Mississippi Madison and the lost Enterprise Architecture…

29 07 2014

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I’ve decided that I am going to create a new character like the Cloud Whisperer. This character is an architectural archeologist seeking the lost enterprise architecture. I won’t make the first name Indiana because they named the dog Indiana. Oh and his or her last name won’t be Jones.

The journey’s of Mississippi Madison Software Architecture Archeologist.

Deep in a cave sometimes called the old Director of Infrastructure’s office located nestled next to a radiator that spit out too much cold air in the winter and too much hot air in the summer Mississippi was seeking the long rumor enterprise architecture documents. She was reading notes she had found in a document produced what seemed to be a thousand years ago but that was just because it had been sitting on the desk of a person who routinely spilled coffee all over his desk.

“Wait,” she suddenly said holding her hand up. “Don’t move.” she finished lowering her hand.

Her loyal sidekick, assistant and document scanner stopped as unstructured and looking at Madison asked “Do you have to wear the hat?”

“I don’t feel like a software architecture archeologist without the hat” Madison answered.

“Ok, but if you crack that bull whip in the office again we are both going to be in trouble.” he answered.

“Understood. I got the memo from HR. Bull whips cannot be cracked inside the building even if you are trying to snap the dust off an architecture document that hasn’t been opened in 10 years” she replied.

“So what are we looking for?” her assistant asked.

“I found this,” Madison handed over the aging coffee stained document.

“umm its still wet” her assistant answered “what is it supposed to be other than in the garbage can?”

“I found it on Harrison’s desk. It’s a note written in the long forgotten code of Dewey.” Madison answered.

“Harrison always uses the Dewey Decimal system and he always spills coffee on his desk. He is the only librarian software or books who drinks coffee and spills it on everything.” The assistant answered.

“Yes but the document you just threw away actually has the Dewey codes for the long lost enterprise architecture documents.” Madison answered.

Her assistant scrambled to open the lid of the trash can and gently pluck the coffee stained and soaked paper out. “Oh.” He said. “But Madison that document “the enterprise architecture” was only rumored. No one has ever seen that document.” he finished.

{more to come}

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow!





I am software architect look upon my work and despair…

28 07 2014

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I have long argued for architectural simplicity. From my difference architecture concept (only document what is new) to concepts published many years ago in my Information Lifecycle work (both still on MSDN if you search).

Now I am wondering instead about the concept of architectural archaeology. As a consultant I followed many other architects to customer’s and many customer architects and received architectural drawings denoting what was deployed. I have spoken often of the poem Ozymandias mighty works left to the desert that in the end were no more.

That is something I found frequently in software documentation. Great works that were no more but still lived on forever in the documentation that had never been updated.  I am architect look upon my works ye mighty and despair. The only despair I ever felt was realizing it was going to be a manual process. That discovery went from reading, understanding and verifying to poking, prodding and sorting through outputs of various automated information gathering tools.

Hours spent sifting through the crumbling remains of many visions shattered. It was hours, running tools to gather information about systems that hadn’t been turned off in years and no one was quite sure who built them or for that matter how they were built. Or worse some level of mythical architecture pointing to a closet in a room where a box ran the critical process for an application. Only to find that room full of mops and brooms and no server. That box having grown many legs like an architectural centipede and crawling away to another closet or worst under the desk of a cube that had once belonged to Milton. But Milton retired and no one remembers where he sat now.

So you grab your Bull Whip, Fedora and Leather Archeologists computer bag and start searching. (please no snakes). Running from cube to cube hoping no giant rock suddenly dislodged changes you around the building. I seek the golden server of Ra.

The Indiana Jones reference was a bit extreme but the concept is true and the reality is that often the complexity of documentation leads to the reality of no documentation or limited documentation resulting in a maze of solutions that don’t connect the way they were documented.

Simplicity.

I promise that call is not coming from Siren’s luring software architects to the rocks of oblivion. It’s coming instead from a simple reality. An unopened architecture is not an archeological find, it is in fact a sad reality.

KISS remains the best tool a software architect  can use. Keep it simple (Simon or Tom, or Bill, whatever your name is). If you build it they will eventually have to replace it. If they can’t find how it was built it’s a lot harder to replace.

Now where is my Fedora?

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow





Ambiance isn’t just candles and wine…

27 07 2014

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Yesterday I posted about the ambiance of innovation. How there are styles and there are ambiances that clash and ones that mesh. I wonder today how much ambiance has impacted innovation over the years.

