As Is–Where’s The To Be?

As_is

I saw this “As Is” license plate on a car and I was wondering whether he was selling it as is, loved it as is, and perhaps whether on the back was another plate that said “To Be.”


Maybe, his “as is” is a Mercedes, but his to be is a BMW or Lexus? 


Or perhaps, his as-is car is black, but his dream to-be is red?


Then again, maybe he is hopelessly in love with his wife and he has the as is car, but his wife has the to be–now I think I am on to something!


Alternatively, I’ve simply overdosed on enterprise architecture, and I can’t help thinking–what’s an as is without a to be? 


Like peanut butter without jelly, it just doesn’t work–even on a license plate! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Let’s Come Clean About The Cloud

Cost-savings

An article in Federal Times (16 April 2011) states that “Experts See Little Return For Agencies’ Cloud Investments.”

The question is were the savings really achievable to begin and how do you know whether we are getting to the target if we don’t have an accurate baseline to being with.

From an enterprise architecture perspective, we need to have a common criteria for where we are and where we are going.

The notion that cloud was going to save $5 billion a year as the former federal CIO stated seems to now be in doubt as the article states that “last year agencies reported their projected saving would be far less…”

Again in yet another article in the same issue of Federal Times, it states that the Army’s “original estimate of $100 million per year [savings in moving email to the DISA private cloud] was [also] ‘overstated.'”

If we don’t know where we are really trying to go, then as they say any road will get us there.

So are we moving to cloud computing today only to be moving back tomorrow because of potentially soft assumptions and the desire to believe so badly.

For example, what are our assumptions in determining our current in-house costs for email–are these costs distinctly broken out from other enterprise IT costs to begin? Is it too easy to claim savings when we are coming up with your own cost figures for the as-is?

If we do not mandate that proclaimed cost-savings are to be returned to the Treasury, how can we  ensure that we are not just caught up in the prevailing groupthink and rush to action.

This situation is reminiscent of the pendulum swinging between outsourcing and in-sourcing and the savings that each is claimed to yield depending on the policy at the time.

I think it is great that there is momentum for improved technology and cost-savings. However, if we don’t match that enthusiasm with the transparency and accuracy in reporting numbers, then we have exactly what happens with what the papers are reporting now and we undermine our own credibility.

While cloud computing or other such initiatives may indeed be the way go, we’ve got to keep sight of the process by which we make decisions and not get caught up in hype or speculation.

(Source Photo: herewith attribution to Opensourceway)

>Measurement is Essential to Results

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Mission execution and performance results are the highest goals of enterprise architecture.

In the book Leadership by Rudolph Giuliani, he describes how performance measurement in his administration as mayor of NYC resulted in tremendous improvements, such as drastic decreases in crime. He states: “Every time we’d add a performance indicator, we’d see a similar pattern of improvement.”

How did Giuliani use performance measures? The centerpiece of the effort to reduce crime was a process called Compstat in which crime statistics were collected and analyzed daily, and then at meetings these stats were used to “hold each borough command’s feet to the fire.”

What improvements did Giuliani get from instituting performance measurements? Major felonies fell 12.3%, murder fell 17.9%, and robbery 15.5% from just 1993-1994. “New York’s [crime] rate reduction was three to six times the national average…far surpassed that of any other American city. And we not only brought down the crime rate, we kept it down.”

How important was performance measurement to Giuliani? Giuliani states, “even after eight years, I remain electrified by how effective those Compstat meetings could be. It became the crown jewel of my administration’s push for accountability—yet it had been resisted by many who did not want their performance to be measured.”

From an architecture perspective, performance measurement is critical—you cannot manage what you don’t measure!

Performance measurement is really at the heart of enterprise architecture—identifying where you are today (i.e. your baseline), setting your goals where you want to be in the future (i.e. your targets), and establishing a plan to get your organization from here to there through business process improvement, reengineering, and technology enablement.

In the end, genuine leadership means we direct people, process, and technology towards achieving measureable results. Fear of measurement just won’t make the grade!

