Infrastructure Architecture is dead, long live Infrastructure Architecture.

Cloud infrastructure has changed the role of the infrastructure architecture into one of a virtual architect. The tin and wires approach, the HA and DR, the test and release and following the sun have all been replaced by Cloud infrastructure. Careful sizing, location, rack allocation etc. are unnecessary for most applications.

The desktop environment is changing radically: desktop management, massive rollout projects and investment decisions obsolete.  The use of virtual terminal software returns the desktop to the server. BYOD removes the need and ability to direct the desktop and mobile landscape. Network architecture is increasingly virtualised both within the virtual datacentre, between datacentres and client devices.

It is hard to imagine that bastion of physicality the Infrastructure Architect dealing with purely virtual server  communicating on a virtual network and that it can be assembled from their own virtual device. There is as serious point to this, as it depends on the Application Architect to design in such a way that enables the full power of the cloud to be used.

Not that it is anything new, just more pressure on the Application Architect.

 

 

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Caution workforce in the road!

What would your reaction be if the workforce in the road, fixing the road, did not have any tools or machines to do the job?

Frustration at the waste of time in the resulting traffic queue?

What would be your reaction if the washing machine repair man turned up without his tool kit, without a diagram of the appliance and without access to spare parts?

Refuse to pay the bill?

A security company providing security without enough staff

Questions in Parliament?

How is that so many Enterprise Architects can do their job without the tools of their trade?

Often Enterprise Architects are missing vital parts of their tool kit:

  • Standards
  • Principles
  • Reference architectures
  • Models of the Organisation
  • Application Landscape
  • Analysis and design tools
  • Information sources to feed the analysis tools
  • Stakeholder analysis

Worse than this they seem to lack the basic tools to be able to create the EA tools they need such as the processes to maintain the models, principles, guidance and governance.

Do you wonder why EA gets a bad name?

I am not suggesting that we go back to the old EA approaches

  • Boil the ocean documenting the current state
  • Tons of detailed standards (always out of date)
  • Heavy handed governance that increases costs,  misses deadlines and the point

And any of the other EA anti-patterns

Togaf 9.x of course points us at lots of artefacts and things to do, it is supposed to. We do not have to do them all, we can mix and match – What happens when we mix and match ourselves out of TOGAF9.x in all but name? Are we no longer doing architecture?

There are precedents for this situation:

SSADM was created and adopted, but everyone picked the bits they liked or could do. No one could afford to complete the whole SSADM – Especially with paper and pencil (there were few tools around).  SSADM became discredited; Every claim of compliance was subject to interpretation.

A similar thing happened to PRINCE.

I guess that there are many other examples of the dilution of the good practices until they are no longer effective.

Will this be the fate of TOGAF?

Are we architects no longer doing architecture?

According to a Gartner survey presented at their EA summit in London the order of merit for the integration of EA into Business is:

1 Asia

2 South America

3 Europe

4 USA

It demonstrates that emerging economies and their developing organisations are more prepared to engineer and construct their businesses with help of the EA, than organisations in either the US or Europe.

I suspect that history is repeating itself – In the late 1970s Lean Manufacturing (Just in Time) had been developed by Toyota and had just been discovered by US businesses. Toyota, who had had a pressing need to catch up with the USA and Europe manufacturing, developed the processes originally started by Henry Ford.

In the face of competition from Japan in the 70s and 80s the US and Europe needed to catch up with Japan’s manufacturing methods and desperately copied the ideas emerging from Japan and from Toyota.

I predict that from 2013 and beyond, when the businesses in the USA and Europe realize that to compete with Asiapac and South American businesses – they too will have to re-architect and re-engineer their organisations and processes, just like in the 70s and 80s.  This time it will be the business models and the business processes created by EA that will be re-exported to the US and Europe by the developing economies.

Calling all Enterprise Architects – are we ready for the challenge?

