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Iasa UK North 1

October 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Great Evening on Thursday at Iasa UK North 1 where Astra Zeneca played host to a great series of lightening talks! So good in fact that I have to push mine off the agenda!

Well, I still got chance to introduce the speakers and to give a quick overview of Iasa UK activities which you can find here.

Next up was Bola Rotibi from Creative Intellect who talked about what the enterprise needs architects to consider.

Next on was John Whiteway who went solo with nothing more than a piece of paper, his wit and intellect – great talk with the catchy title “Enterprise Social Networking underpins Predictive Science Capability”! Honestly inspiring stuff!

Following this was hard, but Simon Thurman of Emerging Technology at Microsoft UK is a dab hand, giving us a brief history of Azure on one slide …

After more pizza and beer it was time to realise that … Architecture is Boring, or so someone said to Neil Wetherall of Astra Zeneca! He gave some compelling reasons why people say this and more importantly, what architects should do to change this view …

Last but least it was the turn of Saffron Prior to share more secrets of agile and how it’s changing the way that IT generates value.

SO there we go … what a first night for Iasa UK North … with plenty more in store like this to follow!

Many thanks to all and especially Astra Zeneca for making this such a success!

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Agility and IT Excellence

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Many small and medium size organisations whether they be directly in the software development business or engaged in other corporate activities are experiencing similar problems when it comes to their IT Strategy.

For the software vendor it is a question of how do I excite the market with new innovations while ensuring what I have delivered to my current customers is and continues to meet their needs. For the enterprise IT organisation it is a need to deliver new innovative solutions to the business while ensuring a high level quality of service for those solutions already deployed. In this way the problems are similar and are superbly illustrated by the work of Jack Calhoun in his quadrant view of the organisation.

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One goal is customer experience excellence, while the other is operational excellence but it is not possible to achieve these in tandem and therefore one needs to pick a route.

However, while one is able to aspire to these heights and indeed in some cases achieve them it is all too often that this happens as a “point in time” achievement. The real question is once you get here (or better, as you plan the journey), how do you continue to improve or at least maintain this status rather than fall back down? For this is often what happens and in many cases the finger points back to the technology and that where IT once drove growth it now impedes change.

The missing ingredient here is that these goals are set without a view of sustainability and this is where IT has a trump card to play and by doing so not only can IT enable organisations to achieve customer experience and operational excellence, it maintain this status into the future. So what is this ingredient? Quite simply it is AGILITY!

One of the key things software development have learnt over the years is the cost of innovation and dramatic cost of rapid innovation. As they argue successfully in their “implementing lean software development” book, Mary and Tom Poppendieck, state that “the cost of complexity is not linear, it’s exponential”. Wise software developers, they say “place a top priority on keeping their code base simple, clean and small”.

By developing agile software development practices that are light touch, expect and embrace change and are focused on delivering value it has allowed developers to invest much more wisely in response to challenges set by the business. However, although the successes have been widespread and repeatable so far the true notion of agility has not managed to move out much past the world of Software development itself.

Many argue wrongly that agile practices only works at small scale, that it is not rigorous or works at the expense of architecture and quality. These are wholly incorrect but do much to limit the values of agility from being expressed more widely across IT.

In the meantime, for those that have managed to harness the power of agility at scale, the successes are multi-fold enabling IT to build a much more focused business model in delivering services to their customers and in so doing ensuring a growth in operational and customer experience excellence, aka quality of service.

References

Jack Calhoun et al, The Next Revolution in Productivity

Mary and John Poppendieck “Implementing Lean Software Development” http://www.poppendieck.com/

Software Security: have we nailed it?

October 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Software security has and continues to be a top line issue for most organisations, yet software and IT teams still continue to produce and deploy insecure code and applications with serious consequences for the brand, reputation and, of course finances of their customers and their own organisation.

Creative Intellect in association with the IASA have recently launched a survey that seeks to understand the security challenges across the development cycle and look to see if it is handled better by large or small projects, organisations and if there is a difference across industries.

I thoroughly recommend you taking part in the survey. All respondents will get a free copy of the full report and will be entered into a draw to win a free half day consulting session with Creative Intellect Consulting Ltd in the field of software delivery and application lifecycle management.

