Standards and an Architect – Helps one to manage application complexity better.

I am attending a Cloud security standards industry meeting today evening on how to harmonize the cloud with a lot of standards that are flooding the market. In fact there are no unified cloud security standards today, each vendor be it AWS , Microsoft , IBM g, Google have their own standards.  In the back drop of this thought that the role of an architect to look for standards , pick and choose and make the best choices should be part of one of his/her key skill sets.

The below diagram is from the Open Group https://www.opengroup.org/architecture/togaf91 . As you  can see it is made up of the a whole lot of standards right from HTTP / CICS ( old world mainframe ) to RPC to ORB to xml over http etc. It has even screen scraping used as an integration touchpoint so as not to disrupt the existing architecture and move ahead with minimal changes.

As can be seen from the figure below the latest and greatest technologies have been used to make up the entire architecture. You may say that this actually looks like my company architecture. In fact in one of the companies they mentioned that their current architecture looks like this to the T and were checking if it was actually cut paste from their architecture documents. In fact that is how architectures evolves in an evolutionary fashion in small increments over a period of time . Once it becomes as large and complex then it is not easy to keep making changes and enhancements to the architecture and still expect it to remain flexible like the way it used to be.

If you carefully look at the architecture below then to maintain its lifecyle we would need people from all the diverse skills sets such as an ORB , RPC which were no doubt the latest and the greatest technologies at one point of time. But if you have not standardized the interfaces over a period of time then we need to worry about getting people with those skills sets in the company when putting ads for those skills sets on indeed.com or dice.com would show very few takers. This obviously creates a challenge for the key people entrusted with the task of owing the product or solution on how to gets folks to maintain these layers / enhance it / modify it etc. If the architects have a standard plan of say all UI layer code to talk to the middletier using the standard set of interfaces all business facing APIs at the business layer need to follow the standard practices. The below diagram would perhaps have around 4-5 different protocols and others would have got consolidated or sunset based on the different releases or solution delivery cycles.

What is the cure for all of these is to have a Reference Architecture which promotes the uses of known standards while building architectures.

Now looking at SECURITY as one part of the list of things that make up our application stack .And if we have to look at the security pieces that make up our application architecture.You can create a stack of Security across the Business , Data , Application and Technology layers additionally.

 

 

 

 

 

When we look at setting standards for Security alone these would be the brief list of things that you need to take care of. At an enterprise level security will not be complete unless physical security is accounted as well. This would ensure how IT resources man , material and IT assets are safe guarded in the event of a calamity.

So on the standards journey an architect / senior IT professional needs to take care of how to organize and plan for use of standards in their realm of work.

Leaving you with a standards trivia ” USB 3.1 doubles the speed of USB 3.0 to 10Gbps (now called SuperSpeed+ or SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps), making it as fast as the original Thunderbolt standard. USB 3.1 is backward-compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ”

So much about standards

Learn Togaf 9.1 from the Comfort of your home or office – Accredited Elearning from Open Group

This is to bring to your notice that elearning for Togaf has been introduced by Eturnti . This helps you stay where you are and learn Togaf almost like a classroom. You can pause when you get busy or want to take a break and come back to it when ready. This is also useful if you are on the go , traveling and catch up the learnings on your journey from anywhere.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzEpNjGHsaU

The highlights of the elearning are as below.

Taught by an experienced faculty two decades of IT experience with plenty of real world use cases thrown in to complement and facilitate easy learning.

  • A blackboard in the background which gives you the feel for how the training shall actual look like an classroom session with plenty of scribbling on the powerpoint screen using an electronic pen.
  • Post the training can clarify the doubts related to the concepts by means of a skype session or google hangouts.
  • Enough practice sessions to get a feel for the actual exams using the mock tests provided by the Open group.
  • We understand people can’t always make it to a classroom, so we have leveraged virtual technologies, to extend the classroom to you – at your workplace or home to provide you with the same feel.Attend TOGAF Trainings from anywhere with self-paced eLearning sessions. Key Features of the Online Self-Paced Training
  • Similar to a classroom based training except that the material will be presented over recorded video sessions. The class is made quite interactive using bamboo presenter as an illustrator which gives the classboard feel with scribbling where appropriate.
  • All students will be provided with URL information, to link to the self-paced eLearning class that they have signed up for, a mail with the user id and password unique to each registered candidate shall be sent on registration confirmation.
  • The candidates are encouraged to make notes of the training and if there are doubts check with the trainer by means of a pre agreed / scheduled skype session.
  • The material of the course (hard copy) shall be mailed to the folks attending the course and a full ebook of the TOGAF 9.1 body of knowledge shall be mailed to the course attendees.
  • Tea/coffee/bio/ session breaks are at the disposal of the candidate. Having said this the candidate shall be provided a login access for initial period of six months and renewed later.

Pre Requisites for attending the Self-Paced Elearning

People attending the training need to have a decent internet connection to be able to access the materials.

Course Highlights:

A case study will be running throughout the course to co relate the concepts with real life examples , interspersed with puzzles , crosswords and quizzes apart from time boxed activity sessions to reiterate the learning during the sessions and make way for enhanced learning experience.

Clarifications on Concepts:

Post the self-paced learning or in-between the course if the candidate has any queries regarding the concepts then a mail could be sent to maileturnti@eturnti.com to schedule a skype or google hangout session with the trainer from Eturnti Enterprise Consulting at a convenient time for both parties.

