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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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Filed under Cloud, Enterprise Architecture, Future Technologies, Open Platform 3.0

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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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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PODCAST: Cloud Computing panel forecasts transition phase for Enterprise Architecture

By Dana Gardner, Interabor Solutions

Listen to this recorded podcast here: BriefingsDirect-Open Group Cloud Panel Forecasts Transition Phase for Enterprise IT

The following is the transcript of a sponsored podcast panel discussion on newly emerging Cloud models and their impact on business and government, from The Open Group Conference, San Diego 2011.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect.

We now present a sponsored podcast discussion coming to you live from The Open Group 2011 Conference in San Diego. We’re here the week of February 7, and we have assembled a distinguished panel to examine the expectation of new types of cloud models and perhaps cloud specialization requirements emerging quite soon.

By now, we’re all familiar with the taxonomy around public cloud, private cloud, software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and my favorite, infrastructure as a service (IaaS), but we thought we would do you all an additional service and examine, firstly, where these general types of cloud models are actually gaining use and allegiance, and we’ll look at vertical industries and types of companies that are leaping ahead with cloud, as we now define it. [Disclosure: The Open Group is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Then, second, we’re going to look at why one-size-fits-all cloud services may not fit so well in a highly fragmented, customized, heterogeneous, and specialized IT world.

How much of cloud services that come with a true price benefit, and that’s usually at scale and cheap, will be able to replace what is actually on the ground in many complex and unique enterprise IT organizations?

What’s more, we’ll look at the need for cloud specialization, based on geographic and regional requirements, as well as based on the size of these user organizations, which of course can vary from 5 to 50,000 seats. Can a few types of cloud work for all of them?

Please join me now in welcoming our panel. Here to help us better understand the quest for “fit for purpose” cloud balance and to predict, at least for some time, the considerable mismatch between enterprise cloud wants and cloud provider offerings we’re here with Penelope Gordon, the cofounder of 1Plug Corporation, based in San Francisco. Welcome, Penelope.

Penelope Gordon: Thank you.

Gardner: We’re also here with Mark Skilton. He is the Director of Portfolio and Solutions in the Global Infrastructure Services with Capgemini in London. Thank you for coming, Mark.

Mark Skilton: Thank you.

Gardner: Ed Harrington joins us. He is the Principal Consultant in Virginia for the UK-based Architecting the Enterprise organization. Thank you, Ed.

Ed Harrington: Thank you.

Gardner: Tom Plunkett is joining us. He is a Senior Solution Consultant with Oracle in Huntsville, Alabama.

Tom Plunkett: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: And lastly, we’re here with TJ Virdi. He is Computing Architect in the CAS IT System Architecture Group at Boeing based in Seattle. Welcome.

TJ Virdi: Thank you.

Gardner: Let me go first to you, Mark Skilton. One size fits all has rarely worked in IT. If it has, it has been limited in its scope and, most often, leads to an additional level of engagement to make it work with what’s already there. Why should cloud be any different?

Three areas

Skilton: Well, Dana, from personal experience, there are probably three areas of adaptation of cloud into businesses. For sure, there are horizontal common services to which, what you call, the homogeneous cloud solution could be applied common to a number of business units or operations across a market.

But, we’re starting to increasingly see the need for customization to meet vertical competitive needs of a company or the decisions within that large company. So, differentiation and business models are still there, they are still in platform cloud as they were in the pre-cloud era.

But, the key thing is that we’re seeing a different kind of potential that a business can do now with cloud — a more elastic, explosive expansion and contraction of a business model. We’re seeing fundamentally the operating model of the business growing, and the industry can change using cloud technology.

So, there are two things going on in the business and the technologies are changing because of the cloud.

Gardner: Well, for us to understand where it fits best, and perhaps not so good, is to look at where it’s already working. Ed, you talked about the federal government. They seem to be going like gangbusters in the cloud. Why so?

Harrington: Perceived cost savings, primarily. The (US) federal government has done some analysis. In particular, the General Services Administration (GSA), has done some considerable analysis on what they think they can save by going to, in their case, a public cloud model for email and collaboration services. They’ve issued a $6.7 million contract to Unisys as the systems integrator, with Google being the cloud services supplier.

