1 year, 8 months ago

Uber’s Defeat Device and Denial of Service

Perhaps you already know about Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS). In this post, I’m going to talk about something quite different, which we might call Centralized Denial of Service.

This week we learned that Uber had developed a defeat device called Greyball – a fake Uber app whose purpose was to frustrate investigations by regulators and law enforcement, especially designed for those cities where regulators were suspicious of the Uber model.

In 2014, Erich England, a code enforcement inspector in Portland, Oregon, tried to hail an Uber car downtown in a sting operation against the company. However, Uber recognized that Mr England was a regulator, and cancelled his booking. 

It turns out that Uber had developed algorithms to be suspicious of such people. According to the New York Times, grounds for suspicion included trips to and from law enforcement offices, or credit cards associated with selected public agencies. (Presumably there were a number of false positives generated by excessive suspicion or Überverdacht.)

But as Adrienne Lafrance points out, if a digital service provider can deny service to regulators (or people it suspects to be regulators), it can also deny service on other grounds. She talks to Ethan Zuckerman, the director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, who observes that

“Greyballing police may primarily raise the concern that Uber is obstructing justice, but Greyballing for other reasons—a bias against Muslims, for instance—would be illegal and discriminatory, and it would be very difficult to make the case it was going on.”

One might also imagine Uber trying to discriminate against people with extreme political opinions, and defending this in terms of the safety of their drivers. Or discriminating against people with special needs, such as wheelchair users.

Typically, people who are subject to discrimination have less choice of service providers, and a degraded service overall. But if there is a defacto monopoly, which is of course where Uber wishes to end up in as many cities as possible, then its denial of service is centralized and more extreme. Once you have been banned by Uber, and once Uber has driven all the other forms of public transport out of existence, you have no choice but to walk.


Mike Isaac, How Uber Deceives the Authorities Worldwide (New York Times, 3 March 2017)

Adrienne LaFrance, Uber’s Secret Program Raises Questions About Discrimination (The Atlantic, 3 March 2017)

5 years, 8 months ago

Shared Vocabulary for Business Innovation and Modernization

Do you remember when computers were hard to use? In fact it’s just nine years since a GM press release asserted that if they developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars that for no reason at all, would crash twice a day, shut down and refuse to restart. Since then Apple has showed Microsoft the way, and we all use smart phones, tablets and PCs that are genuinely easy to use and remarkably resilient.

Because of this great leap forward in personal device usability the smart phone user on the proverbial Clapham Omnibus might reasonably expect that enterprise systems should be similarly easy to use and resilient. Unless of course she was a customer of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), in which case she will have painful memories of last year’s high profile failure caused by the core banking system crash which corrupted tens of millions of accounts.

Once upon a time banks in general were regarded as leaders in the use of information technology. Yet last year several high profile systems failures signalled that banking systems, far from being leading edge, are in rapid decline. Banks aren’t the only culprits. Along with the banks, insurance companies, retailers and others are starting to offer their customers smart phone apps, notwithstanding that behind the scenes their enterprise systems are frequently held together with sticky tape and sealing wax.

The reason many enterprise systems are in such a poor state is commonly because there are three parties involved in managing the enterprise systems that have widely divergent goals and objectives. The line-of-business manager typically views the systems as support to the business process and a cost to be managed. The IT Architect views the enterprise systems as a set of capabilities that must be progressively modernized to support business innovation. The IT Project Manager is focused on delivering projects to time and cost.

These views are of course diametrically opposed. And under cost and time pressure the Architect is frequently the lower ranking player. In consequence the immediate needs of the business overrule longer term objectives of modernization, reduced complexity, flexibility and even cost of ownership.

The real issue is that the three parties do not have a shared view of the business problem. The line-of-business manager’s business process view does not correlate at all to the delivery project. The Architect should be the evangelist for business innovation and modernization but he or she is too easily squeezed in the cost and time discussion. And the Project Manager typically does not share the detailed technical project view with the line of business manager, and argues for a solution specific architecture that reduces project risk. The result is the existing enterprise systems get more complex and slower to respond to change. And the IT industry has been doing exactly this for as long as anyone can remember!

It’s extraordinary, but with all our high tech knowledge and skills we don’t have a vocabulary to articulate the business problem in a way that allows effective communications between the participants. Many IT organizations have embraced services as a way to organize systems capabilities more effectively. These might be Web Services or APIs or referred to collectively as Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). But, even if these software services are architected to align with business perspective, they are always managed as a technical matter, defined and managed by the IT organization.

