PresentationCroppedYesterday was a busy Enterprise (EA) Architecture day – I was presenting with a colleague from Visa Europe at the Open Group conference, and then was off to the Gartner EA Summit for the evening networking event, where Smart421 was a sponsor and had a stand. Due to a rare piece of good fortune the two events were within walking distance of each other near Westminster, and so I could race from one to the other. I even walked past Vince Cable along the way – despite last week’s hammering at the polls he was looking quite chipper. More about the Gartner EA summit in another post – maybe I’ll even mention Basil Fawlty…

The presentation was about the maturing of Visa Europe’s Architecture practice, and was jointly presented with Mark Pettit (on the left in the picture) who is head of EA for Visa Europe. Smart421 and Visa Europe have worked closely on this ongoing continual improvement process since mid-2009, and so it was nice to be able to shout about our joint success. The EA world certainly needs to celebrate successes whenever it has one, because they don’t seem to be that common :). We got good interest from the audience which was flattering, including some interest in using the presentation material as a case study for an EA under-graduate university course in the US (see below).

The attendance at the Open Group event was a little disappointing I felt – maybe about 120 delegates or so, but as always I picked up some useful snippets and a few gems during the day. Your impression of an event is always skewed by which streams you chose to attend, but there seemed to be a strong focus on business strategy (measured via balanced scored card from Kaplan-Norton) and it’s relationship to EA which was interesting – I detected a shift from the historical “is business architecture really part of EA?” wrangle towards general acceptance.

There was a stronger representation from the Middle East than I’ve ever seen before at these conferences, and clearly the Open Group see this as a key growth area. I attended two very credible presentations from speakers from this region.

The final presentation of the day that I attended was related to the teaching of EA in universities, specifically Penn State in the US. Dr Brian Cameron is clearly getting a lot of traction with industry bodies and companies – with really encouraging student employment and starting salary rates. I was surprised in a recent interaction with a university in the UK that architecture in general was so poorly represented in their Computer Science degree curriculum, and so Penn State’s advances in this area show the way forward. Tomorrow’s graduates are going to be assembling solutions from cloud-based components, not writing pages and pages of Java (although this “nuts and bolts” knowledge is still necessary, I accept) – so the EA discipline is going to become an even more relevant skill over time.

MonumentSmallOn day 3 it was straight into the streamed conference sessions rather than plenary/spotlight sessions.

Cloud Computing

I went for the cloud computing stream in the morning, and quickly concluded that I’d made a good call. First up was Mark Skilton from Capgemini talking about the work of the Open Group cloud computing working group, specifically the ongoing work on a cloud ROI model, cloud business use cases and a “cloud buyer questionnaire”. Mark’s presentation style was to throw a wall of information at you very quickly, which I found very engaging and he raised some really interesting points. For example…he stressed the importance of separating buyer and seller perspectives/use cases in the cloud discussion (as they tend to be rather blurred together in most discussions), there was some interesting discussions about pricing models/cloud elasticity (i.e. that infinite elasticity is an illusion), and also some debate around cloud architecture models and the “is a private cloud really a cloud?” argument.

The second cloud-related presentation from Francesco Pititto covered cloud in the (Italian) telco sector, and there were a couple of key points for me from that:

  • Cloud adoption gives the tier 1 telcos a means to combat the declining revenue challenges that they have with their traditional business, by re-exploiting their expensively developed assets again, and with longer-tailed business opportunities, i.e. customers they could not have economically serviced before.
  • Telecom Italia are offering IaaS to the Italian market – this has confirmed to me something that I’ve been chewing over for a while. On the face of it, how could a largely country-specific business even hope to compete with a scale IaaS player like Amazon Web Services? Well, the point is that they have some USPs that allow them to compete – whilst they may have a much smaller data centre footprint and less economies of scale, they can guarantee that data remains in territory (and so alleviating some customer concerns re legal/regulatory issues), they are a trusted brand in their territory, and they have an existing SME customer base to sell to (I stress SMEs as this is where the early adoption is).

