Tag: Enterprise Architecture

Execution Strategy

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Application portfolio management drives technology road map definition and hence the first step is to perform application portfolio management. In the application portfolio management, the applications in the landscape are assigned in to four different categories. Members of each categories depends on IT and business strategies and the categories are:

1.Replace, 2.Retain, 3.Sundown and 4.Introduce

Follow the enterprise sundown procedure for applications under sundown. Now, group the applications which are in the categories under replace, retain and introduce. Create an enterprise business process map and align the applications under the business process map. Align all the technologies used for each application. At this point, a holistic high level chart which maps business processes to set of applications and set of applications to technologies will be established. To attain ultimate end results, this chart or map should be kept high level and focus on the major items in both application and technology layer. 

A successful, practical and value added enterprise architect will strike a good balance on capturing key information in this step and avoid details. For instance, there is no focus on items like 2 Mac work stations being used by Marketing to create corporate font or no focus on items like a Lotus Notes system being used by five users in a field location.

 A general approach to map the application landscape categories to technology landscape categories is given below.
Retain: Evaluate the technology used of the retained applications and ensure it meets the technology roadmap principle
Replace: Perform – Build Vs Buy analysis. For build or buy solution – ensure it adhere to technology road map principle. Follow the sun down procedure for the current application
Introduce: Perform – Build Vs buy analysis. For build or buy solution – ensure the solution adhere to technology road map principle.

Basic principle in defining the technology road map is distinguishing differentiating and commodity technologies in the landscape.  The simple idea of categorizing the technology stack into these categories is as follows.

  • Investment  in differentiating technologies
  • Optimize the cost in commodity technologies

 

Differentiator and commodity depends on type of industry. For instance, for banking and finance industry, the key differentiators are security, compliance, investor confidence and investment management. Whereas, for energy and utility sector, the key differentiators are safety, security, green technologies and energy efficiency.  For any profit organization, the corporate strategy, IT strategy, finance strategy and etc are reflection of competitive strategy. Conceptually the differentiator factors for each industry can be analyzed but competitive strategy of the organization defines the attributes of differentiators within the market sector.

Ideally, the differentiators from competitive strategy transform into corporate strategy and infused into each organization strategy. The strategy alignment ensures unidirectional execution across the entire corporation.

In a recent project scenario I worked on, the following are top seven differentiating and commodity technologies for a company in banking and finance market sector.

The top 7 differentiating technology areas are: 1.Security, 2.Compliance, 3.IT Service Mgmt, 4.Integration, 5.Dataware house, 6.Back office and 7.Private Cloud.

The top 7 commodity technology areas are: 1.Operating System, 2.Application Server, 3.Web Server, 4.Database Server, 5.Desktop, 6.Storage and 7.Collaboration 

The outcome of the technology roadmap is to have a positive net value in terms of cost, flexibility, security, adaptability, agility and sustainability. A solid technology implementation plan is created with strong foundation of principles, alignment with corporate direction, executive sponsorship, and senior leadership endorsement. These are key required qualities to execute a plan successfully.  

Secrets for technology roadmap execution

 Integrate the architecture team part of the technology delivery team.

 Bring the industry best product experts to implement technology road map. Take time to on broad the best expert with great positive attitude and learning aptitude to the architecture team.

 The attitude of the experts plays a major role to implement technology roadmap successfully.Since commodity technologies will be replaced, the current support team of the current commodity technologies will demonstrate strong resistance to introduce and implement the replacement technologies. Industry experts with deep knowledge and great positive attitude will defeat the resistance of current support teams and infuse confidence in them.

Conduct technology forum discussions and participate in all enterprise or departmental town hall meetings and explain the reason and rationale for technology changes to the developers, application managers and illustrate the measurable value of new technology road map.

Bring the market research analyst and research documents to the organization and provide evidence and case studies on the selected technology roadmap’s success stories in the industry. 

Identify low hanging fruits, implement it quickly and celebrate success. 

Ensure the implementation teams understand that failure is not an option.

Ensure the implementation teams understand that there is no fall back plans available in case of failure to implement the new technology.

 Ensure the implementation teams does not look back and second guess all the technology decisions made. At the same time, assign in-house industry experts to the implementation teams to overcome any technical challenges they face. For complex technical problems, engage the premier support team immediately to augment in-house industry experts to uncover and solve complex technical problems.

 Engage the experts and define detail architecture to cover scalability and high availability.

 Finally, engrain “MAKE IT HAPPEN” mindset to the technology implementation teams.

 All the above steps are not just a theory. Above framework was followed and technology roadmap was defined and it was successfully implemented in less than 8 months for a large company in banking and finance sector. we “MADE IT HAPPEN”

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IT Strategy: In the absence of a Business strategy

Business strategy drives IT strategy. But, what drives IT strategy in the absence of clearly defined business strategy?

