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The Open Group Conference

July 21, 2012 Leave a comment

This week’s quarterly Open Group conference in Washington DC,  featured several thought provoking sessions around key issues / developments of interest and concern to the IT world, including: Security, Cloud, Supply Chain, Enterprise Transformation (including Innovation), and of course Enterprise Architecture (including TOGAF and Archimate).

The Capitol in Washington DC

The Capitol in Washington DC

Below are some key highlights, captured from the sessions I attended (or presented), as follows:

Day 1 – Plenary session focused on Cyber Security, followed by three tracks on Supply Chain, TOGAF and SOA. Key messages included:

  • Key note by Joel Brenner described the Internet as a “porous and insecure network” which has become critical for so many key functions (e.g. financial, communications and operations) yet remains vulnerable to abuse by friends, enemies and competitors. Best quote of the conference, was: “The weakest link is not the silicon based unit on the desk, but the carbon based unit in the chair” (also tweeted and mentioned in @jfbaeur’s blog here)
  • NIST’s Dr. Don Ross spoke about a perfect storm of consumerisation (BYOD), ubiquitous connectivity and sophisticated malware, leading to an “advanced persistent threat” enabled by available expertise / resources, multiple attack vectors and footholds in infrastructure
  • MIT’s Professor Yossi Sheffi expounded on the concept of building security and resilience for competitive advantage. This, he suggested, can be done by embracing “flexibility DNA”, (as exhibited in a few successful organisations), into the culture of your organisation. Key flexibility traits include:
    • Your resilience and security framework must drive, or at least feed into, “business-as-usual”
    • Continuous communication is necessary among all members of the organisation
    • Distribute the power to make decisions (especially to those closer to the operations)
    • Create a passion for your work and the mission
    • Deference to expertise, especially in times of crisis
    • Maintain conditioning for disruptions – ability for stability is good, but flexibility to handle change is even better
  • Capgemini’s Mats Gejneval discussed agility and enterprise architecture using Agile methods and TOGAF. He highlighted the relationship flow between: agile process -> agile architecture -> agile project delivery -> agile enterprise, and how the latter outcome requires each of the preceding qualities (e.g. agile methods, and faster results, on its own will not deliver agile solutions or enterprise). My favourite quote, during the Q/A, was: “…remember that architects hunt in packs!”

Day 2 – Plenary session focused on Enterprise Transformation followed by four streams on Security Architecture, TOGAF Case Studies, Archimate Tutorials, and EA & Enterprise Transformation (including our session on Innovation & EA). Key Highlights include:

  • A case study on the role of open standards for enterprise transformation, featured Jason Uppal (Chief Architect at QRS), describing the transformation of Toronto’s University Health Network into a dynamic and responsive organisation, by placing medical expertise and requirements above the flexible, open standards based, IT delivery.
  • A view on how to modernise service to citizens via a unified (or “single window government”) approach was provided by Robert Weisman (CEO of Build a Vision Inc). He described the process to simplify key events (from 1400 down to 12 major life events) around which the services could be defined and built.
  • Samira Askarova (CEO of WE Solutions Group) talked about managing enterprise transformation through transitional architectures. She likened business transformation to a chameleon with: its huge, multi-directional eyes (i.e. for long term views), the camouflage ability (i.e. changing colours to adapt), and the deliberate gait (i.e. making changes one step at a time)
  • The tutorial session on Innovation and EA, by Corey Glickman (Capgemini’s lead for Innovation-as-a-Managed Service) and yours truly, discussed the urgent need for EA to play a vital role in bridging the gap between rapid business model innovation and rapid project delivery (via Agile). It also provided several examples, as well as a practical demonstration of the Capgemini innovation service platform, which was well received by the audience. Key take aways include:
    • Innovation describes an accomplishment, after the fact
    • EA can bridge the gap between strategy (in the business model) and rapid project delivery (via Agile)
    • Enterprise Architecture must actively embrace innovation
    • Engage with your partners, suppliers, customers and employees – innovation is not all about technology
    • Creating a culture of innovation is key to success
    • Remember, if you are not making mistakes, you are not innovating

Day 3 – Featured three streams on Security Automation, Cloud Computing for Business, and Architecture methods and Techniques. Highlights from the Cloud stream (which I attended) include:

  • Capgemini’s Mark Skilton (Co-chair of the Open Group’s Cloud Working Group) talked about the right metrics for measuring cloud computing’s ability to deliver business architecture and strategy. He discussed the complexity of Cloud and implications for Intellectual Property, as well as the emergence of ecosystem thinking (e.g. ecosystem architecture’ and ‘ecosystem metrics’) for cloud computing and applications
  • A debate about the impact of cloud computing on modern IT organisational structure raised the point that a dysfunctional relationship exists between business and IT with respect to cloud services. The conclusion (and recommendation) is that healthy companies tend to avoid buying cloud services in business silos, instead they will pursue a single cloud strategy, in collaboration with IT, which is responsible for maintenance, security and integration into the enterprise landscape
  • Prakash Rao, of the FEAC Institute, discussed Enterprise Architecture patterns for Cloud Computing. He reiterated the point made earlier about how enterprise architecture can be used to align enterprise patterns (i.e. business models) to development processes. Also that enterprise patterns enable comparison and benchmarking of cloud services in order to determine competitive advantage

 

The bullet items and observations recorded above does not do justice to breadth and depth of the entire conference which included networking with attendees from over 30 countries, across all key industries / sectors, plus multiple, simultaneous streams, sessions and activities, many of which I could not possibly attend. Overall, this was an excellent event that did not disappoint. Further materials can be found on the Open Group website, including:

I would recommend the Open Group conference to any professional in IT and beyond.

Innovation and Enterprise Architecture?

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

You might be forgiven for thinking that these make rather strange bedfellows, especially considering as they don’t often appear together in the same sentence; at least not as frequently as Architecture and Governance, or perhaps Innovation and Start-ups. In my view, this sad state of affairs is all set to change.  

I recently did a BrightTalk Webcast on just this topic, and although the research for it was rather daunting at first, it eventually became clear, from talking to experts on both topics, that the key challenge was how to identify the best role, or sweet spot, for Enterprise Architecture (and all it can bring to the table) in a fluid and dynamic business context / environment. In my opinion, this sweet spot is nestled right between the more forward looking aspects of business model innovation and agile development.

When taken together, rapidly changing business models and agile development techniques do not necessarily make for the most robust, repeatable and best-governed business / technology processes or environment, and this is precisely where certain key aspects of Enterprise Architecture could bring much needed value. These and other issues were the focus for this webcast, and the slides can be found on the Slideshare website.  Enjoy…

Innovation and Enterprise Architecture

Innovation and Enterprise Architecture

Talking Enterprise Architecture

January 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Enterprise Architecture has come a long way from what it used to be, but it is still evolving to meet the changing needs of a very fluid business and technology landscape. The question on most people’s lips, (aside from whatever next?), is how to ensure their businesses can continue to cope with this amount and pace of change?

This evening seminar, hosted by the BCS Enterprise Architecture Specialist Group, featured two speakers from Capgemini UK’s Technology Consulting team (see picture). The highly interactive session covered a lot of ground, including questions from the audience that touched on a wide variety of topics and perspectives on EA, such as:

  • Effective Enterprise Architecture in an Agile Environment
  • The real value of architecture frameworks
  • Enterprise Architecture in the context of Cloud Computing
  • The many faces / roles of an Enterprise Architect
  • And (my personal favourite) a legal challenge about the use of the term Architect!

Richard Noon & Rob Rowe talking Enterprise Architecture

Verdict: Good event. Well attended with high level of interaction between speakers and audience, and as one audience member put it afterwards, “this is the type of BCS event that I like to attend”. Nuff said!

TOGAF, TOGAF, TOGAF!

May 17, 2009 Leave a comment

The 9th version of The Open Group’s Architecture Framework (aka TOGAF 9) was launched in February, after a lengthy 6 year gestation period, to an eagerly waiting audience of architects and wannabes of every description. So I jumped at the opportunity to go on our TOGAF 9 training course, in order to find out just what the fuss is all about.
Before going any further, I have two key points of disclosure (confession) to make, as follows:
1. Capgemini is a platinum member of The Open Group, and a key contributor to the specification of this version of TOGAF
2. I am a practicing / certified architect in Capgemini’s leading Integrated Architecture Framework (IAF)
In effect, I’d like to think that this places me on both sides of the pros / cons divide; and hopefully enables me to provide a relatively un-biased (and personal) opinion of TOGAF 9.