The survey link is: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SecuritySurvey-CIC

SOA: A square peg in a round hole?

September 15, 2010 1 comment

It is really interesting when you look back on your blogs over the years and reflect on how your views have changed, and whether anything still remains true given what you know now. Over the past few months I’ve been researching the state of SOA today; well over a decade since .NET Web Services arrived on the scene and the term SOA first came to popular attention.

One blog I’ve referred to time and time again in talking about SOA is the one I wrote on SOA Anti-patterns back in 2005. I use these anti-patterns regularly when talking to people and had come to think that their value had never been more significant than they are today given the emergence of the so-called “cloud”. However, I had noticed that they resonated less well with those where SOA was being “successful”. It therefore came as quite a shock when I actually re-read the blog only to find that the core tenet on which these anti-patterns were based was actually proving to be itself one of the core anti-patterns of SOA and why in so many cases SOA has proved unsuccessful.

The anti-pattern was actually described in the opening section where I suggest that the decentralised nature of SOA “left unchecked” could lead to the occurrence of a number of the anti-patterns that I went on on to describe. Unwittingly, I had hit upon one of the core anti-patterns for SOA; the square-peg anti-pattern, it was just that at the time I didn’t realise it.

The square-peg anti-pattern

As I noted back in 2005, SOA is a “decentralised” pattern for integrating distributed systems, but what I didn’t realise at the time and where the true problem turns out to be, is that we insist on trying to fit SOA (the peg) into a “centralised” model of IT (the round hole). This is like holding the same poles of two magnets end to end, they repulse each other, we are simply trying to put two incompatible models of operation together as one.

From a centralised perspective of IT these anti-patterns make sense, but turn the problem on the head and they become less significant and maybe cease to exist. The reality of the problem turns out, not to be one of fitting a square peg into a round hole, but that there are simply no square holes!

For IT and let’s face it, for the really important part; the business, to really take advantage of SOA it needs to give up being the monopoly, it needs to decentralise and devolve control to the services themselves. The result is smaller IT, encapsulated within the service, focused almost entirely on delivering business value for that service, rather than having to pay a high tax to conform to the demands of a centralised IT function.

The three Cs!

So if this is the major problem, then why do it? Why not drop SOA and retain the centralised model for IT? Of course this is an option, but let’s look at it through the lens of the three Cs that Hammer and Champy raised in re-engineering the corporation:

  • Customers take charge
  • Competition intensifies
  • Change becomes constant

IT is subject to the same pressures and has to deliver the service that is required by the business. Your customer demands the ability to be more in control, dynamic, they have choice and increasingly have the potential to ‘shop elsewhere’. The competition from others who can provide the service, faster, cheaper and to order is increasing. The rate of change required by your customer grows daily and the need for IT to move from reactive to proactive and part of driving business.

Specialised Units of Business Capability

In looking at the trends within the business itself, one can see it is differentiating into often finer units of specialism. the benefit being, to take advantage of market leading innovation quicker, cheaper and at lower risk. IT needs to power these new capabilities, but can’t do so through a rigid model of centralised command and control. These new capabilities need to move fast, grow fast and evolve quickly in response to change. The IT needs to be as close to that business innovation as possible and be part of the solution rather than a problem that slows down their time to react.

The rise of the Central IS function?

So what now for IT? Is it the end of IT department? Well may be it is, as we know it today. Decentralisation is inevitable for Business as it is for IT, as the technology layers commoditise there is less need for many of the old functions of IT, but given all these moving parts, these increasing units of specialised business capabilities, the increasing number of sourcing choices for services of all shapes and sizes, it is clear that there is a need for:

  • co-ordination
  • governance
  • compliance
  • innovation management

These, then become the watch words for the future of the centralised IT function, but it is perhaps the name that needs a change, it is less about the technology but still about the information and management and certainly needs to nurture innovation and of course it’s all about the service.

Welcome to the:

Corporate Information and Innovation Management Service.

The Pig, The Banker and the Cloud

A story of cloud awareness

This is the story of the Banker and the Pig. It is not based on any specific single reality but on the collection of many factors. It’s based on the presentation I prepared called Unbundling the bank.