>Gap Analysis and Enterprise Architecture

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There was a terrific keynote at the 1105 Government Information Group enterprise architecture conference this week in Washington, DC by Mr. Armando Ortiz, who presented “An Executive Architect’s View of IT Asset Investment and EA Governance Strategies.”

The highlight for me was Mr. Ortiz, view of EA gap analysis, which goes something like this (i.e. in my words):

Enterprise architects, supported by business and technical subject matter experts across the organization, develop the current and target architectures. The difference between these is what I would call, the architecture gap, from which is developed the transition plan (so far not much new here).

But here comes the rest…

The gap between the current IT assets and the target IT assets results in one of two things, either:

  • New IT assets (i.e. an investment strategy) or
  • Retooling of existing IT assets (i.e. a basic containment strategy);

New IT investments are a strategic, long-term strategy and retooling the existing IT assets is an operational, short-term strategy.

In terms of the corporate actors, you can have either:

  • Business IT (decentralized IT) or
  • Enterprise IT (centralized IT; the CIO) manage the IT asset strategy.

For new IT investments:

  • If they are managed by business IT, then the focus is business innovation (i.e. it is non-standard IT and driven by the need for competitive advantage), and
  • If it is managed by enterprise IT, then it is a growth strategy (i.e. it is rolling out standardized IT—utility computing–for implementing enterprise solutions for systems or infrastructure).

For existing IT assets:

  • If they are managed by business IT, then the focus is improvement (i.e. improving IT for short-term profitability), and
  • If it is managed by enterprise IT, then it is a renewal strategy (i.e. for recapitalizing enterprise IT assets).

What the difference who is managing the IT assets?

  • When IT Assets are managed by business IT units, then the organization is motivated by the core mission or niche IT solutions and the need to remain nimble in the marketplace, and
  • When IT assets are managed by the enterprise IT, then the organizations is motivated by establishing centralized controls, standards, and cost-effectiveness.

Both approaches are important in establishing a solid, holistic, federated IT governance.

Mr. Ortiz went on to describe the EA plans developing three CIO WIFMS (what’s in it for me):

  • Operational excellence (“run IT efficiently)
  • Optimization (“make IT better”)
  • Transformation (“new IT value proposition”)

The link between IT assets, investment/containment strategies, business and enterprise IT actors, and the benefits to the CIO and the enterprise was a well articulated and perceptive examination of enterprise architecture and gap analysis.

>Building Enterprise Architecture Momentum

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Burton Group released a report entitled “Establishing and Maintaining Enterprise Architecture Momentum” on 8 August 2008.

Some key points and my thoughts on these:

  • How can we drive EA?

Value proposition—“Strong executive leadership helps establish the enterprise architecture, but…momentum is maintained as EA contributes value to ongoing activities.”

Completely agree: EA should not be a paper or documentation exercise, but must have a true value proposition where EA information products and governance services enable better decision making in the organization.

  • Where did the need for EA come from?

Standardization—“Back in the early days of centralized IT, when the mainframe was the primary platform, architecture planning was minimized and engineering ruled. All the IT resources were consolidated in a single mainframe computer…the architecture was largely standardized by the vendor…However distributed and decentralized implementation became the norm with the advent of personal computers and local area networks…[this] created architectural problems…integration issues…[and drove] the need to do architecture—to consider other perspectives, to collaboratively plan, and to optimize across process, information sources, and organizations.”

Agree. The distributed nature of modern computing has resulted in issues ranging from unnecessary redundancy, to a lack of interoperability, component re-use, standards, information sharing, and data quality. Our computing environments have become overly complex and require a wide range of skill sets to build and maintain, and this has an inherently high and spiraling cost associated with it. Hence, the enterprise architecture imperative to break down the silos, more effectively plan and govern IT with an enterprise perspective, and link resources to results!

  • What are some obstacles to EA implementation?

