Tag: Architecture

Technical Architecture Component – Service Delivery Model

In a previous blog posting, I provided an exhaustive list of almost all technical components.  Each one of the component plays a role to enable holistic IT service to support business function.  However,to run a successful IT organization, does the IT organization required to have a handle on each component in the list?

Lately, my former  colleague and good friend, who works for GE now, have been discussing the importance of oral and written communication skills in an executive level job.  During those discussion, it occurred to me that the next generation corporate communication will be much more simplified and tailored to individual audience. An executive from Gen Y, may not have patience to read a document to understand the status of a company or progress of a project.  The type of communication tools and channels will be used by Gen Y executives are yet to discovered but it is  incubating for evolution.

Keeping those thoughts in my mind, instead of using a traditional method like Venn diagram to communicate direct  involvement level in technical components  by an IT organization, I would like to use the  abstract pictures to demonstrate current involvement and transition to a different level by adapting managed service and cloud computing concepts.

When IT organization is  a cost center (it means it does not directly generate revenue for the company), the organization required to focus on technology stack which provides competitive advantage to its core business. It is particularly essential during this challenging economical time to focus on technologies that impacts business bottom line. The IT organization must have no or minimum direct involvement in non strategic technical components.

The figure 1. abstract picture provides current IT direct involvement in four categories. I have seen, still companies have internally maintain and manage payroll systems for its employee. For an instance, if an IT organization is supporting financial service or retail business, there is absolutely no competitive advantage for that organization to manage internal payroll systems. The reason is not just for cost saving, but the key point is focus.

Around fifteen years ago, the options were limited to leverage outsourced payroll service but now, there are lots of options available to receive world class service on common business services. Common business services are, but not limited to, payroll, badge system, email, infrastructure system softwares, infrastructure monitoring, corporate communication tool set, learning and development, pension, benefits,  IT asset management, IT Finance management and etc. These services are readily available from a third party providers as a service. These services are all required for any IT organization but, generally not a differentiator for cost center IT organization.

IT organization’s senior executives and CIO wanted their organization to focus on technologies directly contributes to their business bottom line.  The systems/technologies that  touches the end user of their core business, and the systems directly used to support the business process.

Managed service and cloud computing are two solution available to let the organization focus on differentiator technology and let the partner perform the rest.

Managed service is a concept to leverage partners to provide a pre-term service.  IT organization manages the partner in a SLA level with no or very minimum involvement in solution design. Managed service deals are designed for fixed terms for fixed service portfolio. This deal package limits organization’s agility to fluctuate their service portfolio requirement based on its business needs.

Cloud computing is  an elastic managed service concept and it provides flexibility to scale up or down based on business needs with no prior commitment  on terms and service portfolio.  On cloud computing service offering from various providers like google & amazon, IT organization required to FOCUS on differentiator technologies and manage the rest by managing the SLA but not by technology (technical component)

Technical Architecture Components

In general, infrastructure or data center cost is around 35-40% of an over all IT cost. Due to the high cost absorption in that area, it is prudent for any senior executive in the IT organization to have a better handle on the infrastructure cost.  The industry lacks uniformity in the cost management of IT as a whole and it applies to infrastructure/data center cost. The various cost management structure are available to manage the over all IT cost and it depends on the size and type of an organization. However, the general principle remain the same.

IT infrastructure cost  looked closely for IT cost optimization by every chief information officers. It is essential, particularly during this economical climate, to look the infrastructure cost distribution and study the alternative approaches for cost and competitive advantage. Chief Enterprise architects are directed by CIO and other senior executives to develop an IT infrastructure cost optimization program. To accomplish it, the enterprise architect must understand the high level information of  various components of  infrastructure and develop a technical architectural strategy.  Technical architectural strategy defines the future state and provides a foundation, the blueprint, for the infrastructure/data centre cost optimization program.

For any future state analysis and definition, the current state is studied and understood before a road map is developed to reach the future state.  1. To study the current state, itemize the various components of technical architecture and the service rendered in each components.