Later on in the day, a presentation from Enrico Boverino raised an interesting point about ITIL’s CMDB and role it has to play in providing cloud governance. The basic point was that CMDBs require enhancement to be able to adequately support the dynamically assigned and elastic assets of the cloud computing world – and that this will be a barrier to cloud adoption (or at least the adequate service management of cloud-based solutions).

ArchiMate

In the afternoon I attended the two ArchiMate sessions which I was keen to hear, just to test my own reluctance to adopt ArchiMate within Smart421. The first one (from Harmen van den Berg) gave an overview which was a good intro to the motivations and capabilities for ArchiMate. I’ve never doubted that ArchiMate is superior to UML for enterprise architecture modelling, but my resistance to taking it any further up to now has been based on the reluctance to learn and educate staff & stakeholders about yet another notation. I don’t doubt that I can be more effective on holiday if I learn Spanish, but English is “good enough” and can get the job done. It’s rather a lazy approach, but I guess it’s all about time/energy investment vs return. So I wanted to “see the light” in this presentation, and to some extent I did. The most powerful aspect of ArchiMate that struck me was the elegance with which you can model and show the relationships through the architectural domains (business, data. application, technology) – this can be done in UML via stereotyping etc but as it was a design goal for ArchiMate, it’s really nicely done and clear in the actual usage. Of course, it’s relatively easy to pick up so the personal investment for anyone used to modelling is small.

The second ArchiMate presentation was a case study from Alexander den Hartog about the use of ArchiMate to model the EA for a global organisation. Ironically, the thing that struck me about this presentation was the enthusiasm of the presenter and the excitement he portrayed about having got the EA of his organisation under control and understood – so I think he probably had the force of will to make this happen even if he hadn’t adopted ArchiMate (though it certainly made it easier). It was quite a tour de force of an EA case study – he’d actually got the entire EA modelled, and more importantly maintained – not something you see that often. Hats off to Alexander! This led me to question what had enabled this to happen in his organisation when so many others struggle to create baseline models and “keep them alive”. The reasons seemed to be:

  • He was the modeller – he owned the model, did all the updates, did his own governance (but had external reviews), so this makes things massively easier to manage. I guess I would describe this as a relatively agile model ling approach. Of course, it’s not so scalable, but it was not a trivial organisation by any means so it was interesting that this was possible. The key observation here is…if you’ve got someone who knows what they are doing, then you don’t need an army of EAs to build and keep a model up to date. As we know, the more people you add, the more complex the communications paths become etc.
  • He had the right relationships (e.g. into the infrastructure teams) so he was alerted when things are changed, so the model does not go stale.
  • The communications strategy was right – the model was published in HTML format and shared with stakeholders and reviewed by them in this format.
  • The change management approach was clear – he published a “change document” that defined what had changed in the model and this was the key review vehicle. In their case, this output was produced and reviewed as a project initiation document which works for them.

Summary of the conference

Overall I thought it was a good event – although I personally didn’t find some of the plenary sessions on the first two days as useful as some of the more specialised afternoon sessions. I’ve met some really clever people – whilst the travel etc is a PITA, there is no substitute for just meeting people face-to-face and hearing their viewpoints, having your preconceptions about EA challenged etc. I liked the way that it didn’t feel like anything was not up for debate, so there was some great interaction in some of the sessions – not that I agreed with all of it, but that’s not the point. Vive la difference.

Out of all the presentations I’ve attended over the three days, I’m pretty sure only one of them, whilst being entertaining, must have involved some kind of hallucinogenic assistance :). So that’s not a bad percentage…

ViewFromTerraceSmallOn day two, the day started with some more plenary sessions. One of the themes that was reinforced a few times was that the discipline of Enterprise Architecture is about providing the necessary inputs for others to make decisions, not for the EA team to make the decisions themselves. This appealed to me as it moves EA away from the rather arrogant “we know best, trust us” position that sometimes arises. More about this below.

