|By Douglas Allen||
|October 21, 2011 10:00 AM EDT||
Now is the time to invest. As organizations enter the planning stages for their key 2012 initiatives, it is time to invest in the ingenuity that enables companies to continuously strive for the ever-elusive competitive edge. It is time to invest in innovative processes and insight that creates lasting business value for customers and shareholders. It is time to invest in the advanced technology that provides the foundation and tools for the people and processes to meet their true potential. This means investing in the organizational construct known as a business technology Center of Excellence (CoE).
The general concept of a business technology CoE has occasionally been incorporated into everything from a skunkworks-oriented IT research & development team to a full-fledged enterprise architecture organization. Corporate enterprise IT R&D teams are typically assigned a mission to constantly assess trends in business technology and make recommendations regarding their usage. These teams can serve a vital purpose in some companies, but are often challenged in making the connection between the new technologies and their immediate benefit to the business’ bottom line. Similarly, enterprise architecture teams have been very successful in documenting and establishing governance over the existing business, organizational, and technical constructs of a corporation, but have been challenged in delivering ongoing, proactive, and immediate strategic value to the business. A well-defined CoE with a specific mission addresses both the tactical and strategic issues associated with implementing new business technology solutions while remaining focused on the value the technology provides to the business.
Begin by considering how the CoE will be staffed. The core team should consist of experienced professionals who have an understanding of many technology domains as well as a solid grasp of the business. As with any high profile transformational initiative, it should be staffed by high performers with a proven track record of success. This initial team will morph into the internal consultants in the organization who will be charged with driving change, so they need to have credibility and influence with both the business and IT departments. From a practical standpoint, the enterprise architecture team is likely to have the most qualified candidates. Suggestions for staffing additional roles and responsibilities beyond the CoE leadership will be discussed later.
The graphic below demonstrates both an organizational construct as well as the functional considerations that need to be addressed when introducing new business technology into the enterprise. As with any enterprise initiative, it all begins with an examination of the business priorities. This enables the team to understand where the greatest opportunities lie for technology to play a transformative role. This understanding will then drive the situations, scenarios, and business problems to which the new technology can be applied. For example, a business initiative focused on expansion into emerging markets with minimal technical expertise can drive the need for rapid provisioning of IT solutions and/or private cloud solutions. Depending on the technology in question, these two CoE elements can actually drive each other. For example, an understanding of business analytics technology and the role it can play in transforming organizational decision making can become the foundation that drives ideas for new business initiatives. It may be considered blasphemous in some organizations, but there is nothing wrong with an emerging technology solution looking for a critical business problem to solve. The business initiative and technology domain decisions will in effect become the organizational charter for the CoE and therefore define its mission.
Once the mission is established, there are four areas of consideration that the CoE must address in order for a solution to become enterprise class. From a timing perspective, some areas must be addressed prior to others, but all must be taken into consideration from the beginning. Although there is minimal overlap in terms of purpose of any of these, they are complementary and are all required in order to deliver an enterprise class business solution. The first area is Architecture. As the saying goes, Architecture establishes the proverbial “rules of the road” that guide decision making and link the actual technical solution back to the business priorities. Architecture includes the organizational thought leadership and evangelism that will drive adoption of the technology across the enterprise. Techniques will include proofs of concept and prototypes that address specific business problems, the selection of the technology best suited for the organization, and a detailed understanding of the business value derived from the investment in the technology. This function should be executed by the CoE leadership described earlier. A combination of business leaders and architects set the overall direction of the CoE and lead execution.
The second area of consideration is Solution Development. Even if the bulk of the solution is acquired from vendors rather than built in house, attention has to be paid to ensure that the implementation of the business functionality is done in a consistent and repeatable fashion. These areas would typically be addressed by the development leads responsible for understanding the deep technical details of the technology, the optimal methods and nuances involved in deploying and reusing its components, and ensuring that the solution is well tested and exercised before it is used by the organization. If, for example, the CoE is focused on the business process management (BPM) technology domain, these individuals would understand how to use the BPM tooling to map business processes, pass the appropriate business information between systems and humans, and all of the application integration details (service definitions, etc.).
