Category: IT Strategy

DevSecOps – Two Decades ago

Initiated my career by starting a company, immediately, the next day after my 4 years of under graduation in computer engineering. Almost three decades ago, the startup mind set for a young computer engineer in Southern India was a novel concept while most of the talented computer engineers headed to a safe corporate job or to the higher education to increase their changes to get into a safe corporate job. Initial capital investment for the startup company was provided by my father which was used to buy desktop computers. Ideas, confidence, enthusiasm and hard work were the capital that I brought to start this startup venture. With heavy capital investment, startup was bloomed, and all the work was done in two desktop computers.

Company was a massive idea army with two people. During those days, in day time, I primarily focused on sales and marketing for our startup. After dinner time, soaked my soul into conceptualizing potential product definition based on requirements that I heard during my cold sales call & less than a minute marketing pitch to a small to medium size manufacturing and service companies. Like the most startup, we didn’t have a product nor customer and were desperate to find both until our initial operating cost runs out.  In spite of having lots of ideas in our human memory bank, we prioritized the ideas which fetches both product or solution and customer in a shortest time horizon.  It was a self-funded startup and was not started with a product in mind but started to solve significant industrial problems using software and consultancy.

In a retrospect, we followed product & agile mind set, developed a minimum viable product to attain the business goals in an efficient manner. We were able to implement these constructs, even though, we never heard of these terms in technical journals (like Dr. Dobbs), text books, collaborations with other software engineering experts, industry and clients. We were intuitively following these constructs based out of necessity.

After couple of years of startup journey, like most of fellow computer engineers during those yesteryears, I ventured into a safe technology corporate job. I gained completely a different set of experience working for corporate giants. Customer already committed to a project, sales and marketing pitches were already done with the customer, a contract was signed, expected outcome and time line were defined, team was formed, roles and responsibilities within the team were defined, a methodology was chosen, a formal meetings were scheduled and it was so organized.  I was so excited that all basics were taken care in that environment and even more excited that I was able to focus on solving challenging technical problems in the areas like lexical analyzer, device drivers for tablet, build process, automatic testing of products in multiple operating system, source code control systems and etc. I implemented an end to end automation of the build process, functional testing, system testing, integration testing, packaging (software was released in tape medium to the client who run in Silicon Graphics, Sun Solaris operating systems and in CD for Windows 3.11 and WinNT operating system)  installation scripts ( used to install the software in the client environment), installation testing and etc. The whole process was implemented and maintained by one person – me and along with other responsibilities (implementing device drivers, kernel programming, lexical analyzer) that I had at during the project. In a retrospect, I implemented continuous integration and continuous delivery for a one of the most complex technical projects that I worked in my career. As an industry, we didn’t use terms like CI/CD or DevOps but that was the implementation of CI/CD – Devops constructs that automated the end-to-end process from code to deploy (package that can be shipped to customer). The developers across the oceans were able to develop a new feature in the product for the next release or fix a bug (identified by the client or through internal quality assurance team)  by checking in the code in the code repository, merge the code for release, automatically test with no manual intervention and early morning report was automatically sent to all developers with any compilation or code quality issues.  This level of automation was implemented more than two decades ago and the driving factors for this level of automation was the complexity involved in the product. The product had a single copy of source code that run on multiple version of multiple operating system (HP-UX, Sun Solaris, Silicon Graphics, Window) and product features were generally available in all operating systems.  Even though, we were proud of our accomplishments during those days, we never met our end customers. We had multiple layers and teams in-between end customer and the development team. We worked on the assumption that all the features we developed were useful to the end customers but never met a customer or customer group.

After gaining years of invaluable experience in the technology-based corporations, I ventured into automobile, auto financing, bank, financial services, distribution and medical device manufacturing companies and adding more experience to my elongated career in this type of company.  Information technology space has evolved in last two decades, but one fundamental function has not changed is, developing a technology solution to solve a business problem. Machines has not arrived yet to automatically solve business problems.  In today’s corporate world, almost everyone wants to develop technology solution to solve a business problem like a startup company that evolves their solution based on the customer’s demand and like a technology company which automates end-to-end IT processes and solely focus on the business outcome.