Yet line-of-business managers do understand services as a business concept; virtually every business product today has a service component to it. The global service provider industry has formed around this idea, and in the UK today service industries account for 77 per cent of the economy. So while IT and business share the common underlying concept, at the practical level there is no meeting of minds.

In order to create a better bridge between business and IT we need to work with both the “how” and the “what” the business is, and we can do this by complementing business processes with business services. Business services are a very natural way to talk about “what” the business does today and tomorrow, while business processes focus on the “how”. Because you don’t reinvent an industry by just analyzing business processes, you also need to evolve and innovate with improved and new business services.

A good example of a service oriented business is Amazon.com Inc. They are well known as a service provider because they have constructed the Amazon enterprise as a set ofbusiness services which are offered to various external parties – enabling suppliers to sell second hand books or electronic goods on the Amazon platform; or providing data storage and Cloud computing services to other enterprises. The Amazon business services combine the compute and the business service integrating the commercial contracts, business processes, people, physical assets as well as the service interfaces that enable computer to computer or computer to device communications.
 

Using a common business and IT concept permits sensible analysis of whether a service is just a unit of cost, or what the strategic value is now and in the future, and what it adds to the business value chain. Given so many line-of-business managers are thoroughly familiar with the very high technology in their smart phones and other devices, it really is time for IT to treat the business as a mature partner and for the line-of-business manager to take real responsibility for the business service as a whole product.

Increasingly we see a convergence of IT and business organizations. The business service concept is an essential piece of vocabulary to focus on a business innovation and get everyone singing off the same hymn sheet to potentially huge advantage of the business. Just look at the Amazon example!

———————–
We will be running a workshop that explores these ideas in London in April in conjunction with the IASA UK Summit. If you can’t make the London event, (for geographic of schedule reasons) talk to me about how we can accommodate.

5 years, 8 months ago

Framework for Service Oriented Ecosystem

I note interesting debates about the need for a next generation EA framework. However I am disappointed by the less than radical nature of debate that, at least I, have observed. I submit a good place to start is with the fundamental nature of business and how it is evolving and to consider what the enterprise of the future looks like. There are many indicators that we are entering a new phase of IT exploitation that will represent a real paradigm shift. Paul Krugman suggests IT is at last becoming significant, enabling a technology revolution to rival previous technology revolutions. Krugman cites driverless cars as an example of the technology moving into the physical world that has the potential to power growth. I will also instance a wave of disruptive technology delivering high bandwith always on connectivity for billions of workers and consumers, mobility, BYOD, social networks, big data and next generation analytics, robotics and Cloud. And the widespread adoption of Agile methods is also highly significant.

This stream of disruptive technologies is having a major impact on enterprises and the way they work. A Gartner report released this week predicts that by 2017, 25 per cent of enterprises will have enterprise app stores where workers can browse and download apps to their computers and mobile devices. I think that prediction will turn out to be conservative. It’s striking that many if not most enterprises are already being run as a continuous stream of initiatives, driven by business competitive pressures which in many cases are triggered by the disruptive technologies mentioned. And strategic innovation is typically being delivered in Agile projects which will increasingly combine business and IT expertise in defining the architecture and requirements.

But this is still a conventional view, doing what we do today, faster, better cheaper. What’s more importantly is to look at how the technology will enable profound change that spans existing enterprise boundaries. Consider Krugman’s Driverless Cars. This revolution is set to change the shape of personal transport in the relatively near term and will involve capabilities such as telematics, insurance, road tolling, mapping, navigation, vehicle recognition, which span car manufacturers, the financial industry, local or state government, emergency services and so on. This is a new ecosystem in the making which will require near real time, collaborative services spanning multiple business sectors.

Is this driverless cars ecosystem an isolated revolution? I don’t think so; consider smart shopping which is already taking off like a rocket with showrooming, or the extension of mobile devices to sector specific applications such as drug testing, health monitoring. I could go on. The future is going to look like many, many ecosystems, rapidly evolving usually not in the control of a single enterprise.

