Friday, July 23, 2010

The state of enterprise architecture: Vast promise or lost opportunity?

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Coming to you from The Open Group Conference in Boston, we’ve assembled a panel this week to delve into the advancing role and powerful potential for enterprise architecture (EA).

The economy’s grip on IT budgets, and the fast changing sourcing models like cloud computing, are pointing to a reckoning for EA -- of now defining a vast new promise for IT business alignment improvement or, conversely, a potentially costly lost opportunity.

The need for EA seems to be more pressing than ever, yet efforts to professionalize EA do not necessarily lead to increased credibility and adoption, at least not yet.

We’ll examine the shift of IT from mysterious art to more engineered science and how enterprise architects face the unique opportunity to usher in the concept of business architecture and increased business agility.

Here to help us better understanding the dynamic role of EA, we're joined by Jeanne Ross, Director and Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Information Systems Research and noted author; Dave Hornford, an architecture practice principal at Integritas Solutions, as well as the Chairman of The Open Group Architecture Forum, and Len Fehskens, Vice President for Skills and Capabilities at The Open Group. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:
Fehskens: [Enterprise architecture] is really just a gleam in many people’s eye at this point. If you look at the discipline of EA and compare it to mature professions like law and medicine, we’re back 200-300 years ago. We’ve been doing a lot of research recently into the professionalization of other disciplines.

Most of the people studying the subject come up with a fairly short list of characteristics of professions. They usually include things like a well-defined body of knowledge, and well-defined educational program and particular degree programs, often offered by schools that are specifically focused on the discipline, not just the department within a larger organization.

There's some kind of professional certification or vetting process and often even some kind of legal sanction, a right to practice or right to bear the title. We don’t have any of those things right now for EA.

Proprietary knowledge

The body of knowledge is widely distributed and is largely proprietary. We’re at a state similar to going to a lawyer, and the lawyers try to sell themselves based on secret processes that only they had that would allow you to get a fair shake before a judge. Or similar thing with a doctor, who would say, "Come to this hospital, because we’re the only people who know how to do this particular kind of procedure."

So, we’ve got a long way to go. The big thing we’ve got going for us is that, as Jeanne pointed out, the stakes are high and so many organizations are becoming dependent upon the competent practice of EA as a discipline.

There's a lot of energy in the system to move forward very quickly on the professionalization of the discipline, and in addition to take advantage of what we’ve learned from watching the professionalization of disciplines like law, medicine, engineering, civil architecture, etc. We’ve got long ways to go, but we are running really hard to make some progress.

Ross: The stakes are high, because organizations are becoming more digital out of necessity. It’s a more digital economy. Thus, IT is more strategic. I think people see that, but outside of people who have already embraced architecture, there is some reluctance to think that the way we get more value from IT is basically by taming it, by establishing a vision and building to standards and understanding how that relates back to new ways of doing business, and actually developing standards around business processes and around data.

... The architect’s role is to make sure that there is a vision. You may have to help provide that vision as to what that process is, and how it fits into a bigger vision. So there is a lot of negotiation and envisioning that becomes part of an architect’s role that is above and beyond just the technology piece and the methodology that we’ve worked so hard at in terms of developing the discipline.

... We’ve learned a lot about methodologies, disciplines, and tools, but there is an art to be able to take the long-term vision for an organization and not just say, "It’ll come guys, be patient," but rather, "I understand that starting tomorrow, we need to begin generating value from more disciplined processes."

... There is a piece of it that’s just not appealing [across the organization]. Besides, we feel like this should all be about innovation, which should be all exciting stuff. Architecture just doesn’t have the right feel for a lot of businesspeople.

Hornford: The stakes are high in the sense that should someone in your industry figure this out, they will change the game on you, and you will now be in a serious trouble. As long as all of your competition is struggling as long as you are, you’re okay. It’s when someone figures it out that they will change the game.

Where people are doing it well is where they are focused on business value. The question of what is business value is highly dependent. People will mention a term, “agility.” I work with a mining company. They define agility as the ability to disassemble their business. They have a mine. Someone buys the mine. We need to remove the mine from the business. A different organization will define agility a different way, but underpinning all of that is what is the business trying to achieve? What is their vision and what is their goal?

Practitioners who are pursuing this have to be very clear on what is the end state, what is the goal, what is the business transformation, and how will the digital assets of the corporation the IT asset actually enable where they’re going, so that they’re able to move themselves to a target more effectively than their competition.