Components of technical/infrastructure architecture

  • Hardware
    • Servers
      • Distributed
        • WinTel
          • Linux
          • Windows
        • RISC
          • HP-UX
          • AIX
          • SGI
          • SUN Solaris
      • Mainframe
        • MVS
        • AS/400
    • Disk arrays
      • SAN storage
      • NAS storage
      • Backup
    • Network
      • Logical
        • Extranet
        • Internet
        • Intranet
      • Physical
        • Network Appliances (SSL accelerators, Net Cache devices, XML appliance)
        • Network devices (Routers, Switches, VPN devices, Hubs, Firewall, Wireless,Intrusion prevention)
        • Telephony devices (Dialer, ACDs, IVRs, PBX)
      • External Connectivity
        • SFTP drop box
        • VPN Tunnel
        • T1 line
        • ANX
        • OC3/5 internet connectivity
        • Frames/MPLS
    • Desktop
      • PC
      • Laptop
      • Mobile devices (iPhone, BlackBerry, Smart Phones, pagers)
  • Software
    • System Software
      • Server operating systems
      • Network operating system
      • Storage operating system
      • Desktop operating system
      • Compilers, Interpreters
      • File system management (VSAM, GFS )
      • Name resolution system (DNS)
      • Email servicing system (SMTP)
    • Web infrastructure
      • Application Server
      • Web Server
      • Portal Server
    • Data Administration
      • Database server – OnLine Transaction Processing (OLTP)
      • Data ware house
      • Reporting
      • Business Intelligence
    • Office management
      • Microsoft Office/OpenOffice
      • Email client
      • Browser
      • Remote login
      • Security – Virus prevention
    • Service Layer
      • Business process server
      • Message broker
      • Connector – database drivers, bridges,
    • Monitoring and control management
      • Service monitoring
      • Device monitoring
      • Compliance management
        • Data Loss prevention
        • Login monitoring
    • Collaboration Management server
    • Document management server
    • Storage Management Server
    • Emergency Management Service
      • Disaster Recovery Management
      • Business continuity Management
    • Enterprise Resource Planning (it will expand based on the core business)
      • Financials
        • Accounting
        • Management Accounting
          • Cash flow management
          • Fund flow management
      • HR
      • Procurement
  • Data center Services
    • Power grid architecture
    • Power Distribution Units (PDUs)
    • Backup power –
      • Automatic generators
        • Cooling and backup cooling for generators
        • Fuel capacity and distribution management
    • Cooling and heating
      • Backup cooling and heating
    • Wiring management
    • Rack management
    • Physical security
  • Security Service
    • Directory Services
    • Identity Management Services
      • User provisioning
      • Authentication
      • Authorization
      • User management
      • User de-provisioning
    • Network Security
    • Intrusion prevention
    • Firewall protection
    • Layered protection
      • Zoning – web zone, app zone, database zone, messaging zone, Demilitarized zone, file exchange zone

The service offering in each area depends on an enterprise.  Some enterprise has internal teams to provide all these services  and some has outsourced all of them. Mostly, enterprises adopt a hybrid approach with both external service provider and internal teams.  2. Define the future state in terms of strategic objectives like IT simplification, cost optimization, adaptability, agility for new market segment and etc.  3. For each component of the infrastructure, perform a SWOT, cost and new solution analysis and define the road map.

Cloud Computing Architect

Due to the information over load and power full search engines like google.com, bing.com, the authentic information is freely available for almost any topic ranging from quantum mechanics to cloud computing. An average person can have a decent conversation about any topic with a minimum effort. It is real challenge to determine a real expert in any field in the current information over load.

Experts are not born but they are made. Before an expert becomes an expert they are beginners searching information to get familiar with the topic. In the information over load, a beginner can easily be represented as an expert.

Cloud computing has lots of attention in the current business environment, and IT executives really struggle to differentiate the cloud computing architect with a person JUST knows the right buzz words. A guidelines to differentiate an cloud computing architect and a person JUST knows the right buzz words with basic knowledge about cloud computing.