Money rules—“Bag-O-Money Syndrome Still Prevails…a major factor inhibiting the adoption of collaborative decision-making is the funding model in which part of the organization that bring the budget makes the rules.”

Agree. As long as IT funding is not centralized with the CIO, project managers with pockets of money will be able to go out and buy what they want, when they want, without following the enterprise architecture plans and governance processes. To enforce the EA and governance, we must centralize IT funding under the CIO and work with our procurement officials to ensure that IT procurements that do not have approval of the EA Board, IT Investment Review Board, and CIO are turned back and not allowed to proceed.

  • What should we focus on?

Focus on the target architecture—“Avoid ‘The Perfect Path’…[which] suggest capturing a current state, which is perceived as ‘analyze the world then figure out what to do with it.’ By the time the current state is collected, the ‘as-is’ has become the ‘as-was’ and a critical blow has been dealt to momentum…no matter what your starting point…when the program seems to be focused on studies and analysis…people outside of EA will not readily perceive its value.”

Disgree with this one. Collecting a solid baseline architecture is absolutely critical to forming a target architecture and transition plan. Remember the saying, “if you don’t know where you are going, then any road will get you there.” Similarly, if you don’t know where you are coming from you can’t lay in a course to get there. For example, try getting directions on Google Maps with only a to and no from location. You can’t do it. Similarly you can’t develop a real target and transition plan without identifying and understanding you current state and capabilities to determine gaps, redundancies, inefficiencies, and opportunities. Yes, the ‘as-is’ state is always changing. The organization is not static. But that does not mean we cannot capture a snapshot in time and build off of this. Just like configuration management, you need to know what you have in order to manage change to it. And the time spent on analysis (unless we’re talking analysis paralysis), is not wasted. It is precisely the analysis and recommendations to improve the business processes and enabling technologies that yield the true benefits of the enterprise architecture.

  • How can we show value?

Business-driven —“An enterprise architect’s ability to improve the organization’s use of technology comes through a deep understanding of the business side of the enterprise and from looking for those opportunities that provide the most business value. However, it is also about recognizing where change is possible and focusing on the areas where you have the best opportunity to influence the outcome.”

Agree. Business drives technology, rather than doing technology for technology’s sake. In the enterprise architecture, we must understand the performance results we are striving to achieve, the business functions, processes, activities, and tasks to produce to results, and the information required to perform those functions before we can develop technology solutions. Further, the readiness state for change and maturity level of the organization often necessitates that we identify opportunities where change is possible, through genuine business interest, need, and desire to partner to solve business problems.

>TEOTWAWKI and Enterprise Architecture

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TEOTWAWKI stands for the end of the world as we know it. It is a term used in the survivalist movement and is sometimes used as a reference to the apocalypse. (The apocalypse though has religious connotations in that the end of the world has greater meaning in terms of revealing G-d’s ultimate purpose for mankind.)

The end of the world—is there such a thing?

As mortal human beings, we know that all living things have a beginning and an end of life. Even inanimate objects are recognized as having a lifecycle, and this is often talked about from a management perspective in terms of administering “things” from their initiation through their ultimate disposition. Some common lifecycles frequently referred to are: organizations, products, projects, assets, investments, and so on.

So how about the world itself?

Well, the answer is of course, yes—even the world will one day come to end. Astronomers have long witnessed even the implosion of stars at their end of life—these are called supernovas. And our world is a lot smaller than a star; in fact, you could fit about a million Earths inside our sun (which is a star).

When times get tough, TEOTWAWKI is something that perhaps we ponder about more and wonder whether this is it!

For example, during the Cold War and the buildup of the nuclear arsenals of the Soviet Union and the United States, there were enough nukes to destroy the world ten times over. And people wondered when the button would actually be pushed.

Nowadays, we wonder less about nuclear holocaust and more about overpopulation (currently at 6.3 billion and expected to reach 9 billion by 2042) and depletion of world energy resources like oil (currently at $140 a barrel and up 44% in cost YTD), demand outstripping supply for silver, copper, aluminum, and many other commodities, and shortages of food (as the UK Times reported in February that “the world is only ten weeks away from running out of wheat supplies after stocks fell to their lowest levels for 50 years.”)