... The fundamental with leadership in EA is that architects don’t own things. They are not responsible for the business processes. They are not responsible for the sales results. They are responsible for leading a group of people to that transformation, to that happy place, or to the end-state that you're trying to achieve.

If you don't have good leadership skills, the rest of it fundamentally doesn’t matter. You’ll be sitting back and saying, "Well, if I only had a hammer. If I only had authority, I could make people do things." Well, if you have that authority, you would be the general manager. You’d be the COO. They're looking for someone to assist them in areas of the business at times that they can't be there.

... If you do not lead and do not take the risk to lead, the transformation won’t occur. One of the barriers for the profession today is that many architects are not prepared to take the risk of leadership.

Fehskens: A phrase that you’ll hear architects use a lot is "compelling value proposition." The authority of an architect ultimately comes from their ability to articulate a compelling value proposition for architecture in general, for specific architect in a specific situation. Even if you have a compelling value proposition and it falls on deaf ears, for whatever reason, that’s the end of the road.

There isn’t any place you can go, because the only leverage an architect has is the ability to articulate a compelling value proposition that says, "I’ve recognized this. I acknowledge this is promise, but here’s why you have reason to believe that I can actually deliver on this and that when I have delivered on this, this thing itself will deliver these promised benefits."

But, you have to be able to make that argument and you have to be able to do it in the language of the audience that you're speaking to. This is probably one of the biggest problems that architects coming from a technical background have. They'll tell you about features and functions but never get around talking about benefits.

... Architects are ultimately charged with making sure that whatever it is that they're architecting is fit for purpose. Fitness for purpose involves not doing any more than you absolutely have to. ... The architect’s approach to dealing with the architectural way of problem solving means that agility and cost cutting sort of are not short-term focuses. They are just built into the idea of why we do architecture in the first place.

... My experience with businesspeople is they don’t really care how you do something. All they care is what results you're going to produce. What you do is just a black box. All they care about is whether or not the black box delivers all the promises that it made.

To convince somebody that you can actually do this, that the black box will actually solve this problem without going into the details of the intricacies and sort of trying to prove that if I just show you how it works then you’ll obviously come to the conclusion that it will do what I promise, you can’t do that that. For most audiences that just doesn’t work. That’s probably one of the most fundamental skills that architects need in order to work through this problem -- getting people to buy into what they are trying to sell.

The thing to recognize about business agility is that it’s a journey. You don’t want to start making your compelling business values something you can't deliver for three years.

Ross: The thing to recognize about business agility is that it’s a journey. You don’t want to start making your compelling business values something you can't deliver for three years. Many times the path to agility is through risk management, where you can demonstrate the ability of the IT unit to reduce downtime to increase security or lower cost. The IT unit can often find ways to lower IT cost or to lower operational cost through IT.

So, many times, the compelling value proposition for agility is down the road. We've already learned how to save money. Then, it’s an easier sell to say, "Oh, you know, we haven’t used IT all that well in the past, but now we can make you more agile." I just don’t think anybody is going to buy it.

It’s a matter of taking it a step at a time, showing the organization what IT can help them do, and then, over time, there's this natural transition. In fact, I'm guessing a lot of organizations say, "Look, we're more agile than we used to be." It wasn’t because they said they were going to be agile, but rather because they said they were going to keep doing things better day after day.

Hornford: If we're going to look at our sourcing options, using the word "component" as opposed to "platform," I can acquire a benefit. I can acquire a benefits engine as a service or I can build my own and manage my own processes, whether fully manual or digitized. Those choices come down to my value in the business.

Different organizations will have different things that matter to them. They will structure and compose their businesses for a different value chain for a different value proposition to their customers.

If we get back to the core of what an architect has to deliver, it’s understanding what is the business’s value, where are we delivering value to my customers?
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Open Group panel: Enterprise Architects increasingly join in common defense against cyber security threats

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Welcome to a panel discussion that examines the need for improved common defenses -- including advancing cooperation between enterprise architects and chief security officers -- to jointly defend against burgeoning cyber security threats. The risks are coming from inside enterprises, as well as myriad external sources.

