>Small Is In and Enterprise Architecture

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Remember the saying, “good things come in small packages?” In enterprise architecture big is out and small is in. This applies not only to the obvious consumer electronics market, where PDAs, phones, chips, and everything electronic seems to be getting smaller and sleeker, but also to the broader computing market (such as the transition from mainframe to distributed computing) and even to the storage device market.

The Wall Street Journal, 10 January 2008, reports that Mr. Moshe Yanai “was responsible for one of IBM’s defeats in the 1990’s, “when he designed the computer storage disks for EMC Corp. that displaced IBM’s in the data centers around the globe.”

How did Mr. Yanai do this?

He did this by going small. “One point of the architecture is simplicity of management of data…with his architecture, you just add more pieces.”

In creating Symmetrix disk drives, Mr. Yanai developed storage drives that were “cheaper, faster, and more reliable than IBM drives…he pioneered a technology called RIAD-short for redundant arrays of inexpensive disks—that linked dozens of the kinds if disk drives used in PCs together to cheaply provide the same storage capacity as refrigerator-sized drives from IBM. Raid technology has since become a standard throughout the storage industry.”

The small disk drives of EMC beat out the big drives from IBM, jus like the PCs (of Dell and HP) beat out the mid-range and mainframes computers of IBM.

Mr. Yanai, a one time Israeli tank commander, is a User-centric enterprise architect. He recognized the needs of his users for smaller, cheaper, and faster devices and he delivered on this. Moreover, Mr. Yanai put the customer first not only in terms of product design and development, but also in terms of customer service. “Mr. Yanai was known as an expert engineer who also could talk to customers and solve their problems. Mr. Yanai put telephones in each storage device and programmed them to ‘phone home’ when it sensed a part was in danger of failing.”

While Mr. Yanai was removed from his top engineering role at EMC, his company XIV corp. has been bought out by IBM and “locked up” his services. IBM may be a little slow (due to its size—a lumbering giant), but they are not poor or stupid and they can buy the competition. Anyone remember Lotus Corp?

From a User-centric EA perspective, the small and agile often wins out over the large and stodgy. It is a lesson thousands of years old, like the biblical tale of David vs. Goliath, when little David defeats the monstrous Goliath. Small is nimble and big is cumbersome. This is the same thing the U.S. military has found out and is converting to smaller, more agile, and mobile forces. EA needs to do the same in focusing on smaller, faster, cheaper computing devices and on simpler, more streamlined processes. Small is truly bigger than big!

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