Identification of successful business strategy in a dynamically evolving consumer and financial markets is extremely challenging and sometimes, it is impossible. Look back in few years, take business strategies of top companies and their result today, and hence the evidence of extreme complexity and challenge exist in defining successful business strategy for an organization in a dynamic market.

IT strategy supports business strategy in spite of the out come of the business strategy. True. However, the point is, some times business strategy can not be defined clearly or it does not exist and in that case, how the IT strategy should be defined.

In the absence of business strategy, IT strategy is to increase the value of IT organization.  Now the questions are, what is IT valuation and how to measure it, and finally how to increase it?

I had the opportunity to work with a purchase accounting project for a well known demerger in the auto industry.  I noticed, there is a significant market opportunity for a IT valuation model in spite of 3 of  big 4 consulting and accounting companies were heavily involved in that project. So I developed a simple IT valuation model to determine the fair market value of an IT organization to readjust the book value of IT assets.

To simplify it, let me put a different spin to IT valuation. Purchase accounting occurs after a merger or demerger occurs. But, before a merger or acquisitions occurs, an organization is evaluated for its market value. That includes tangible and intangible assets. The tangible assets are mostly fixed assets and over the years, valuation process for the tangible assets is more matured. Most of the IT valuation comes from intangible assets.  For a pure technology companies like Microsoft, Intel, the intangible assets of the organization can be quantified by patents, copy rights, trade mark and etc. For an IT organization supports a business function in banking and finance, oil and gas and etc, the intangible asset valuation is challenging.

In those scenarios, the intangible assets are:

  • An organization ability to adapt to market change in terms of capacity & capabilities. ie scale up or down infrastructure based on future requirements
  • An organization ability to develop a rapid applications for future requirement – skill set, processes, knowledge
  • An organization’s efficient operating cost mode –  in terms of license, hardware depreciation
  • An organization’s IT general controls and management – IT risk management, Security Management, compliance management

The above intangible assets of an organization improves the value of IT organization. It will be reflected  in case of merger or an acquisition.  In the absence of clearly defined business strategy, take the above strategic objectives of  IT strategy and plan.

The above IT strategy will reduce the cost, improve the over all reliability, flexibility, security and adaptability  of an IT organization. It requires investment and the question is how a CIO can justify the ROI for the above initiative.Biggest advantage of the above approach is, the initiative does not require any additional incremental cost. Since it has very high ROI, it will sponsor the project from its saving and improves the value of IT organization. When there is no clearly defined business strategy then the IT strategy is to improve the value of IT organization.

If any one interested to understand the granular details of the above IT strategy, practical difficulties of framing the strategy, actual results and etc. More blog postings will follow to provide the details of the above steps. Mean time, if you’re impatience and you need immediate information,  please do not hesitate to contact me.

2010 Hot Tech Jobs

“Everyone knows someone who loves Honda” commercial in context with Honda Facebook is a prime example how social network channels have changed today’s business.  If any IT executives still thinks that social networking platform is for kids and teenagers, wake up! You have already missed lots of opportunity, try to speed up and catch on.

Social network is integral in today’s sales and marketing for almost all products and services.  Customization of a product or service based on each individual requirement is not a new concept and it has been discussed and implemented in isolation. The challenge faced before was to approximate each individual’s requirements and social network is an approach to approximate individual’s requirement. Once the requirements are understood, social networks are again used to influence individual customers to buy the given product or service. There are quite a few books written to leverage social network to promote and market products and services. To summarize, in today’s challenging market, it is obvious and evident that social network plays major role in selling product and services to consumers and some cases, even to big corporations.

Given this context, current economical circumstances, growth potential, emergence of cloud computing, compliance conformance requirements,

The following IT jobs will have high market demand in 2010..

1. Enterprise Architect – (Thorough understanding of business process management, business strategy, IT strategy, portfolio management, social networking tools ,techniques and its business application and etc)
2. Security Officer/Analyst (Audit, compliance,policy management, Threats from social networking, Identify Management Strategy,proactive incident avoidance – data loss prevention)
3. Network Engineer – (SAN/IPS/BGP/SONET/DNS/Firewall/Load Balancer/NetCache devices/SSL Accelerator/SMTP/SNMP/High availability/Disaster recovery/..)
4. Cloud Architect ( Cloud operating system – like VMVare, Business cloud)
5. Application Architect – (open source technologies,blog – wordpress, blogspot, facebook, youtube, SaaS, twitter, GoogleWave, web services, Rich Internet application – AJAX/Adobe Flex/Microsoft Silverlight)
6. Information Architect (Data Mining, Dataware house, Reporting, business intelligence, text minig, search optimization)
7. ERP specialist (SAP, PeopleSoft, JD Edward, Oracle financial, Banking – Fidelity, FiServ, Shaw, Phoenix, Hartland, and etc) 
8. Vendor/Contract Management ( ITIL)
9. Program/Project Management (PMBOK, PRINCE frameworks)
10.Smart Phone Application Architecture & Design – (iPhone, BlackBerry, etc)

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.