So returning to the question about a next generation EA framework, we might put a few stakes in the ground:
1. The pace of change is increasing so fast that conventional approaches (frameworks) for modelling will be left behind.
2. Ecosystem architecture should be primarily about identifying how an enterprise leverages an ecosystem by providing capabilities and their business services that collaborate and evolve along with the wider landscape.
3. The future is “business service” oriented. The application is dead. Business Service Implementation would be a better term.
4. The Capability and Service architecture will be a strategic business asset.
5. Capabilities as highly independent units of business function will be the way the business is organized.
6. The primary task of enterprise architects will be to develop the Capability and Service architectures as part of the business design.
7. Enterprise architects will probably be renamed Capability and Business Service Architects and report to the CMO.
8. The framework scope must span the entire Agile life cycle. Architecture is no longer a top down precursor to delivery, it must be an evolving set of deliverables and inherently implementable. The framework therefore needs to support concurrent development of business requirements, ecosystem, service and solution architecture, modernization, plus service and solution specification and delivery.

What’s needed is a new framework that recognizes the enterprise itself is a series of overlapping business ecosystems that are in turn part of a series of ecosystems that transcend the scope of the enterprise itself. A new framework should be focused on the capabilities and their inter-connections and manage the development of the business ecosystem(s) to the advantage of the enterprise.

While Capability is a widely used concept, notwithstanding some significant divergence of definition, the missing link is the realization of the Capability. In our work we use the Business Service concept – which delivers the capability in a context free manner. It’s extraordinary that our business vocabulary doesn’t include the formal Business Service concept in the same way that we are able to talk unequivocally about Business Process and know we will be understood.

The core model underlying the framework for future business needs to be service oriented, but it’s essential that the model is fully integrated with business concerns, and enables an implementable architecture in a way that current EA models manifestly do not. The new framework is also highly supporting of Agile methods in the entire life cycle being lightweight, twin track, narrow scope based on the Capability and Business Service, and contract based dependencies.
We will be running a workshop that explores these ideas in London in April in conjunction with the IASA UK Summit. If you can’t make the London event, (for geographic of schedule reasons) talk to me about how we can accommodate.

Paul Krugman: We Are On The Brink Of A Technology Revolution That WillTransform Our Economy


5 years, 11 months ago

Showrooming and Multi-sided Markets

As a retail phenomenon, #showrooming exposes a conflict of interest between online and traditional retailers. Many shoppers will examine a product in a traditional store, and then buy it from an online retailer or discount warehouse. The first retailer incurs costs – including cashflow, wear and tear on the product, as well as unproductive use of staff time and knowledge – while the second retailer takes the revenue.

To complete the story, there may be another class of customer, who is happy to buy the
ex-demonstration product from the first retailer at a discounted price. Thus there are five
distinct roles in this game: the product supplier, the first and second
retailer, the first and second customer. (In addition, if the customers are using their mobile phones in the stores, we should add the players in the mobile ecosystem.)

The earliest manifestation of this I can remember was buying records. You could listen to an LP in the record store, and then get a pristine copy (without the shop assistant’s fingerprints) by mail order from a company appropriately called “Virgin”.

Many retailers believe they lose out from this phenomenon, and some have attempted to prevent it. (Ever wondered why you don’t get a good cellphone signal inside a large store?) Earlier this year, both Target and Wal-Mart decided to stop stocking Amazon devices, although continuing to stock Apple devices. More recently, Wal-Mart has changed its position, and now claims to embrace showrooming.

By singling out Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart were making it clear that it is Amazon’s role as a retailer that they regard as a competitive threat. Although Apple also sells its devices online, it is presumably not regarded as an equivalent threat. In which case, banning Amazon products looks like a gesture of despair rather than an effective tactic.

Thinking of this as a multi-sided market prompts us to look at the direct and indirect flows of value between the players. It is as if the first retailer is providing an unpaid “service” to the second retailer, and the first customer is providing an unpaid “service” to the second customer. At present these are not genuine services, but it is possible to conceive of an ecosystem in which the product supplier or second retailer paid some form of commission to the first retailer. For all I know, that may already happen in some sectors.

Wal-Mart hopes to control showrooming by encouraging its customers to use its own mobile app, which attempts to steer customers towards its own online store. I wonder how many customers will accept this control, and how many will take the trouble to resist it.

Some large High Street retailers seem to have given up the idea of stocking goods: if you like something on display, you can order it. This has long been true for large furniture items such as beds, but is becoming more common for smaller items, as Simon Heffer complains.

Meanwhile, showrooming can work both ways. Last week I ordered a book from my local bookshop, having previously looked it up on Amazon. It was 5pm Friday when I placed the order, and they phoned me at 11am on Saturday to tell me it had arrived. (If I’d ordered it from Amazon, paying extra for 48 hour delivery, when would it have arrived? Monday, Tuesday?) So that’s showrooming in reverse.