Another speaker (Erik Proper – talking about a new five year, 3.3m Euro architecture research project he is starting) gave an interesting viewpoint on the purpose of EA, something like

to decide upon, initiate and control enterprise transformations

i.e. to transform the enterprise from one state to another. I thought this was a neat articulation. Not that we need yet another definition of EA of course :)

Mike Rollings from Burton Group made some interesting points/provocations, some of which were also reinforced by other speakers. The key take-aways I got from his presentation were:

  • Don’t use the word “architecture” outside the IT team – it’s just a turn-off. This idea was reinforced by Salah Musa later on in the day.
  • Don’t say TOGAF either [my view is a slight modification on this idea - you need to say/show that you have a method, that you are not just making it up as you go along, but then you only need to explain the method if asked - I don't ask my car mechanic to show me his Haynes manual, but I kinda hope he's got one]
  • In any particular organisation, there are probably quite a few people performing an EA role already – six sigma, strategy team, planners etc. Don’t try and “educate” the entire on-IT community into being Enterprise Architects or persuade them that they are doing EA already. Work with them – what matters is the value that they derive from it, not what it is called.
  • Writing something down does not make it happen (or true in fact), i.e. you need to work hard to influence the right people with your ideas – be active not passive
  • A successful EA team is one that disappears into an organisation, i.e. it’s not an explicit thing that has to be done, it is part of the natural way of working

There were several presentations over the first two days that covered Business Architecture, and the most controversial I felt was that from Open Group’s Len Fehskens – where he basically laid bare the idea that the TOGAF ADM is pretty broken with regards to business architecture. This goes against the direction that TOGAF ADM has moved in the last couple of versions, and so I thought it was pretty strong stuff – but he didn’t seem to get any fruit thrown at him. His point was that IT departments are typically 2-10% of the total of an enterprise, so that often used phrase “the business” actually makes up 90-98% of the enterprise. Therefore, it’s pretty arrogant of IT teams (where EA teams usually reside) to feel they can drive the other 90%. Also, you don’t hear about business-finance team alignment issues, or business-marketing alignment issues – this is taken as read by those departments. So talking about business-IT alignment is just perpetuating the barriers – rather we should think of IT as part of the business just like any other department.

Which brings me on to a key thought for me from the business architecture sessions that I attended – they reinforced to me that we, as enterprise architects, should probably back away from the “land grab” that we’ve been on and leave business architecture largely (but not entirely) to our business colleagues. We should provide decision support and evidence to guide that work, and also we need to have the strength of will to step away sometimes when we see it being performed a different way to way we’d like (i.e. typically EAs are analytical beasts who like things to be approached in an ordered manner, with process etc).

MainConferenceRoomSmallIn the afternoon I gave my presentation in the largest room (see photo), so the audience was very spread out. What with the language issues and the stage lights in my face, it was hard to tell how engaged the audience were – I hope they got something out of it!

The 5 minute spotlight presentations during the morning covered the SOA, real-time & embedded,quantum lifecycle management (PLM on steroids it seems) and the cloud work groups. I’ll write up some more about the cloud group’s work later as I attended some of the presentations on day three. Suffice it to say there’s some interesting stuff going on here which makes me rather regret my slight gripe at the fact that there was a cloud conference stream.

In the evening was the traditional Open Group night out – we went to a local museum just near the Colloseum and then had champers and dinner on the terrace. The photo above was taken from the terrace as the sun went down – this enterprise architecture thing is tough, don’t you know?

Trevi FountainI have the privilege to be in Rome for the Open Group conference, where I am speaking on day 2. Here are my notes from the first day.

As part of the morning plenary sessions, Leonardo Ramirez gave a South American EA case study that I think had some excellent content and learning points. It was interesting that they had adopted an existing domain-specific data and process model (ARTS), and also that their future roadmap included some cloud-based architecture thinking – considering which parts of the architecture might be suitable for migration to IaaS, PaaS or SaaS. I thought this demonstrated unusually mature thinking – maybe they had an advantage in that their TOGAF-based EA effort was “kick started” by a really aggresive growth strategy (to expand from one country to five) and so they had a business strategy to “hang the hat” of EA on, and this gave the momentum and buy-in necessary to make the progress that they have. I.e. the architectural transformation required to meet the declared business strategy was so obvious that the need for a committed EA effort was itself just as obvious.

