Tag: Architect

Is google’s gmail ready for enterprise use?

Genchi Genbutsu approach for enterprise architect is an apt approach in some cases and this approach is apt for validating the viability of gmail for enterprise use. As a cost saving opportunity, the enterprise email infrastructure is one of the frequently visited area for potential saving  by practical enterprise architects. It is often studied by hiring external infrastructure architect specialist in the email infrastructure area to perform a business case and cost benefit analysis and internal enterprise architects lead that study by providing the necessary internal information. To perform the initial study, generally, it cost enterprise not a negligible money and time.  For an organization of size 10,000 employees, migrating an email infrastructure from Lotus Notes or Outlook to new email infrastructure will take at least 5-6 months (my estimate before I did this project) and requires coordination and training. Before the trigger is pulled to migrate the email infrastructure for cost saving opportunities, the business case and benefit analysis should be strong.

Recently, I lead and managed a team to study the gmail  for enterprise use by following Genchi Genbutsu approach and my results are summarized below.

Team Size: 3
Duration of the project: 6 hours
No. of email users:100
Cost: $5020 ($5000 is refundable if pilot results are concluded as not successful before 30 days)

Steps followed to establish the Google app’s gmail

  1. Tried to use the free gmail for 100 users. Selected 100 users in the organization and tried to create 100 free gmail accounts. Gmail has strong spam protection measures. It didn’t allow to create more than 20 users. gmail is performing lots of user traffic analysis on their side and predicting the creation of multiple users. Even though, we wanted to create  valid gmail viability using 100 legitmate users, google has build intelligence to prevent us creating more ids. Tried quickly to flush the cache in the browser, changed the browser, changed the PCs, changed the sub net still did not work. Google must be analyzing the user traffic by looking into the public ip (ie. web proxy to reach internet cloud) of our network. No customer service or support available for gmail. All the support material are available in the site and forums. No one available to talk to regarding the problem.
  2. Decided to use the google apps gmail to validate it.
  3. Bought new domain from godaddy.com (cost around $10)
  4. Configured the email gate way of the domain in registrar (godaddy.com) site by creating the MX records and setting up the priority. Good documentation available in the google app web site.
  5. In the online, bought 10 ids  from google apps (using google’s checkout)
  6. Used their mass upload of ids to create all 10 ids. CSV file contains the user name, user id, initial password and provision to reset the password after their first login.
  7. All ids were succcesfully created.
  8. Took one id and send and received email.  MX record took around 30-40 minutes to complete the configuration. After 30-40 minutes after the ids were created, we were able to successfully send and receive emails.
  9. Used the same format and added additional 90 ids to the CSV file.
  10. Used google check out to buy additional 90 ids ($4500). Additional 90 ids were not immediately added to the account after successfull completion of the transaction. Waited 40 minutes and tried to reach google check out support. There is no support/help desk number available. No contact information for sales.  I felt, may be, my credit card company is not authorizing the transaction since the amount is considerably large. Called the credit company’s support and found out the transaction didn’t reach the credit card company yet.  Waited for additional 20 minutes and assumed  google checkout is not authorizing consecutive  legitamate transactions in a short time (less than 60 minutes)
  11. Meantime, sent emails to their corporate support email address, google apps support email address, google checkout support email address screaming for “HELP”
  12. Repeated step 3-4 for a different domain and bought 100 ids this time. Transaction was complete and ids were not added to the account.. Got stuck again!!!
  13. Got a call from Google’s check out support. Told them what I wanted and second transaction was cancelled and additional 90 ids were added.
  14. Deleted all 10  ids I used to perform end to end test
  15. Tried to upload the 100 ids at one time.. Failed!!! Tried different combination, removed special character in the password, removed white spaces and few others. Nothing worked and everything FAILED!!!
  16. Tried to upload ONLY new 90 ids at one time. Successful!!!
  17. Once the ids were deleted, it can not be created immediately. It will take 5-7 days to recreate the same id. Strange!!
  18. For those 10 ids, had a different format ‘_’ instead of ‘.’ after the first and last name of the gmail address
  19. Loaded the 10 ids and it worked.
  20. Personalized the first page with company name, logo and etc.

Finding:

  • It took less than 1 hour (once the ID’s are successfully bought) to create all 100 ids.
  • Each id has 25GB mail box size
  • Administrator can manage all users, implement security policy, configure mail relays easily using the gmail console, restrict the traffic and etc
  • Quick training material was developed easily
  • SSL enforcement can be centrally done by the administrator
  • Calendar, docs sharing, chat are part of the gmail
  • It is apt for a small size (less than 1000 employees) company
  • Fast, inexpensive, sufficient email space

Is google’s gmail ready for enterprise (10,000+ employees) use?

