Category Archives: ITANA

Posts on ITANA – the I.T. Architects in Academia peer group that I chair. See ITANA.org for more info.

Eat your vegis or Have A Little Green Tree – getting EA into the Enterprise

I was thinking about how, when I try to get buy-in for doing Enterprise Architecture as a holistic thing, I tend not get very far with the campus. But, when I parse out little EA bits, they catch on. I was thinking about this in terms of the metaphor: Getting Kids To Eat Vegetables. Before I go on further – this is not meant to demean the campus community nor do I mean to imply they are childish. It is just a good metaphor for my understanding what is going on around me.

There are two approaches to getting kids to eat vegetables. The first is the top-down, holistic approach where you explain that vegis are good for you. You talk about good food and bad food and vitamins and healthy eating. This is the Enterprise Architecture as a holistic practice approach. You talk about why we need to do Enterprise Architecture and the benefits or reducing redundancy, getting a handle on what we are doing and why, setting a clear(er) roadmap for the future. Our institution, like most kids, don’t really get the point of the discussion nor do they buy into the argument.

The second approach (re: kids and vegis) is to sell them on “eating a little green tree” also known as broccoli. Then convincing them that peas with mint are pretty good cold. Once they are eating three or four types of vegis, you can explain the vegetable concepts and start in on nutrition. “You know, carrots make it so you can see better in the dark. That’s pretty cool that a carrot can give you night vision. Let’s eat carrots each night this week and see if on Saturday, we can see better in the dark.” You can get buy-in for the short-term cool gain of one vegetable type.

This is what seems to be working for us architects here at UW-Madison. I have slowly started pushing out some different artifacts and practices. Each one is catching on based on its own merits. We have various places starting with principles using the TOGAF format for Principles .

I’ve started to get people interesting in applying the NIH EA Brick Diagram to various projects and technologies.

This is an interesting approach to “doing enterprise architecture”. I’ll need to focus more on small acceptable bites that are examples of why you should do EA at large. Get them eating broccoli, peas and carrots and then talk about nutrition.

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EA in Academia Presentation

Below is a repackaged copy of my “Enterprise Architecture in Academic Environments” presentation that I gave at EDUCAUSE Mid-West Regional Conference 2008. It is packaged as a Quicktime Movie.

Measuring the value of projects

Jason Uppal of Quickresponse gave a talk on Building Enterprise Architects at the Open Group’s Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Summit. He mentioned that Toyota judges project success based on

three corporate objectives:

Profit from the Program
Market Share
Learning

These facets got me thinking about our post project reviews. We tend to measure our projects on whether or not they were done on-time and under-budget. We have post-project reviews that ask, “how could we run projects better in the future” but they are focused on the project process. We don’t really evaluate the project on a set of facets. So we evaluate “What” and “How” but not “Why”.

As I think about this, I think the interesting facets for us would be:

  • Did this reduce costs over the long run – e.g. have a reasonable ROI
  • Did this “improve” the enterprise architecture – did it reduce redundancy, reduce complexity, advance strategic initiatives
  • What did we learn about the enterprise in the process?

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EA Practitioners – SOA Reality Check Panel

The panel is reitteratng that you cannot buy SOA in a box. It is an architecture, a long term process and transformation of the enterprise. It is beyond the scope and capability of the I.T. folks but really has to come from business leaders – the C-Level executives.

What impact with the economic downturn have on these SOA projects? Those companies that are thinking tactically and quarter-to-quarter will be at greatest risk of failure. Those that are more strategic thinking will see the value and move through the downturn.

Standards – missing standards. The vendors need to fix it. The standards actually come out of the marketing arm not the R&D of the vendor’s shop. There are 156 standards that I’m tracking.

REST: Tom on RESTful services. Chose the RESTful services because the WS standards weren’t really ready.

Enterprise Mash-Ups: Doing real applications of value in rapid iterations is a way to demonstrate the value of SOA. Mash-ups as an orchestration and integration layer. Google maps as a service provider for mapping and real-time traffic information. Mash that with delivery systems inside the enterprise and delivered to a web browser inside the truck. Can save a company $15-20K a month by missing traffic issues.

Business Process Modeling:

“There is a marriage that everyone keeps talking about but they have yet to go on their first date.” The business process people think that they should own the BPM/BPEL layer. The I.T. folks think that they know what it takes to actually implement the process so they are uncomfortable with giving complete control to the business people. There are the BMP Tribe, The SOA Tribe and the EA Tribe and they aren’t talking even though they are completely intertwined.

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SOA – Bumps in the Roadmap

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Some time ago, I was on the circuit talking about Service Oriented Architecture and a roadmap for moving forward. Since then, we have had many false starts and hit many snags along the path. There is slow movement: we are standing up an ESB for testing, we have started a project to expose Course Roster data as an enterprise service, and groups are moving towards Web Services as there preferred integration technology. This is still a long way away from from SOA as an enterprise architecture.

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EDUCAUSE ITANA Constituent Group Meeting

ITANA’s Constituent Group meeting was on Thursday at 4:55PM. Approximately 40 people attended the meeting. Many of the attendees were from newly formed architecture groups.

The notes from the meeting are posted on the ITANA.org web site: EDUCAUSE 2007 CG Meeting Notes

itanacg.jpg

My slides are posted on the EDUCAUSE Annual Meeting Site: IT Architects Session

Future State Models

The Gartner Group describes Enterprise Architecture as:

“The EA group will translate business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change by creating, communicating and improving the key principles and models that describe the enterprise’s future state and enable its evolution.”

The statement that caught my eye was “models that describe the enterprise’s future state”. Keith and I talked about future state models. We both agree that it is impossible and not very productive to produce and all-encompassing future state document – a single document that describes the future state of the whole enterprise. It is impossible because of the complexity of our enterprise and the fluidity of the various disconnected portions.

We do future state documents for small project spaces. For example, there is a future state document for our Course Roster Interface project. This future state describes an Web Service and Event Driven architecture for all services that need Course Roster like information.

I am currently working on one with Human Resources for their employee forms delivery systems. Having the future state model gives them a star to guide by. It also provides them with talking points as they work with other campuses and stakeholders.

This started me thinking about what is the right level for a future state document? Is it just project by project? Should it be at a higher level like a domain within the enterprise (e.g. Student Enrollment Information, HR Employee Information)? Are others doing future state models?