Flip the switch, what happens?

Traditionally power has been provided and managed centrally. We don’t think about the switch on the wall not working but as long as we pay our bills for the vast majority of time that switch just works. It is a major inconvenience when it doesn’t.

An interesting reality of the new age of power production is that we will continue to expect that light bulb to flick to life. Even if we are installing solar panels on our roof, if it is midnight and the dog barks, we are going to want to flick on the light.

But solar doesn’t work at night, well it does but moonlight produces a trickle – that your house will consume with simply running the refrigerator and freezer or keeping the house cool or warm.

So you can store the power you produce from your solar installation. In large batteries encased in a box on the side of your house. Or install a generator and have it ready to run. Reality is you won’t let that power go off. It is as much a part of modern life as anything. Technology, CPS and IoT all depend on power.

Flip the switch. What happens? The light comes on.

Power for the rest of us! Give it to the man. We will install solar. Eventually the United States will wake up and we will pass the early leaders in home solar production. It only makes sense for national security that we produce as much power from the sun as we can. But the thing people forget is, the power company will still be there.

Taking the overflow energy (more than you can consume) produced during the day and returning that energy to you. Being there on dark cloudy days when your solar roof system doesn’t produce peak power to tide you over. The power company will make sure your switch always flips and the light comes on.

Somehow power companies became bad guys. Providing a service, perhaps charging a little more on the profit side than should be, but still providing a service. Solar Companies saying free yourself from the power company. But you really won’t. You won’t go off the grid and pull the power lines from your house. The power company will still be there on rainy days or when snow covers your solar panels. The power company is always there providing a service for you.

I don’t hear power companies running to state and national governments decrying solar panels. They are building systems to make solar power more effective for the home owner. They are trying to be partners in the green energy future.

Flip the switch. What happens? Because the power company has been there and even if you have solar will be there tomorrow as well.


TE wanderer….

Communications Pattern, The facilitator and the anti-pattern The Justifier…

The pattern and anti-pattern around justification. Its hard when you are talking about an idea to accept that others don’t always see what you see.

Even though we are speaking the link to our vision is what we are talking about. Which brings me to an interesting communications pattern and the resulting anti-pattern.

The pattern is an open communications style that invites crisis. The anti-pattern is the justification anti-pattern. I call the pattern the facilitator and when you find one that drives to the pattern in front of an audience treasure them. Nurture them and let them lead your meetings!

You know someone is operating in the facilitator pattern when they ask you for direct feedback. They will do this regardless of the situation you are in. Crowd of people they will ask you, one on one they will ask you.

The vacillator is the one person in a group or on a team that you want at the whiteboard. They won’t become a dancing bear with the colored pens and dominate the meeting. They will create a stronger meeting. You want this person talking in front of the audience. You want them sharing ideas and concepts. It becomes a strong meeting with the vacillator running it.

Now the anti-pattern is very interesting. First because unlike some of the other patterns out there this one is selective.

The facilitator anti-pattern can  be in a room of people and be a vacillator to 10, but one of them the facilitator heads to the anti-pattern the justifier. They switch and with one or sometimes people in the room they justify not only their decisions but the why they were right then and are still right now.

Its is a really hard pattern to get around because you never know when that switch is flipped. It is a pattern that you want in front of the audience. You want them driving your meeting. 90% of the time there is significant value in what they build and deliver. Stepping in and removing them when they slip into the anti-pattern is risky.

What do you do when someone you want leading a meeting because of the pattern they represent slips into the justification mode? Do you remove them or the person they feel they have to justify their actions for? It is the most difficult situation you will face in trying to run the communication styles in a meeting.


Communications watcher…

Peering into the future to see what they remember of now (the past).

I posted a family history blog this morning about Colonial Williamsburg. As I was writing about the pictures I wandered off into a more philosophical discussion of what will be remembered.

So what poignant things have we created? The internet, cloud and the explosion of technology as an enabler. Every profession is impacted by technology. We haven’t harnessed the good to help everyone yet. I hope that lies just beyond today’s horizon. Feed the hungry and provide meaningful education for everyone. Technology will allow the world to do that. The images of Hungary and the refugees, the images of Syria becoming distant memories.

What will be remembered of today?

Can we boil the last twenty years down to a single icon? An apple perhaps with a bite removed? Or the image of Bill Gates? Steve Jobs and Apple were iconic but their market shift was in the creation of the iPhone. Bill Gates was the vision of computing power. Unleashed and unfettered, computing power for everyone. Remember in the early days of Apple they were aligned with Motorola for their computer chips. Microsoft aligned with Intel.