Further, while the population continues to explode and resources continue to be depleted, we continue to overflow the world’s dumps with garbage so much so that there has even been talk of sending garbage into space, just to get it the heck out of here!

And let’s not forget global warming and pollutants that stink up our cities, cause acid rain, asthma, and so many other unfortunate effects on the ecosystem and human health.

The good news is TEOWAWKI talk is often just fear and occasional panic and it is not imminent. The bad news is there are some very real problems in the world today.

The problems are so big that leaders and governments are having a difficult time trying to tackle them. All too often, the problems get passed to the next generation, with the mantra, “Let it be someone else’s problem.”

As an enterprise architect, my frame of reference is to look at the way things are (the baseline) and try to come up with a better state for future (the target) and work up a transition plan, and basically get moving.

We all know that it is extremely difficult to see our way through these extremely complex problems of global magnitude. But if enterprise architecture has taught me anything, it is that we must create a roadmap for transformation; we must forever work to change things for the better. We must do whatever we can to prevent TEOTWAWKI.

Perhaps the field of enterprise architecture can be expanded from one that is IT-focused and now becoming business and IT-focused to ultimately becoming a discipline that can drive holistic change for major world problems and not just enterprise problems. Does this mean that enterprise architecture at some point becomes world architecture?

>Systems Monitoring and Enterprise Architecture

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When we log on at work, most if not of us get some sort of message that logging on connotes acknowledgment to monitoring and that there is no implied privacy to what you’re doing when logged onto corporate IT assets.

Monitoring is a way of life at work. It is part of information security, management oversight, and ensuring systems are running effectively (and preventing a severe network outage).

Kenneth Klapproth in DM Review, 22 February 2008 reports that network management tools are able to collect date “across the shared network to present real-time and historical availability, performance, and configuration statistics on individual services and applications.”

Cross platform monitoring and event management and resolution are important to maintaining the availability of today’s complex networks that are vital for corporate communications (voice, data, and video).

  • ALERTS: Monitoring not only alerts IT personnel to when networks falter, but can also be set to provide alerts when certain fault tolerances are reached, so that IT personnel can take action before the network is brought down.
  • CAPACITY: Network monitoring identifies not only when the network becomes overloaded, but also when there is excess capability that can be more optimally used.
  • TRENDING: Performance is not monitored as snapshots in time, but also can provide historical trending that can provide valuable information based on usage patterns.
  • VISUAL REPORTING: “Dashboard and web displays deliver visually compelling and graphically concise reports [of key network and capacity utilization trends] that enable organizations to make the right decisions faster and with more confidence.”
  • QUALITY OF SERVICE: QoS is improved with monitoring. “Managers can see the current and historical use and performance of network resources, monitor and report on congestion, correlate QoS configuration with network performance, and use the information to improve traffic and service delivery.”

Additionally, many network monitoring tools have the ability for other key management features including self-discovery and healing. These features include: IT asset management, remote control, problem resolution, operating system set-up and configuration, software distribution, license monitoring, back-up and recovery, security, and lights-out management.

While network monitoring and management are more operationally focused, they are critical from an enterprise architecture perspective to ensure the delivery of core IT functionality for the enterprise: namely, a robust, sound, secure, cost-effective, state-of-the-art IT infrastructure upon which information can be delivered to the right people, anytime, anywhere.

Network management tools can also be helpful in building the enterprise architecture because of their asset discovery feature. With the ability to spider out over the network and touch anything with an IP address, these tools can help identify key enterprise architecture assets in order to establish the baseline and plan for future targets.

>“National Innovation Strategy” and Enterprise Architecture

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I believe most people would say that the United States is one of the most innovative countries in the world. And this in no small way has led to immense wealth creation for the people of this nation collectively.

If you think about most of the modern day conveniences we have, I believe the vast majority were innovated right here in the good ‘ol US of A. For example, think internet, computer, automobile, airplane, and so on.