From the panel, at The Open Group Conference this week in Boston, we’ll learn more about the nature of these borderless, external, cyber security threats, as they emerge from criminal enterprises, globally competitive business sources, even state-based threats, and sometimes a combination of these. We’ll also hear recommendations on developing smarter processes for cyber security based on proven methods and pervasive policies.

To help broaden the scope of enterprise architecture, and to develop a leverage point for "mission architecture"-levels of security and defenses, we're joined by retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., chairman of the Deloitte Center for Cyber Innovation, and who co-chairs a cybersecurity commission under President Obama; Jim Hietala, Vice President of Security at the Open Group, and Usman Sindhu, researcher at Forrester Research. The panel is moderated by Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:
Raduege: With openness, come these new threats. The vulnerabilities that we have of operating in cyberspace are magnified by ... identity theft, information manipulation, information theft, cyber crime, and insider threats that are prevalent in many of our organizations and companies today. Also, the threat of espionage, of losing lots of intellectual property from our businesses, and the cyber attacks that are taking place, the denial-of-service (DOS), and also the threat that we see on the horizon -- cyberterrorism.

There's now a tremendous opportunity for us to gain the benefits of being able to communicate, not only nationally, but also internationally, and across all borders, in the area of cyber security. This is an international problem, and so an opportunity for us to take advantage of it. We’re all in this together.

Many people are bringing best practices to the table. We’re learning from each other’s experiences. The international cooperation and the opportunity to meet and discuss these areas are very valuable to all of us individually, and to our companies and to our nations.

This is the significance of this type of a gathering, to talk about the real benefits of cyberspace, but also to talk about the issues of cyber security that are facing us all. The importance of the underlying foundational aspects of having a great enterprise architecture is pointing more toward a mission architecture for business success.

Organizations like The Open Group are working on the common standards that are so important for the international community to comply with and to have as guiding factors. Education is very important, developing a cyber mindset across all people of the world, not only in the government organizations, but for industry, and also the individual users at home.

The aspects of education and training and awareness of what’s going on there in cyber is paramount for proper operation, but also for the protection of your critical information.

The aspects of education and training and awareness of what’s going on there in cyber is paramount for proper operation, but also for the protection of your critical information.

Sindhu: Traditionally, security has been a point technology. Even in the government space, there has been a lot of focus around just technologies. We have seen saw how the importance of point technologies has been overemphasized, rather than risk analysis and process.

Today, many organizations, including the public and private sector, are waking up to the fact that technology alone is not the answer. It’s the process and people as well. That’s where deriving these best practices would be a key in collaborating with the private and public sector and bringing in an architecture.

As far as this interconnectivity is concerned, you'll see lot of different business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) interactions. It happens today. Today, business partners and distributors do business on the go, on social media, either Twitter feeds or Facebook, or something I call ad-hoc communication through their mobile devices. This is the nature of today’s interaction. This is the nature of B2C and B2B interactions.

... And in the 21st Century we'll have a lot more innovations and more technology adoption in a much more accelerated fashion.

The smart concept

That’s where the smart concept comes in. This entails smartening our physical infrastructure, our critical infrastructures like utility, healthcare, financial services, transportation, public safety, and also city administrations, down to the IT system itself.

It will use of lot of IT enablement from either the cloud or communication infrastructure, things like RFID technologies, 4G technologies, and solar technologies, to embed lot of situational awareness, analytics, and locationing into the systems.

This is a smart kind of a concept that embeds itself into smart city infrastructure where all the different components embed all the IT technologies together. There are other initiatives like smart grid or smart healthcare that are embedding these IT technologies as well.

That's a great way to start the 21st Century with this innovation, but the need for security arises at the same time. As Gen. Raduege mentioned, cyberspace is a new frontier, or information security in the cyber world, is a new frontier.

Today, many organizations, including the public and private sector, are waking up to the fact that technology alone is not the answer.

That’s where we have to address lot of different issues and problems around policy, architecture, and best practices. It’s only going to get more serious, as we connect a lot of different systems that were not connected in the past.

One of the key aspects of smartness is cross-industry and cross-team collaboration. Today, when we start to look at some of the smart deployments, either in the vertical sectors like utilities, healthcare, or even other private-sector industries, we see more and more that security is getting attention from the board-level and C-level executive.

Similarly, enterprise architecture is getting its attention as well. Going forward, we see a great emphasis on combining these two initiatives, even though it’s still a very nascent stage at the board-level talks and C-level talks. We're not seeing a huge focus on cyber security in some instances, but of course it’s changing. It’s increasing.