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”Oh no!”, says the (fictional) Banker (not related to any actual banker I have met!) on seeing the initial slides from the Unbundling the Bank presentation.

“We live in a multi-sourced, software+service (Hybrid Cloud) world!”

”We just didn’t know it!”

”But hold on” 

”Isn’t SOA dead?”

”Didn’t SOA fail to deliver a return on investment (ROI)?”

“And anyway, we’re too silo’d and project and opportunity driven to consider adding cloud to the mix too!” the Banker concludes, almost looking a little relieved.

“Ah yes, but the problem isn’t with SOA it’s with the SOA Junkies!” says the Pig.

“The SOA Junkies?” shrieks the Banker!

“Yes” says the Pig calmly.

“They think too much like Adam Smith with his division of labour and Henry Ford with his assembly line! They’re too Task oriented!”

“They think in terms of the Separation of Concerns, abstractions, and ah … yes Re-Use, the magical holy grail of Re-use!” continues the Pig.

“How many times have we tried to deliver the ‘Single view of the Customer?’” asks the Pig rhetorically!

“These approaches just breed more complexity and like the forth bridge, never end, adding little if any business value as a consequence. All they do is pile on the technical debt from which IT slowly suffocates” remarks the Pig.

“The problem is that the approach is based on technology principles instead of the principles of business!”

“We need to look above the ‘HOW’; above the layers of people, process and especially the technology.”

“We need to focus on instead, on the ‘WHAT’ instead! We need to map the enterprise that describe its Business Capabilities. These encapsulate the people, process and technology, and unlike these things, capabilities are stable, unchanging, self-contained, measurable and above all value-oriented in relation to the business.”

“Oh!”, says the Banker!

What is an Enterprise?

“So let’s step back for a moment” says the Pig “and ask ourselves, what is the Enterprise?”

“Obviously, there are customers, one hopes! And then there are the Business partners, but what is actually inside that box we call the enterprise?”

The Banker is puzzled.

“Well I’ll tell you”, says the Pig, “It’s interesting, but from a capability perspective enterprises look remarkably similar to each other!”

“Ugh?” snorts the Banker.

“Looking at an enterprise’s capabilities at the top most level and we can see a regular pattern of capabilities that occur in all enterprises.”

“Firstly, there is a capability to plan new products and services.”

“Next, there is the capability to develop these new products or services”

“Third, there is create demand for these new products and services”

“And finally there is the need to Fulfil the delivery of these products and services. Simple, but amazing in the same way.” says the Pig with an air of triumph.

“All there is to an enterprise is simply Plan, Develop, Demand and Fulfil! Oh and add to this Collaborate too and that’s it; the 5 core capabilities that every enterprise or business has!”

“But hold on this can’t be all there is to it, surely!” questions a rather bemused looking Banker.

“Well of course not!” chuckles the Pig, “Each of these capabilities contains 1 to many sub-capabilities and these then contain more capabilities within them! So far we’ve taken capabilities down 5 levels and it still amazes me that this model holds true across the vast majority of enterprises we’ve seen!”

“Of course, there is variance, but there is about a 70% recurrence of these capabilities, even down to level 5, across enterprises, and across verticals!”

Silence.

“Ah how I love patterns” sighs the Pig looking upward as if to look for some hidden force.

The New Model Enterprise

“Ok, ok, so this is all very good” says the Banker, a little impatiently. “I can see that this is all very nice and pretty, but there’s devil in the details of those little capabilities!”

“There’s still the problem with the HOW!”

“Ah yes”, says the pig, nodding his head knowingly.

“Because these capabilities are stable, well defined and measurable, you can ask questions of them, value-oriented questions like, ‘what’s your value to the business?’ and ‘How healthy are you?’”.

“From the answers you get back you can produce a heat map of the enterprise that will give you a view of the health of your enterprise and more over where to focus your efforts in drilling down into the capabilities below, to find out what really is at fault and where to prioritise your efforts!”

“You can do this as a light-touch mapping across the enterprise and only drill down on the areas that flag up through the heat maps. Making it and efficient process”

“Ahhh” says the Banker, relaxing his facial expression slightly for the first time.