Edison and Ford both build environments where they were able to innovate successfully. I wonder if because of the nature of the ambiance they created did it stifle innovation?

The thing I have noted in the past few months is that the tools innovators have today are greater than at any point in the past. They have the ability to quickly build and model solutions that cut weeks and months off of production time.

In the 1910 time period you had to work for one of the car companies to be able to innovate mass productions. Stutz and other car companies went for the custom hand built car. That in the end cost significantly more than Henry Fords assembly line. Edison built an innovation factory in New Jersey where he was able to focus on inventing the things he envisioned.

But then what if you didn’t fit with that ambiance?

I once argued that the biggest change in the world of watches is that many of the people who have new watch ideas are leaving big companies and building watches on their own (Pebble). Or they are going to companies that don’t have a traditional watch market (Apple, Google and Samsung). The knowledge of making watches with cool and interesting features is following out into the broader market now. The same is true for a number of other technologies from PC’s to speakers.

We could say that the world’s ambiance for technology has changed. Things are examined and absorbed quickly now. That builds a broader market and more innovations occur.

Exponential innovations explode into a market, but in the end they also create a market. That market past the exponential innovation moves towards the slower linear innovation path. The cycle of innovation repeating itself.

  • Exponential creates a market.
  • Linear continues to build and sustain that market.
  • Applied innovation moves the market to the right or left.

Each of the innovation patterns results in a specific reaction to both the innovation and the market. Exponential innovation represents game changing events. At that point as a competitor in a market you have to catch up or become irreverent. Linear innovations can become mired in year over year incremental growth and in the end are heavily focused more on operational efficiency than net new innovation.

The ambiance created by both is quite different and extremely interesting to consider.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow





Innovation and Ambiance…

26 07 2014

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Ambiance.

We went to a little Italian place last night (its new). They were aiming for a family ambiance. A convivial environment filled with laughter and families sharing food.

I started thinking about the Ambiance of technology and innovation. Yes my brain works that way and sadly there isn’t much I can do about it. What is the ambiance of innovation.

Innovation can be that family convivial restaurant. A group of people with dream and vision struggling together to build the perfect mouse trap. It can also be a quiet moment when one realizes ones lunch is covered with mold and the mold is slowly killing the previous mold (penicillin!)

The ambiance is always innovator dependent. As much for what the person is comfortable with as anything. Pushing a introvert into a room field with people working, talking and sipping coffee en masse isn’t going to work. That innovator wants to work on his own in a lab in his basement. But there are innovators who desire nothing other than being in the crowd and bouncing ideas off of each other to improve what they are building.

That ambiance is so essential. Its really hard to modify the ambiance of a large company. They tend more towards the basement lab and the solitary innovator. Smaller more agile companies often stray towards the single room and whiteboard model. Done correctly you can still support the I need to work alone person in a crowded room. You simple create zones in the room. This is the quite side of the room and this is the loud side. Make sure you have whiteboards on both sides of the room.

Generating a successful ambiance will improve the probably of innovation success. It doesn’t guarantee success but it does improve the probability of success. It can also create a fun let’s save the world place to be.

In the end its is also a personal examination. You have to know what makes you happy in order to help you achieve that innovation you see. Picking the wrong ambiance for you can add years to the innovation timeline. Simply because you stop dreaming of the innovation and start worrying about work.

A wise man once told me to understand what you want to do and how you like to do it. I try to live by that.

..doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow





If nobody reads the document than it doesn’t matter how brilliant your architecture is, it isn’t what is deployed.

25 07 2014

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To expand a little on what I was talking about yesterday, the concept of a difference architecture I would like to add some points that were pointed out to me years ago.

  • If nobody reads the architecture then by default it is not an architecture
  • If it was read once, filed and NEVER updated it is by default not an architecture.

Its really quite simple in the end. In a world filled with patterns and reference architectures the time we spend building a new version of that architecture is time lost forever.

At the time of my original whitepaper there was a concept floating around that remains a viable option. The concept was a pod. Where you had a set of functionality you needed and you established and built that in a pod. Its very much like how cloud providers build and deliver IaaS. Pods. It simplifies the architecture and more importantly makes it much easier to update.

Data paths and data structures are complex to diagram in nitty gritty details. If we move towards the Pod concept and further to the reality of difference architectures some of that complexity can go away. We already have a reusable Pod concept for data flow.

