Don’t Mess with the Chief

On my trip to Vegas last week I ran into Master Chief. I guess I said the wrong thing to him because he just snapped. Something about how I could kick his butt on X-Box live, well he had no sense of humor about that… 🙂

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Article: Integration of Enterprise Architecture and Application Portfolio Management

Published today is the new MSDN article that I have written for the Application Portfolio Management space.  This primer will walk architects through the synergies between Application Portfolio Management and Enterprise Architecture. The article is titled Integration of Enterprise Architecture and Application Portfolio Management. I hope you enjoy it and provide some of your thoughts and comments on it as well.

 

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The visibility that APM provides into your enterprises is absolutely essential for truly building real-world strategies, sustainable governance and a prosperous service oriented architecture practice.

Full Article: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb896054.aspx

 

Tags: Enterprise Architecture

On the road to Egypt next week

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It’s been a slow blogging week due to several big projects that I am launching here in the coming months. I look forward to sharing more detail with you when the time is right.

In the interim I will be in the Middle East presenting in the city of Cairo, Egypt. I will be at Microsoft’s strategic architecture forum roundtables with the industry "movers and shakers" in the region.

If you are in the area and would like to chat please let me know.

UPDATED INFO:

Egypt’s Software Architects Community

Great minds share great visions

clip_image002The software industry in Egypt is growing. The changing pace of this industry worldwide is changing. The concept of having a senior technical guy for the heavy technical decisions and architecture issues is still not matured.

We need to combine forces, thoughts, knowledge and vision to help increase the maturity of the software architecture profession to be able to face challenges.

This initiative is hopefully a step in this road and it will be our call to enrich this community and get the best out of it to our industry and country.

Is there too much talk about EA Process?

James McGovern writes an interesting post about how he feels that the Enterprise Architecture blogosphere is talking way too much about EA processes and not enough about the EA practices. He makes some good points about this and I do agree in general. I would personally like to see what are the challenges that the EA community faces and how they were addressed.

I think the issue here isn’t that process is talked about too much, but it isn’t grounded with the reality aspects. How do you apply these proven processes in a pragmatic way in your enterprise. We all know that the "Big Bang" approach doesn’t work so how do people actually link these important processes into their EA practices. For example, how do you interweave service management processes (ITIL/MOF) with EA best practices in an organization that is just starting out an EA effort.

In my opinion it all comes down to the people (James eludes to this as well). There is a direct correlation to the organizational structure, culture and education of the people to the amount and extent of process. This will determine the roadmap of how much or how little process you should have.

Remember people should drive the process not the other way around.

 

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EA and Software Factories

James McGovern writes an interesting post worth taking a look at called Enterprise Architecture: Can you build software using the factory model?. In general I agree and I like the quote:

"All models are false but some models are useful"

George E. P. Box

There are some great software factories out there but I generally avoid software factories as anything more than reference that articulates one way of solving a problem. I rather look at design patterns as they provide a great way of communicating and accelerating solution development in the enterprise. These patterns should be used as a starting point not the end all be all.

Architecture is more than just about manufacturing components. Architecture is more of an art rather than a science.

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Why Enterprise Architecture is a Corporate Responsibility

I ran across a great post by Dave Linthicum called Why Enterprise Architecture is a Corporate Responsibility. He made some very good points and would encourage you to take a look at what he has to say.

I would like to expand on some of Dave’s thoughts in the article. As he mentions, building proper architecture can influence the bottom line of any business. You may be wondering , well what are the specifics here that I need to be concerned with? Below are just a few of the top items that come to my mind.

  • Risk – We like in a world where "The Media" reports on business naughtiness such as customer data breaches, hacking activities, fraud, insider trading and cooking the books all the time. EA combined with other enterprise activities provides ways to mitigate risks across the enterprise. Whether this risk is reputational or operational risk management is essential for businesses.
  • Compliance – In many industries such as Financial Services, Healthcare and Government which are heavily regulated EA provides a necessary function to make consistent and rational decisions across the enterprise. These business spend a great deal of time on compliance as they would be shut down if they were not. EA can help off load many of the compliance issues by fostering good architecture practices. This will provide some necessary relief so organizations can focus on what is core to their business.
  • Technology becoming core to business offerings – Computerized systems and processes have never been more prevalent in business than it is today. With the mobile web, online auctions, online banking, minority report like coffee tables (surface) and the integrated life style components in social networking consumers demand technology that changes their life. Since this is the case, businesses must understand that they can not build software in a vacuum any longer as it will hinder their ability to offer technology products and services to their customers in the future. Companies that struggle will have high costs for their products and will have poor quality.
  • Business Efficiency – The company with a lower efficiency will inadvertently have higher product and services costs. This also adds unnecessary lengths to business processes that impact customer satisfaction. Obviously there are many ways to compete, however who doesn’t want a higher efficiency ratio in their operations. 