Brian Burke, Research VP at Gartner speaking at a Local Briefing event in London on 2nd February 2010, was talking about the flatter horizontal organisation and which means that control is much more difficult to exercise these days.

I think that control has always been a difficult idea.  The thought that one of us can control the actions of others is scary.  By and large we submit to the control of others because it is in our benefit to do so, either for individual gain or for the collective good.  The idea that the Enterprise Architecture (EA) team have control over the Strategy, the execution of Strategy, or are responsible for the upholding of the principles against all comers is an old fashioned illusion.

Governance comes high up the list of wants of all Enterprise Architects (if only we could make ….), but the control and the power to control is illusory.  Enterprise Architects need to make it in the interest of others to conform to the strategy, the principles and standards.

The EA team only wield power by virtue of the willingness of others to follow and for others to perceive that it is in their best interest.  For some people the collective interest is not sufficient.  They perceive that their own self interest can be best served by going against the collective interest and they will do so.  One of the tricks is to line up individual self interest with the collective interest.

The flatter organisation and the reduction in command and control management is also mooted as a significant trend and change.  Of course, when it comes to command and control, Seddon was right to draw the connection between leaders such as Ohno, Ford and Sloan as examples of command and control implementers (Seddon, 2005 p.9) and also right to recognise where all this came from in the first place: Taylorism and scientific management , as highlighted by the prominent management consultant John Seddon (2005 pp.199-202; Greenberg and Baron, 2008 pp.12-13).

Would it be reasonable to say that the higher performance comes from pull rather than push as well as a workforce engaged in the life of the organisation?  Systems thinking means engaging the workforce in decision making in stark contrast to creating “management factories”. For example, putting variety back into the production line and devolving decision making to the workforce.

Systems thinking should enable organisations to move from satisficing to higher performance.  Also, it fits with the notion of open systems based organisations and those that are “learning” based.  Organisational culture, therefore, becomes a key determinant, alongside, it has to be emphasised, good people management and an acknowledgement of how the architecture of enterprise-wide computer systems help to bond an organisation together.

Author Peter Senge loves to talk of ‘learning organisations’ but even he acknowledges this is very hard to achieve.

Senge (1995, p.21) asserts “deep beliefs are often inconsistent with espoused values in organisations. The organisation might espouse an ideal or ‘empowering’ people, but an attitude that ‘they won’t let us do it’ prevails. Thus, even though espoused values change, the culture of the organisation tends to remain the same. It is a testament to our naïvete about culture that we think we can change it simply by declaring new values. Such declarations usually produce only cynicism.”

The most effective organisations have always been those that are managed by co-operation rather than dictat (although modern-day disciples of Machiavelli’s The Prince may dispute this: see this paper for a discussion).  It is now even more obvious that this is the only way to manage.  The armed forces (a model of command and control) manage by the willing co-operation of their participants (the troops).

To claim, therefore, that Enterprise Architects can no longer rely on the command and control type of organisation is to deny the political skills of the previous CIOs and Chief Architects in gaining respect for their opinions and actions for their plans.

In the context of EA the power of veto is illusionary without the respect and support from peers, as once exercised, the power dissipates rapidly when unpopular decisions are forced through.

The soft skills that are required by IT architects are formidable, if the architect is to play their part in the shaping of the solutions or the organisations, they need the full set of soft skills, just as Gartner research director Chris Wilson pointed out.  It is not a new set of skills though, as Chris Wilson says “to be qualified as the best paid snake oil salesmen we had better be equipped to facilitate, persuade and sell and sell and sell.”

Way back in 1987, Beckard and Harris came up with a valuable contribution to help us all to get a handle on organisational transitions. Their ‘change equation’ still holds the road today. I’ll leave you to work the numbers for your own situation.

C=[ABD] > X

C=Change

A=Level of dissatisfaction with the status quo

B=Desirability of the proposed change or end state

D=Practicality of the change (minimal risk and disruption)

X=“Cost” of changing

You might be thinking that this still leaves Enterprise Architects in a dilemma, but hey – what’s new there? It’s precisely why Enterprise Architecture should be entrusted to the professionals.

