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  • Tons of detailed standards (always out of date)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?

Recently, I attended the 3-day conference in London that combined, for the first time, EA and BPM, which had in previous years been the subject of separate conferences, see the overview at http://www.irmuk.co.uk/eac2011/overview.cfm for more details. Thanks to Robin Meehan presenting a session with Visa Europe we got a good deal on the ticket to go to all three days including the Seminar on Wednesday.

The first day gave me the opportunity to see the legendary John Zachman present a half-day introduction to his famous “Zachman EA Framework”. The seminar was subtitled “Enterprise Physics”, which made me think of Star Trek and Scottie the Engineer but maybe that’s just me. Zachman prefers using the terms “ontology” or “classification” rather than “framework” for the core 6×6 matrix (sorry, “normalised schema”) that compares with the periodic table that underlies the whole of chemistry. The main thrust of Zachman’s very entertaining presentation was that nobody can carry out any seriously complex activity without architecture and that architecture is the same for enterprises as it is for aeroplanes or one hundred storey buildings (but harder).

The analogies and application of EA to science and engineering showed how relatively young and immature is the whole practice of EA and Zachman can rightly claim to be a pioneer in the late 1960s and still going strong now at the age of 76. Robin Meehan wrote about him two years ago and I would echo a lot of the sentiments he expressed regarding the energy and passion he still displays.

In the afternoon on day one I attended a seminar on Business Process and BPMN, which told me that BPMN 2.0 has only four basic building blocks that result in 100 or so detailed objects with embellishments and decorations. For example there are something like 63 different categories of “event”. What BPMN 2.0 does is categorise into “common core” of just a few important fundamental concepts that can code the majority of simple business processes. There were a range of tool vendors in the exhibition supporting BPMN in various ways, many now based on standard archimate-style notation.

What surprises me a little bit is the way the business process delegates still seem to think they exist alongside EA whereas by definition EA encompasses the whole enterprise, as Zachman says “The whole thing including the business architecture and processes”, so therefore BPM falls within EA.

Day Two

Day 2 started with a nice opening by Sally Bean (@cybersal on twitter – Twitter was in evidence including tags #IRMEAC and #IRMBPM that I used for a bit) and Roger Burlton (@RogerBurlton) that focused on having a disciplined, coherent and shared architecture strategy that encompasses both EA and BPM; ok, I would argue EA already encompasses BPM but it’s good the similarities and overlaps are now being recognised and acted upon. The other statement that stuck with me was that “The common repository” is critical, something that causes a debate in our group with respect to federated SOA and autonomy of business units within an enterprise.

The keynote was given by Thomas Lawton (@TCLawton) who was clearly suffering with mild laryngitis so has to be applauded for getting through his description of breakout strategy, leadership and vision wheels so well. Some nice categorisations of businesses in frame of their response to the recession (Panic, Protect, Cloak, Conquer) and then in terms of breakout, being offensive (in the “attacking” sense in British parlance), i.e. “…the best form of defense is attack”. He spent a long time exploring the nature of growth opportunities, where Google are a “True Original” taking an emergent market by storm and Tesco are a “Big Improver” moving from laggard to leader in established market. I stopped to think about it and would probably categorise Smart421 as “Wave Rider”, not really a true original but taking on and leading the way in an emerging market (EA Consultancy). The only thing that bothered me slightly was the example in this space was Ryan Air – I’d like to think we have a much friendlier customer focus! Thomas’s “Vision Wheel” was an interesting concept, separating external and internal aspects and the final section was about how to create a “Magnet company” that excites markets and attracts customers. The key seems simply to build the Vision for the future based on the six aspects: Price, Features, Quality, Support, Availability, Reputation. I had a go at doing this for Smart421 below. It would be interesting to get other peoples’ views on the ratings.

Image

The afternoon keynote from Ian Gotts of Nimbus focused on CEOs and specifically selling BPM projects to CEOs. The first rule he quoted was “not BPM”, which was a theme of some other talks “Don’t mention architecture”. It reminded me of the famous football autobiography by Len Shackleton where he entitled a chapter “What the average club chairman knows about football” and left the page completely blank. Gotts’s talk used examples from the transformation of Carphone Warehouse from a basic “phone shifter” to a rounded customer-oriented gadget shop with supporting processes. The slides contained some interesting predictions like the market for BPM services to top $24bn in the next few years and he had a nice graphic showing an exponential increase in spending by 8 of their customers recently (could just be coincidence as business always increases over time). It was entertaining and made me more aware of how to present to senior business-people, as if I didn’t already know not to mention IT terminology.