The key takeaways are a) Enterprise Information Technology organization within a corporation primarily provides business value to the bottom line by developing software solution. In recent years, we heard the phrase, software eating the world, which is true. The software solution is an output produced by an IT organization since the inception of IT and it grew into eating the world. The software solutions are not just an enabler of an established business but also it creates new channel, product, and customer. b) The terminology and definition may be relatively new to the IT industry, but these concepts are not. As I mentioned through my personal experience, these concepts were used in pieces even few decades ago. c) With integration of various tools, open source, processes and methodologies, the continuous integration, continuous deployment, concept has been made available for easy consumption. d) The software solution development methodology and approach are more critical than ever. To enhance the collaboration among the developers, end customer, business partners, marketing team, architects, shared service organization and other stakeholders, various concepts are in place like CI/CD, DevSecOps, Agile, Kanban and these concepts/solutions are more matured and proven. It is imperative for the organization to implement these concepts/solutions and realize the expected business outcome which is, to provide respective service or product to delight their customers.

Architect’s view on Compliance & Risk Management

If we study to get just good grades; we may or may not learn. However, if we study to learn; we will always get good grades. 

The mission of an information security in an organization must be to protect and safeguard the company’s assets like customer information or intellectual properties. Objective of a compliance and risk management in an organization is to measure the success rate of information security team’s mission. If the mission of an information security team becomes to be compliant with regulation and other internal & external governance bodies; the company’s asset may or may not be protected.

Have we ever thought about why we go fast (relatively speaking) in a car? Because, we could and the cars are capable of going in high speed; but if you think deep; the reason why we go fast in car is because we have breaks.

When we go fast and do not have systematic brakes; then it is called extreme sports. We don’t want to run an established organization as an extreme sport. As an organization; we need to go in high speed but we need to have systematic way of controlling the speed with a proven brake system.

Information security, compliance, risk management teams exist in an organization to execute projects & programs faster.

MoneyBall Architect

Yesterday, I had a coffee talk with one of my external mentee (outside the organization) and he is joining a new employer next week as a data architect. He asked my advice. I started with a disclaimer; my views are not just for a data architect. I expect any architect who joins new organization to do the following. It can also be generalized as a mentoring advice for who joins new organization. The following were my spontaneous response to him.

1. Understand the core business of the organization. If it is a profit organization, understand, how the company is making money? Translate the business model into cash flow diagram in a highest level. Do not make assumption based on the generalized business practice or models. For instance, increasing the customer traffic may increase sales and profit in retail sector but it may not be the case for boutique luxury product or service offering organization. In the boutique luxury product or service organization, the focus may be to retain existing customer. Not to increase the customer base since the supply is very limited and unable to even meet current demand.
2. Understand the culture of the organization. Is the company culture is innovative, fast followers, conservative, aggressive risk takers, collaborative, bureaucratic, autocratic, open, hierarchical (control) and etc.
3. Do due-diligence, investigate, communicate, communicate and communicate with all the key stakeholders in the organization to accomplish 1 and 2.

“It is easy to complicate a thing but it is damn hard to simplify it”

After the short 30 minutes meeting, while driving to work and rushing to take my 8.30 am call in my car, I was thinking the following.

There are terminologies like canonical data model, Meta model, master data management, enterprise data flow, enterprise data bus, enterprise service bus, big data and etc in the realm of data architecture. Quite often, I hear from a passionate data architect about these terminologies in a way, I struggle to understand the tangible benefit. For instance, I hear the definition for enterprise data flow as, enterprise data flow is a structured method that record analyze summarize organize explain the key information which are illustrative to bottom line core business process with inbound outbound flow that indented for the understanding enrichment enhancement and education of key decision maker to make right business decision at the right time to improve overall objective of the business. I didn’t hear the above exact definition but I exaggerated a bit to make my point using Raju Hirani’s idea. Main goal of enterprise data flow is to show critical information to improve ultimate business purpose (like profit). I see architects engage in a prolonged discussion to define taxonomy, framework, methodology, process, tools, governance, stewardship, data quality, reference model and etc. All are great topics and leads into an intellectual discussion, but, sometimes, I noticed the discussion missed to address the ultimate purpose.

It is easy to complicate a thing but it is damn hard to simplify it. My expectation from an architect, including data architect, is to work really hard to simplify the architectural work.

I visualize a data architect as a money-ball architect. For those who have not seen the movie money-ball, the movie is about real life experience in a base-ball team Oakland Athletics where the coach hired Yale graduated economics student who was so passionate about the game and league. He studies the league rules, player profile and creates near optimal data model and analytics to run a successful professional baseball team in the league with lowest investment.

Any successful data architects are money-ball architects. Money-ball architect follows the rule, break the rule, create a new rule and break it until money-ball is identified in the massive multi-dimensional data domain, model the money-ball sub-domain data, identify the key business differentiator from the sub-domain and use it to improve ultimate business purpose.