References

Beckhard, R. and Harris, R.T. (1987) Organizational Transitions: Managing complex change 2nd edn. Reading, MA, Addison Wesley

Greenberg, J and Baron, R.A (2008) Behavior in Organizations 9th edn. Upper Saddle River, NL, Pearson Education.

McGuire, D and Hutchings, K. (2006) ‘A Machiavellian analysis of organizational change’ Journal of Organizational Change Management 19 (2) pp. 192-209 DOI 10.1108/09534810610648906 Also available at http://teaching.fec.anu.edu.au/MGMT7030/McGuire%20and%20Hutchings%20-%20Machiavellian%20Change.pdf [accessed 02 February 2010].

Seddon, J. (2005) Freedom from Command and Control: a better way to make the work work 2nd edn. Buckingham, Vanguard Education.

Senge, P., Kleiner, A., Roberts, C., Ross, R, and Smith, B. (1995) The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook London, Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Leading analyst Brian Burke talked persuasively about Hyperconnected enterprises in his presentation “Return-to-Growth Strategy: Architecting the Next-Wave Business Model” at the latest Gartner local briefing on Enterprise Architecture in London this week

Gartner’s view is that organisations are becoming more horizontally structured and more interconnected with other organisations and with their customers. To such an extent that the hyperconnected organisation will be unable to deliver without its connections.  I suspect that this is part of the continual evolution of businesses such as adoption of Just-In-Time and the exploitation of e-commerce.  Is the vertically integrated organisation a dinosaur?  Are there any left? Some of Smart421’s clients are actively pursuing strategies of horizontal integration and removing their vertical integration.

It all makes sense; changes in the environment create opportunities to be exploited, so it is natural that the Internet and fast reliable and cheap communications will be fuelling new ways of not only doing, but creating businesses.  The explosion in software services and cloud computing, which is just around the corner will accelerate this trend.  In fact it may well be that these two developments will drive much of the growth in the next economic cycle.

Brian Burke was also talking about “emergent strategies”, that is those strategies that happen outside of the corporate strategies – strategy on the fly if you like.  Gartner are suggesting that the emergent strategies are becoming more important, diminishing the effect of the more ponderous corporate strategies.  This is a wake up call to organisations with centrist attitudes.  The more distributed the organisation, the more distributed the strategies and governance need to be.  The British found that out some 200 years ago, a lesson learnt from the colonies.

What EA needs is a strategy to deal with and adopt the emergent on-the-fly strategies.

Luckily for me ticking off all the new and emerging ideas from Brian’s presentation, I found that Smart421’s EA proposition and in particular the “Sustainable EA” stance ticks all of the boxes for the hyperconnected organisation complete with an agile strategy to deal with on-the-fly strategies.

Hyperconnected organisations also reminded me of a project that I first heard about from a colleague at Smart421 on the subject of Linked Data. The project is being run out of the University of Southampton. What is particularly interesting is that Messrs Berners-Lee and Shadbolt are looking very carefully at this whole area.

I am continuing to build business models using Archimate, but I am getting bogged down in functions, processes, services and interfaces,

To my mind Archimate seems to move the modeling of the Business (ie that which is not IT see Tom Graves ) only a little way on from the practice of Business Process Modeling.

Archimate still seems to have a “start with IT and from an IT perspective” feel to it. Or put another way “how can we answer the what & why IT is needed”.

This may be the result of my mind set, however it may also be a result of trying to make Archimate compatible with UML, so that for instance an existing class model can be referenced in an Archimate model.

What I am trying to imagine, is how to represent say a centralized hierarchical organization as opposed to a decentralized flat structured organization. Can a decision be represented as a function, process or an interaction?

I have been looking a little more deeply at Archimate 0.1 to see if it will give a useable off the shelf meta model.

The 1st reaction that I have had from a real customer, is that we EA’s may understand it – but not his business managers and executives.