Chris Forde gave a presentation that was a useful revision topic for how to maximise your chances of buy-in from the broader business community. The two key takeaways I took from it were

  • don’t try and pitch an EA initiative if your IT department is currently failing to keep the core systems up – you just haven’t bought the credibility for a “seat at the table” – so fix this first
  • if an EA artefact that you are producing is not being consumed/used by your stakeholders, then it doesn’t even go on the shelf – it goes in the bin. If this is the case, stop publishing it (and stop producing it – unless it is needed for internal EA team or IT consumption)

In the afternoon, I greatly enjoyed the presentation from Mick Adams etc al of Capgemini. Capgemini seems to making a career of donating good work outputs to the Open Group, which is great for the common good. This presentation covered the latest donation – which is a definition of what an EA team should do and how to customise this for a particular organisation, based upon team capabilities. Like all good things, the information was very clearly presented and seemed obvious – but as we know – that’s an art. All the info is in an Open Group white paper so I won’t reproduce it here.

Mike Lambert presented on the new part III materials in TOGAF v9, which defines some supporting techniques and guidelines for using the ADM. This was a brief tutorial covering some useful things that enterprise architects should be aware of and have in their arsenal. Following this, I attended a more advanced session from William Estrem and Marc Walker where they showcased their work around the creation of a TOGAF v9 meta-model. This was more research oriented and future-focused in nature, but fascinating and has the potential to open up the opportunities for automatically deriving inferences from architecture models.

Running throughout the conference there are 5 minute “spotlights” that give a brief overview of what each working group (cloud, security etc) are up to. I’ve found these very useful, as in general I just don’t have the time to keep up to date with all the various working groups – what they have delivered and what they are working or planning to work on. On day 1, we heard from the following:

  • Security Forum (including the Jericho Forum) – Jim Hietala. The key thing I learned here is that they are looking at cloud security and offering guidance in this area.
  • Archimate Forum – One of my colleagues at Smart421 has been evangelising Archimate to me since he attended and spoke at a previous Open Group conference, and so this is a key topic I’d like to learn more about – there are some sessions on this on day 3.

In the evening I attended a networking event and learned what it meant to be in the “Open Group” club (!), and then I rushed into the city via taxi to do some speed sightseeing – taking in the Trevi Fountain, St Peter’s square and the Colloseum. You cannot walk very far in the middle of Rome without bumping into some (ancient) history. Or a taxi bumper it seems.

rome-headerWe generally try and send at least one EA-type Smartie to each of the European Open Group conferences, and this time I’m lucky enough that it’s my chance to go. There is no such thing as a free lunch in Rome though, and so I’m presenting in one of the conference streams on the subject of how to put some quantitative measures on the mythical business strategy-IT strategy alignment that is often discussed in Enterprise Architecture circles. If you happen to be attending, just come and say hello.

The conference is split into three main themes – architecture, security and cloud. It is interesting to see that cloud computing gets its own seat at the agenda top table, which is topical I guess, but also rather fashionable in architecture circles at the moment. My prediction is that it won’t have it’s own conference stream in three years time once the industry marketing hype machine has moved on to the next shiny thing, but “architecture” will still be there, because that is fundamentally what it is all about – enterprises that are designed rather than evolving accidentally will typically be more successful and efficient in the long run. Cloud computing just gives the Enterprise Architect some more tools in the toolbox to perform this task, albeit some very significant industry-changing tools.

As previously announced here , my colleague Richard Latham is presenting at the Open Group’s Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference on April 30th at 11am. The conference itself runs from 28-30th April and is located at the Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate in London.

Richard will be presenting on the subject of “Sustainable Enterprise Architecture” – based upon real world experience from our recent Enterprise Architecture engagements, how to create and make EA work without undue strain on resources of money, political capital and change to an organisation’s status quo.

Here’s a summary image from his presentation to give some context…

SustainableEASmall

Richard and other Smarties will be there throughout the whole event, so if you’re there grab them and say hello!

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