The third area of consideration focuses on the Infrastructure components. This includes everything that ensures the establishment of an enterprise class environment upon which the solution can be hosted. It includes defining and deploying installation and configuration procedures for the hardware and software to provide a highly available, scalable, recoverable, and secure environment. These responsibilities would be executed by individuals such as systems administrators or engineers who understand capacity planning and all aspects of infrastructure management. They would ensure that the solution adheres to established enterprise IT standards and reuses existing corporate hardware (servers, network, storage, etc.) and middleware (databases, application servers, etc.) to the greatest extent possible.
The fourth and final area of consideration focuses on post implementation Solution Support. As critical as the solution is to the achievement of business priorities, systems and personnel need to be in place to ensure that it is functioning optimally. This includes the ability to monitor the solution from a performance, availability, and functionality perspective as well as ensuring the proactive escalation and resolution of any issues. Depending on the organization, this function may be performed by the same professionals responsible for the Infrastructure area of concern mentioned previously. Similarly, any monitoring, service request management, and escalation systems already in place for the existing enterprise IT environment would be utilized for the new technology as well.
Although the graphic does not represent it, there is a cycle involved in each of these areas of consideration. As the team and the solution evolves, new experiences are introduced that can iteratively drive more business value and efficiency. However, once the CoE has achieved its initial mission and the solution has been rolled out, the teams focused on Architecture and Solution Development would remain in place and continue to act as internal consultants and evangelists to spread the technology and its business benefits across the enterprise. The professionals focused on Infrastructure and Solution Support will have successfully integrated the new technology into the enterprise and would take on less of a role in driving further adoption.
As has been proven time and time again, technology itself cannot transform a business nor take it to the next level of success. As Jim Collins articulates in his perennial best seller, “Good To Great”, however, technology can become the "accelerator" that enables the transformation. Establishing a Center of Excellence that enables dedicated professionals to focus on applying a specific technology domain to a business problem will better enable the organization to reap greater benefits from its investment in the technology.
In a report titled “Forecast Analysis: Enterprise Application Software, Worldwide, 2Q15 Update,” Gartner analysts highlighted the increasing trend of application modernization among enterprises. According to a recent survey, 45% of respondents stated that modernization of installed on-premises core enterprise applications is one of the top five priorities. Gartner also predicted that by 2020, 75% of
Oct. 7, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 254
It is with great pleasure that I am able to announce that Jesse Proudman, Blue Box CTO, has been appointed to the position of IBM Distinguished Engineer. Jesse is the first employee at Blue Box to receive this honor, and I’m quite confident there will be more to follow given the amazing talent at Blue Box with whom I have had the pleasure to collaborate. I’d like to provide an overview of what it means to become an IBM Distinguished Engineer.
Oct. 7, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 149
The cloud has reached mainstream IT. Those 18.7 million data centers out there (server closets to corporate data centers to colocation deployments) are moving to the cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Achim Weiss, CEO & co-founder of ProfitBricks, will share how two companies – one in the U.S. and one in Germany – are achieving their goals with cloud infrastructure. More than a case study, he will share the details of how they prioritized their cloud computing infrastructure deployments ...
Oct. 7, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 691
SYS-CON Events announced today that G2G3 will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based on a collective appreciation for user experience, design, and technology, G2G3 is uniquely qualified and motivated to redefine how organizations and people engage in an increasingly digital world.
Oct. 7, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 366
If you are new to Python, you might be confused about the different versions that are available. Although Python 3 is the latest generation of the language, many programmers still use Python 2.7, the final update to Python 2, which was released in 2010. There is currently no clear-cut answer to the question of which version of Python you should use; the decision depends on what you want to achieve. While Python 3 is clearly the future of the language, some programmers choose to remain with Py...
Oct. 7, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 199
Opinions on how best to package and deliver applications are legion and, like many other aspects of the software world, are subject to recurring trend cycles. On the server-side, the current favorite is container delivery: a “full stack” approach in which your application and everything it needs to run are specified in a container definition. That definition is then “compiled” down to a container image and deployed by retrieving the image and passing it to a container runtime to create a running...