Or with any great hope are we last generation of open warfare? Where violence is an answer.

I hope we are the last generation of warfare, but I would hate to be remembered as the last generation that supported and had open warfare. I would prefer we were remembered for something else.

So what will it be? What is the memory that will be shown to school children in 200 years?

What will be recalled?


Looking forward to look backwards

Building smart devices…some initial guidelines…

Wandering back to CPS/IoT stuff for awhile. First off today I am thinking about what is connected. I have previously talked about the many points of integration. Today I want to talk about the many devices you potentially will be connecting your device with.

Connections can be cellular, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or Near Field communication and even packet radio. You could if you wanted even use Ethernet or traditional POTs lines for connections. All of these connecting to a single device. That device then consuming the various services and translating those into something you can act on.

The types of available connections are critical. The value of a connection is the distance and the amount of data it can handle. Bluetooth is good for short bursts and close range devices. Wi-Fi is good for moving larger amounts of data over a slightly greater distance. Cellular allows for voice and video transmission anywhere in the world. Ethernet remains best for moving massive amounts of data reliably anywhere in the world.

This brings to the initial question of connection for devices. What are you transmitting. Where will it end up? And, perhaps most scary of all, How much data is it?

What you are transmitting changes and evolves. When I first got a computer one of the things I did was buy hardware to connect my piano to the computer via MIDI. Now, I can use wireless MIDI connections. Originally I had a single device (Macintosh IIci) connected to my keyboard. Now, using PUC I can connect my keyboard to any device eon my house.

Where does it end up then changed. Now I can connect my keyboard to my iPad, iPhone and my computer. Notes played on the keyboard can be presented directly on the computer screen as notes annotated as music. So where it ends up has changed radically.

In 1991 I had a single POTs connection to the internet. Roughly 56kb or less was the overall maximum speed available. One computer connected at a time.

In 1996 I got an ISDN line to the house. That 64 KB line allow me to have more than 3 computers connected. But, it was limited. In 1999 I upgraded to 128kb ISDN. I still was limited but bandwidth was improving!

Things, that back in the 90’s we dreamed about are routine now. In the 90’s if you wanted to watch a movie you went to a video store and hoped they weren’t out of good movies. Now you watch it live on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Instant Video. It does however bring up the last reality of IoT and CPS going forward.

I worked with a really smart network engineer many years ago. He used to say it isn’t how much data you want to move. Its how much data everyone else wants to move at the same time. The concept of intelligent divides that are aware of the confines of the network they are on is the future. How much data do I need to move, should take into account the following limitations.

  • The bandwidth available for transmission from where the device is currently.
  • The bandwidth I have available for consumption of the information that is being sent.
  • The capabilities of the device I am currently using for the consumption (screen, memory and processor)
  • The nature of the information. (i.e., if it is sensitive information remove it from the device right after it is consumed).
  • The last one – data retention or governance requirements beyond the security of the actual information.

What I am sending. Where I am sending it to and how much data I am sending is something devices have to begin understanding.


yes I am talking bandwidth again….

The three pillars of professional standards. And the ITABoK!!!!!!

Great email question yesterday. What is the best way for a profession to implement standards (and eventually move to a formalized code of ethics)? Well the easy way to have standards is to evolve the profession to the standards. IT Architecture and the nature of what IT Architects do lends itself to a number of standards.

The three pillars depicted here are great starting points. The first being Professional Knowledge. Then there are the various professional practices and finally the professional engagement itself. Those three pillars help a profession move forward.

The Board of Directors of IASA, is in the professional of adopting a code of standards for members of the board. By no means will the restrictive rules applied to the BoD apply to the members. But it is important to know that we aren’t creating rules without applying rules ourselves.

I have argued for years against the long help belief that people pay for what we know. I fought against the knowledge hoarding culture for many years. But frankly KM systems are difficult. For KM systems to work you encompass more than just process. You have to capture people and technology.

IASA has developed and continues to develop professional knowledge that is freely available. The ITABoK is located off the main IASA Site (iasaglobal.org) and is ultimately where the professional standards will live. We will be publishing the BoD code of standards on the ethics tab of the ITABoK as well as a more formalized professional code of standards in the next few weeks.

The evolution of the ITABoK adds professional and professional practices into an easily consumed format. It gives both IT Organizations and IT Architects one place to go for the what and how of IT Architecture. Practices and Knowledge in one managed place that is both peer reviewed, but open to submission. The birth of an IT Architect body of Knowledge. Now ITABoK has been around for awhile but the new V3 pushes us further and further into the capturing of knowledge and the practices of the profession.

