feel of a real village. The SOA Work Group Steering Committee had found an excellent, and reasonably priced, Italian restaurant there the previous evening. There is a clear resurgence of interest in SOA, partly driven by the use of service orientation – the principle, rather than particular protocols – in Cloud Computing and other new technologies. That morning I took the track round the shoreline, and was reminded a little of Dylan Thomas’s “fishing boat bobbing sea.” Fishing here is for leisure rather than livelihood, but I suspected that the fishermen, like those of Thomas’s little Welsh village, spend more time in the bar than on the water.

I thought about how the conference sessions had indicated an emerging trend. This is not a new technology but the combination of four current technologies to create a new platform for enterprise IT: Social, Cloud, and Mobile computing, and Big Data. Mary Ann Mezzapelle’s presentation had referenced IDC’s “third platform.” Other discussions had mentioned Gartner’s “Nexus of forces,” the combination of Social, Cloud and Mobile computing with information that Gartner says is transforming the way people and businesses relate to technology, and will become a key differentiator of business and technology management. Mark Skilton had included these same four technologies in his presentation. Great minds, and analyst corporations, think alike!

I thought also about the examples and case studies in the stream presentations. Areas as diverse as healthcare, manufacturing, energy and policing are using the new technologies. Clearly, they can deliver major business benefits. The challenge for enterprise architects is to maximize those benefits through pragmatic architectures.

Emerging Standards

On the way back to the hotel, I remarked again on what I had noticed before, how beautifully neat and carefully maintained the front gardens bordering the sidewalk are. I almost felt that I was running through a public botanical garden. Is there some ordinance requiring people to keep their gardens tidy, with severe penalties for anyone who leaves a lawn or hedge unclipped? Is a miserable defaulter fitted with a ball and chain, not to be removed until the untidy vegetation has been properly trimmed, with nail clippers? Apparently not. People here keep their gardens tidy because they want to. The best standards are like that: universally followed, without use or threat of sanction.

Standards are an issue for the new enterprise platform. Apart from the underlying standards of the Internet, there really aren’t any. The area isn’t even mapped out. Vendors of Social, Cloud, Mobile, and Big Data products and services are trying to stake out as much valuable real estate as they can. They have no interest yet in boundaries with neatly-clipped hedges.

This is a stage that every new technology goes through. Then, as it matures, the vendors understand that their products and services have much more value when they conform to standards, just as properties have more value in an area where everything is neat and well-maintained.

It may be too soon to define those standards for the new enterprise platform, but it is certainly time to start mapping out the area, to understand its subdivisions and how they inter-relate, and to prepare the way for standards. Following the conference, The Open Group has announced a new Forum, provisionally titled Open Platform 3.0, to do just that.

The SOA and Cloud Work Groups

Thursday was my final day of meetings at the conference. The plenary and streams presentations were done. This day was for working meetings of the SOA and Cloud Work Groups. I also had an informal discussion with Ron Schuldt about a new approach for the UDEF, following up on the earlier UDEF side meeting. The conference hallways, as well as the meeting rooms, often see productive business done.

The SOA Work Group discussed a certification program for SOA professionals, and an update to the SOA Reference Architecture. The Open Group is working with ISO and the IEEE to define a standard SOA reference architecture that will have consensus across all three bodies.

The Cloud Work Group had met earlier to further the TOGAF for Cloud ecosystems project. Now it worked on its forthcoming white paper on business performance metrics. It also – though this was not on the original agenda – discussed Gartner’s Nexus of Forces, and the future role of the Work Group in mapping out the new enterprise platform.

Mapping the New Enterprise Platform

At the start of the conference we looked at how to map the stars. Big Data analytics enables people to visualize the universe in new ways, reach new understandings of what is in it and how it works, and point to new areas for future exploration.

As the conference progressed, we found that Big Data is part of a convergence of forces. Social, mobile, and Cloud Computing are being combined with Big Data to form a new enterprise platform. The development of this platform, and its roll-out to support innovative applications that deliver more business value, is what lies beyond Big Data.

At the end of the conference we were thinking about mapping the new enterprise platform. This will not require sophisticated data processing and analysis. It will take discussions to create a common understanding, and detailed committee work to draft the guidelines and standards. This work will be done by The Open Group’s new Open Platform 3.0 Forum.

The next Open Group conference is in the week of April 15, in Sydney, Australia. I’m told that there’s some great jogging there. More importantly, we’ll be reflecting on progress in mapping Open Platform 3.0, and thinking about what lies ahead. I’m looking forward to it already.

Dr. Chris Harding is Director for Interoperability and SOA at The Open Group. He has been with The Open Group for more than ten years, and is currently responsible for managing and supporting its work on interoperability, including SOA and interoperability aspects of Cloud Computing. He is a member of the BCS, the IEEE and the AEA, and is a certified TOGAF practitioner.

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Welcome to Platform 3.0

By Dave Lounsbury, The Open Group

The space around us is forever changing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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