Course Takeaways

  1. Hard copy of the training material shall be couriered to the physical location of the candidate.
  2. Entire Togaf 9.1 BOK in e-book format ( 692 pages – pdf ) shall be provided. ( shared on a google drive )
  3. Course Examination Voucher for taking up the certification exam is included. This shall be ordered from the Open Group and the test can be taken from any Pearson Vue center anywhere in the world. The course Voucher has a one year validity from the date of issue.
  4. Mock tests provided by Open Group are included. ( shared on a google drive )
  5. Additional pdfs and related material for preparation. ( shared on a google drive )
  6. Post training any kind of support needed on clarification of concepts shall be provided by means of a skype or google hangout call.
  7. A whole lot of live practical examples from the industry shall augment the learnings and reinforce the concepts learnt. This is introduced in the content to enable easy understanding of the concepts.

Terms and Conditions :

http://eturnti.com/terms-and-conditions/

Value Stream as an Essential Tool for Architects…

This topic came to my mind while I was chatting with my cousin over the weekend who was presenting on this topic as a part of the CII ( Confederation of India Industry ) conference. He works for a mechanical company and was to present the business benefits in his company. They had optimized their existing set of process to reduce the cycle time of churning new products. They had mapped their existing process structure from the point where the raw materials are procured to the place where they undergo various levels of transformation / integration to finally give that polished output. This happens as a part of various business process work flows. He had his presentation ready and was to explain how useful this technique is for extracting maximum enterprise value in an organization.

What does Value Stream mean to an architect ?

value chain diagram provides a high-level orientation view of an enterprise and how it interacts with the outside world. The purpose of this diagram is to quickly on-board and align stakeholders for a particular change initiative, so that all participants understand the high-level functional and organizational context of the architecture engagement.

Porter’s Value Chain analysis is used to develop a focus on those activities within your Company that significantly add value and thus give you a competitive edge. For instance, if your team is very good at analysis and design such that you can define and bound a problem better than anyone else in the world, you could put in a process to continually implement new design and analysis methods and disseminate that throughout the organization so that you are always the best. And you can lead with that in your marketing efforts by calling that out as a “feature” and highlighting the benefits to the customer of lower development cost, more robust solutions, etc. Value Chain Analysis is a way to get at your key competencies which create differentiated products and services.

Although the above diagram can look like more of an MBA kind of material trying to unify the business problem and the IT solutions to plug the same. As you progress in your careers you are expected to understand both the business and the IT sides of the equation well and this is a useful tool to help one with the mental model for the same. This is very useful in getting discussions started with the customer and quite handy during consulting and internal process revamp exercises.

As far as architects are concerned their efforts should be focused on activities that bring the highest business value to the organization and the customer. This needs them to understand in the sense of what constitutes primary and secondary activities that bring value to the end customer. Once this is understood the organization can pull the strings in the right direction and focus its efforts in the right direction. Here is leaving you with a brief intro video on what is value chain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8p2H7EvoGM.

TProfile as a SkillSet for an Architect

This week here is sending you some thoughts on whether an architect needs to be a specialist or a generalist as one progress along the career path.

Specialists increase the depth of small ideas. Generalists connect small ideas into bigger ideas. We need them both to advance as a species. – Kenneth @leadershipABC

We need to know that an architect is support to have a lot of skills under his belt . An with the onslaught of technology changes every passing day. It is like changing the tires when the vehicle itself is going through an overall. An architect is supposed to be good at one or more skills and tech stacks . He needs to have full stack experience and should have handled at two end to end project in his lifetime meaning he saw the product or the solution go from concept to cash . This means that he was involved in every aspect of the delivery from start to finish and involved in all areas of the design , development and test and finally solutioning. All of this is still ok but what about the changing nature of the tech landscape and how does one keep pace with changing parts of the puzzle. The ancient greek definition of Architect meant that he was a man of words , arts , literature , interested in music and a tinkerer of sorts. All that we can think of someone who would fit that profile would a Da Vinci. Given the work pressures we all know how difficult it is to be someone of that level. It takes effort and years of practice to reach or play at that level.

But what is expected of an architect as he progress in his career path is that he should have broad experience in many areas of work and deep dive experience in one or two of them . This does not need us to be Da Vinci and looks like an within reach target.  What are the skills that you felt inadequate to turn into a Senior IT professional ?

Give yourself permission to think differently – Design thinking to the rescue

Here is an interesting news article about how Airbnb solved their problem by redefining their scope.They were stuck as they were looking at how to scale things first before solving other issues. You never know where your potential solution can come from unless you have looked at the problem from all its dimensions.

http://firstround.com/review/How-design-thinking-transformed-Airbnb-from-failing-startup-to-billion-dollar-business/

Thinking outside of the box is a key skill for an architect . It involves being exposed to new ways to think about existing issues. Most often people are so neck deep into finding solutions to problems that they forget to explore other options of how to make things better for people , customers. Most often the architects are disconnected from end user realities and design solutions considering only the technical landscape. This creates a one pointed view of looking at and arriving solutions. Most often the best solutions to customer facing solutions come from the coffee boy , the security guard or the customer who is using the system on a day in day out basis. Have we cared to check what are all the possible solutions which can enhance customer experience before going ahead with the solutions that are merely technology oriented and miss the business outcome or even the end user experience.  Design thinking is a skill for an architect or a solution designer and is a skill that has many people looking forward to which is about getting a problem all out captured in all its dimensions and looking also for problems from all quarters. It does not designate anyone with a Chief of Innovation mantle to innovate on the problem , everyone is a potential out of box thinker. Every input when processed through the design funnel could solve a teething problem with a solution that everyone in WOW !!.

Here is leaving you with a design thinking approach to solve a product rollout issue using principles of design thinking