How much time and effort do we expect customer’s staff to put into understanding our EA models?

I guess that it depends, but for the at a most 20 minutes attention span of busy a CxO the answer is that there is not much time and energy available for learning to understand different graphical representations. Indeed it is not just the symbols, but the juxtaposition of them and of the relative diagrams. By which I am thinking in particular of the representation of layers within Archimate.

Coming from a Zachman filled culture the layers are troublesome, and mentally I tip the diagrams on their side! I cannot get my head round the implied hierarchy within the Archimate meta model, after all if a task or activity can be performed by hand, by IT system or by machine where is the hierarchy?

I have been searching for some real life examples of Archimate, and I have not found any. My efforts so far tend to look a little between a process model and a tiered application architecture.

Does any one have any reviews / articles that will shed more light on the use of Archimate?

I think that we could start a thread or discussion on this, if there is sufficient interest. For instance what do we make of the “layering” of Business, Application and Physical dimensions?

May be this has all been discussed at length in the Archimate forum?

Is there a place for peer review of models on the web?

I have just come from the 22nd Open Group EA Conference in London http://www.opengroup.org/london2009-apc/ and survived my 1st presentation to the Open Goup. I was on edge all conference hoping that no one would be presenting similar material to mine. They did not and the Sustainable Enterprise Architecture http://www.opengroup.org/london2009-apc/latham.htm remained my baby.

It has been good to have affirmation that Smart421′s EA http://www.smart421.com/solutions/consultancy/enterprise-architecture.asp proposition matches up to other’s best practices.

This conference was the launch of TOGAF 9, thankfully for my British reserve, not launched with great pomp and ceremony, nor with any Razzmatazz. A little Raz may well have re-enforced the significance of the achievement.

Judging from the mood of the delegates there is confidence in TOGAF 9 and agreement that it is solid as far as it goes.

TOGAF 9 has put on a lot of weight since it was 8, much of it valuable and not at all a middle aged spread into verbosity. Although covering TOGAF 9 at breakneck speed in a couple of presentations on the first full day was not necessarily the best use of conference time. It did show that at least 3 people know TOGAF 9 inside out – I am sure that all of the Open Group members who worked on it are as equally as knowledgeable.

Watch out for Archimate http://www.opengroup.org/archimate/downloads.htm – A meta model to describe Enterprise Architecture, you download the symbols for use in Visio, but to use it properly it needs to be installed in your modelling package. Archimate 2 is due out by the end of the year. I think that it will be a unstoppable force for architecture modelling in years to come.

There were a couple of recurring themes at the conference:-

The hole that is Business Architecture – As Tom Graves http://www.opengroup.org/london2009-apc/graves.htm pointed out IT is less than 10% of expenditure and so by inference we are missing out on 90% of the market for architecture. The hole is being addressed by the Business Architecture working group, but progress is slow and there is much to be done. I want to encourage all knowledgeable practicing Business Architects to dive in a get it sorted.

Enterprise Architects need more soft skills. We are too geeky! This may also explain the lack of progress on the Business Architecture front as the non IT people can not bear to talk to us or as Paul Homan http://www.opengroup.org/london2009-apc/homan.htm put it – they do not understand what we say and anyway we take too long to say it!

Some people were trying to extend the scope of TOGAF, Jason Uppal http://www.opengroup.org/london2009-apc/uppal.htm talking about the 10 year lifecycle of architecture artefacts. Amit Bhagwat explored the relationship between leadership, time span of control and Enterprise Architecture.

On balance there was a lot of talk about theory and not much on the practical application of TOGAF. There is great need to publish practical EA experiences and best practices.
We have contributed to the EA community, thrown in our hat with a model for Sustainable EA. It was interesting that some other presentations were near to our offering of Sustainable Enterprise Architecture – Danny Greefhorst http://www.opengroup.org/london2009-apc/greefhorst.htm talked about Just in Time architecture as part of his Pragmatic Architecture, Paul Homan talked about architecture becoming out of date quickly, if it if not used (Use it or Loose it I suppose) – Martin van den Berg http://www.opengroup.org/london2009-apc/van_den_berg_martin talked of the “Project Start Architecture” the EA Killer Application – But I think that the EA Killer app is the Project Start-up in the our Sustainable EA.

