Archive for the ‘IT Architecture’ Category

Stop selling SOA

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

My feeds from the blogosphere are bringing a sense of the rise (again) of chatter around SOA and how to sell it to the business – oh dear, here we go again.

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Misunderstanding the CIO role

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Following on from my last post about CIO recognition in the board room I was excited to discover that relevant coverage had reached the mainstream press, notably the venerable Financial Times.  An article by Alan Cane titled “It’s much too early to write off the role of the CIO” looked right on the sweet spot…..until I read it.

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Setting the SOA Standard

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

As a shareholder and customer of Standard Life, I was pleased to read that their SOA initiative has saved £60M in its ten year lifespan.

SOA case studies (well, successful ones, at any rate) are all too rare.  SL’s is also based on principles of reuse.  Although there are different views on this subject, I cannot help but think that reusing services in many different processes is a good way of saving money (and thereby cost justifying the investment).

CIO, Keith Young said “SOA helps us get products to market faster” he later followed “We contract out some routine things, but generally we try to exploit the expertise of our in-house staff.”

This sounds a bit like an in-house IT function that acts as a trusted adviser to the business.  I will be holding Standard Life for now, and I’ll look forward to a super bonus when my endowment policy matures. 😉

The high price of call handling times

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

I was at a large telco last week chatting to the manager of a 1,000 seat call centre.

We were talking through the inconveniences that agents have to go through in terms of navigating through a variety of systems just to give the customer what they needed, in this case upgrading their contract.

The problems were obvious in terms of the corporate systems.  Like any other enterprise, these were divided into functional silos paying little regard to the business process.  However, additional difficulty had been added by the use of complex spreadsheets as workarounds for missing system functionality.  Am I painting a grim picture?  Not at all – I see this in every large call centre, not to mention back office.  This is the norm for operational managers – they come to expect it.

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Mashups, the new ETL?

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

I suppose there are some similarities between mashups and ETL tools, as pointed out by Jacob Ukelson, in that they can extract data from a variety of different systems, play around with that data and then write it somewhere – a web page, an aggregated UI, another target application etc.  This offers a new perspective on data cleansing, process automation and orchestration, screen aggregation and much more, but without the need to access the back end systems.  No database transactions here, and no coding either.

Jacob wonders whether IBM can seriously launch into this space next year, as they state.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and I welcome IBM’s efforts.  The very fact that they are even trying to enter the space, validates a market that it is very difficult for the smaller vendors like Blue Prism to build alone.

Other Blue Prism bloggers

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Just thought I’d alert you to Blue Prism Software Architect, Ciaran Gultnieks’ blog.  He doesn’t really need or want the publicity but if you are technically inclined or you like chickens and ducks you should give it a read.

Ciaran is currently experimenting and comparing CouchDB, Mnesia and MySQL which, if you are still reading, perhaps you should jump across and see what it’s all about.

Software Product Maturity

Friday, August 24th, 2007

I asked our CTO, Dave Moss, if he fancied writing a few guest posts on this blog, on the topic of developing a software product.

I think blogs should represent the views of the author and that there should be a single author.  However, you may recall me saying that Dave is the “techie” I respect the most of all I have met.  So having read his first effort (below), three comments sprung to mind:

  1. I totally agree with his views in this instance and, therefore, since they exactly match my own, I am happy to put them on this blog in my name.
  2. Dave is one of those rare CTOs who has acute commercial focus and places the highest emphasis on customer need, when evaluating product development objectives.
  3. The writing is in Dave’s hand and his analogies stink!  So I refute responsibility for the way the message is communicated.

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Why are some IT people so blind?

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

I once met a financial adviser who offered to help me sort out my finances.  Within five minutes of meeting her, she had told me what I ought to do.  I had not given any information about my financial affairs, my needs, or desires, yet she was proposing a structure for my financial arrangements, based on one single fact, that I was a director/shareholder of a company.  Needless to say, she did not make the sixth minute of the meeting.

This morning I read more coverage of the stupidity blindness of IT people, this time observed by Lorraine Lawson at IT Business Edge.  In her post How You Talk about SOA to the Business, it is clear that IT folk are still keen on pushing SOA to their business counterparts.

This has really gone on long enough.  Do you think business people really care about SOA vs EAI?  Whether you think of SOA as a tool, an infrastructure, a methodology, or a technology, it is invisible to the end user.  What is visible to the end user is whether or not a business problem has been solved.

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On business cases

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Amongst the SOA buzz around the blogosphere and traditional media, there is a recurring theme of how to promote SOA and gain acceptance within the user community.  How to justify SOA.  How to demonstrate its worth.  How to measure its success.  How to cost justify its use.

I think this all rather misses the point.  SOA to me, is just a tool for delivering business value.  There are many tools in one’s kitbag.  Promoting SOA for its own sake is just wrong.  It is a great idea that should be used only where appropriate.

Like any other investment decision I have a simple rule.  If the business case is not blindingly obvious, if you have to scratch around inventing new ways of measuring intangible benefits, if the financial ROI is hard to pin down, then you are probably on to a loser.  Focus your attention on something that does offer a compelling and obvious business case.  Find a winner.

“New” mashup platforms taking over the enterprise? Not yet.

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Wow, Dion Hinchcliffe at ZDNet has looked at the enterprise mashup space in much more depth than I did a couple of months ago.

He raises some interesting issues, though, about why some of these tools are struggling to gain acceptance in the enterprise.  I believe that there are some unique features that need to be addressed to meet enterprise requirements:

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