Also today, I had the pleasure of attending two presentations by working Enterprise Architects from Shell and British Gas. It is always enjoyable hearing about real-world experiences that highlight gaps in the models. Dan Jeavons from Shell is far too youthful to know as much as he does about Enterprise Architecture but I found myself agreeing with what he was saying and it confirms my belief that implementing EA needs sponsorship from the top and there is a right way to do it (meta-model definition before tooling for example).

Jane Chang from British Gas pretty much developed her own practice, on the back of delivering Smart Metering to the company’s 10 million customers. The programme has been a great success and now has a large 400-person development team working on it to meet the architecture vision. A very good end to the day.

Day Three

And so to the third and final day of EAC and BPM and the obvious highlight was the presentation bySmart421 CTO, Robin Meehan and Chris Forlano Lead Enterprise Architect at Visa Europe on “Maturing Visa’s Enterprise Architecture Practice”.

Robin Meehan CTO at Smart421 (pictured left) with Chris Forlano, Lead Enterprise Architect at Visa Europe. Photo by Andrew Smale.

The session was appreciated by all and they asked some very interesting questions, like “How did you justify a 530 days budget for this work?”, which should probably have been answered by Mark had he been there.

Prior to that I went along to a Lean Six Sigma presentation and learnt a few more strings to use around promoting Quality through reducing variance (Six Sigma) at the same time as addressing the 7 Sins of Waste (Lean). I thought Peter Matthijssen was really good at using examples to introduce LSS as a practice for aspiring Business Process Architects and explained the concepts really well.

The morning keynote was probably the best talk of the whole conference by Jason Bloomberg on …. you’ve guessed it… The Cloud!   Or more specifically, “Architecting the Cloud – How EAs should think about Cloud Computing”. Both the Pros and the Cons were presented and the not so subtle message to delegates was to not let vendors drive down the route of private cloud and that public cloud cannot be trusted. I did think some examples: a Cloud employee taking a memory stick to your server and stealing your data, or the police impounding your (shared) boxes because of illegal activity by someone else was a little bit OTT. The main message reinforced our view that you must architect for the cloud and synergies with SOA were well presented, in particular the suggestion to extend SOA Governance to cover Cloud Governance, a reasonable extension as I’ve always thought SOA Governance should govern the underlying platforms for capacity and autonomy anyway. I didn’t quite get his point of Cloud services using REST couldn’t be governed as part of SOA because surely SOA is technology agnostic? His last slide on availability and redundancy with reference to the April Amazon outage provided a good discussion point afterwards and if anything this will be good for service providers like Smart421 offering experienced Cloud consultancy.

My second session of the day was “The Success of a Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture approach ‘STREAM’” by Jaap Schekkerman, Thought Leader Business Technology Strategy. I wasn’t completely convinced that these methods will work for everyone and the recommendation to design business methods on A0 format was provocative to someone like me who believes in a more componentised approach and that a process should fit on a single page to be understandable. Some of his slides also suffered from the A0 format and were incomprehensible. However, I did like Jaap as a presenter and he does have some original methods built into STREAM, which stands for:
Speedy Traceable Result-driven Enterprise Architecture (or Asset/Agile) Management, and it can be integrated with other frameworks and methodologies.

If I have one regret from this conference it is some of the session choices I made – Oliver Robinson’s presentation about improving the National Policing Agency drew a lot of praise, as did Tom Graves from Tetradian on “Respect as an Architectural Issue: a Case Study in Business Survival” but you can’t be everywhere. At least I have all the slides and further references like to tetradianbooks.com for the last one.

I admit I also suffered a little bit of BPM-fatigue after a while of going round the numerous vendors and trying to understand their products. However, if anyone has a need to deliver a BPM tool then I’ve got some good contacts now and a backpack full of literature and demos so give me a call or tweet me @smaley

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.

ovumA couple of days ago I was one of the presenters at an Ovum/Butler strategy briefing at the Ambassadors Hotel in London. Smart421 were sponsoring the event and I wanted to share something real relating to cloud computing – and not just give a thinly-veiled sales pitch (not really my style – and also I’ve sat through enough of those from vendors/SIs to last me a lifetime) or explain what IaaS/PaaS/SaaS are to an audience for the millionth time.