When you add a CSP to the mix of data flow you add a layer of complexity but it shouldn’t add another huge layer of documentation.

It all comes back to what you are intending to convey in the architecture you are building.

There are models and methods (and methods to build models) for virtually everything. There are books on documenting software architectures.

The most telling thing in my 20 years of looking at this problem? When you ask to see someone’s enterprise architecture and they hand you a network diagram with physical sites and servers listed. The world has been driving to simplicity for years.

If nobody reads the document than it doesn’t matter how brilliant your architecture is, it isn’t what is deployed.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow





Difference Architectures…

24 07 2014

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The world of software architecture is filled with frameworks now. From the various Enterprise Architecture frameworks to the various operations frameworks there are many out there today. Intellectual architects can sit in the room with you and spew forth into the world all the frameworks. In fact I suspect given time they would probably also create about 10 more.

Personally I still think the systems view remains the best model for software architecture. Everything ultimately is a system. You have the inputs, the process and the outputs. There really isn’t a lot more than that.

I argued years ago that the concept of Difference Architectures was the future. I posted the article I am linking to in 2005. A difference architecture is one that starts with a reference architecture (or a pattern) and then only documents the variances. To me it remains the ultimate expression of systems architecture.

This is what is different.

The article was born when I was visiting a customer. I asked him for a copy of their overall enterprise architecture as the team I was leading was going to help them move off Lotus Domino and we wanted to make sure we placed functionality in the right technology bucket going forward. He pointed behind his desk to 11 dust covered binders. They hadn’t been opened since they were written. They were thud factor architectures. Something heavy and substantial that when it hit the desk of the person it was written for it made a loud thud.

As we embrace cloud solutions and move into the cloud age (and beyond) in effect we are moving to a pure system. Difference architectures would become more and more prevalent (OK that is my dream not reality but one can hope).

Cloud has a very simple system view

image

Inputs plus the process equals the outputs. Now the inputs can vary and often do. But the system is simple. The documentation for this would simple include what’s there, what it talks to, what processing requirements does it have (make it all secure) and give me an output.

In the end a systems view is simple. The architecture of that solution should be simple as well. They tend not to be. The data model for a cloud solution can be very complex. We can use UML to show the transformation path, the storage path, the process path and those are critical diagrams to have. Those represent what is different in moving an application to the cloud.

How simple can you make your architecture?

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow





Weighing in on the Apple/IBM relationship…

23 07 2014

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Recently the tech world has been abuzz with the relationship created between Apple and IBM. As a long time consultant whose primary focus was replacing IBM products I can say its about time. IBM has struggled with a mobile strategy for ages. This is a major step towards not only having a mobile strategy but really having a market moving mobile strategy.

Apple in dancing around the enterprise has it has for most of the past 30 years now has a legitimate partner that can push them into the board room. You don’t get fired for buying IBM.

It opens a vast market for IBM and Apple, where iPads can be connected to data analytics systems. Apple needs to get their next “multi-tasking” OS out the door so that this becomes even more relevant. But being able to have a single device that can connect to your corporate data streams, information streams and operations streams will move the iPad further into the corporate ecosystem.

For me I think this deal will ultimately benefit everyone. apple continues to do what it does best. IBM continues to do what it does best and now, HP can hear footsteps again on both sides. Competition is good in all cases as long as it is fair.

So with that in hand let’s think for a moment beyond big data capabilities and consider what is possible in this new friendly world. First off both Microsoft and HP have to pay attention. Suddenly you have a company (apple) that traditionally can change the consumer market rapidly. That consumer market has moved into IT and IT services (consumerization). On the other side of the team you have a company (IBM) that has long provided services for the enterprise. What comes next could truly be a game changer.

Imagine the rapid assimilation of consumer technology with the additional layers of security and reliability that corporations and governments require. Not a 6 month lag but hours. I have long argued that the ultimate new employee kit was a 6 gig iPod filled with corporate training video’s and a series of web based quizzes to make sure people viewed the videos. Since these iPods would be prepped for the corporate environment you could even force down a new reduced version of iTunes (no store) to the corporate machines using IBM’s big fix and suddenly you can drop training videos on the devices as they come available.

That’s just training and data analytics. There are all sorts of changes and economics the two could offer in cloud computing, consumer technologies and beyond.

Ah brave new world…

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow








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