Our last pillar is the reality of IT Architects. If, an IASA Certified or Open Group Certified architect appears at your door step and you decide to engage them what in the end do you get? More to come on this last pillar. Check out the ITABoK a growing repository of what is possible for the IT Architect profession.


ITABoK consumer!

Professional Standards for IT Architects

The IT architecture of an Enterprise is effectively a system of systems. The intent or goal of the system is to either achieve the mission of the organization or drive to profitability (make money) for the business.

IT Architects align technology with the mission of the organization. They live in many disciplines within the organization and spend time looking not only at how to better achieve the goals of the organization but also how to make things work better.

The standards against which IT Architects deliver are fairly straight forward. Matching the requirements of the solution (technology) to the needs of the organization (be it mission or market). In all cases referring back to the larger enterprise view of the organization to deliver solutions that Compromise a holistic enterprise view.

A holistic enterprise IT Architecture approach takes into account not only the impact of the single solution but the impact on the overall enterprise. Deploying a great ERP solution that requires significant network bandwidth may work, as long as your entire organization has the bandwidth required. There are many more ripples than bandwidth that IT Architects deal with. Bandwidth is just the first of many.

If only the decisions were this simple. Go left or go right. IT Architects have to balance the needs of any specific problem against the goals of the organization and the abilities and capabilities of the solution. There are fiduciary and roadmap responsibilities as well. A solution that fixes the problem of today, but will cost 10x its initial cost in two or three years isn’t a good solution. The IT Architect has to balance the standards of the IT Organization, The competitive stance and competitive value of the solution and the market, long term technology roadmaps and the specific needs of the business.

Now, also take into account time. IT Architects are asked to create solutions for the mission and business of an organization. Sometimes they are asked to reduce or remove the competitive advantage another organization has gained. In these cases the reality of time enters the picture. When your organization cannot preform at the level of a competitor you lose customers and market share. Or in the case of government or social agencies you end up with an overloaded system, If I can’t use your web site because it doesn’t function the way I expect, I call your telephone number.

IT Architect Standards.

  • The role IT Architect does not have to be technology focused.
  • IT Architects have loosely defined roles. Only loosely as we continue to add new roles to the overall definition. Business, Information, Infrastructure, Solution, Enterprise, Operations and Security are all disciplines within IT Architecture today.
  • IT Architects build solutions that benefit the delivery of the mission or function of an organization or business.
  • IT Architects must consider the impact of their solution on the enterprise, potential future markets, potential future costs and on the end users and customers of the system.


The foundation of IT Architecture–the standards we deliver to!

A strong foundation is what keeps the building from toppling over. The foundation for a profession is the standards. The better the standards the less likely the profession is to topple later. Again standards are not a code of ethics. A code of ethics is something a profession expects new members to accept and swear to. The profession IT Architect is not ready for a code of ethics. There have been a few attempts around the edges of the IT  Architect profession that have ultimately failed.

Standards answer the why question before you interact with a professional. You know your doctor will adhere to certain standards of care as they engage and treat you for an issue. The same is true for IT Architects. There are standards that all IT Architects regardless of discipline adhere to and deliver on.

I posted three yesterday. I later realized the first one is actually a description of the role IT Architect and not a standard.

  • IT Architects are not technologists only. This is actually a description and not a standard. The standard is The role IT Architect does not have to be technology focused.
  • IT Architects have loosely defined roles. Only loosely as we continue to add new roles to the overall definition. Business, Information, Infrastructure, Solution, Enterprise, Operations and Security are all disciplines within IT Architecture today.
  • IT Architects build solutions that benefit the delivery of the mission or function of an organization or business.

These initial three standards are the building blocks upon which the foundation is delivered going forward.


building a foundation

Defining the Standards (well first three) of the IT Architect Profession.

Standards of conduct allow a profession to say “act within the boundaries of our profession.” while not a overall code of ethics the standards of a profession allow the profession to both govern its members but also to present itself to the world. We are IT Architects, that means you will see the following behaviors (list to be created).

As a note. The intent of these posts is to build the standards for the IT Architect profession. While the long term dream is to build and polish a code of ethics,. we first have to have standards for our profession.

A code of ethics can be difficult. It is something however that professions adhere to, call them a code or call them standards but they are the same. Sometimes they are hidden in a professional oath. But ethics are a component of what makes a profession a profession.