Nevertheless many have argued that our innovativeness and engineering prowess has declined over the years.

One interesting news blog on CNET on 7 February 2008 calls for the need for a “national innovation strategy,” to get us out from being “stuck in ‘incrementalism.’”

The author, a former Harvard Business School professor, gives a number of reasons that we should be concerned about our innovativeness:

  1. Inadequate public education system—this one is not new; people have complained for years about the state of public education in this country. And while the No Child Left Behind initiative has helped, the system is still not where it should be. As the author states, “the U.S. public education system does not adequately prepare students.”
  2. Federal grant system—“inconsistent priorities and lacks funding.”
  3. Overseas opportunities—“there are more opportunities for students and scientists in places outside the United States.”
  4. Fewer doctorates (and engineers)—For example, “Finland has twice as many Ph.D.’s per capita as the U.S.”
  5. It’s a free for all—“different countries have different models, ranging from heavy government direction like Finland, to the U.S. style ‘let ‘er rip” system that relies on bottom-up innovation…a better model is a hybrid that involves many parties, including government, academia, business, and entrepreneurs.”

While I agree that we face many problems in retaining our edge in innovation, I do believe that at heart we are a nation of innovators. And this is founded in republicanism, liberty, capitalism, and our market economy, where we are taught from birth that anyone can be anything (even the President of the United States).

Moreover, I have never seen a dearth of good ideas being talked about, but rather the shortage is perhaps more in the ability to execute on those than in the creative process itself.

Enterprise architecture is itself a discipline founded in creativity, and hence the structure of defining the baseline, looking outward and establishing a target state, and planning the transition. This does not have to be about incrementalism, but can in fact represent true enterprise innovation.

>Virgin Group and Enterprise Architecture

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User-centric EA establishes the baseline architecture, identifies user requirements, establishes a target architecture, conducts a gap analysis, and develops a transition plan to move from the baseline to the target. In some organizations, these steps are distinct, clear, and sequential; in other enterprises, the transformation occurs more fluidly and in parallel.

Virgin Group is an example of the second type of User-centric EA.

“Virgin, a leading branded venture capital organisation, is one of the world’s most recognised and respected brands. Conceived in 1970 by Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Group has gone on to grow very successful businesses in sectors ranging from mobile telephony, to transportation, travel, financial services, leisure, music, holidays, publishing and retailing. Virgin has created more than 200 branded companies worldwide, employing approximately 50,000 people, in 29 countries. Revenues around the world in 2006 exceeded approx. $20 billion.” (http://www.virgin.com/)

Virgin is run by Richard Branson, a very dominant and visionary leader, who enables the rapid and fluid transformation of Virgin from one initiative to the next. Virgin is constantly identifying new opportunities and going after their targets, and they are not afraid to fail. Failure is viewed as part of being an innovative organization that seeks out new targets, ways of doing business, and new ventures.

The Wall Street Journal, 6 January 2008, provides an enlightening interview with Richard Branson with a callout of a quote as follows: “We’re not afraid of occasionally falling flat on our face.”

“Big-think is part of Mr. Branson’s M.O,” and transformation from current to target architectures is second nature for him.

“When he started Virgin Atlantic Airways, he was a 30-something music exec, and everyone thought he was crazy, including his own board of directors…eventually, Virgin Records, his first business, was sold to help support the growing airline… [and] the sales of his record company in 1992 came at the best possible time, just before the traditional music industry headed into a downward spiral that continues to this current day.”

Baseline architecture to identifying target architecture and successfully through transition—mission accomplished!

How is this enterprise architecture? Branson is planning and executing almost in parallel. He synthesizes business and technology and transforms his current organization to ever-greater endeavors.

For example, Virgin Group is now initiating “Virgin Galactic,” which “plans next year to begin taking tourists to the edge of space in a special aircraft.”

