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Posts Tagged ‘architecture’

Big Data – when the size of the problem is the size of the data itself

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Come and share your views at the next IASA UK meeting on “Big Data”

November 7th, 6pm Endava Offices, London

http://bigdataiasauk.eventbrite.com/

For more on IASA UK visit www.iasaglobal.org

 

Welcome Gar Mac Criosta to the inTHiNKers!

December 21, 2010 1 comment

It’s a delight to have Gar Mac Criosta join the band of inTHiNKers bringing a great set of experiences on IT Architecture.

Gar_Mac_Criosta

Gar has worked in Ireland, UK and Australia for policing, financial services, insurance,  public sector bodies and systems integrators including An Garda Síochána, Cap Gemini, An Post, Anglo Irish Bank, Compaq, GE and others.

Gar became one of the first IASA Certified IT Architects (CITA-P) certifying in May 2010. In addition, Gar is current president of IASA Ireland the professional association for IT Architects.  Gar is a member of the IASA Europe leadership team and a member of the IASA Board of Education Certification Committee which is currently working to deliver IASA Certification programs globally.

Gar is actively involved in the technology community and has a real ‘grá’ for technology. Gar is currently pondering touch based & device based applications will change our work world.

For more on Gar and the rest of the inTHiNKers click here!

Announcing Entabula …

December 10, 2010 1 comment

Collaboration between inTHiNK and three outstanding independent solutions architects from the UK and Ireland has resulted in the launch of Entabula, an agile, structured approach to maximising the business value of IT investments.

Entabula builds on the strengths of existing Corporate Architecture and Service Modelling techniques to deliver new levels of insight into how IT can better serve businesses.

At the heart of Entabula is a capability-focused method for enterprise value mapping.  Capabilities rigorously separate what a business does from how it does it, which provides a durable canvas on which to shape business, systems and IT strategies away from the compromises, noise and inefficiencies of the current implementation mix of processes and platforms.

In too many organisations, the relationship between business and IT objectives has become strained and even broken.  inTHiNK and its partners, Structia and blueye are committed to developing effective tools and techniques to harmonise relations between business and IT at all levels of engagement.  The first targets are the elimination of structural waste and the development of powerful and relevant service-oriented architectures.

More information about Entabula will appear over the next few days, including the launch of a new website dedicated to the Entabula method.

Arvindra Sehmi becomes the latest inTHiNKer!

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment

VinPic BWIt is a genuine honour to be able to announce that Arvindra Sehmi is the latest to join a great line up of inTHiNKers! Arvindra is actively engaged with a number of inTHiNKers in developing a Capability Value Mapping practice and methodology leveraging his experiences in business intelligence with Onalytica and with the Business Model Canvas and Service Oriented Modelling while at Microsoft.

For more on Vin and the rest of the inTHiNKers click here!

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/

inTHiNK! it’s official!

October 13, 2010 2 comments

After 5 great years of fun at Microsoft UK it’s time for me to say so long as I move on to new things although I fully expect to remain part of the Microsoft ecosystem and still haunt the corridors of the UK Campus from time to time!

So what does a Microsoft Architect do after Microsoft? Well more architecture it seems from the business through to its people and the systems the use. There are actually three main strands to my post-Microsoft strategy that I’ll summarise below:

iasa

As you may know I’ve had a long history with IASA, especially here in the UK where I founded and have chaired the UK chapter for around 6 years now. During this time we’ve been developing a credible and sustainable education and certification program for IT architects and now, along with my colleagues at IASA, I want to bring this to Europe. We’re holding our next UK certification boards this November but the plans for IASA Europe are much bigger than just this.

inthink

inTHiNK! is the name of my new professional services practice www.inthink.co.uk. inTHiNK! will offer services from business & technology strategy, architecture practice and guidance through to cloud readiness and enablement. This will scale out through an extensive associate network of solid top-level IT professionals. Contact info@inthink.co.uk if you want to follow up.