So, after some steering from the Ovum analyst who was performing the introduction to the subject, Laurent Lachal, I settled upon the subject of what organisations need to do and consider today in their Enterprise Architecture teams in order to gear up and exploit the opportunities provided by cloud computing. It’s always better to have a map before you set off on a journey, and so I explained how we would use the Open Group’s TOGAF architecture development method (ADM) to help us navigate and address all the impacts of cloud computing in an organisation. Anyway, the presentation all went well with just the right amount of pre-match nerves to get me excited before I went on – and some good audience questions. Although my colleagues tell me that apparently I have a couple of bad habits when presenting that I need to work on :). Drop us a line if you would like a copy of the presentation.

The main observations that I wanted to share in this blog post were relating to the nature of the audience, as they provided an interesting insight into the cloud computing market itself. As this audience had been generated from a list Ovum subscribers mainly, they were quite a different mix to other cloud events I’ve been to or presented at:

  • Awareness – The level of knowledge of the subject was relatively low. You might say “that’s why they’ve come to a cloud briefing session you dummy” and that would be fair, but I am contrasting this to the knowledge levels I’ve seen at other, perhaps more techy events. My conclusion – it is very easy to get misled about how well understood the subject is by the market when you work in a “consulting bubble”. There is still a significant amount of “educating the market” to be done.
  • Strategy – When the audience were asked “who has a cloud strategy/adoption plan in place today?” that the answer was – virtually nobody out of 50+ delegates. One hand went up.
  • Execution – What was clear to me from the various vendors/presenters was that no one has really done this yet. Whilst I know that there are lots of case studies that can be trotted out etc, the reality on the ground is that outside of the true early adopters, it just has not gone “mass market” yet. SaaS adoption is the exception to this rule as this is more of an evolution of the previous ASP model, but PaaS and IaaS really have tiny market take up at present in the larger enterprises. My view is that SMEs are generally adopting quicker than larger enterprises.
  • Risk – The audience did not feel particularly risk-averse. Again, I guess they had “self-selected” to attend, but I didn’t get any of that “corporate fear” paralysis sensation about data security etc that I’ve witnessed in some enterprises. So I felt like these guys were really going to make something happen over the next year or so, which I felt was particularly encouraging for both the industry and the UK economy.

One closing comment I would make about the event is that there were some points made during the day that I knew were just plain wrong, some of which fell into the FUD category. I managed to keep my mouth shut. Amazing as it may seem, I am also wrong on occasions, so I’m not having a pop here specifically – it’s just that even in the vendor/SI space we’re all still getting to grips with a disruptive technology and there is a lot of hyperbole and urban myths to be thrashed out and dispelled yet.

Photo: Coolmath.com

Now I’ve had time to reflect on the Gartner Enterprise Architecture Summit, London 17-18 May (twitter hashtag #gartnerea), let’s recap starting with the closing keynote.

 The “Berlin Wall” between IT and the business – no, scrub that, -  IT and “demand-side stakeholders” (Kyte, session P5 closing keynote) still looms very large, causing IT practitioners to be apologetic rather than evangelistic about their craft. If the wall can come down, then a “reunification” can take place, but that will depend on CIOs and others being able to articulate IT in business parlance. And that will necessitate IT learning to talk about VALUE.

Only stakeholders can determine what they value, claimed Burke (session G7).  In other words, the focus needs to be more on the value received.

But is this thing called ‘value’ really so intangible and unquantifiable?

According to Kyte in his animated and charismatic closing keynote, enterprise architects must start with analysing full life Cost (estimating real cost of hairy ‘n hungry ‘dog’ not just cost of cute ‘n cuddly ‘puppy’), next enterprise architects need to analyse Value (taking ‘utilisation’ as a proxy for value), lastly they need to indicate Risk (expressing this in simple red / amber / green indicators). Present this as a 3-column report to a chief finance officer or anyone in the C-suite (Gartner-speak for board of directors) and they’ll get it immediately – unlike all other reports typical of the IT department.

Visualisations and models (Allega, session G13) such as Gartner’s new “Root Anchor” model, Business Capability model, Generic Federated model, TIME model, etc are all subservient to a Value Proposition, to answer “how will this be used to deliver a business result?” Perhaps the best way to communicate that is to use Gartner’s Business Value model, authored by Michael Smith (Lapkin, session G16), especially now that the focus for chief executive has changed in the last 12 months from ‘sheer survival’ to ‘return to growth’ (Lapkin, session G16).

 I listened carefully to others who I met complaining that the ‘framework bashing’ during many sessions delivered by Gartner analysts was over-stated and unnecessarily self-serving. Thankfully, Burke seemed to strike the right balance (Burke, session G7) advising delegates to be pragmatic, starting with Future-State Architecture (FSA) before ever touching Current-State and demoting any priority currently attached to selecting a framework or rigidly following a framework. “We’re ‘doing’ TOGAF” was not something analysts wanted to hear.