Finally, instead of selling individual products, the showroom itself can become the experience. @KBlazeCarlson sees IKEA as a prime example, and quotes Alan Penn, professor of Architectural and Urban Computing at UCL, describing the IKEA experience as “psychologically disruptive”. “Part of their strategy is to take you past everything,” he says. “They get you to buy stuff you really hadn’t intended on. And
that, I think, is quite a trick.”

Chris Petersen adds, “Instead of product centric merchandising, IKEA’s showroom is perhaps the ultimate place merchandising, where the consumer solution is focused on the most personalized dimension – the consumer’s own lifestyle and living space.” Whether IKEA can replicate this experience online in the virtual world, as suggested in Patrick Nelson’s piece, is another matter.



Kathryn Blaze Carlson, Enter the maze: Ikea, Costco, other retailers know how to get you to buy more (National Post, June 2012)

Simon Heffer, My futile hunt for a lamp in John Lewis reveals why the High Street is doomed (Daily Mail 15 January 2013)

Brett Molina, Is ‘showrooming’ behind Target move to drop Kindle? (USA Today, May 2012)

Patrick Nelson, Brick-and-Mortar’s Showrooming Scourge (E-Commerce Times, Nov 2012) via First Insight

Chris Petersen, To beat showrooming … change the showroom! (IMS results count, June 2012)

Marcus Wohlsen, Walmart.com CEO: We Embrace Showrooming (Wired, Nov 2012)

Amazon’s Showrooming Effect And Quick Growth Threaten Wal-Mart (Forbes, Sept 2012)

Related posts: Showrooming in the Knowledge Economy (December 2012), Predictive Showrooming (December 2012)

Updated 16 January 2013

5 years, 11 months ago

Understanding Business Services 2

In December 2006 I blogged on the topic of Explaining SOA to the Business Audience. It started out “I note resurgent interest in LegoTM blocks as a metaphor for explaining to the business audience the value of SOA. My advice is don’t treat the business audience as dummies!” The blog goes on to explain business services using the Laundry metaphor, and how business people get the concept because they understand “services”.

However, while my explanation was and remains perfectly OK, I will be the first to admit that I have moved on. The basic service model works perfectly, but in today’s fast moving, business innovating world, we need new vocabulary that is even more compelling, that goes beyond SOA and transactional efficiency.  

In their book Competing for the Future [1], Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad advise that traditional business responses to market and competitive pressure such as reengineering, downsizing and outsourcing are inadequate and insufficient. The outcome of this activity is typically just keeping one step ahead of declining margins and profits of yesterday’s business. Instead senior management need to get off the treadmill of restructuring and reengineering and instead reinvent their industry, imagining and creating their future.

What I didn’t say in 2006 was that you don’t reinvent an industry by analyzing business processes! The business process is “how” the enterprise works. Instead we need to be looking at “what” the business is – business services, the external, composite offering that enables core capabilities to be used in many different contexts. We need to elevate the concept of Business Service to the level of business offering and business product that externalizes the enterprise capability. I suggest simple definitions as follows:

Business Service: A service provided by an enterprise to its ecosystem of customers, suppliers or partners that provides one or more capabilities that facilitate a discrete business outcome according to a contract.  Example: Amazon EC2 
Business Service Operation: An execution of one or more capabilities provided by an enterprise to its ecosystem of customers, suppliers or partners according to a service contract. Example: Data load under Amazon EC2.

In Table below I have summarized some of the Hamel Prahalad strategies and shown how these are implemented as Business Services.

Hamel and Prahalad go on to pose the question, “Why did it take US automakers 40 years to decode the principles of lean manufacturing pioneered by Toyota?” Answer – because those principles challenged the core assumptions of US auto executives.

I suggest we need to establish a business centric perspective of Business Service that is as closely linked to business offering implementation as it is to the internal SOA. This will cause us to challenge some of our core principles and assumptions. It’s NOT about LegoTM, it’s about business services and business agility.
[1] Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad , Competing for the Future, published by Harvard Business School Publishing, Reprint 1996

5 years, 11 months ago

Understanding Business Services

A business service represents an agreed delivery of some parcel of capability from one agent to another agent.

Understanding services properly requires a combination of all six of the viewpoints I have defined for business architecture.