Money-ball architect will start using canonical data model, Meta model, master data management, enterprise data flow, enterprise data bus, enterprise service bus, big data, taxonomy, framework, methodology, process, tools, governance, reference model (follow the rule). Identify the areas which are not directly contributing to identify the money-ball (break the rule) and drop those areas. Introduce a new concept which directly contributes more to identify the money ball (create new rules) and repeat it until the money ball is identified, modeled and used to improve ultimate business purpose.

To become a successful data architect, create a path for yourself to become a money-ball architect for your organization.

Future of analytics

Analytics, simply defined, a discipline of analysis has been in use for centuries. I was invited to IT leadership symposium organized by secure24, a hosting provider vendor in Michigan, USA. The event was choreographed by Thornton A. May.   It was attended by selective senior executive IT leadership team from various industries in the region.  Event was kicked off with a great opening presentation by Mr. May. The presentation was basically a story telling on how IT industry evolved to add tangible business benefit with simplified historical and anthropology examples. I really enjoyed it.

The second part (part II) of the event was panel discussion. The panel members provided very intriguing ideas, message and concept. I learnt few new things from the panel discussion.

Third part of the event; each table was given a topic and asked to discuss about the topic and present it to everyone.  My table got the topic: “Future of analytics” and I was nominated unanimously to represent our table.  My contribution to the table topic was that the future will depend on the social media and social networks. Other’s contribution was mainly on geo-fencing and its role in the analytics.  Since I was nominated to represent the table, I was structuring my thoughts on how to represent our views while listening to other table topics. Mr. May run out of time and our table was omitted and our views on the topic was not heard. I decided to display my structured thought in my blog. This is how I would have presented.

The panel discussion provided great insights and I learned few new things from the panel members. Top two things I fully agree with panel members are:

1.  Successes of IT organization are measured by its capability and capacity to execute and innovate.
2. Most critical differentiating factor of a successful IT organization is not adapting the latest technology trends like: cloud computing, mobile computing, service oriented architecture, integrated identity management. Most critical differentiating factor of a successful IT organization; “right people at the right job”. People are the one who make things happen in an organization.

“Vision without a plan is a dream and a plan without a vision is run around”

I would like to augment my view to the above points; vision without a plan is a dream and plan without a vision is a run around. People are the one who make things happen, not technology.

To be futurist and strategist, these are the few concepts to keep in mind (a repeat from my last blog post)
1. Timing is everything
2. Learn history and study current (identify the driving factors)
3. Unleash the core and its dependencies – Understand what really matters and its dependencies.
4. Connect the dots

Timing is everything:
Imagine that if  iPhone was launched 12 years ago. We would have connected to the apple store via dial-up (AOL) to down load angry bird. Data plan would have cost us $500 a month and connection speed would have frustated a lot. All other external factors would have made iPhone under PALM category.
Learn history and study current:
As far we know, when Grog in 5000BC used two sticks and rocks to graph the upward trend in sales of his new invention, the wheel, the concept “analytics” was born. Almost took seven thousand years to make a leap in this area.  What did we learn from the history? Analytics played a significant role for a mega success like Romans, Henry Ford and others. Those who understand the deep meaning of analytics made everlasting impact. Current expectation is, let the system make decisions  and receive confirmation from end user to execute the plan.  Trust over the system and acceptance of system generated decision have been increasing. Adoption to this model is accelerating.  Navigation system in the car is a prime example for the current state.
Unleash the core and its dependencies:
People are the one who make things happen and in the most of the profit and non-profit organization, people are direct or indirect consumer of goods and service. It is extremely essential to understand people to define or approximate the future. How people view the world? People define the world based on what they see and hear. World is blue when they view through blue glass and it is red when they view through red glass. Deeper view: for decades, the world has been defined numerous times every day by each individual through the social network. Historically, the social network was through snail mail, family gathering, corporate functions, bars and other occasional events. With the advancement of the technologies like smart phones, global networks, wireless networks, software tools, the social networking happens instantaneously. We are defining, redefining our world based on the instantaneous connection through invisible cosmic social network fiber. It becomes an addiction because we wanted to know what is happening around the world we defined. So facebook is addictive.
Connect the dots:
Advancement of wireless network, mobile platform, social media, and end user computing devices led to higher sophistication and at the same rate people’s mechanical monotonic life style has raised up by few notches.  They don’t have interest or time to view the product or service’s sales offering when they don’t need or not in the mood. At the same, they want to make an instantaneous execution of a decision when a systematic analysis was already performed and a decision is presented with highest level of confidence.
Conclusion:
The future of analytics will be presenting decision to you and by click of a button (or slide of a screen) you can execute the decision. For example, based on the social interaction,system will identify a consumer interest and capacity and capability;skiing during January time frame, received  hefty bonus during x-mas time and carry over vacation from the previous year should be taken before first quarter. System will be presented an offer; 5 day ski trip to the best place with lowest possible rate, with best possible quality. Once you confirm the acceptance of the recommendation/decision, everything will be taken care by the system. Once the consumer enter Denver for skiing, geo-fencing will kick in and based on the interest, pattern, spend behavior the most suitable offers applicable at Denver during that vacation time will be presented by consumer’s car while the consumer driving from Denver airport to Breckenridge ski resort.