Cloud computing Architect:

1. In depth understanding of cloud computing tool box –

  • Understands the existence and usage of various technical and business cloud environment
  • Understands the technical and business stack type in each cloud and usage of those stack for cloning
  • Understands each logical and physical unit of the stack (like storage, database, BPMS, OWL, UML, business services like loan origination, consultative service, collection and etc)
  • Understands behind the scene technology (like cloud operating system, virtualization, storage area network, data transfer rate, raid type, data redundancy, disaster recovery plan and etc). Some argue, understanding behind the scene technology is not required for an architect. In my strong opinion, that is the differentiator between an architect (expert or evangelist ) and novice (quick concept exposed person). It helps the expert to pick right solution for the right problem.

2. Enterprise view of the cloud –

  • Various possible integration of cloud solutions
  • Latency between each cloud solutions

3. Solution design –

  • Various possible instantiation of the enterprise view of cloud

4. Solution delivery

  • This is the most important aspect of a cloud computing architect. First 3 area focuses on the various solution design and its components. The solution delivery focuses on solving a business problem using the packaged cloud solution. It is business problem and solution matching exercise. To illustrate the role of an cloud computing architect let me take a very practical simple example. Let us say, a company wants to sell loan (retail or lease)organization as a service to a smaller banks or credit unions.  For this business problem, the solution provider (let us say the company name is FinCo) has to understand the common business process involved in loan organization and customized loan organization for each customer (bank or credit unit) and both common and customized loan organization needs to be implemented using the technology stack like LAMP, Messaging, persistence database and etc. The common loan organization also be imaged for deployment. Common loan organization can be an cloud solution and it is ready to use. When a Finco, get a new customer, it can deploy the common solution in the cloud and made necessary modification to customize the customer needs.Deploying a solution using the loan organization cloud can be done by a sales or presale technical team. The architecture of the loan organization stack in the cloud will be done by the cloud computing architect.

Cloud Computing Architecture and its future..

Cloud computing concept continue to receive acceptance and its adaption increases exponentially.

I heard today from one of vendor representative that he grew up in the farm and growing up in the farm means he had to learn whatever required in no time to do farming. He confirmed my thoughts on how farm boys grow up in the farm. Cloud computing basically took the farm boy approach. Do whatever is required to do the job!

Fifteen years ago, the PC support team use to install the operating system (windows 3.11,MS-DOS ) in each and every PCs and PC support cost use to be a significant cost in the IT shop. As repetitive mundane tasks mandates  innovation, solution like Norton Ghost solution were emerged and hence deployment made easy and drove the PC support cost down.

Cloud computing took the Norton Ghost solution to the server environment.  Like me, I can imagine most of the IT members spent significant time in  building the development, testing, staging and production environment for each application and spent  time to ensure that all the environment were build alike and still had environment behaved differently for unknown reasons. Cloud computing solves all theses problems.

Key components of cloud computing:

Utilizing the external storage in the server environment has been in use for quite a while. In some cases, like manufacturing production databases, selecting the apt external storage platform including hardware, storage operating system, connectivity and raid types plays a vital role in the system architecture.  Likewise, in the cloud computing, the storage and processing unit are physically separated and logically connected as and when required. It includes the boot volume too.  To manage both processing units and storage units, an external operating system called cloud computing operating system is used. There are vendors like vmware sells cloud computing operating system like vmware vSphere and there are open source cloud computing operating system like eyeOS

  • Processing Units
  • Storage units
  • Cloud computing OS
  • Network units

Architecture of cloud computing:

For external users

Have a OC3 or OC12 or OC48 internet link based on your requirement to connect to the internet for your data center. Have a cisco 7200 series and cisco ACE series for your first and second layers of your network. Have netcahce or ssl accelerator or intrusion prevention devices based on your requirements. Connect the internal vlan with blade server (HP) and storage units like EMC. Slice the EMC luns to have a preload images like Redhat, Windows with preloaded system software like application server, web server, domain name server, database server, director server and etc. Install the cloud computing operating system in the external boxes and link both processing and storage units. The cloud computing operating system manages both processing and storage units.