So, the debate over the benefits of cloud, versus the risks associated with cloud, is still going on quite heatedly.

Gardner: How about some other verticals? Where is this working? We’ve seen in some pharma, health-care, and research environments, which have a lot of elasticity, it makes sense, given that they have very variable loads. Any other suggestions on where this works, Tom?

Plunkett: You mentioned variable workloads. Another place where we are seeing a lot of customers approach cloud is when they are starting a new project. Because then, they don’t have to migrate from the existing infrastructure. Instead everything is brand new. That’s the other place where we see a lot of customers looking at cloud, your greenfields.

Gardner: TJ, any verticals that you are aware of? What are you seeing that’s working now?

Virdi: It’s not probably related with any vertical market, but I think what we are really looking for speed to put new products into the market or evolve the products that we already have and how to optimize business operations, as well as reduce the cost. These may be parallel to any vertical industries, where all these things are probably going to be working as a cloud solution.

Gardner: We’ve heard the application of “core and context” to applications, but maybe there is an application of core and context to cloud computing, whereby there’s not so much core and lot more context. Is that what you’re saying so far?

Unstructured data

Virdi: In a sense, you would have to measure not only the structured documents or structured data, but unstructured data as well. How to measure and create a new product or solutions is the really cool things you would be looking for in the cloud. And, it has proved pretty easy to put a new solution into the market. So, speed is also the big thing in there.

Gardner: Penelope, use cases or verticals where this is working so far?

Gordon: One example in talking about core and context is when you look in retail. You can have two retailers like a Walmart or a Costco, where they’re competing in the same general space, but are differentiating in different areas.

Walmart is really differentiating on the supply chain, and so it’s not a good candidate for public cloud computing solutions. We did discuss it that might possibly be a candidate for private cloud computing.

But that’s really where they’re going to invest in the differentiating, as opposed to a Costco, where it makes more sense for them to invest in their relationship with their customers and their relationship with their employees. They’re going to put more emphasis on those business processes, and they might be more inclined to outsource some of the aspects of their supply chain.

A specific example within retail is pricing optimization. A lot of grocery stores need to do pricing optimization checks once a quarter, or perhaps once a year in some of their areas. It doesn’t makes sense for smaller grocery store chains to have that kind of IT capability in house. So, that’s a really great candidate, when you are looking at a particular vertical business process to outsource to a cloud provider who has specific industry domain expertise.

Gardner: So for small and medium businesses (SMBs) that would be more core for them than others.

Gordon: Right. That’s an example, though, where you’re talking about what I would say is a particular vertical business process. Then, you’re talking about a monetization strategy and then part of the provider, where they are looking more at a niche strategy, rather than a commodity, where they are doing a horizontal infrastructure platform.

Gardner: Ed, you had a thought?

Harrington: Yeah, and it’s along the SMB dimension. We’re seeing a lot of cloud uptake in the small businesses. I work for a 50-person company. We have one “sort of” IT person and we do virtually everything in the cloud. We’ve got people in Australia and Canada, here in the States, headquartered in the UK, and we use cloud services for virtually everything across that. I’m associated with a number of other small companies and we are seeing big uptake of cloud services.

Gardner: Allow me to be a little bit of a skeptic, because I’m seeing these reports from analyst firms on the tens of billions of dollars in potential cloud market share and double-digit growth rates for the next several years. Is this going to come from just peripheral application context activities, mostly SMBs? What about the core in the enterprises? Does anybody have an example of where cloud is being used in either of those?

Skilton: In the telecom sector, which is very IT intensive, I’m seeing the emergence of their core business of delivering service to a large end user or multiple end user channels, using what I call cloud brokering.

Front-end cloud

So, if where you’re going with your question is that, certainly in the telecom sector we’re seeing the emergence of front end cloud, customer relationship management (CRM) type systems and also sort of back-end content delivery engines using cloud.

The fundamental shift away from the service orientated architecture (SOA) era is that we’re seeing more business driven self-service, more deployment of services as a business model, which is a big difference of the shift of the cloud. Particularly in telco, we’re seeing almost an explosion in that particular sector.