To address Future-State, and because organisations are increasingly “hyperconnected”, the trick for enterprise architects is to start thinking about “the lines between the boxes” (Robertson, session G23) and begin to work more closely with Sourcing and Risk, not just Security, as it may mean architecting-in some cloud-based capability.

 I debated some of the other conference themes in conversations afterwards with delegates. Among them, an enterprise architect called Carl Chilley, who also picked up on ‘Hybrid thinking’ hailed as a new discipline for transformation, innovation and strategy (Gall, session P2 opening keynote). This is derived from ‘Design Thinking’, which is now at the heart of Gartner’s EA thinking and modelling. Go to Twitter.com and search on the hashtag #designthinking. Chilley said that Gartner is in the process of changing a lot of their EA materials to reflect the implications of this world view. He said that there is a need towards “computing where people matter” (deliberate misquote of the E F Schumacher tag line to the book ‘Small is Beautiful: Economics Where People Matter’) where solutions needs to be people-centric.

Chilley makes a valid point. It certainly echoes the idea that value can only be determined by the demand-side stakeholders (i.e. the people in the business who use the systems that have been architected for them).

 If enterprise architecture is not about technology, it should be about “design [of] systems for humans”. Inspiring stuff for some enterprise architects who may want to take more of their cues from social science than from computer science. More Emile Durkheim, less Tim Berners-Lee?  You decide.

 It does make you think if there is more to ‘Design thinking’ that first meets the eye. During Gall’s opening keynote several books were put forward as suggested reading. These might interest enterprise architects:

 As far as the challenges posed by so-called ‘Wicked Problems’ those problems that just cannot be factored in and for which there are no apparent solutions. We pondered what an enterprise architect’s equivalent of an Icelandic volcanic ash cloud might look like…  a cloud of another type, maybe.

BCS SouthamptonStClockAs threatened, I attended the BCS Enterprise Architecture specialist group meeting in London near Covent Garden yesterday. There were two interesting presentations regarding EA case studies, both of which caused lots of debate and questions from the gathered audience.

Amit Apte from SITA presented an anonymised case study from the airline industry. As is always a good idea, he started off with a provocation – that “enterprise architecture is boring” – and I think he was a little disappointed with the lack of reaction he got to that statement. I tend to agree to the extent that if it’s all done well, then it should be largely mechanical in nature and so rather dull. However in general this is not the case – in fact it is far too exciting! But the key thing that attracts me to EA is the ability to influence with a more significant level of impact, e.g. stopping the wrong change projects and starting the right ones, rather than operating at a solution architecture level and only influencing with a smaller scope. Maybe it’s a power thing, anyway…

He got a fair amount of stick from the audience about whether this was really an overview of an EA initiative or a one-off enterprise-wide solution architecture that had used a modified version of TOGAF v8 as a method, and the discussion centred around whether a sustainable EA function had been created or not.

Andrew Jolly from Deloitte presented an anonymised case study from the TMT (technology, media, and telecom) sector – concerning the creation of an EA governance capability in an organisation of circa 29k staff/partner staff. Some interesting things came out…

  • Both presentations mentioned something like “the business don’t need to know about EA”, i.e. a rather depressing but not unusual admission that selling the concept of EA to the business community is in the too hard pile. Andrew added to this with the sage comment that brand awareness for your EA initiative with the wider stakeholder community is key though, even if it is a meaningful acronym. Call it A.A.R.D.V.A.R.K. (I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader to come up with) or whatever, but call it something so they can hang a label on what you are doing for them.
  • The usual general advice applied – start small to demonstrate value, winning over hearts and minds by demonstration of real value rather than selling potential future value. The good old “virtuous circle” that Smart421 (and especially Richard Latham) have been banging the drum about. I was going to ask about metrics etc but someone else got in before me – and got the answer I expected which was they set up some KPIs at the start, but eventually the qualitative measures took over, i.e. did the projects the EA function had cherry-picked to engage with ‘feel’ that they were adding sufficient value.
  • One of your selection criteria for where to start is on a project where you have influence (probably by chance, e.g. you know the project manager personally etc).
  • As a mechanism of starting to embed the idea of architects contributing to projects/programmes, Andrew’s suggestion was that you could provide a ‘free’ architect as projects will never turn away free resource. You need to ensure they are a good resource and then some benefit will naturally emerge and the project will see it, and so be more likely to ask for (and then pay for) architecture input next time round. Obviously this requires some seed funding which is non-trivial to find.
  • Even in what may appear to be an organisation that appears architecturally doomed initially, there are generally people inside the organisation who are performing a psuedo-architecture role some of their time even if they haven’t got the title and wondrous benefits package that goes with it. Otherwise how has the enterprise made it this far? Get these guys involved in some kind of virtual team as they hold the keys to your initial EA artefacts.
  • Publish EA materials early – don’t wait for perfection as you’ll never get there. Even if they’re wrong an early viewing so that they get ripped to bits (hopefully not too badly) and then improved is a good thing. Obviously they’ve got to be of a certain quality though. This point really reminded me of the practice recommended I read in a book from Guy Kawasaki about releasing new products to market early, which is completely common practice in the software industry. His quote – “Revolutionary products don’t fail because they are shipped too early; they fail because they are not revised fast enough”. Hence never buy a vs.0…
  • What was the biggest risk to the EA function that had now been established? Andrew’s view was that it was “taking our eye off the ball” and losing sight of the fact that the roadmap for the EA function itself must be maintained and pursued – just like the other roadmaps that the EA function might generate for business architecture etc.