If there are requirements to connect stand alone servers, it can be connected in the internal vlan.

The architecture is straight forward and purposefully I’m not drawing it.

For internal users:

The same architecture expect OC3 internet link.

Cloud Computing Future:

The concept is very cost effective and efficient. Instead of building images for production servers with application server, web server, database server and etc.. the image will be elevated to more business unit image. Loan processing image, collection and customer service image, delinquency image, skip tracing image,  bankruptcy, treasury, securitization, point of sale and etc.  The technology cloud is in the phase of reaching maturity and business cloud is emerging. There is a huge potential for the players who get quickly into the business cloud.

Think about for a minute, if you are bank, why do you want to spend time on building IT infrastructure to process loan. Banks JUST want to focus on getting good papers, good customers and not worry about how the assets are stored, retrieved and processed. Whoever get into business cloud will lead that market segment for a while!!


Twitter – Add ons

Thank you to Steve towers on his article on top five business research tools in twitter. Twittersearch and Twellow are my favourites.  I can connect with people who matter. Great concept and abundant business value.  I searched for topics I currently work in twittersearch and got the list of people who also work in the same area.  I saw few twitters aligned to my mental model about simple things like particles.  Twellow helped me to explore twittersphere. I love this picture which I found in less than 2 minutes through twittersearch.

stew

I’m sure, String theoriest want to replace every thing on the table except the bowl and book with noodles (strings) but I’m not sure I will be there for that debate.

An Evaluation Matrix for an Enterprise Architect

Some times, a simple concept may be crystal clear to you in your mind, but, it may be difficult to grasp by the audience. Enterprise Architects must continuously work on the soft skills to communicate a message successfully irrespective of the audience knowledge level. In that regard, an evaluation matrix for an enterprise architect is given below.

  • Perform the necessary action to meet the given objective and unable to communicate to the necessary stakeholders = FAILED,  as an enterprise architect to meet the mission
  • Does not perform the necessary action to meet the given objective & unable to communicate to the necessary stakeholders = FAILED, as an enterprise architect to meet the mission
  • Does not perform the necessary action to meet the given objective = FAILED, as an enterprise architect to meet the mission
  • Perform the necessary action to meet the given objective and able to communicate to the necessary stakeholders = SUCCESSFUL, as an enterprise architect to meet the mission

A set of soft skill must be possessed by an enterprise architect to be a successful enterprise architect. Enterprise architect must be able to connect to the application team, infrastructure team, IT finance team, IT procurement team, business teams, senior management, executive management and others.

Future AAS

Cloud computing is in the horizon. The topic has come to architects and strategist for a consideration and discussion.  It is not in the research paper any more. It is viable to any enterprise as a technological innovative solution  for cost efficiency, speed and agility.

At this time, I should say, all the enterprise architects, strategist and IT leaders are familiar with SaaS model. Salesforce.com is a prime example of a successful SaaS model and the trust index for this business model has transformed to trust worthy due to its success.

A successful business model is always twicked and fine tuned for an another business model in a different market segment. Saas is not an exception. SaaS concept has been extropolated to other areas and there are quite a few “Aas” prolifirated so far. Here are the few..

  • Infrastructure As a Service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (Paas)
  • Database as a Service (Daas)
  • STorage as a service (STaas)
  • E-mail as a Service (EaaS)
  • Desktop as a Service (DEaas)
  • ERP as a service (ERaaS)

and this list is expected to grow. IaaS and Paas sounds the same but there is a subtle difference between IaaS and PaaS. PaaS provides a platform with a set of APIs to develop applications. GoogleApp engine is a prime example of PaaS whereas Iaas provides a stack of hardware infrastructre like servers, database, network, web server, application server and etc.

Amazon is a leader in the cloud computing space. No surprise that Amazon made lots of money in the tough economy but also they projected better outlook in future. Amazon stock would become like apple or google stock.