Gordon: A lot of companies don’t even necessarily realize that they’re using cloud services, particularly when you talk about SaaS. There are a number of SaaS solutions that are becoming more and more ubiquitous. If you look at large enterprise company recruiting sites, often you will see Taleo down at the bottom. Taleo is a SaaS. So, that’s a cloud solution, but it’s just not thought necessarily of in that context.

Gardner: Right. Tom?

Plunkett: Another place we’re seeing a lot of growth with regards to private clouds is actually on the defense side. The Defense Department is looking at private clouds, but they also have to deal with this core and context issue. We’re in San Diego today. The requirements for a shipboard system are very different from the land-based systems.

Ships have to deal with narrow bandwidth and going disconnected. They also have to deal with coalition partners or perhaps they are providing humanitarian assistance and they are dealing even with organizations we wouldn’t normally consider military. So, they have to deal with lots of information, assurance issues, and have completely different governance concerns that we normally think about for public clouds.

Gardner: However, in the last year or two, the assumption has been that this is something that’s going to impact every enterprise, and everybody should get ready. Yet, I’m hearing mostly this creeping in through packaged applications on a on-demand basis, SMBs, greenfield organizations, perhaps where high elasticity is a requirement.

What would be necessary for these cloud providers to be able to bring more of the core applications the large enterprises are looking for? What’s the new set of requirements? As I pointed out, we have had a general category of SaaS and development, elasticity, a handful of infrastructure services. What’s the next set of requirements that’s going to make it palatable for these core activities and these large enterprises to start doing this? Let me start with you, Penelope.

Gordon: It’s an interesting question and it was something that we were discussing in a session yesterday afternoon. Here is a gentleman from a large telecommunications company, and from his perspective, trust was a big issue. To him, part of it was just an immaturity of the market, specifically talking about what the new style of cloud is and that branding. Some of the aspects of cloud have been around for quite some time.

Look at Linux adoption as an analogy. A lot of companies started adopting Linux, but it was for peripheral applications and peripheral services, some web services that weren’t business critical. It didn’t really get into the core enterprise until much later.

We’re seeing some of that with cloud. It’s just a much bigger issue with cloud, especially as you start looking at providers wanting to moving up the food chain and providing greater value. This means that they have to have more industry knowledge and that they have to have more specialization. It becomes more difficult for large enterprises to trust a vendor to have that kind of knowledge.

No governance

Another aspect of what came up in the afternoon is that, at this point, while we talk about public cloud specifically, it’s not the same as saying it’s a public utility. We talk about “public utility,” but there is no governance, at this point, to say, “Here is certification that these companies have been tested to meet certain delivery standards.” Until that exists, it’s going to be difficult for some enterprises to get over that trust issue.

Gardner: Assuming that the trust and security issues are worked out over time, that experience leads to action, it leads to trust, it leads to adoption, and we have already seen that with SaaS applications. We’ve certainly seen it with the federal government, as Ed pointed out earlier.

Let’s just put that aside as one of the requirements that’s already on the drawing board and that we probably can put a checkmark next to at some point. What’s next? What about customization? What about heterogeneity? What about some of these other issues that are typical in IT, Mark Skilton?

Skilton: One of the under-played areas is PaaS. We hear about lock-in of technology caused by the use of the cloud, either putting too much data in or doing customization of parameters and you lose the elastic features of that cloud.

As to your question about what do vendors or providers need to do more to help the customer use the cloud, the two things we’re seeing are: one, more of an appliance strategy, where they can buy modular capabilities, so the licensing issue, solutioning issue, is more contained. The client can look at it more in a modular appliance sort of way. Think of it as cloud in a box.

The second thing is that we need to be seeing is much more offering transition services, transformation services, to accelerate the use of the cloud in a safe way, and I think that’s something that we need to really push hard to do. There’s a great quote from a client, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey to the cloud that I need to see.”

Gardner: You mentioned PaaS. We haven’t seen too much yet with a full mature offering of the full continuum of PaaS to IaaS. That’s one where new application development activities and new integration activities would be built of, for, and by the cloud and coordinated between the dev and the ops, with the ops being any number of cloud models — on-premises, off-premises, co-lo, multi-tenancy, and so forth.

