Is The Current EA Paradigm Right For Business Architecture?

In preparation for our next EA Forum, I have been doing a lot of reflecting lately about the state of EA and what it means as we move forward into business architecture. And frankly, I don’t like what I am seeing – or more accurately, I don’t like what I am thinking. It seems to me that we are stuck in an outdated – and I will go out on a limb here and say not very successful – paradigm. So what is a paradigm? In this case I am referring to our thinking paradigm – the model in our brains that structures the way we think about EA. Our paradigms represent the “box,” as in thinking inside the box. When we are thinking outside the box, we are essentially trying to create a new paradigm – or thinking model. Paradigms are very powerful. That is why it is so difficult to think out of the box for any extended period of time. Here are the six elements that I see very consistently in the thought patterns of EAs:

Governance – Mechanisms to approve EA designs and enforce adherence to the reference architecture at the project level.

Principles – Decision filters that both EA development and application decisions flow through.

Current state – A snapshot of current issues and technology baseline (often in significant detail).

Reference architecture – The body of work describing EA’s intent, organized in a framework, expressed in strategy, standards, patterns, guidelines, etc.

Target state – An idealized future state viewpoint describing how the organization desires to change the current state based on the current understanding of technology and architecture.

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Innovation Requires Authority, Not Power

During one of my gigs as a product manager, an executive in our company was overjoyed to have a US Defense Department client. He was eager to land a reference customer, but he fundamentally misunderstood how easy it would be to get a military organization to join the ranks of success stories. He wrongly assumed, in this very hierarchical organization, successful adoption of our collaboration tool was the simple process of (1) the general in charge ordering people to use it, followed by (2) people under his command dutifully using it. The military doesn't work that way, in large part because, when faced with a bad order that might kill them, military professionals learn how to wriggle out of these diktats. (Which is why there's a fine line between initiative and insubordination.)

Even if our executive's assumptions about how the military operated were correct, that formula might spell doom for the project. What happens when the general in charge moves on to another post? No assignment is forever, and the next officer in charge might have a far lower opinion of our product. The crisis might happen earlier, if the current general got impatient with the progress of the project. Fearful of these potential outcomes, this executive bet the entire project on maintaining good relations with the general and his immediate subordinates, including the irascible project lead, whose view of technology adoption was summarized in his comment during a meeting with us: "Users are stupid, so they don't know what they want."

Who's responsible for adoption?

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IBM And ARM Continue Their Collaboration – Major Win For ARM

Last week IBM and ARM Holdings Plc quietly announced a continuation of their collaboration on advanced process technology, this time with a stated goal of developing ARM IP optimized for IBM physical processes down to a future 14 nm size. The two companies have been collaborating on semiconductors and SOC design since 2007, and this extension has several important ramifications for both companies and their competitors.

It is a clear indication that IBM retains a major interest in low-power and mobile computing, despite its previous divestment of its desktop and laptop computers to Lenovo, and that it will be in a position to harvest this technology, particularly ARM's modular approach to composing SOC systems, for future productization.

For ARM, the implications are clear. Its latest announced product, the Cortex A15, which will probably appear in system-level products in approximately 2013, will be initially produced in 32 nm with a roadmap to 20nm. The existence of a roadmap to a potential 14 nm product serves notice that the new ARM architecture will have a process roadmap that will keep it on Intel’s heels for another decade. ARM has parallel alliances with TSMC and Samsung as well, and there is no reason to think that these will not be extended, but the IBM alliance is an additional insurance policy. As well as a source of semiconductor technology, IBM has a deep well of systems and CPU IP that certainly cannot hurt ARM.

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POST: Refining Your Strategy For iPads and Tablets -- The Workshop!

Are you a product strategist trying to craft an iPad (or general tablet) product strategy?  For example, are you thinking about creating an app to extend your product proposition using the iPad or other tablet computer?

At Forrester, we’ve noticed that product strategists in a wide variety of verticals – media, retail, travel, consumer products, financial services, pharmaceuticals, software, and many others – are struggling to make fundamental decisions about how the iPad (and newer tablets based on Android, Windows, webOS, RIM’s QNX, and other platforms) will affect their businesses.

To help these clients, an analyst on my team, Sarah Rotman Epps, has designed a one-day Workshop that she’ll be conducting twice, on February 8th and February 9th, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

She’ll be helping clients answer fundamental questions, such as:

  • Do we need to develop an iPad app for our product/service/website? If we don't build an app, what else should we do?
  • What are the best practices for development app products for the iPad? What are the features of these best-in-class app products?
  • Which tablet platforms should we prioritize for development, aside from the iPad?
  • Which tablets will be the strongest competitors to the iPad?
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When ROLAP Is Not A ROLAP

I get many inquiries on the differences and pros and cons of MOLAP versus ROLAP architectures for analytics and BI. In the old days, the differences between MOLAP, DOLAP, HOLAP, and ROLAP were pretty clear. Today, given the modern scalability requirements, DOLAP has all but disappeared, and the lines between MOLAP, ROLAP, and HOLAP are getting murkier and murkier. Here are some of the reasons:

  • Some RDBMSes (Oracle, DB2, Microsoft) offer built-in OLAP engines, often eliminating a need to have a separate OLAP engine in BI tools.
  • Some of the DW-optimized DBMSes like Teradata, SybaseIQ, and Netezza partially eliminate the need for an OLAP engine with aggregate indexes, columnar architecture, or brute force table scans.
  • MOLAP engines like Microsoft SSAS and Oracle Essbase can do drill-throughs to detailed transactions.
  • Semantic layers like SAP BusinessObjects Universe have some OLAP-like functionality.
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Retail 2020

Retail 2020?What will retail will look like in 10 years? This is an important question for many CIOs and CEOs, and not just those in the retail sector.