Rapid Solution Delivery Framework

In this tough economical situation, leading a multi-million, multi-year project to a failure is not an option for any corporation.  Leaders or managers who lead project for years without successful implementation must be watched closely by the executive management for their performance during this economical situation. I totally understand an organization can learn from their mistakes, but successful organization learns from others mistakes but not on their own cost.

The project managers and leaders are seeking the best possible ways to ensure successful implementation in spite of any unforeseen hindrance in the execution. Even for the multi-million dollar projects utilizing the cost effectively solution are demanded. The project managers and leaders are seeking the best enterprise or system architect to provide solution to exceed customer expectation, meet requirements and at the same time provide most innovative and cost effective solution.  Enterprise architects or system architects are required to have a set of tools in their arsenal to provide a rapid cost effective solution with highest possible success rate.

Rapid Solution Delivery Framework is an abstract concept used to rapidly define a cost effective and innovative solution. The key components of the framework are:

1. Cloud computing
2. Open source
3. Social network tools

Cloud computing: It addresses the rapid infrastructure setup or applicaton setup or business rules for any solution delivery. The cloud platform may come from external public cloud provider like Amazon or internal cloud provider or external private cloud provider (like secure24, rackspace for infrastructure) . It is rapid way of setting up the infrastructure for the solution delivery. There may be cases where cloud platform may also provide business solutions.

Open Source: There are lots of commercial software product companies leveraging the open source or supporting or sponsoring the open source to improve their commercial product quality tremendously. For instance, IBM supports Apache product development and leverages the Apache web server and bundles it as a IBM HTTP Server (I H S). The open source concepts are not pertained to system software. The open source concept proliferated to various segments and even in the chemical bonding structural analysis there are lots of open source tools available where the researchers and students easily learn and collaborate. Open source has become an integral of any IT solution delivery model.  Open source provides wide range of solutions from operating system, system software (webserver, database server, application server), application development frameworks (spring, hibernate, struts), security (OpenSSO, Crowd, OpenLDAP) , application development IDEs (like eclipse, Galileo ) and etc. These open source products not only provide quality solutions but also provide cost effective solutions.

Social network tools: Social networking concepts and its implementation matured over the years and it is extensively being used beyond for personal use. There are major corporations like Cisco, Deloitte, IBM uses the social network tools for better collaboration among the employees to provide effective solutions to their clients. The tools landscape in the social network media is vast and deserves a separate blog. To name a few major categories like Video, Video Aggregation, documents, events, Wiki, LiveCasting, Pictures, social bookmarks, Crowdsourced content, blog and etc. There are at least 3-4 popular tools in each of those categories. The social networking technology landscape plays a vital role in leveraging existing solutions, collaborate better among various stakeholder of the projects.

Vivek Kundra implemented few projects in DC state government as a CTO are few practical examples how social networking platform provides a foundation for a rapid cost effective solution.

Along with these key components, depends on the business requirements, there may be other commerical products like SAP, or Flex (for UI) will be part of the over all IT solution.

Captive Financial Business cloud

Let us say a company FinCo is to provide captive financial business services (BPO – Business Process Outsourcing) to smaller banks or credit unions, the implementation of the service delivery can be hosted in the cloud and can be sold as a business cloud or implemented in the cloud depends on the FinCo’s business model.

The various captive financial business services that can be provided as the business cloud:

  • Captive financial business process management – Develop a standard business life cycle and design & implement the business processes in the cloud. The standard captive financial business processes can be extended for the customized business processes for each bank or credit union customers or even a captive financial
  • Score card development – The major pieces are FICO score (almost 350+ attributes) and internal credit model
  • Base Residual Risk model for the collateral (car)
  • Base Pricing Model – Based on the company’s score card , residual risk of the collateral (car) and marketing strategy
  • Loan origination – (From customer inquiry to discounting/booking the loan in the portfolio system)
  • Floor planning – (whole sale inventory management, insurance, consignment, electronic fund transfer and etc)
  • Remarketing (after market life cycle)
  • Asset based securitization

Note: This page is used for google’s page rank emprical analysis. The links will be created based on the random graph created.  This is node #6 which has the key word:  xysivabodzinyx , xysivabodzinxy . As per the graph, it links to page 5

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.