So what about that? Is that another requirement that there is continuity between the past and the infrastructure and deployment, Tom?

Plunkett: We’re getting there. PaaS is going to be a real requirement going forward, simply because that’s going to provide us the flexibility to reach some of those core applications that we were talking about before. The further you get away from the context, the more you’re focusing on what the business is really focused in on, and that’s going to be the core, which is going to require effective PaaS.

Gardner: TJ.

More regulatory

Virdi: I want to second that, but at the same time, we’re looking for more regulatory and other kind of licensing and configuration issues as well. Those also make it a little better to use the cloud. You don’t really have to buy, or you can go for the demand. You need to make your licenses a little bit better in such a way that you can just put the product or business solutions into the market, test the water, and then you can go further on that.

Gardner: Penelope, where do you see any benefit of having a coordinated or integrated platform and development test and deploy functions? Is that going to bring this to a more core usage in large enterprises?

Gordon: It depends. I see a lot more of the buying of cloud moving out to the non-IT line of business executives. If that accelerates, there is going to be less and less focus. Companies are really separating now what is differentiating and what is core to my business from the rest of it.

There’s going to be less emphasis on, “Let’s do our scale development on a platform level” and more, “Let’s really seek out those vendors that are going to enable us to effectively integrate, so we don’t have to do double entry of data between different solutions. Let’s look out for the solutions that allow us to apply the governance and that effectively let us tailor our experience with these solutions in a way that doesn’t impinge upon the provider’s ability to deliver in a cost effective fashion.”

That’s going to become much more important. So, a lot of the development onus is going to be on the providers, rather than on the actual buyers.

Gardner: Now, this is interesting. On one hand, we have non-IT people, business people, specifying, acquiring, and using cloud services. On the other hand we’re perhaps going to see more PaaS, the new application development, be it custom or more of a SaaS type of offering that’s brought in with a certain level of adjustment and integration. But, these are going off without necessarily any coordination. At some point, they are going to even come together. It’s inevitable, another “integrationness” perhaps.

Mark Skilton, is that what you see, that we have not just one cloud approach but multiple approaches and then some need to rationalize?

Skilton: There are two key points. There’s a missing architecture practice that needs to be there, which is a workers analysis, so that you design applications to fit specific infrastructure containers, and you’ve got a bridge between the the application service and the infrastructure service. There needs to be a piece of work by enterprise architects that starts to bring that together as a deliberate design for applications to be able to operate in the cloud, and the PaaS platform is a perfect environment.

The second thing is that there’s a lack of policy management in terms of technical governance, and because of the lack of understanding, there needs to be more of a matching exercise going on. The key thing is that that needs to evolve.

Part of the work we’re doing in The Open Group with the Cloud Computing Work Group is to develop new standards and methodologies that bridge those gaps between infrastructure, PaaS, platform development, and SaaS.

Gardner: We already have the Trusted Technology Forum. Maybe soon we’ll see an open trusted cloud technology forum.

Skilton: I hope so.

Gardner: Ed Harrington, you mentioned earlier that the role of the enterprise architect is going to benefit from cloud. Do you see what we just described in terms of dual tracks, multiple inception points, heterogeneity, perhaps overlap and redundancy? Is that where the enterprise architect flourishes?

Shadow IT

Harrington: I think we talked about line management IT getting involved in acquiring cloud services. If you think we’ve got this thing called “shadow IT” today, wait a few years. We’re going to have a huge problem with shadow IT.

From the architect’s perspective, there’s lot to be involved with and a lot to play with, as I said in my talk. There’s an awful lot of analysis to be done — what is the value that the cloud solution being proposed is going to be supplying to the organization in business terms, versus the risk associated with it? Enterprise architects deal with change, and that’s what we’re talking about. We’re talking about change, and change will inherently involve risk.

Gardner: TJ.

Virdi: All these business decisions are going to be coming upstream, and business executives need to be more aware about how cloud could be utilized as a delivery model. The enterprise architects and someone with a technical background needs to educate or drive them to make the right decisions and choose the proper solutions.