“But here’s the thing …” whispers the pig, leaning forward as if to ensure that this is for the Bankers ears only.

“Capabilities allow you to decompose the enterprise into discrete self contained units of specialisation, in so doing you can differentiate between the ones you care about; that creat value, and the ones you don’t.”

“You can then think about unbundling yourself from the cost of managing and maintaining these yourself.”

You can plan to move these away from a ‘bespoke’ internalised model to that of a more ‘standardised’ model.”

“Think of these capabilities as being like mini-enterprises all neat and self-governing and that the HOW might not need to be your problem at all” the Pig Winked.

“Oooh” says the Banker, his eyes widening, but this time less in shock and more in anticipation.

“Exactly”, says the Pig. “Now you’re looking at your enterprise differently aren’t you.”

“A suite of mini-enterprises doing stuff themselves, but collaborating to deliver a bigger result than they can do themselves. Some may even deliver their capability to another enterprise in time. This happens already if you consider the SaaS applications you are using today!”

“Furthermore, you can create new dynamic specialised capabilities and build them in the model of being a mini enterprise, able to persist on their own, without the layers of management that the models of the industrial era would and do enforce.”

“One day, like others before them, these once innovations, now commodity capabilities could be set free to find other consumers or markets and maintain their own innovation edge.”

“Now you have unlocked a new kind of strategy strategy; that of the New Model Enterprise (NME) based on Business Service Centric Principles!”

“And you can start to take advantage of the multi-sourced Software + Service (Hybrid Cloud) that you know we already live in.”

“Oh my!” gasps the Banker!

“Don’t believe me?” asks the Pig?

“Hmmm?” questions the Banker.

“Just go and ask the other banks …” said the Pig.

And with a nonchalant flick his tail, the Pig hoped off the Bankers head and returned to his glorious mud bath.

After all it really was the most splendid weather for the time of year!

The End.

 

Supporting Information

It’s interesting to note from Joe Mckendrick’s, SOA’s Dead, long Live Services blog that Gartner suggest SaaS doesn’t equal as much as 1% of enterprise IT Budget spend. But as Joe comments, the market seems healthy enough and it’s worth looking at some of Ray Wang’s numbers who reports that “SaaS vendors kept steady growth in the double digits”.

Unbundling the Bank @ CloudCamp

The other night I tried my hand at a 5 minute cloudcamp presentation which was mad and to be honest didn’t go according to plan! But hey I’ve put all that down to life-long-learning now and in probably talking to the wrong audience!

Below is the deck I presented and for some most baffling reason, that I can’t explain, the deck centres on a conversation between a very scared banker and a pig on his head!

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I came across it while hunting for images of banks and it made me really laugh at the time, but unfortunately I think it bombed a little on the day – no one (especially the OSS crowd) likes a guy from Microsoft trying to be funny – I had that feeling of the stand-up comedian confronted with silence once he’s delivered his best line! Urgh, the memory makes my skin crawl!

That said, I like the story and while the slides are great (of course;)!) I’ve had a go re-telling the story in a little more detail which I hope you’ll find fun and maybe even useful! You never know! This will follow as a separate post but in preparation here’s some background followed by the deck itself.

Some background

The title for the session came to me as you’ll know if you’re a regular to my blog, from the post I did the previous week that referenced an original post I did back in 2007 after seeing a session at QCon from Chris Swan and Craig Heimark. It came back to me a week or so ago when I got to talk to a group of around 30 Enterprise Architects for a large UK Bank. For too many the thought of using cloud was almost abhorrent and you could almost feel them each mouthing the words that “our bank will never use the cloud!”.

However, I had an ace up my sleeve being able to show, even back in 2008 through the work I did with Freeform Dynamics called IT on the front foot that Financial Services were among the leading adopters of Software as a Service (SaaS) at the time (remember the phrase cloud had not come to the fore at this time).

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But what was perhaps more interesting was that contrary to popular belief, SaaS adoption is far more significant where IT is seen as a strategic advantage to the business. Most, especially many of the SaaS vendors wrongly argue that it’s an opportunity for business to bypass IT and focus their efforts on that of converting the business executives, avoiding what in reality could be a quicker route through IT itself. It is clear that with the early adopters, success has very much depended on IT being involved and potentially driving the agenda. To support this, it is increasingly the case as you listen to early Cloud adopters from IT who talk of the need to convince the business of the benefits of cloud versus the risks.