My overall impression, at the end of the five day course, was that TOGAF 9 is indeed a comprehensive and well rounded architecture framework that is suitable for developing and implementing any Enterprise Architecture solution / capability for most organizations. This may be best illustrated by our final day’s workshop in which we tried to articulate the value of TOGAF 9 by answering certain key questions, including:
What is Enterprise Architecture (EA)?
Based on Capgemini’s extensive experience of delivering enterprise architecture, our approach to EA is centered on value management, which may be surmised as: “Valuable enterprise architecture delivers agreed outcomes, at the agreed times, to the agreed stakeholders” . Furthermore Gartner has identified the evolving role of EA can be encapsulated into five categories of activity which any true enterprise architect must embrace / participate / contribute, as follows: 1. Strategy, 2. Architecture, 3. Leadership, 4. Governance and 5. Communication. These and other aspects of EA are demonstrably supported by TOGAF 9
So what does TOGAF 9 bring to EA?
In addition to the above, TOGAF 9 also brings the following key attributes to the table:

    1. An open and well structured approach to enterprise architecture – TOGAF is by definition free and open to be used by any enterprise. It is not proprietary or restricted to any one company or group of entities, and this should help towards its establishment as the premier Architecture Standard for most enterprises
    2. The Architecture Development Method (ADM) provides a well defined process for developing / implementing architecture for the enterprise. The process centric approach is a key selling point for TOGAF, and it also helps to provide hooks into other well established enterprise frameworks / standards (e.g. PRINCE, PMI, CMMI, ITIL etc.)
    3. The Architecture Content Framework (ACF) provides a well developed content meta-model for defining the enterprise architecture in a structured manner. The lack of this feature was apparently a source of major criticism on earlier versions of TOGAF
    4. Among other things TOGAF 9 advocates and provides a rich seam of reference models, as well as the concept of an architecture repository, otherwise known as *ahem* the Enterprise Continuum (ps. you don’t have to be a “Trekkie” to do EA, but it might help, judging by the number of my colleagues on the course that had been / planned to see the new Star Trek movie!)

One point of caution however, is that the above formidable features of TOGAF 9 do not equate to a magic bullet, and it certainly doesn’t substitute for good architectural experience. To put it simply, you cannot check your brain at the door and expect that strict adherence to the content, process and reference models in TOGAF 9 will deliver the best outcomes. This is of particular important to convey to the more procedural minded disciplines of programme / project management, and all other business stakeholders, that must be engaged to deliver good EA, as mandated by TOGAF 9.
To conclude, my main take-out from this well-facilitated course is that TOGAF 9 may well prove to be a key vehicle towards providing a more consistent and professional image of Enterprise Architecture, as befitting a discipline that increasingly plays a major role in determining the destiny of any enterprise.

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Note: Originally published on Capgemini’s technology blog at: http://www.capgemini.com/technology-blog/2009/05/togaf_togaf_togaf/

Help – there’s an architect in the boardroom!

November 13, 2008 Leave a comment

Not trying to be facetious, but apparently this is a typical reaction by most board members when confronted with certain members of this species. The title of Enterprise Architect (EA) may conjure up a vision of uber-geekdom & rarefied techno-speak, which can only get in the way of communicating with regular business folk (who are dependent on technology to run their businesses efficiently). Therefore, it has become imperative to break down these barriers / perception, at the highest levels, and the good people at Capgemini’s University have designed just such a course to address this particular issue.


les-fontaine-lowres.jpg

The excellent Boardroom Enterprise Architecture course, (which I was fortunate to attend last week), does exactly what it says on the tin. It focuses on the key responsibility of an enterprise architect to communicate effectively with all stakeholders, especially those that operate in the boardroom. The following are some key messages / highlights from the course:

Found in Translation – We explored the role and value of enterprise architecture as a means for articulating the relationship between business and technology (especially as the gap between the two is now almost non-existent). The key is in communicating with the board in a language they can understand (i.e. not “architectese”)

Real World Perspective – A visit by Capgemini board member, Pierre Hessler, provided valuable insight into the various personalities, and agendas, of the individuals that might be found in a typical boardroom, e.g.:

  • They are often extremely goal-oriented, with above average intelligence, and not very easily convinced – (therefore must have robust / evidence-backed reasons to engage successfully with them)
  • They can be somewhat egocentric, and usually gifted with highly developed survival instincts / awareness – (it may be beneficial to align key messages to relevant areas of interest / immediacy
  • They tend to have a full plate and not really interested in taking on more stuff – (simplicity is key)

Techno-Transformation Leadership (even in uncertain times) – Also discussed the position of TechnoVision as a business transformation context for architecture, which opens up the possibility of translating the output from powerful tools like the TechnoVision Matrix into directly actionable business outcomes, based on the robust models and principles of Enterprise Architecture. This would provide the discipline, traceability and flexibility inherent in any well architected solution or system.
To conclude, I thought this was a timely and well facilitated introduction to the future of Enterprise Architecture, as an upstream enabler of real business transformation, and it certainly deserves the positive feedback from all attendees (see example here). Hopefully, as a result, this architect may soon be playing in a boardroom near you!

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Note: Originally posted on Capgemini’s Technology blog at: http://www.capgemini.com/technology-blog/2008/11/help_theres_an_architect_in_th.php