The capabilit…

6 years ago

Agile Architecture

The English language is well known for its subtlety. Sometimes it’s a delight, but on other occasions it can be very frustrating. If I use the term Gothic Architecture you will immediately understand I am describing a style of architecture that flourished in medieval times. And if like me you are interested in ecclesiastical architecture you will know that this style was used in many of the great cathedrals and churches across Europe, which were distinctive because of key architectural patterns that enabled great increases in height and internal light of the buildings without increasing the size of supporting pillars.
Now if I use the term Agile Architecture, what am I referring to? In today’s Agile world I would hazard a guess that most readers will think I am referring to the architecture techniques and tasks undertaken in the context of an Agile software development project, not the collection of patterns and practices that enable agile business systems. That is, an architecture that enables agility.

This potential for miscommunication is a core issue for enterprises. There is ample evidence that Agile Architecture is a primary contributor to business agility, yet we do not have a well understood architecture management system that integrates with Agile methods.
 

Let’s use an example readers may be familiar with. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos famously[1]issued an edict that laid down some key architecture principles to Amazon development teams that I will summarize as:

·       All teams will henceforth expose their data and functionality through service interfaces.

·       Teams must communicate with each other through these interfaces. There will be no other form of interprocess communication allowed.

·       It doesn’t matter what technology they use.

·       All service interfaces, without exception, must be designed from the ground up to be externalizable.

·       No exceptions.

What Bezos did here was to lay down key business and technology architecture principles that you might reasonably conclude were central to the extraordinary level of business agility that we have seen demonstrated by Amazon.com, Inc. That widely circulated edict contained the foundations of the Amazon reference architecture.  

In the October 2004 CBDI Journal[2] we commented, “Two of the most successful and enduring dotcom start-ups, Amazon and eBay, now expose their core applications as Web Services. In doing so they have created a new class of platform that could have a profound impact on end-user organizations and IT vendors alike.”

And so the reference architecture became the enabler of growth and agility for the Amazon business, not we understand[3] as a grand plan, but through natural technological evolution. The services formed the platform that allowed the extraordinary expansion of the Amazon business that I would be certain not even Jeff Bezos imagined, back then in 2004. That is real business agility, and it was delivered by smart architecture backed up by clear policies and realized by agile processes.

Although Amazon has clearly evolved in pursuit of solutions to specific business opportunities and challenges, it’s also clear they have established a de facto architecture and architecture management system that guides the work of the many product delivery teams and ensures consistency of approach where it’s required. Let’s consider how an enterprise might establish a similar agile architecture management system.

A reference architecture articulates primary principles that are typically central to an entire enterprise. Principles should be focused on establishing the product and solution independent environment in which agility can be delivered and maintained, so they would be stable over time. We might refer to reference architecture as a Level 1 architecture perspective (L1) that exists purely as a set of models and guidelines.

Larger enterprises should explore the business value potential of platform based architecture as a mechanism to deliver cross enterprise consistency of core reference architecture behaviors and to enable closer integration with the wider ecosystem including customers, suppliers, end consumers etc. This is an extended management services platform which encapsulates the technology infrastructure and enables rapid delivery of business services.
The platform architecture defines common services that manage business delivery including security, life cycle management, change management, release management and operations, as well as catalogs, eCommerce, B2B, regulatory control and risk management, standardizing these key capabilities and reducing the footprint of business domain services. The platform will also manage important behaviors that deliver on specific business goals such as scalability and availability. For example, Amazon services are usually very fine grained, specifically to reduce the scope of each service in order to facilitate narrow focus SLAs and maximize scalability by reducing individual service complexity. We might refer to platform architecture as a Level 2 architecture perspective, engineered to be relatively stable in support of  large numbers of business services and consumers, but also engineered to evolve and respond rapidly to business and technology change. Not all enterprises will see business value in making their platform and business services available to their ecosystem, but some will.
Enterprises clearly vary considerably in their make up in terms of geographic and organizational, product and process standardization and differentiation, but typically there will be considerable potential for an inventory of shared assets that leverage agile architecture to support business agility. The assets may include:

·       Common services, frameworks and components that are designed to deliver common behaviors to all parts of the enterprise. For example core services that establish genuinely enterprise wide services such as Customer, Ticket, eCommerce etc; services that deliver business value by standardizing common business services and processes.

·       Configurable services, frameworks and components that are designed to provide common behaviors but are engineered to be customizable in local situations to accommodate many aspects of localization ranging from the simple – taxation, geography etc, to the complex – variant ordering patterns, variations in event and process sequence dictated by local de facto business practices. Configurable services may provide business value simply by providing reusable components, or they may establish a common core of business process and information that establishes common reporting and regulatory control in a local context, or both. Configurable services may also be an important time to market strategy for service providers who customize their services for each client or customer group.