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The final graph from the report I used shows that in the majority of cases SaaS adoption only takes place where there is a commitment to Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)! This makes sense given the obvious concerns over storing data external to the organisation. An Enterprise that has a strategic position on Integration is clearly able to take advantage of the resultant hybrid model that must naturally follow.

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The Slide Deck

View more presentations from Matt Deacon.

 

Next post will tell the story of The Pig, the Banker and the Cloud.

Unbundling the bank

Just over 2 years ago I first wrote the post entitled “unbundling the bank” and hear I am finding myself planning a talk at CloudCamp next week entitled the same! The title, I thought, came to me earlier this week when I had chance to visit a team of Enterprise Architects at a large UK bank. I was sure the title was not “original” and came from somewhere, so you can imagine my surprise when I did the necessary search and my blog came out on top – lol!

What I really love though – is that the thoughts are just the same, the evidence however continues to mount, pointing towards the further differentiation of IT, but increasingly of the business itself, from “centralised vertical models to decentralised models made up of “single value specialists”.

Unlike my talk to bankers back in 2007, this time, the EAs are thinking about the implications of cloud and software+Services more seriously, and while most would say never, to some the light bulb is on and the opportunity for disruption is imminent!

One thing I really liked and had forgotten about the talk by Craig Heimark back in 2007 is the drive to “create increased value to the consumer at the expense of the margins; the higher the volumes the lower the margin” which to my mind reads “commoditisation”.

In the old world view of innovation, it would make sense to keep this closed or hidden, to maintain ones market lead at the expense of competition. Thereby keeping margins high.However, in an open innovation model the race to commoditise is high, Keeping margins low to avoid competition and drive to mass market appeal and therefore scale quickly. If an innovation does not scale in terms of consumer appeal then it’s not an innovation worth pursuing.

Although, it takes time for shift to happen, there are examples all over of this taking place. Below is a list of common occurrences that may take place in isolation or combination but are enablers in moving towards a more “composite enterprise”. I’ve covered some of these previously so some repetition might arise.

Rise of Multi-sourcing

As discussed previously. Enterprises that have outsourced are actively re-insourcing, but in so doing they are differentiating between what comes in and what stays out. The latter are often non-differentiating or commodity, but by going through this process the results seldom remain with the encumbent outsourcer but move to new specialists.

Service Provider Convergence

The traditional models of software suppliers like system integrators, outsourcers and ISVs are converging. The SI is moving away from delivery of bespoke software to the delivery of bespoke services, software no longer lands inside the organisation’s datacentre but is automatically outsourced by the integrator. The integrator has a shared risk-reward with the customer – they are innovation partners with a desire to grow the market of the service itself, not just the value it itself fulfils.

Delivering Innovation as a business

Many enterprises are project-driven, but this is a mis-understanding, it is more that they are project-organised, they are in fact innovation or opportunity driven. The problem is they don’t realise this due to the project-based mentality that results. By taking an innovation-driven approach it is easier to see this as a business investment and to consider creating a structure that mimics more of a business than a project. this has dramatic and profound results both in terms of outcomes, but also to the people involved, the processes they create and the resultant capability that they generate.

Innovation Hubs

Closely related is the rise in innovation hubs or R&D centres, that incubate or provide support to new pilot innovations. This extends outside the enterprise too, to the service provider communities where a joint risk reward reduces up front costs of innovation in favour of longer term commitment and profit, leading to the model of collaborative innovation between partners.

Rise of the new COTS Service

A great example of the re-rise of COTS (Service) is the growth, adoption and subsequent mass-customisation of the large ERP systems over the late 90s and early 00s. For those that invested heavily, there is an increased growth in EA projects looking to detangle the enterprise from these investments in favour of the new COTS Services often delivered over the web as SaaS. The simple question being why customise what doesn’t differentiate? Furthermore, by taking a simplified ‘industry standard or accepted’ approach to a business problem you start to create the opportunity to chose who delivers the service over time.