It has an impact how you want to use the cloud, as well as how you get out of it too, in case you want to move to different cloud vendors or providers. All those things come into play upstream rather than downstream.

Gardner: We all seem to be resigned to this world of, “Well, here we go again. We’re going to sit back and wait for all these different cloud things to happen. Then, we’ll come in, like the sheriff on the white horse, and try to rationalize.” Why not try to rationalize now before we get to that point? What could be done from an architecture standpoint to head off mass confusion around cloud? Let me start at one end and go down the other. Tom?

Plunkett: One word: governance. We talked about the importance of governance increasing as the IT industry went into SOA. Well, cloud is going to make it even more important. Governance throughout the lifecycle, not just at the end, not just at deployment, but from the very beginning.

Gardner: TJ.

Virdi: In addition to governance, you probably have to figure out how you want to plan to adapt to the cloud also. You don’t want to start as a Big Bang theory. You want to start in incremental steps, small steps, test out what you really want to do. If that works, then go do the other things after that.

Gardner: Penelope, how about following the money? Doesn’t where the money flows in and out of organizations tend to have a powerful impact on motivating people or getting them moving towards governance or not?

Gordon: I agree, and towards that end, it’s enterprise architects. Enterprise architects need to break out of the idea of focusing on how to address the boundary between IT and the business and talk to the business in business terms.

One way of doing that that I have seen as effective is to look at it from the standpoint of portfolio management. Where you were familiar with financial portfolio management, now you are looking at a service portfolio, as well as looking at your overall business and all of your business processes as a portfolio. How can you optimize at a macro level for your portfolio of all the investment decisions you’re making, and how the various processes and services are enabled? Then, it comes down to, as you said, a money issue.

Gardner: Perhaps one way to head off what we seem to think is an inevitable cloud chaos situation is to invoke more shared services, get people to consume services and think about how to pay for them along the way, regardless of where they come from and regardless of who specified them. So back to SOA, back to ITIL, back to the blocking and tackling that’s just good enterprise architecture. Anything to add to that, Mark?

Not more of the same

Skilton: I think it’s a mistake to just describe this as more of the same. ITIL, in my view, needs to change to take into account self-service dynamics. ITIL is kind of a provider service management process. It’s thing that you do to people. Cloud changes that direction to the other way, and I think that’s something that needs to be done.

Also, fundamentally the data center and network strategies need to be in place to adopt cloud. From my experience, the data center transformation or refurbishment strategies or next generation networks tend to be done as a separate exercise from the applications area. So a strong, strong recommendation from me would be to drive a clear cloud route map to your data center.

Gardner: So, perhaps a regulating effect on the self-selection of cloud services would be that the network isn’t designed for it and it’s not going to help.

Skilton: Exactly.

Gardner: That’s one way to govern your cloud. Ed Harrington, any other further thoughts on working towards a cloud future without the pitfalls?

Harrington: Again, the governance, certification of some sort. I’m not in favor of regulation, but I am in favor of some sort of third party certification of services that consumers can rely upon safely. But, I will go back to what I said earlier. It’s a combination of governance, treating the cloud services as services per se, and enterprise architecture.

Gardner: What about the notion that was brought up earlier about private clouds being an important on-ramp to this? If I were a public cloud provider, I would do my market research on what’s going on in the private clouds, because I think they are going to be incubators to what might then become hybrid and ultimately a full-fledged third-party public cloud providing assets and services.

What can we learn from looking at what’s going on with private cloud now, seemingly a lot of trying to reduce cost and energy consumption, but what does that tell us about what we should expect in the next few years? Again, let’s start with you, Tom.

Plunkett: What we’re seeing with private cloud is that it’s actually impacting governance, because one of the things that you look at with private cloud is chargeback between different internal customers. This is forcing these organizations to deal with complex money, business issues that they don’t really like to do.

Nowadays, it’s mostly vertical applications, where you’ve got one owner who is paying for everything. Now, we’re actually going back to, as we were talking about earlier, dealing with some of the tricky issues of SOA.

Gardner: TJ, private cloud as an incubator. What we should expect?