To get a feel for the future of retailing, earlier this month I made my annual pilgrimage to the National Retail Federation (NRF) conference and expo in New York. The most significant difference I noticed between this year and last year was that in 2010 everyone was talking about multichannel retail while keeping an eye on social technologies as a future trend. This year the buzz was around full channel integration/retail-anywhere or what might be called "zero-channel retail."
 
Zero-Channel Retail
For many years retailing has been broken out into "channels" based upon how products are put into the hands of the consumer. Channels include: retail stores, outlet stores, Internet, catalog, etc. In the past each channel was managed independently of the others (recall how some retailers actually created separate companies to run their Internet retail business). Last year there was a big focus on how to integrate online and physical retail into one, seamless channel.
 
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Efficiency Requires A Different Way Of Managing Your Storage Environment

This past week, EMC had a record-breaking event in NYC, where they announced a number of new products and features. The announcements focused mainly around VNX and VNXe, as well as Symmetrix. However, the company also went into detail as to how some of the newer acquisitions would fit into their overall portfolio. The company’s plans for Isilon (acquisition discussed by @reichmanIT here:  http://bit.ly/bNrVKz) was perhaps more interesting. This was one of EMC’s best acquisitions, as it gave it the capabilities needed for scale-out NAS. In conjunction with the rest of its portfolio, EMC is positioned to capture new markets not traditionally recognized in, provided the portfolio is integrated seamlessly. It also points to many changes we see occurring in the data center today.

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Is The IaaS/PaaS Line Beginning To Blur?

Forrester’s survey and inquiry research shows that, when it comes to cloud computing choices, our enterprise customers are more interested in infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) than platform-as-a-service (PaaS) despite the fact that PaaS is simpler to use. Well, this line is beginning to blur thanks to new offerings from Amazon Web Services LLC and upstart Standing Cloud.

The concern about PaaS lies around lock-in, as developers and infrastructure and operations professionals fear that by writing to the PaaS layer’s services their application will lose portability (this concern has long been a middleware concern — PaaS or otherwise). As a result, IaaS platforms that let you control the deployment model down to middleware, OS and VM resource choice are more open and portable. The tradeoff though, is that developer autonomy comes with a degree of complexity. As the below figure shows, there is a direct correlation between the degree of abstraction a cloud service provides and the skill set required by the customer. If your development skills are limited to scripting, web page design and form creation, most SaaS platforms provide the right abstraction for you to be productive. If you are a true coder with skills around Java, C# or other languages, PaaS offerings let you build more complex applications and integrations without you having to manage middleware, OS or infrastructure configuration. The PaaS services take care of this. IaaS, however, requires you to know this stuff. As a result, cloud services have an inverse pyramid of potential customers. Despite the fact that IaaS is more appealing to enterprise customers, it is the hardest to use.

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Forrester's 5 Key Capabilities For Customer Service

Businesses, in 2011, are refocusing on strategies that differentiate them from their competitors. One way to do this is by focusing on customer service. We see that organizations are ramping up their multichannel customer service initiatives. In fact, 90% of customer service decision-makers told Forrester last year that a good service experience is critical to their company’s success, and 63% think the importance of the customer service experience has risen. However, customer expectations are getting higher. Customers are increasingly online, want self-service options, and demand responses in real time, often through their mobile devices. Moreover, social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, has grown to be an important new channel for interacting with customers and engaging in innovative ways.

To meet these challenges, organizations continue their search for solutions to address their most pressing customer interaction management problems. Leaders of customer service and product support organizations tell us that they want to strengthen five key capabilities:

  • Delivering the same customer service across communication channels. It is critical to standardize the resolution process and customer service experience across communication channels (email, phone, web self-service, chat, etc.)
  • Empowering agents and customers with knowledge management (KM) tools. Advanced knowledge management and search tools are a critical necessity for delivering contextual, personalized self-service and agent/customer experiences.
  • Supporting agile customer service with a strong foundation of business process management. Organizations are extending BPM to customer service to standardize service delivery, minimize agent training times, ensure regulatory and company policy compliance, and control costs.
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The Future Of Java

Java’s future will be constrained by the bounds of Oracle's business model.

Drama has been running high since Oracle began to shape up the Java technology it acquired along with Sun Microsystems. Oracle ended the impasse over a new core Java release, set out a road map for the next two years, and began reorganizing Java's ineffectual governance. Oracle's Java road map and commitment to invest reassured enterprise customers and prevented a split with IBM but alienated many in the open source community. But Oracle's plans so far fail to address Java platforms' inherent complexity, which remains Java's Achilles' heel in head-to-head competition with Microsoft's.NET platform. Moreover, a controlled, top-down innovation model will limit Java's role as the basis for the "cloud" generation of platforms, rich Internet applications, and new development techniques ranging from languages such as Ruby to approaches such as business process management (BPM) and business rules. Conclusion: Java's future in the enterprise is alive and well but limited.

Oracle’s strategy for Java will change the Java ecosystem that has existed for 11 years.

  • Oracle will direct Java innovation. Oracle has made it clear that from this point forward, it will direct all innovation in core Java (Java SE). Oracle will happily accept the contributions of others through OpenJDK as long as those contributions align with Oracle's priorities.
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