Short answer: No

Fuzzy answer: Almost there but not quite yet

Detail Answer:Support is the big concern. I could not talk to any one whenever I had a problem. I understand their support strategy. Provide all necessary information and empower the user to resolve the issues by them self. That is good strategy from google stand point. Not a customer friendly strategy. I had legitimate support issues during the check out and recreating the deleted ids. I had to wait for their support teams mercy whenever I had problem. Google is over analyzing the traffic and stopping the legitimate traffic. I can’t make 10,000+ employees depend on this infrastructure, when there is a problem, we need to wait for mercy of their support team to call us. Here is the screen shot of the 404 error received during the pilot (removed the company logo!!)

 

 gmailerrorConclusion:

Wait for Google’s revised support strategy or ask your 10000+ employees to use free gmail for one or two years for their personal use before you transfer the corporate email infrastructure infrastructure to google app’s gmail.

Open Source Enterprise Architecture tool

During my UML modeling days, this question always stuck me with no answer. When you define a class, let me take an example as  male, you inherit a super class called human. All human attributes will be made available to male class. Then you define sub class like infant, child, teen, middle aged, aged etc.. inheritance takes the attributes from its super class. When you instantiate an object like middle aged male and let the name of the object be “Joe the plumber“, the object, Joe the plumber will have all the attributes defined in all of his class and his super classes. For generalization of the attributes of an object, UML has been doing an exemplary job. However, Joe the plumber is not same as all middle aged male. He has some unique attributes that most of plumber nor middle aged male does not have it. How to capture the unique attributes in the model. UML models completely failed to capture the attribute for an unique case or object.

We have seen marketing ads and commericals in TV that personalization is key for this and next generation marketing and sales. Each individual customers are targeted for promoting a product or service. Three to four years ago, I initiated my search to seek what industry is doing to address personalization design and that is when I ended with OWL, Protege.

Protege is an ontology tool. Ontology is few thousand  years old concept. I think it started from Ancient Greeks. Ontology is a presentation of knowledge. Immediately I became the registered member of Protege and have been using it (Frequency -> 1 hour a month, an average) for last 3-4 years. It is a very good tool to present information asset in the organization. It is easy to use once you spend significant amount of time to understand the concept and usage. I believe it will take some time to be ready for commercial use with idiot proof user interface.

Lately, I came to know that there is an open source enterprise architect plugin developed for Protege. It is called EssentialProject. It is a good enterprise architecture ontology editor. You can download it from enterprise architecture.org site.

Twitter in enterprise

In last few weeks, there has been increased attention to Twitter micro blogging concept and technology since president elect Barack Obama’s twitter account was hacked along with few other celeberties.  Micro blogging was a dismissed concept in its infancy stage and due to its adaption particularly by the teens  it gained its popularity and benefit visualization was accomplished in a short time span.

Micro blogging is a compontent of web 2.0 and web 2.0 has been seriously considered by enterprises to maximize the benefits.  Vivek Kundra was promoting Twitter in the public office and there are major benefits of micro blogging in the emergency operation.

My views on how Twitter can be applied to an enterprise.

  1. Twitter can be used to communicate the status of various team members tasks in Agile software development methodology.
  2. Twitter can be used to keep the key stakeholder updated on the recent progress in production outages resolution (part of incident management)
  3. Twitter can be used to keep the team members up to date on execution of a major projects when teams are spread across the states, countries and continents
  4. Twitter can be used to understand what employees really LOVE to do. (All HR policies must be applied before enterprise uses this information for its use)

Vivek – New IT Role Model

Vivek Kundra is a new role model  for me and he will be a role model for any ambitous enterprise architects and IT strategiest. For the enterprise architects who enjoys their job to make an impact to organization’s bottom line, Vivek would be one of a good role model to them.  It is encouraging to me that he has been able to push IT innovative solutions to a Government organization by over coming the office  politics,why can’t the Enterprise architects in the corporate America be able to push those kind of innovative, cost effective solutions. It is encouraging!!

I wish good luck to Vivek and inspire more innovative minds  of future economy.

High Demand IT jobs in 2009

In the recent well know IT industry research firm’s study, analysts (the authors of the paper)  identified list of IT roles hard to fill even in this market. In the  paper, the top most of list is enterprise architect. EA role is  hard to find even in this poor job market. The report also stated that the demand of enterprise architect in 2008 grew and predicted that the demand of enterprise architect will continue to grow in 2009. The sample taken in the study is in the range of 250 companies.