Oct. 7, 2015 12:30 AM EDT Reads: 160
Somebody call the buzzword police: we have a serious case of microservices-washing in progress. The term “microservices-washing” is derived from “whitewashing,” meaning to hide some inconvenient truth with bluster and nonsense. We saw plenty of cloudwashing a few years ago, as vendors and enterprises alike pretended what they were doing was cloud, even though it wasn’t. Today, the hype around microservices has led to the same kind of obfuscation, as vendors and enterprise technologists alike ar...
Oct. 7, 2015 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 392
“All our customers are looking at the cloud ecosystem as an important part of their overall product strategy. Some see it evolve as a multi-cloud / hybrid cloud strategy, while others are embracing all forms of cloud offerings like PaaS, IaaS and SaaS in their solutions,” noted Suhas Joshi, Vice President – Technology, at Harbinger Group, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff.
Oct. 6, 2015 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 370
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud wit...
Oct. 6, 2015 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 587
As the world moves towards more DevOps and microservices, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. The microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, NetFlix and so on, is at the heart of Cloud Foundry - a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS) that is IaaS agnostic and supports vCloud, OpenStack and AWS. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Raghavan "Rags" Srinivas, an Architect/Developer Evangeli...
Oct. 6, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 120
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Oct. 6, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 851
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, ...
Oct. 6, 2015 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 454
Despite all the talk about public cloud services and DevOps, you would think the move to cloud for enterprises is clear and simple. But in a survey of almost 1,600 IT decision makers across the USA and Europe, the state of the cloud in enterprise today is still fraught with considerable frustration. The business case for apps in the real world cloud is hybrid, bimodal, multi-platform, and difficult. Download this report commissioned by NTT Communications to see the insightful findings – registra...
Oct. 6, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 215
Application availability is not just the measure of “being up”. Many apps can claim that status. Technically they are running and responding to requests, but at a rate which users would certainly interpret as being down. That’s because excessive load times can (and will be) interpreted as “not available.” That’s why it’s important to view ensuring application availability as requiring attention to all its composite parts: scalability, performance, and security.
Oct. 6, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 365
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Oct. 6, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 573
There once was a time when testers operated on their own, in isolation. They’d huddle as a group around the harsh glow of dozens of CRT monitors, clicking through GUIs and recording results. Anxiously, they’d wait for the developers in the other room to fix the bugs they found, yet they’d frequently leave the office disappointed as issues were filed away as non-critical. These teams would rarely interact, save for those scarce moments when a coder would wander in needing to reproduce a particula...
Oct. 6, 2015 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 262
What Is Emergent About Emergent Architecture? By @TheEbizWizard | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #BigData #API
All we need to do is have our teams self-organize, and behold! Emergent design and/or architecture springs up out of the nothingness! If only it were that easy, right? I follow in the footsteps of so many people who have long wondered at the meanings of such simple words, as though they were dogma from on high. Emerge? Self-organizing? Profound, to be sure. But what do we really make of this sentence?
Oct. 6, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 380
As we increasingly rely on technology to improve the quality and efficiency of our personal and professional lives, software has become the key business differentiator. Organizations must release software faster, as well as ensure the safety, security, and reliability of their applications. The option to make trade-offs between time and quality no longer exists—software teams must deliver quality and speed. To meet these expectations, businesses have shifted from more traditional approaches of d...
Oct. 6, 2015 07:45 AM EDT Reads: 157
Information overload has infiltrated our lives. From the amount of news available and at our fingertips 24/7, to the endless choices we have when making a simple purchase, to the quantity of emails we receive on a given day, it’s increasingly difficult to sift out the details that really matter. When you envision your cloud monitoring system, the same thinking applies. We receive a lot of useless data that gets fed into the system, and the reality is no one in IT or DevOps has the time to manu...
Oct. 6, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 499
Last month, my partners in crime – Carmen DeArdo from Nationwide, Lee Reid, my colleague from IBM and I wrote a 3-part series of blog posts on DevOps.com. We titled our posts the Simple Math, Calculus and Art of DevOps. I would venture to say these are must-reads for any organization adopting DevOps. We examined all three ascpects – the Cultural, Automation and Process improvement side of DevOps. One of the key underlying themes of the three posts was the need for Cultural change – things like t...
Oct. 6, 2015 04:15 AM EDT Reads: 276