Securing your data

Virdi: Configuration and change management — how in the private cloud we are adapting to it and supporting different customer segments is really the key. This could be utilized in the public cloud too, as well as how you are really securing your information and data or your business knowledge. How you want to secure that is key, and that’s why the private cloud is there. If we can adapt to or mimic the same kind of controls in the public cloud, maybe we’ll have more adoptions in the public cloud too.

Gardner: Penelope, any thoughts on that, the private to public transition?

Gordon: I also look at it in a little different way. For example, in the U.S., you have the National Security Agency (NSA). For a lot of what you would think of as their non-differentiating processes, for example payroll, they can’t use ADP. They can’t use that SaaS for payroll, because they can’t allow the identities of their employees to become publicly known.

Anything that involves their employee data and all the rest of the information within the agency has to be kept within a private cloud. But, they’re actively looking at private cloud solutions for some of the other benefits of cloud.

In one sense, I look at it and say that private cloud adoption to me tells a provider that this is an area that’s not a candidate for a public-cloud solution. But, private clouds could also be another channel for public cloud providers to be able to better monetize what they’re doing, rather than just focusing on public cloud solutions.

Gardner: So, then, you’re saying this is a two-way street. Just as we could foresee someone architecting a good private cloud and then looking to take that out to someone else’s infrastructure, you’re saying there is a lot of public services that for regulatory or other reasons might then need to come back in and be privatized or kept within the walls. Interesting.

Mark Skilton, any thoughts on this public-private tension and/or benefit?

Skilton: I asked an IT service director the question about what was it like running a cloud service for the account. This is a guy who had previously been running hosting and management and with many years experience.

The surprising thing was that he was quite shocked that the disciplines that he previously had for escalating errors and doing planned maintenance, monitoring, billing and charging back to the customer fundamentally were changing, because it had to be done more in real time. You have to fix before it fails. You can’t just wait for it to fail. You have to have a much more disciplined approach to running a private cloud.

The lessons that we’re learning in running private clouds for our clients is the need to have a much more of a running-IT-as-a-business ethos and approach. We find that if customers try to do it themselves, either they may find that difficult, because they are used to buying that as a service, or they have to change their enterprise architecture and support service disciplines to operate the cloud.

Gardner: Perhaps yet another way to offset potential for cloud chaos in the future is to develop the core competencies within the private-cloud environment and do it sooner rather than later? This is where you can cut your teeth or get your chops, some number of metaphors come to mind, but this is something that sounds like a priority. Would you agree with that Ed, coming up with a private-cloud capability is important?

Harrington: It’s important, and it’s probably going to dominate for the foreseeable future, especially in areas that organizations view as core. They view them as core, because they believe they provide some sort of competitive advantage or, as Penelope was saying, security reasons. ADP’s a good idea. ADP could go into NSA and set up a private cloud using ADP and NSA. I think is a really good thing.

Trust a big issue

But, I also think that trust is still a big issue and it’s going to come down to trust. It’s going to take a lot of work to have anything that is perceived by a major organization as core and providing differentiation to move to other than a private cloud.

Gardner: TJ.

Virdi: Private clouds actually allow you to make more business modular. Your capability is going to be a little bit more modular and interoperability testing could happen in the private cloud. Then you can actually use those same kind of modular functions, utilize the public cloud, and work with other commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) vendors that really package this as new holistic solutions.

Gardner: Does anyone consider the impact of mergers and acquisitions on this? We’re seeing the economy pick up, at least in some markets, and we’re certainly seeing globalization, a very powerful trend with us still. We can probably assume, if you’re a big company, that you’re going to get bigger through some sort of merger and acquisition activity. Does a cloud strategy ameliorate the pain and suffering of integration in these business mergers, Tom?

Plunkett: Well, not to speak on behalf of Oracle, but we’ve gone through a few mergers and acquisitions recently, and I do believe that having a cloud environment internally helps quite a bit. Specifically, TJ made the earlier point about modularity. Well, when we’re looking at modules, they’re easier to integrate. It’s easier to recompose services, and all the benefits of SOA really.

Gardner: TJ, mergers and acquisitions in cloud.