·       Information architecture and services. Establishing a coherent approach to information is commonly a major issue for large enterprises and this architecture level defines an integrated approach for structured and unstructured (big) data, transactional and reference, enterprise reporting and regulatory control and so on.

Common and Configurable assets together with the Information Architecture might form a Level 3 architecture perspective and be widely applicable across a large, distributed enterprise.  

We then have two further levels which are closely related, Family Architecture and Product Line Architecture. Whilst many architects chose to view Family and Product Line as synonyms, I recommend that they are kept separate. A Family architecture is a domain framework that is much more specialized that L3 assets that would be applicable on a broader basis. The Family architecture establishes core business (domain) services and possibly other artifacts specific to the domain, where the domain is likely to be a subject area or a cluster of major types. For example Customer, Supply Chain, Manufacturing, Risk etc. Families are also commonly acquired products.
In contrast Product Line architecture is what it says – it’s the architecture for a product offering. The product is an offering that has direct relationship to end customer revenue and usually continuity of purpose over multiple releases. Although from a narrow technical perspective the Product and Family architectures might be similar, the way a product is managed must mirror the business product life cycle. Family architectures may therefore be engineered for stability, whereas, depending on the industry sector, product line architectures may be engineered for maximum agility and minimum response time.  

Finally we have the Solution architecture level, the architecture specific to solution project delivery, where the focus is on feature architecture and integrating solution architecture with the Level 1 to 5 architecture perspectives. It’s important to note that where product line architecture is used, then this may subsume the Solution architecture.
These six architecture levels provide us with a nomenclature for agile architecture that will be central to managing agility into the delivered product/solution. The architecture perspective guides the structure of programs and projects and the incorporation of architecture and reuse goals into delivery charters. The architecture also provides traceability and governance over realization of core architecture principles.
The question of how Agile Architecture integrates with Agile delivery is likely to prove contentious because architecture introduces a form of direction that contradicts Agile concepts. Yet the lessons from Amazon are insightful. The most senior business management need to be fully engaged and actively leading the development of architectural direction. Further in large enterprises customer project demand needs to be managed and aligned with business strategy and architectural direction.

There’s no reason why these Demand and Definition processes shouldn’t adopt Agile concepts, notably cross functional teams, time boxes and backlogs. The outcomes should be excellent visibility and traceability of key strategies and policies that provide real clarity of purpose for projects, that will increase the probability of success. In a typical large enterprise use of existing (or well understood) organizational concepts, adjusted to use aspects of Agile methods as discussed, will meet less organizational resistance. For example:  

1.     Architecture Review Board (ARB) or equivalent, a cross functional team (senior representatives of business, product management, architecture and delivery), that provide direction and funding to all architecture development.

2.     Design Authority (DA), also a cross functional team (domain specific expert level representatives of business, product management, architecture and delivery), that transform raw customer demand stream into project charters and manage the portfolio view. It is the DA that takes responsibility for aggregating and decomposing customer and strategic demand, chartering Common, Product Line and Family architecture, typically as integral elements of delivery projects, which can demonstrate business value.

3.     Investigatory architecture projects – short duration projects that validate assumptions prior to chartering composite architecture/delivery projects. Sometimes carried out as part of a Definition Phase activity concurrent with outline requirements and knowledge discovery. Using patterns as a mechanism to increase consistency of architecture decisions and communicate them to delivery projects at sensible level of detail that is useful to delivery teams.  Recommend includes delivery team members as appropriate.

Note this is a recursive model, and the process may executed at enterprise and program level.

You may ask where Enterprise Architecture is in this. The answer is that enterprise architecture is a role and responsibility that must coordinate and govern all levels of architecture. Enterprise Architects are most likely to be assigned to a specific architecture perspective level. The notion of, “one architecture to rule them all” really doesn’t exist.

  

Each enterprise should develop its own architecture management approach, and integrate this into an end to end architecture, delivery and governance process. The term Agile Architecture should be used to describe and deliver architecture that facilitates the agile business by compliance with reference, platform and other architectures that facilitate evolution, customization and plug and play. Faster cycle time and quality outcomes are then a function of both the reusable patterns and parts available for assembly and the Agile delivery process.  