Thoughts prompted by fixing my home PC and the difficulties I had in replacing the motherboard – what should be a relatively simple task.

High availability home computing – The next time I am asked about buying a PC, I will say “buy two PCs”. That way you will have no single point of failure accessing the Internet. The Internet is essential to fixing a failed PC. With disk back-up, an image of the system and a rescue disk, high availability can be achieved at home. (Do you need to test your modem / 3G internet access as well?). Email is essential for communications – registration of software, contact with helpdesks and finally the saved emails are the index for saved documents!

A steep learning curve for an Enterprise Architect you would say. Yes but it really re-enforced the message about documentation – Life would have been a whole lot easier if all of the information was readily to hand and if there was only one source of the truth (on the Internet!).

The lack of information, in this age of information overload, I find quite infuriating – It seems that Google searches have been hijacked by companies trying to sell me things or compare things before they sell me things – There should be an “I am not buying anything!!!” switch in the advanced search options.

Internet forums are places with some of the most misleading misinformation – In the interests of world peace cannot they be classified as dangerous, in a similar way to the security classifications for Viruses, Trojans and Malware? What about Malinformation?

Do we have to play guessing games to find the right answer? Isn’t it in the supplier’s best interests to be the source of truth? (Even if the truth is – You cannot do this with our software or product). Are they more concerned with hiding the truth? Finding out what you need to know and making a plan is hard – After all the hardest questions are the ones you don’t know the answer to.

To get back to my theme, which is Enterprise Architecture and Home Computers, it is obvious that some of the most popular software does not meet the basic principles and standards software design.

A short list will illustrate some problems

A genuine windows XP CD will not load XP, because I have SATA drives
It is virtually impossible to move your music tracks photos or videos and keep your catalogues intact
Email client stores my customised data in the windows registry
Software scatters itself and its data over a myriad of directories and files
The instructions and manuals detailing the moving, restoring and management of software and its data is almost non existent
Software to manage the applications does not exist
Applications that configure themselves automatically without permission

These horrors come from some of the largest software suppliers on the planet.

So why EA? If the four TOGAF architecture viewpoints (Business, Application, Infrastructure and Information) had been addressed by the software designers then many of these situations would not exist.

Business Architecture – Define the organisation, structure and visions of your target environment – In the case of a home PC, this is individuals and families – they grow, merge and split and get older. Their lifestyles change particularly in response to the changes brought by IT.

Application Architecture – Define the principles, standards, structure and integration of the applications – In the case of a home PC, These are the email, games, photo editor, music and video players. How can I be sure that this program will not affect the others that are running? How do we remove those pesky toolbars and other addons that clutter the screens and programs in start-up that slow my PC to stand still?

Information Architecture – Define the form, content and type of data – In the case of the home PC, this address keeping my photos and videos safe, securely saving my logons and passwords. Controlling how much information my children reveal about the family on the sites like Facebook? Why can’t I find….. ? And how can I move?

Infrastructure – Define the target infrastructure architecture. In the case of the home PC, this is the ability to print documents and photos, access email from any PC or laptop and synchronise multiple MP3 players (at least one for each son or daughter). What would be the effect on the family of the PC not being available? – Unable to do home work, shopping, banking and worst of all unable to keep in contact with friends – How do we configure a highly available, secure, responsive and accessible computer systems in the home?

It is not all bad news – the screws & holes all lined up on my new motherboard and the old disk drives, graphics card and sound card all work on the new motherboard. The use of standards in hardware is good – it works! – But then I suspect that when you need to be able to supply your hardware to all PC manufacturers, it pays to be standard, but better.

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