It's fair to say that the security and enterprise architecture will play a key role, as both concepts mingle together to bring about best practices in architecture in the early phases into planning, deployment, and delivery of the smart services.

Hietala: It’s still early in the process of really bringing enhanced security into the professional enterprise architecture. So, in The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), three of the nine iterations of it, we've added significant security information and content that enterprise architecture need to bear in mind in developing architectures.

But that work is ongoing. We have a couple of projects both to enhance the security of TOGAF, and also to work to collaborate with the Sherwood Applied Business Security Architecture (SABSA) folks, another security architecture development methodology, to harmonize those two approaches.

There's a lot of work ongoing there, and there's a lot of work needed in developing reference architectures outside of purely IT. We have a document that we are updating called Enterprise Security Architecture. It will be published this fall, and updates some work that was done five or six years ago, sort of an IT reference architecture.

From an enterprise perspective, looking at mission success and thinking about cyber security really is the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) role inside a given enterprise. That probably is most relevant to address the issues. The interesting thing is that many of the new developments that we’re looking at -- whether it's smarter hospitals, smarter medical devices, smarter electrical grid -- are industry specific and they require a lot of cooperation between organizations in an industry.

There's a role for standards and industry organizations to pull together and come up with some common standards to facilitate better security.

There's a role for standards and industry organizations to pull together and come up with some common standards to facilitate better security, maybe better frameworks or things like that, that can be leveraged across an entire industry.

We see a need, as you start to look at cyber security and the different kinds of architectures, to develop new reference architectures to address some of these new applications of IT technology to everyday life. If you think about networks in cars or networks of smart devices comprising the power grid, what does security look like for those things? Our membership is starting to look at some of those and trying to determine where we can add some value for the industry.

Raduege: The Internet has changed our world, and the way we operate. For years, we've had enterprise architects who have been working down the hall or in the basements of organizations, and who have been trying to figure out the best way of technically aligning the Internet and all of the interconnected networks to make it work as best it could.

Now that this world of cyber has really come upon us, it has really elevated the importance of the enterprise architect into the higher levels of an organization, just because of the threats that are constantly coming upon us in our business operations and our mission success.

The enterprise architect has now gotten the attention of the C-suite executives and organization leadership. But, they don’t like to think as much about enterprise architecture, because it really has that technical connotation as my colleagues here have mentioned, we're really talking and focusing more now on the people and the process aspects of running the business properly.

The front-office people, the C-suite executives and leaders of organizations, instead of thinking about enterprise architecture from a technical aspect, are becoming much more interested in a mission architecture.

In other words, what's the architecture needed to complete my mission so that I can have success -- whatever your mission is, if it’s government activity or whether it’s industry. Mission architecture has taken on new meaning that takes into account the technical architecture, but also adds the workforce domain and the process elements of the organization.

Architecture is important, but there is no silver bullet to it. Since the smart concept is industry-wide and is global, there could be many references to architectures that could go in.

So, mission architecture is really pointing toward business success, whatever your business is, whether it’s government operations or industry.

Sindhu: Architecture is important, but there is no silver bullet to it. Since the smart concept is industry-wide and is global, there could be many references to architectures that could go in. Some things have started to happen.

For example, the Department of Homeland Security came over to IT risk baseline about a year-and-a-half ago. It collaborated with the IT vendors and IT sector in general and started to create this risk baseline, which comes about in the earlier phases of architecture.

As you develop a framework, you take feeds from the various industry standards and regulatory compliance mandates and you start to create a risk baseline, a risk profile that touches every single silo of people, process, and technology. Over the time, you do the collaboration, internally, but externally as well.

Hietala: Definitely there is a need for increased public-sector and private-industry cooperation. We have an initiative here, The Open Group's Acquisition Cybersecurity (ACS) Initiative. It was brought to us by the Department of Defense as a consulting effort. They wanted an organization to pull together private industry and try to drive some standards looking at the supply chains to the major IT suppliers. That work is ongoing and that would be a good reference of an initiative like that.

Sindhu: The role of the architecture and security has to be involved right from the planning phase, where you manifest the value of security being built in, either to the products or in general to the architecture? That has to be the first step -- that we acknowledge the need to embed that into the overall process.
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