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As a brand new bizspark partner I will be seeking to exploit the value of the Azure platform delivering a new breed of SaaS enablers and business offerings to the market!

 

Here’s my new contact details if you wish to stay in touch

Matt Deacon
CEO, inTHiNK! Ltd
www.inthink.co.uk
mattdeacon.wordpress.com
www.twitter.com/mattdeacon

How to handle the press (or your boss)!

I get to meet some great people in my line of work and there are none more interesting and fun than the GreyBeards!

GreyBeards is comprised of Martin Banks and David Tebbutt, both seasoned journalists and technology writers who offer a range of strategic consulting and training courses focused in part dealing with the media. I’ve had the good fortune to be on the receiving end of their wisdom, both in the class room but more often outside through our engagements at events and meetings. David, sent over a really useful graphic they use as an aid-memoire for those that engage readily with the press. However, as he pointed out, it’s really applicable to almost any circumstance where you have a message to convey which immediately made me think of the challenges we face as IT professionals in gaining the support and commitment from our peers.

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Copyright GreyBeards Ltd. 2010
(Click here or on image to see a fully annotated version)

If you click on the picture it will send you to David’s version that is full annotated, just hover over any part of the diagram to get relevant information.

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The “egg-timer” (triangles) demonstrates the need for preparation and in constructing, simplifying, refining, and I think, symbolised by the image, consolidating your key messages. This then flows into the bottom half which represents the expansion into the interview itself.

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The “bridge” to me is central and key to your interview technique in my opinion as it is a reminder that where ever your conversation may start, you need to seek to get back to your key messages, the areas you are experienced and knowledgeable to talk about.

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The “rat hole” is the place that needs to be avoided and the reason you need to use the “bridge” to link back to saver ground.

 

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The“safety zone” is where you want to be to deliver your message and is amplified on the right hand side of the diagram. The circular nature of this reminds you that you can roam any where within the safety zone, but remember the closer you get to the boarders, the nearer you get to the rate holes so use the bridge to move to safer ground.

Getting across the river!

Another useful analogy I was shown sometime ago was to imagine that you need to cross a river.

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You have a pile of rocks in your pocket that you can throw out into the river that will help you get across. These represent your key messages you wish to relay.

However, as with all stones in water, be aware that they become slipper when wet! Many are uneven and wobbly too.

You must avoid the water at all costs so you must try to balance on your stones. If not then the shark is sure to get you!

(Picture drawn using Expression Blend 4!)

Azure Architectural Guidance Part 1 Review: Migration

I once had the chance to move over to Redmond to deliver architectural guidance for Azure with the patterns & practices group so you can imagine my interest in seeing what they managed to produce in my absence, despite it taking quite a while to get this out there.

Where to get it

Documentation:
Ff728592.pandp-logo-txt-2009(en-us,PandP.10).png

Source code:

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The Review

As a piece of “Achitectural” guidance I am to be convinced that this delivers on its promise. In what states to be the first in a series it, rather oddly, decides to focus on “Migration” as the first topic. Personally, I was expecting more of a architectural review of the platform itself taking into account architectural considerations of reliability, scalability, redundancy and security and the like. These, instead, are confined to a rather light-weight platform overview, that raises more questions than it answers, including several inaccuracies, that reads more like marketing literature than offering technical insight. This may be because it is assumed that the “what is Azure?” discussion has already been done to death, but I don’t agree. No one has really addressed the architectural considerations of the platform, providing a thorough explanation of how features have been implemented and on what their limitations are. Certainly, nothing exists, to the level required by architects facing real business and technical opposition to cloud adoption. This, in my opinion is a missed opportunity and something that is still required.