The standards of a profession are comprised of the ethics of the individuals. What they do when presented with something that isn’t defined. There are a number of psychological or moral dilemmas made famous by Kohlberg. What would you do if you came across a 20 dollar bill on the ground with no one around? What about 100 dollar bill? What about a dollar bill, knowing that you just passed a crying child that couldn’t pay for his ice cream because his dollar had fallen out of his pocket?

Hopefully as you find that dollar, it replaces the dollar you already gave the crying child.

The standards for IT Architecture are extremely interesting. First, because it is new in the sense that no one has documented the edges of the profession. Secondly it is interesting because well, I am an IT Architect.

  • IT Architects are not technologists only.
  • IT Architects have loosely defined roles. Only loosely as we continue to add new roles to the overall definition. Business, Information, Infrastructure, Solution, Enterprise, Operations and Security are all disciplines within IT Architecture today.
  • IT Architects build solutions that benefit the delivery of the mission or function of an organization or business.

A wise man once wrote “I can see as far as I am willing to look.” Beyond where I am isn’t as clear as right next to me.

There are many more boundaries and edges to the IT Architect profession. The concept of standards will allow IT Architects to explain who and what they are.

More to come…


IT Architect Ethicist.

Professional Standards (the implementation of ethics)…

It is interesting in the end. First I realize that as I blog I use the phrase in the end a lot. It was pointed out to me. As I lay out the various components of a code of ethics it is important to denote the distinctions. So today we will talk a little about the difference between the types of ethics we have, the reality of ethics as standards and standards as ethics and finally a discussion of the gaps between personal, professional and social standards. (there are also legal standards that should reinforce one of the three as well). Reality is that as IT Architecture matures we will codify our ethics as professional standards.

Each of us operates with both a personal and a professional code. We add or layer additional social and legal codes on top of that. It is not a simple process to merge the four. The first thing is what we are building, there is the broad concept of IT Architects Standards. The way IT Architects act and operate within the IT environment.

The four parts that comprise a set of standards are detailed in the graphic. Best practices become guidance. Guidance become working standards and finally you have program or professional standards. This is not linear growth. Many things stop as best practices and never progress. Some things age out of program standards and never return. All of these are the balancing act that create professional standards.

Some of the code of ethics I have been working on really fit in the Best Practices area. They fit in that area between personal and professional ethics and standards. I act this way. IT Architects act this way. I am an IT architect therefore I act this way. Simple.

Reality though is that there can be gaps between personal standards and professional standards. You always hope that the persons personal standards are much higher. We don’t aspire to be seen as IT Architects we aspire to seen as human beings that are IT Architects. So how do you fill the gap?

That is a topic for a later blog – making standards (and ethics) actionable. For now we are discussing the gap. The easy gap to plug is the delta between personal and social standards and ethics. Yes we all prefer honesty. In all forms at all times but when someone doesn’t look good, we don’t tell them “oh my god you look awful.” Even though our personal standards focus on honesty, our social standards may include a few small moments of dishonesty.


Birding the gap between standards and ethics

Wandering the two trails presented to software architects. The ethics blogs continue….

Great question earlier on this blog about what about the concept of good enough. Beyond good enough what about the road not taken.

As we consider the concepts of ethics and software architects there are two distinct divergent paths. The easy way is to continue down the path that has been before. The harder way is to make the changes that will result in more efficiency and eventually a stronger solution.

It is the upgrade dilemma. I asked a few month’s ago and got a number of brilliant responses about responsibility beyond design. It has always been held that the software architect must be involved in the deployment of the designed solution. But is the architect responsible beyond that deployment? When the solution as designed is designed for a system that shifts to the left or right post deployment is the architect responsible.

Within a code of ethics are the boundaries of a profession. For software architects it is important to note that the first couple of boundaries have to do with removing personal bias. The drive reason for that is the potential that you will be bound to your solution for the rest of your career. Software Architects can end up having great careers on one success, or be see as failures because of one failure. That one solution can change your career and the perception of you as an professional.

You will notice in Draft 5 of the Code of Ethics for software architects there isn’t a mention of time. That the architect owns the solution beyond deployment. If you have gathered requirements without bias and selected technology without bias, you don’t own the solution after deployment. Unfortunately the success or failure of that overall solution you do own.

There are professions that live in the same reality as Software Architects. The what have you done for me lately and what did you do to me last time. I love American football. One of the things that the announcers always say really resonates for software architects. They always say “cornerbacks have to forget.” If they make a mistake and it costs their team 6 points, they have to line up the next time and play the game. That is what software architects have to do. If we make a mistake we have to own and move on. We have to have short memories.

The business may not have short memories but the software architect has to have a short memory. Own the mistakes that you make every time.


working through the ethics of the software architect profession…