Virdi: It really helps. At the same time, we were talking about legal and regulatory compliance stuff. EU and Japan require you to put the personally identifiable information (PII) in their geographical areas. Cloud could provide a way to manage those things without having the hosting where you have your own business.

Gardner: Penelope, any thoughts, or maybe even on a slightly different subject, of being able to grow rapidly vis-à-vis cloud experience and expertise and having architects that understand it?

Gordon: Some of this comes back to some of the discussions we were having about the extra discipline that comes into play, if you are going to effectively consume and provide cloud services, if you do become much more rigorous about your change management, your configuration management, and if you then apply that out to a larger process level.

So, if you define certain capabilities within the business in a much more modular fashion, then, when you go through that growth and add on people, you have documented procedures and processes. It’s much easier to bring someone in and say, “You’re going to be a product manager, and that job role is fungible across the business.”

That kind of thinking, the cloud constructs applied up at a business architecture level, enables a kind of business expansion that we are looking at.

Gardner: Mark Skilton, thoughts about being able to manage growth, mergers and acquisitions, even general business agility vis-à-vis more cloud capabilities.

Skilton: Right now, I’m involved in merging in a cloud company that we bought last year in May, and I would say yes and no. The no point is that I’m trying to bundle this service that we acquired in each product and with which we could add competitive advantage to the services that we are offering. I’ve had a problem with trying to bundle that into our existing portfolio. I’ve got to work out how they will fit and deploy in our own cloud. So, that’s still a complexity problem.

Faster launch

But, the upside is that I can bundle that service that we acquired, because we wanted to get that additional capability, and rewrite design techniques for cloud computing. We can then launch that bundle of new service faster into the market.

It’s kind of a mixed blessing with cloud. With our own cloud services, we acquire these new companies, but we still have the same IT integration problem to then exploit that capability we’ve acquired.

Gardner: That might be a perfect example of where cloud is or isn’t. When you run into the issue of complexity and integration, it doesn’t compute, so to speak.

Skilton: It’s not plug and play yet, unfortunately.

Gardner: Ed, what do you think about this growth opportunity, mergers and acquisitions, a good thing or bad thing?

Harrington: It’s a challenge. I think, as Mark presented it, it’s got two sides. It depends a lot on how close the organizations are, how close their service portfolios are, to what degree has each of the organizations adapted the cloud, and is that going to cause conflict as well. So I think there is potential.

Skilton: Each organization in the commercial sector can have different standards, and then you still have that interoperability problem that we have to translate to make it benefit, the post merger integration issue.

Gardner: We’ve been discussing the practical requirements of various cloud computing models, looking at core and context issues where cloud models would work, where they wouldn’t. And, we have been thinking about how we might want to head off the potential mixed bag of cloud models in our organizations and what we can do now to make the path better, but perhaps also make our organizations more agile, service oriented, and able to absorb things like rapid growth and mergers.

I’d like to thank you all for joining and certainly want to thank our guests. This is a sponsored podcast discussion coming to you from The Open Group’s 2011 Conference in San Diego. We’re here the week of February 7, 2011. A big thank you now to Penelope Gordon, cofounder of 1Plug Corporation. Thanks.

Gordon: Thank you.

Gardner: Mark Skilton, Director of Portfolio and Solutions in the Global Infrastructure Services with Capgemini. Thank you, Mark.

Skilton: Thank you very much.

Gardner: Ed Harrington, Principal Consultant in Virginia for the UK-based Architecting the Enterprise.

Harrington: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: Tom Plunkett, Senior Solution Consultant with Oracle. Thank you.

Plunkett: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: TJ Virdi, the Computing Architect in the CAS IT System Architecture group at Boeing.

Virdi: Thank you.

Gardner: I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. You’ve been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast. Thanks for joining, and come back next time.

Copyright The Open Group and Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2011. All rights reserved.

Dana Gardner is the Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, which identifies and interprets the trends in Services-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and enterprise software infrastructure markets. Interarbor Solutions creates in-depth Web content and distributes it via BriefingsDirectblogs, podcasts and video-podcasts to support conversational education about SOA, software infrastructure, Enterprise 2.0, and application development and deployment strategies.

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