I like Dave’s analogy about archaeology in relation to enterprises application portfolio. I use one as well but I use the tree ring analogy:

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Dave talks about the EA role within enterprise and posses his thoughts on what is and is not working:

In reaction to this dilemma, enterprises created positions called enterprise architects. These are single individuals, or groups, within the organization who have the responsibility to drive the enterprise architecture strategy going forward. While a good idea in theory, the reality is that many of these enterprise architects simply don’t have the political or budgetary authority within their companies or government agencies to make much of a difference. In many instances, they have been relegated to those who create reports and presentations that nobody reads, and provide direction and guidance that’s easily ignored.

I have seen a great deal of this in the EA space and is a huge challenge. I hear these challenges from customers and from personal relationships in the industry. The trend here though is that EA is evolving from this Ivory Tower approach where EA’s are traffic cops making sure you are building the right systems to a more collaborative and self empowering governance model. The challenge with the political and budgetary is an issue as we move into matrix style organizations where separation of duties force logical separation of roles. As far as EA’s are concerned, this is addressed in two ways. First, there needs to be buy-in by CIO and there needs to be "Teeth" in the process. Secondly EA’s should have great people skills. I think it is good that EA’s do not have a budget it keeps the EA honest. To be clear, this issue is not to be taken lightly as it hinges on your business model, culture and organizational maturity, there is no easy fix here.

In summary this post does a great job at the overview of the issue. I do think that this is a very serious problem in the industry. There is no easy fix to this. Enterprise Architecture alone will not save the day but does offer a compelling set of methodologies and frameworks to mitigate these risks as much as possible.

In so many cases the problems we have today is as much of a people issue as it is a technology issue. If you look at the history of "real" architecture we see the same trends. However, in physical architecture many times forward progress means tearing down a building but in IT it means let’s add on to the environment with another server. This is a big problem!

On a side note, I do like where Dave is going with EA in relation to SOA. In the beginning it was unclear but it looks like he is starting to position EA and SOA as complementary disciplines rather than competing. In my opinion SOA is a subset of enterprise architecture concerns and the two topics do not compete as they are at differing levels of abstraction. The large enterprises I talk to have structured SOA architects as a specific domain architect.

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I’ll be speaking at the Office Developer Conference

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When: February 10-13, 2008

Where: San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, CA

Who: 2000 developers and architects who build solutions on the Office platform (Office clients, servers, and services)

Don’t miss this unique opportunity, as Microsoft brings together architects, developers, industry technical experts, executives, Microsoft insiders, and key partners in a public forum to redefine what it means to be focused on Microsoft Office system development. And your voice counts.

Still thinking Office development = VBA? From composition to Software + Services, collaboration to VOIP, Open XML to Silverlight, and everything 2.0, this pivotal conference will cause you to include the Office system as an integral part of your solution development toolkit – right up with Visual Studio and managed code, O’Reilly books and Petzold.

In February 2008, join us in San Jose to usher in the office development revolution. Expand your horizon beyond what you know. Network with peers and experts that matter.  And innovate for yourself, your company and the industry!

Conference highlights:

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· Special address by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates

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· Additional keynotes by Kurt DelBene, CVP Microsoft Office Business Platform Group, Gurdeep Singh Pall, CVP for Office Communication Server, Rajesh Jha, CVP for Office Live and other key Microsoft senior executives

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· Innovative sessions and labs with Microsoft and industry experts

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· Networking, entertainment, and participation opportunities

Join the revolution this February in the heart of Silicon Valley at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, Calif., and help craft the next generation of applications built on the Microsoft Office system.

Check out www.odc2008.com for details on additional details and sign up for the ODC and individual track owner blogs for ongoing updates.