That said, this is couched as being “guidance” and therefore the fact that it seeks to investigate the process of “migration” should not make it any the less useful. However, in this regard too, it fails to really deliver what, in my opinion the architect requires. Rather than considering a wider range of ‘adoption’ scenarios, it chooses instead, a simple, straight forward migration scenario in the context of an enterprise that has no concerns over use of cloud services. The real issues architects face in convincing others of the value of cloud, and even in convincing themselves in order to champion the opportunity is therefore avoided. A broader look at migration approaches and patterns and how these apply in the context of Azure I think would have provided more value to the architect.

However, it is important to note that the guidance is not completely devoid of any architectural value and the “How much will it cost?” section is a pretty useful evaluation approach to considering the cost impact of design decisions. It also does a reasonable job at introducing the subject of lifecycle management, although this is rather over simplified, it is still useful in highlighting the requirement. But it is on the developer side where the guidance starts excel, providing hundreds of developer gems hidden through out the document, such as the effect of partition keys on table query performance and in identifying the differences between development and windows azure table storage, referencing a useful MSDN article on the subject. In valuable stuff, but hidden from view.

In fact, it is pretty clear why the scenario was chosen, this is not really about providing architectural guidance, but in providing a context for explaining how to implement claims-based identity on Azure. As a technical resource for providing practical developer guidance on implementing a Claims-Based Identity and Access Control using Active Directory with an Azure application, this guidance actually scores pretty high. This type of guidance is simply not available else where. The problem and shame is that all this architectural veneer, hides the fact that this delivers genuine and much needed technical value and further, that no one who needs it will actually find it.

All in all, this is a valuable and well written resource, but my concern is it’s misdirected and that it’s value wont be fully recognised unless the right audience find it and in its current format, this audience would find it hard to get past the first pages to find all the goodness inside. The need here is to liberate the value and consider re-delivery as a straightforward, honest, simple to follow, developer how to guide. In the mean time, if you want to try and implement claims-based identity on Azure than I’d recommend skipping straight to Phase 1: Getting to the Cloud or even straight to the source on codeplex.

The Verdict

Rating (as Architectural Guidance): 5 out of 10. There are gems, but they’re hidden.

Rating (as Developer “How to”): 7 out of 10. If reformatted as a developer guide I’d put it nearer a 9!

Visual Studio Architect Guidance

I got chance to organise an analyst briefing last week at Microsoft to cover the architecture capabilities of Visual Studio 2010. It was a great session as there’s such a strong and exciting story growing for Microsoft in their support not just for architects but right across the Application lifecycle that also reaches out to support development not just of .NET but other languages too which is a great example of Microsoft taking interoperability seriously.

There’s plenty I could talk about, such as UML support and more significant, that you can reverse engineer the likes of sequence diagram directly from your code. Or the architectural explorer and the support for creating layer diagrams with rules that you can then validate your code against plus the support for dependency matrices, and so the list goes on.

However, this raised a slight concern for me that with the growth in tools like these could eventually lead to a significant overhead in learning how to use them. Obviously they are built to be intuitive and easy to use but all the same, the shear volume could become overwhelming.

But as luck would have it the meeting coincided with the release of a codeplex project that provides guidance on how to get the best out of Microsoft’s Architect Tooling in Visual Studio. This has been produced by a set of Microsoft Rangers who have the job it provide out of band solutions for missing features or guidance on the product so you know it’s always going to be useful and based on real-world experiences.

Finally, as this guidance had input from Alan Wills, who has long been synonymous with the world of software modelling, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s worth downloading an evaluation copy of VS2010 Ultimate and having a trail if you haven’t already upgraded!

Architect Tooling:
vsarchitectureguide.codeplex.com/

Visual Studio Ultimate:
www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/en-us/products/2010-editions/ultimate

Time for a change …

Or new begining!

Having blogged first on Microsoft’s TechNet blog and then MSDN I thought it would be fun to go independent and see if I can attract an audience above the automatic search engines and web trawlers!

So if you’re into the IT architect space maybe give this blog a whirl!

don’t believe me then take a look at my previous blogs at

http://blogs.technet.com/matt_deacon

http://blogs.msdn.com/matt_deacon

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