Andrew’s parting message was an interesting one – that putting in place an EA capability is a business change project in itself and so should be treated as such, i.e. get the organisation’s “change” people involved to execute the business change.

It was good to put some faces to the names of some more of the the movers and shakers in the UK EA world – I can now point Amit, Andrew, Tom Graves and Sally Bean out of a line-up if required…

Specialist group chairman Mike Buck mentioned that the next event is a presentation by the grand-daddy of EA, a certain Mr John Zachman on October the 6th, so I expect that event to be very well attended…

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.

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!

MetHotel

Last evening another colleague from Smart421 (Nathan Pinkney) and I attended this inaugural meeting of the British Computer Society Enterprise Architecture specialist group in Leeds at the Met Hotel. The evening consisted of the procedural activities required to set up a new specialist group as part of the BCS, followed by a presentation.

The procedural aspects were interesting in themselves, as I learned about the scrutiny applied to organisations who have charitable status such as the BCS, and therefore the degree of rigour required in the constitution of the group, financial controls etc. Thanks are definitely due to Mike Buck and the other committee members for getting the group to the birthing pool…

But the most interesting parts of the evening were when debates and discussions kicked off concerning various aspects of the purpose of the group, and therefore enterprise architecture in general. The diversity of the audience surprised me – the turnout was good at about 30+ people of the 280 or so BCS members who have signed up to be part of the group. The level of debate showed that there was some great minds out there, which encouraged me as I wasn’t sure what the mix of skills/experience levels was going to be like. There’s something you get from chatting to your peers across other industry sectors that you just cannot get from any other source…I talked to people with an EA interest from a military perspective, banking (they got a “boo hiss”!), trading etc. It was great!

The key discussions that came out were:

  • The dreaded definition of EA vs IT architecture – eventually we managed to move on from this once will all agreed that it wasn’t massively productive. As it is necessarily mentioned in the group’s constitution – this was bound to come up.
  • Selling the benefits of EA – there was lots of healthy debate about whether it was arrogant of people from an IT background to claim a stake in the business architecture world, and whether this was credible. For me, this debate really brought out the different perspectives of the audience, e.g. when examples were used to amplify a point, they were almost exclusively IT examples, even though most of the group were saying that IT architecture was just a subset of enterprise architecture.
  • The group was not about creating yet another EA framework, i.e. a BCSEAF – thank God for that. There’s enough of them out there – it’s the application of them and the benefits that flow from them that is key IMHO.
  • The fact that the British Computer Society was the vehicle being used to progress EA in the UK was interesting – and in general we agreed that whilst this rather laid bare the IT heritage that the EA discipline has, it was the best and most obvious vehicle we had. An interesting analogy put forward by one attendee was the journey that project management has made – i.e. from being managing IT projects, to now a broad acceptance that we manage ‘change’, and IT change is just part of a project.

The presentation at the end was by Judith Jones of Architecting the Enterprise, a TOGAF training organisation that happens to be Smart421′s preferred training provider for TOGAF. As you’d expect, the presentation was very TOGAF-centric and 50%+ a sales pitch, and didn’t really address it’s key question (“EA in the credit crunch”) – but it still provided me with a few thought provoking moments where things that I’d realised but not really crystalised in my head became clear. I’ll write about these some other time…

I’m delighted that two of my colleagues from Smart421 (Nathan Pinkney and John Rutter) have been voted in as part of the committee so that we can give this fledgling group our support. I admire their energy :). Let’s see where we can take it.

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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