Now with the global credit crisis, Branson and Virgin are again on the EA prowl. They’ve identified Northern Rock (a UK mortgage lender) for possible acquisition. As Branson states, “In times of strife, there are certainly opportunities.”

Branson has set his sights on many other ventures—business, environmental, and philanthropic. In 1994, he launched Virgin Cola, going head-to-head with Coke. Recently, Virgin has committed $100M to their Green Fund for investment in alternate energy. “This year, he launched a service of health workers riding around on motorbikes in Africa to help build an elephant corridor in Kenya.”

Virgin is open to tackling the most difficult of problems. These include: finding ways to incentivize countries not to cut down rain forests, and creating massive inland lakes in Africa and Asia to deal with rising sea levels to prevent flooding and cool the earth, and fertilize deserts. These also include helping to counter climate change, and even, through a group called the Elders, to tackle world peace.

No target or plan is too big or far-fetched for Virgin, and it undertakes change with fluidity and grace. Virgin identifies the needs and opportunities to make a difference, establishes its target, and works creatively to transition to the target and achieve its goal. Failure at the margins is acceptable as long as the aspirations and successes loom large.

Virgin Group is a good example of EA performed fluidly and with great success.

>Branding and Enterprise Architecture

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User-centric EA is concerned with establishing a baseline and target architecture and transition plan for the organization. This endeavor includes everything from performance results, business function and processes, information requirements, systems and technologies, and how we secure it all. But how about including the organization’s brand and reputation in defining the architecture, especially in targeting and planning for a stronger reputation with customers and stakeholders?

The Wall Street Journal, 9 January 2008, has an article titled, “As Economy Slows, Reputation Takes on Added Meaning.”

Organization’s brands can be an asset or liability, based on how well it has been planned and managed and “cared for and fed.”

‘‘Mending reputations can’t be done overnight’ says Kasper Nielson, the Reputation Institute’s managing partner.” As we do in EA, comparing the current to the target architecture and developing a transition plan, Mr. Nielson “takes companies through a seven-step analysis of what’s causing their reputations to suffer, followed by a close look at which constituencies—employees, customers or investors—are affected and what they are seeking. Then it’s time for the hard work of figuring out what aspects of company conduct are helpful and what needs to be fixed.”

Many organizations only care about their technology and business alignment after they run into problems with poor IT investment decisions or programs that are failing or falling behind because of inadequate automation and technological sophistication. Then the organization wants a quick fix for an enterprise architecture and IT governance, yesterday! Similarly Mr. Neilson states about reputation, “A lot of companies care about reputation only after a crisis hits. Then they want to know, can you fix things? They don’t integrate reputation into their everyday processes. That’s dangerous. You have to do a lot of things right to build up a reputation platform.”

“‘Reputation is invisible, but it’s an enormously powerful force,” says Alan Towers, a New York advisor to companies concerned about reputation issues. He encourages CEO’s themselves to assume the role of chief reputation officer.” If brand and reputation is important enough for the CEO to take the lead role, it is certainly important enough to be considered a factor in building an viable enterprise architecture that will consider not only a company’s technology, but also how it is perceived to customers and stakeholders.

Some examples come to mind in terms of applying EA to organizational branding:

  1. Do we want to organization to be perceived as a technological leader or laggard?
  2. Is the organization viewed as having strong governance, including IT governance?
  3. Do stakeholders perceive that the organizations is spending its resources prudently and controlling its investment in new IT?
  4. Do stakeholders see the company as customer-centric, providing the latest in customer service systems, sales ordering and tracking, payment processing, website information and transaction processing, online help and other IT enabled user tools?
  5. Is technology seen as integral to the future of the organization or a sidebar or worse yet a distraction?

I once heard someone say that “perception is reality”. So, even if the organization is managing their technology and business alignment, if its stakeholders don’t perceive that to be the case, then the enterprise is not being effective with its constituents. The organization must factor stakeholder perceptions and its organizational reputation into the development of its target architecture and transition plan. Brand and reputation does not just materialize, but rather needs to be planned and managed to. EA can help to perform this role.