Why companies hire enterprise architects even in this poor job market and here are my rationale.

  1. Enterprise Architect is not like programming or administration skill. It can not be mastered by under going a certification process. It is a good balanced combination of  IT  and business knowledge to assist the senior executives to identify the discretionary and mandatory  spend of organization.
  2. Cost optimization ideas are most needed and common in this economic climate and enterprise architect would play a significant role. Enterprise architects would be able to come with out of box ideas to sustain in the market condition. The specific ideas are based on the industry. Just to amplify the above point, let me take BFSI industry. A seasoned enterprise architect in BFSI industry will understand the major driver of the business and propose an investment strategy to the office of CIO.  Even to be more precise, in this credit market, consumer leading companies shall look for a refined credit score cards and EA would provide recommendation to executive management office that the systems in the IT landscape should be flexible to accommodate the changes to support the credit score card. Influence the executive steering committee of investment strategy team to assign more weights to credit scorecard project since it has direct impact to the bottom line of the lending business. Even in some cases, based on their business knowledge depth, EA are in good position to even recommend the credit risk management team in the lending company  various options available to non traditional credit score card fit the current economical situation. In stead of traditional logistic regression credit scoring model, they would be in better position to recommend how the joint time frequency analysis (like wavelet analysis, Gabor transformation, short time Fourier transform and etc)  can be applied particularly in this economy. There is no standard scoring model available which analyze the behavior of the credit market in the joint time and frequency domains and it is very appropriate in this economic situation.

Enterprise Architecture – Team Size Analysis

I believe there has been increased clarity on the information architecture roles in the recent years. Particularly there are few good healthy discussions on how to develop an enterprise architects and what should be their roles? and what is the value proposition to an organization? In general, there is a better awareness in the senior and executive management teams to differentiate an enterprise architect with other architects (system architects, information architects, business architects, process architects and etc). It has been a challenge for the executives to define the apt size of the enterprise architects for their organization.

The question is: What is the apt size of an enterprise architecture team for an organization?

Consultant Answer: It depends..

Consultant answer is correct.

The real question is: What are the factors used to determine size of an enterprise architecture team in an organization?

The list of enterprise level factors used to determine the size of an enterprise architecture team.

  • Number of products/service provided by the organization
  • Revenue of the organization
  • Profit of the organization
  • Business Process maturity of the organization
  • Finance & controlling maturity level

The list of IT factors used to determine the size of an enterprise architecture team.

  • Number of people (including employees, contractors, consultants, out sourced) and their ratio
  • IT budget and Finance management controls
  • IT Process and system maturity level
  • Enterprise architecture adaption rate (or EA maturity assessment)

Based on the above factors the EA team can be classified as large, medium and small. Large is of team size of 50+, medium is of team size between 15-50 and small is of team size less than 20. Let me emphasis the small EA team. I believe majority of the corporation will come under this category and let me expand on the small size of EA team.

Organization structure for a small size EA Team:

Chief Architect (or manager of EA team) should directly report to the CIO. Along with EA function, IT Finance management, IT Security, SOX controls, vendor management functionalities also should come under the same small size EA team.

(Double click the image to zoom..)

Patterns in software engineering – An Introduction

What is a pattern? (in software engineering world)

A predefined solution for a problem for the given context.

Key words in the above definition is problem, solution and the context.

What are the different categories of the patterns ? (in software engineering)

  • Analysis patterns
  • Design patterns
  • Architectural patterns
  • Technology patterns
  • Integration patterns

Why do we use the patterns?

Objective of patterns is to enhance

  • Reusabililty
  • Repeatability

in return will fetch

  • Cost efficiency
  • Agility (time to market)

Where the pattern concepts started in general ?

The pattern concept has been in use for thousands of years. In the building architecture and design, we have been using the patterns quite extensively. Ancient buildings like pyramids, roman collegium and lot more used the patterns in the implementation. For instance, the pillars used in ancient temples built in Thailand, India and etc are patterns. They did not design the pillars every time. The pillars are to hold the load of the building. We can notice the reusability and repeatability of the pillars in multiple places in those ancient building architecture which in returned improved the ancients to be effective and quick.

What are the types of patterns in each category?

There are conceptual, logical and physical patterns in each category. Conceptual patterns are very high level solution for the given problem at the given context. Physical patterns spells out the implementation solution for the given problem at the given context. Logical patterns are between physical and conceptual.