Top Level Domains

Currently there are around 300 approved top level domains. The top level domains are .com, .gov, .net, .in, .ca and etc. Top level domain is a part of internet name space to uniquely identify a web site in the internet. For instance, blog.prabasiva.com uniquely identifies a site in internet and top level domain of the web site is .com. 

All internet name space are managed and controlled by ICANN and it is not-for-profit cooperation with participants from all over the world. The main objective is to develop policy on the internet’s unique identifiers.
History was made in this week when ICANN approved an open name space for the top level domain. It means an internet name space can have top level domains like .bank, .school, .college, .university or trademark names like .td, .starbucks, .google, .microsoft or personal names like .gates, .raji, .darshan, .deepak and etc.


There is around 350 page document published by ICANN on guidelines and procurement process to acquire new top level domains.

Pros & Cons analysis:

1. Security++++: Open top level domain name spaces will minimize web site phishing. In the current top level domain, there are lots of website phishing threats. In the current environment, it is easy to create a fake sites that impersonalize the legitmate site.  Retaining the ownership of the top level domain by the corporation completely eliminates the phishing threats.

2.Social Network++:Provides a local platform to establish communities.  Brand based communities will be established within brand site. It may be linked back to existing social networks. As the adoption of the brand based communities grows, the social networking sites like facebook will be devalued.  Potential monopoly threat from facebook will be reduced due to the emerging brand based community sites.

3.Startup+:Provides an opportunities for new start ups. Sites like .cars, .motorcycle, .banks, .autoloan will be owned by domain managers who already exist in the market (like godaddy.com) or new Startup Company can own these domains and sell the domain sub-domains. There will be intense land grab competition to acquire the common names like .cars, .computer, .tablet, .mobile and etc. It also provides an opportunity for new startup to provide full servicing in that space. For instance, if a new company owns .autoloan, they can sell the sub-domain to smaller banks, credit unions and also they can sell auto loan platform to them. It will boost the business cloud offering in the market.  There are numerous startup business opportunties.

1. Cost—–The initial registration cost is $180K and yearly fees is around $25K. There is no gurantee that the application will be approved for all applicants and if the application is rejected the application fee will not be refunded. Cost may be affordable for fortune 100 companies to register their brand. The cost may not be affordable for a startup and it has a very significant risk to reach zero value for the initial capital investment.

2.Historical data—-:.job top level domain was available for last few years. It didn’t make a significant impact to the jobs sites.

3. User Experience–:Pagerank assignment to the existing sites will have an impact if the top level domains are changed. There are technical solution to redirect the existing domains to redirect to a new top level domains.  However, the non technical end user will be confused with new top level domains.

Recommendation:
1.Corporation to buy the top level domain to retain their brand identity in the internet.
2. Corporations to buy the top level domains who are in the race to reach the dominance in a market place (like tablet, universal single sign on, and etc) to grab top level immediately.
3. Service providers who are in  dominance in a market place (like autoloan) or close to dominance are to buy the top level domains to minimize or eliminate the future potential market risk.
4. Startups who are getting into the  full service spectrum are to buy the top level domains.

My blog review in 2010

There are quite a few interesting blog post I really wanted to post in 2010 but I could not make time for it due to other priorities at work, school and home.  I’m committed to complete the following blog  before 1st qtr 2011. Here are few topics that are partially completed but soon will be posted.

  • Releastic approach to embrace, adopt and implement  cloud computing in banking and finance industry
  • Innovation strategy
  • Mobile Platform strategy
  • Reference architecture for mobile platform rapid application development.

Here is a short summary on how my  blog performanced  in 2010. The following report is automatically created by wordpress.

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 20 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 123 posts. There were 22 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 3mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was January 14th with 173 views. The most popular post that day was Different types of architects.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were linkedin.com, chiefarchitect.squarespace.com, google.com, youtube.com, and google.co.in.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for types of architects, how to become an enterprise architect, enterprise architecture as strategy, it strategy framework, and different types of architects.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Different types of architects August 2008
8 comments

2

How to become an enterprise architect ? August 2008
8 comments

3

IT Strategy – General framework June 2008

4

Software System Architecture definition process August 2008
2 comments

5

About me June 2008
9 comments