In medieval times the builders of the Gothic cathedrals didn’t start their designs from scratch. But equally they didn’t have finely detailed (ivory tower) plans – the technology didn’t exist to support that. Master builders moved from city to city bringing their proven architecture in their heads, often together with experienced craftsmen, to new projects. Craftsmen and master builders together tried out new designs and gradually evolved core patterns such as the flying buttress, which became standard components in cathedrals across Europe. Sometimes the great buildings fell down during construction and the builders had to adapt the architecture and try again. They were truly early adopters of Agile methods as they combined architecture and build in what clearly was from time to time an empirical delivery approach, but they also had their equivalent of a reference architecture and patterns that enabled systematic reuse of proven designs. Of course their delivery cycle time was a little longer than today’s Agile project!
Talk to Everware-CBDIabout the Agile Enterprise Workshop. This is currently available as an in-house, intensive workshop. Public scheduled classes will hopefully follow next year.


[1] Amazon and eBay Web Services, The New Enterprise Applications? By Lawrence Wilkes, CBDI Journal October 2004


[2] Inadvertently published by Steve Yegge, 2011, in a comparison of Google and Amazon practices. http://upalc.com/google-amazon.php

[3] Werner Vogels, 2006, SOA creates order out of chaos @ Amazon, Rich Seeley, Search SOA
6 years, 4 months ago

Time to Rain on the “Cloud Service Model” Parade

The Cloud community have been talking recently about Everything is a Service; they call it EaaS. At first hearing it’s an interesting idea, another acronym to complement IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. Unfortunately it’s rather like the tail wagging the dog!  The Cloud community use the term Service liberally but with minimal consistency.


It must be said that the NIST reference architecture document has been incredibly helpful in sorting out the three Cloud service models of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. However in order to read the document you have to suspend all your knowledge and belief of services and read the document interpreting all references to service as “provision or access to some capability”. In other words as a generic IS service of some sort.


Actually most Cloud infrastructure resources are provisioned as well formed services governed by interface and SLA contracts. There are a few SaaS providers that have implemented an SOA – in compliance with generally accepted principles of loose coupling, separation etc. However most Cloud services are multi-tenant application resources with integration capabilities delivered as Web services. Yet perceived wisdom generally says that SOA is essential for Cloud!


I noted an interesting paper from Intel recently[i]; the thing that really struck me was the way the paper describes how Cloud development as the Wild West (my words), and the author is advocating ideas that amount to rediscovering the SOA wheel!

SaaS and PaaS providers are circumventing traditional enterprise architecture. Compliance and visibility has decreased. Simply put, your enterprise is likely already part of the app economy. The question is, how are you managing your API traffic? Do you have a control point to manage that participation? Enterprise APIs are not science projects; they’re conducting enterprise-class business and require enterprise class visibility and control. What path can enterprises take to prepare for secure use of APIs? Dan Woods, Chief Analyst, CITO Research and Colleagues, May 2012

And the author goes on to describe how Cloud needs to move beyond point to point integration to introduce something that sounds very much like an ESB! So the notion that de facto Cloud practices should form the basis for EaaS sounds fanciful.


Yet despite this, I believe we should look closely at the idea of Everything as a Service. It’s the vision that CBDI and other pioneers painted years ago. What’s really required is a convergence of business and IT service concepts that would provide consistent views for all the various stakeholders in both IT and business domains including the service owner, business service designer, IT service architect, IT service designer, service security architect, provider, IT service manager, service broker, service consumer and so on and so forth. Today we have disparate service models in both business and IT that positively encourage silo disciplines.


To produce some form of unified service model wouldn’t be just an academic exercise.  First it might just facilitate better understanding of service architecture across business and IT stakeholders. Second it might assist in better service design, delivered services that are fully integrated with people, product, process and technology and engineered to deliver individualized services to customers that are architected to be responsive to business change!


But the place to start is to understand the needs and opportunities in a unified service model. This will leverage the Cloud, and hopefully cause more service owners to demand their services are first class software services in order to deliver better customer service. Maybe this will encourage NIST to revisit its reference architecture and give the service perspective a little more integrity.


In this month’s CBDI Journal we publish an article exploring how such a unified model might look, and the business value that it might deliver. We welcome feedback and comments.


Abstract: The Cloud movement is discussing the term Everything as a Service (EaaS or XaaS).  In principle this is a welcome development, encouraging business and IT participants to adopt services and service oriented concepts everywhere. However it appears that the E/XaaS initiative may be more about marketing than reality. In this article we suggest how this very promising idea might be developed to clarify Cloud Service taxonomy and deliver convergence of business and IT perspectives in a Unified Service Model.   

6 years, 5 months ago

The Next Big Leap: Everything is a Business Service

Since the 1970s, authors like Alvin Toffler[1], Daniel Bell[2] and John Naisbitt[3] have predicted the post-industrial society. They forecast the end of the industrial era and the dominance of services and information. This is not a new message[6]; the entire service provider industry has reformed around this idea, and in the USA today non-manufacturing industries account for almost 90 percent of the economy. Virtually every product today has a service component to it and many products have been transformed into services.

One of the most interesting examples of this is the Amazon Kindle service which provides an integrated front end to a wide range of Amazon services. The Kindle service optimizes purchases of books plus access to library and new services and automatically synchronizes all the devices the user may use to access the services including the Kindle reader, smart phone and browser.

Amazon was a pioneer in use of Web services. They are well known for their internal policy of mandating that all Amazon systems functionality should be created as externalized services – that is ready for use directly by customers, and this has clearly been at the heart of their considerable success.

However few large enterprises are able to operate in such an agile manner. Amazon was built from the ground up to be an IT enabled business. In larger enterprises generally there is weaker connection between business and IT, plus the challenges of legacy application and infrastructure base and typically immature (application) service portfolios. And we can all observe the archetypical enterprise is becoming even more complex with pressing demands to respond to major market trends including mobile device based processes, analytics and real time business intelligence driven process behaviour. In this frenetic environment, how can we avoid purely tactical responses which simply generate more complexity and legacy?

CBDI suggested the answer to this problem over ten years ago. The basic service model provides an efficient and effective architecture that enables reusable capabilities that limit complexity and enable continuous change through separation of concerns. However to be truly effective the service model needs to be integrated into the entire business ecosystem where EVERYTHING IS A BUSINESS SERVICE where, like Amazon, all business capabilities are published as integral components of product and service delivery. To achieve this, the service model must be expanded way beyond the prevailing technology centric SOA approach and become an holistic business service centric model subsuming PEOPLE, PROCESS AND TECHNOLOGY.

Of course there will be decoupling between business services and software services; it will be vital that business services are formed from reusable, common software services that can be rapidly assembled into new business processes to allow rapid response to changing business needs.

Of course this all sounds very fine, but most readers will ask the key question “how do we manage the transformation to a service based enterprise?”  There are so many cultural, political, budgetary and legacy challenges that will stop such an endeavour in its tracks. Most business managers have already dismissed SOA as a technical exercise and remain focused on delivery of urgent business programs. Frankly this is THE CHALLENGE. We all read fine statements from F500 CIOs and CEOs who boast about their transformations, but in practice business as usual perpetuates conventional separation of business and IT.  We have to communicate this from the rooftops!

Some ten years ago CBDI defined a maturity model and roadmap approach that showed how SOA capability maturity moves through the stages of Early Learning, Applied, Integration, Enterprise and Ecosystem. Since then this methodology has been used by many large corporations worldwide, including notably Intel Corp[4]. In the Ecosystem maturity stage the service portfolio is integrated with business concepts and federated both internally and externally. However few enterprises have achieved this level of maturity. Amazon is a rare exception.

Many enterprises are embracing Cloud computing recognizing this architecture can introduce a critical level of virtualization and agility. In recent months there has been much interest in moving Cloud to the next level referred to as Everything as a Service (EaaS or XaaS).  HP, just one of the service providers making moves in this space defines this as Through the cloud, everything will be delivered as a service, from computing power to business processes to personal interactions[5].” This is a very significant advance, however we need to emphasize that Cloud EaaS is a technology centric model, and there’s considerable effort required to integrate with the broader business and IT to avoid yet more legacy.

 

A first step in making this level of transformation is to establish a reference architecture that is entirely service based, spanning business and IT. Frankly existing reference architecture efforts such as TOGAF, OASIS, Zachman etc are not helpful in this area. Rather the service reference architecture needs to provide a mapping to a multiplicity of (stakeholder) views identifying key elements of pattern, standard and policy to ensure appropriate levels of consistency and governance.
Each of the views should also be documented in reference architecture, enterprise architecture, solution architecture and analytics levels of abstraction. You may be wondering why analytics? This represents a further level of cross cutting solution abstraction.
As discussed the reference and enterprise architecture views should be developed to achieve the minimum necessary level of consistency relevant to the business strategy context. 

Everything is a Business Service is the next big leap. Enterprises who have established effective SOA environments will be well positioned to make this move, but recognize it’s going to be yet more steps along a much longer journey than we CBDI articulated in our research 15 years ago.

  [1] Future Shock

  [2] The Coming of Post-Industrial Society

  [3] Megatrends

  [4] Service Oriented Architecture Demystified, Intel Press 2007

  [5] http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/initiatives/eaas/index.html