|By Sanjeev Khurana||
|February 7, 2013 12:00 PM EST||
Managing complexity is difficult in any growing business. As companies innovate, add new business lines, expand their global reach, cater to increased volume, or adopt new regulatory rules, processes proliferate and the discipline surrounding them goes out of the window. Moreover, the IT that supports these processes becomes more entangled as aging legacy applications jostle with new applications to support the needs of the business. Over time the technology that support this business unravels, causing the environment to suffer from instability and poor performance and become difficult to change and maintain. In short, it lowers business efficiency and effectiveness.
A sound Enterprise Architecture (EA) approach is required to ensure that both the business and technology are well aligned and will help restore order to this landscape. An Enterprise Architecture is a description of the goals of a company, how these goals are realized by business processes, and how these business processes can be better served through technology. EA is about finding opportunities to use technology to add business value.
The primary purpose of an EA is to inform, guide, and constrain the decisions for the enterprise, especially those related to IT investments. The true challenge of EA is to maintain the architecture as a primary authoritative resource for enterprise IT planning. This goal is not met via enforced policy, but by the value and utility of the information provided by the EA.
Why Have an EA Approach:
- Provides a basic framework for major change initiatives
- Divides and conquers technical and organizational complexities
- Supports business and IT budget prioritization
- Improves the ability to share and efficiently process information
- Provides the ability to respond faster to changes in technology and business needs
- Reduces costs due to economies of scale and resource sharing
- Enhances productivity, flexibility and maintainability
- Serves as a construction blueprint and ensures consistency across systems
- Supports decision making
More specific benefits include:
- Simplified application development
- Location transparency
- Horizontal scaling
An EA is a blueprint that is developed, implemented, maintained, and used to explain and guide how an organization's applications landscape works together to efficiently accomplish the mission of the organization. An EA addresses the following views:
- Business activities and processes
- Data sets and information flows
- Applications and software
The Four Pillars of Enterprise Architecture:
1. Business Architecture
Business Architecture realizes the business strategy. It describes how we organize our business processing to meet the strategic needs of the business. It should allow us to maximize the flexibility of the business to respond to changing business environments, reduce the complexity of our environment by simplifying business processing and reduce the effort required for application implementation and maintenance. It provides a view of the business and describes where we can improve business functions.
- Create processing utilities for common functions within the back office area that support cross products such as confirmations, cash settlement, security settlement, and collateral management
- Create a single common analytics versus an individual analytics library used for pricing products. Common analytics can be used for all front office trading desks, for different functions such as front office and risk
2. Data Architecture
The data architecture describes the way data will be processed, stored and used by the organization. It lays out the criteria on processing operations including the whole flow of the system. It should increase the accuracy and timeliness of business data used by applications.
An example of patterns used is Master Data Management (MDM) - its objective is to provide processes for collecting, aggregating, quality-assuring, persisting and distributing such data throughout an organization to ensure consistency and control in the on-going maintenance and application of this information. Moving to a model of a single golden data source will eliminate duplication and inefficiency, e.g., single bond static data sourced from multiple data vendors and publishing it to multiple systems (e-trading, trading, risk and PL, and settlement systems.)
Implement a firm-wide description of common data objects, e.g., fpML (open standard XML standard for electronic dealing and OTC derivatives processing). This will reduce the risk of the data being misunderstood and provide a higher quality of data flowing through the organization thereby increasing efficiency and effectiveness.
3. Applications architecture
Applications architecture describes the structure and behavior of applications used in a business, focusing on how they interact with each other and with users. It's focused on the data consumed and produced by applications rather than their internal structure.
- Enforcing the use of a golden source of data, e.g., instrument static, counterparty static, market data, etc.
- Standardizing on an application platform and interfacing approach
- Implementing a standard application monitoring framework for all applications to report the business status
4. Technical Architecture
This describes the common technology components that will be used to build our applications. This includes standards for vendor packages, third-party products and application components, e.g., servers, networks, desktops, middleware, security, storage, and virtualization. This will describe the current and target state.
- SSO should be a standard mechanism for user authentication for all enterprise applications
- Implement a server virtualization strategy to help reduce costs and increase flexibility
- All critical applications should have a recovery time of less than an hour
- Have a technology menu of strategic products that development teams can use for projects
Building an EA for Your Organization
It is important to understand the business strategy of the organization and this drives everything. This vision and strategy will drive where the organization's IT environment and capabilities should be in the next three years.
The next step in this process is to characterize the current status and snapshot the existing IT capabilities. The word "characterize" is used because it isn't usually necessary to identify and analyze everything IT or information related in the organization. You just need enough data to understand the basic situation you are in and the problems that exist, and to develop an idea of where you want to go. You need to understand where the inefficiencies and duplications exist. The question is whether IT is being used in the most effective way to accomplish the organization's program goals.
What Work Is Performed?
You must have a clear understanding of what work the organization performs and where it is performed (anywhere from one location to multiple locations throughout the world).
What Information Is Needed and by Whom?
You need to understand the basic flow of information, not just within your organization but also to and from your organization, and what the information consists of and how that information is organized.
What Applications Are Used to Process that Information?
What software is used to process, analyze, etc., the needed information? What types of data structures and protocols are used?
What Technology Is Used to Perform the Work?
What IT hardware infrastructure is currently used?
Having formed an understanding of where you currently stand, you now need to try to figure out where you need to be in the future. There are two main drivers for this:
- Business drivers tell you that you need to do business differently. Customers may be demanding better or different services.
- Technology drivers tell you that technology is providing you with options for doing things better
The target architecture is the heart of the process. The four components (business architecture, data architecture [e.g., data sets and information flows], application architecture and technical architecture) of the EA need to be modeled separately. Security considerations should be addressed throughout. The process consists of defining each set of architectural components and its key attributes. The result is an organized set of definitions and models to reflect the different views of the architecture. Again, the relative complexity of the situation will determine how detailed and extensive this effort and documentation needs to be. The four components are then synthesized into a comprehensive target architecture.
Due to the rapid pace of technology advancement, the goal should be to produce an "evolvable" architecture that can accommodate change easily. Some rules to help to produce this are - keep things modular and loosely coupled, have well-defined boundaries between systems and components, reusable logic should be divided into services, use industry-standard interfaces, use open-systems standards, and use common mechanisms whenever possible. Planning for loosely coupled, modular systems with clear boundaries allows you to change portions of the IT architecture without having to revise other aspects in the architecture, and also helps you see how changes in one part of the architecture may affect other elements.
At this point, you are in a position to determine the gaps between your current and target architectures. What are the differences between your baseline and the architecture you want to achieve?
For architecture to succeed within an organization, it is essential to have the support and commitment of senior management. This major initiative needs sponsorship by the CIO, and senior management need to be supportive and fully involved in ensuring it is a success. The governance process needs to ensure that:
- People planning and developing IT systems do so in a way consistent with the target architecture
- Procurements are consistent with the target architecture
- Determine if exceptions or changes to the Enterprise Architecture are needed for a specific system or procurement
- Track the implementation of the architecture migration plan and the benefits/flaws of the Enterprise Architecture
- Keep the EA up-to-date, thereby reflecting changes in the business, new technology, etc.
There needs to be integration with the program planning and the budget processes.
Technology is changing rapidly and business needs and processes change over time. Therefore, the target architecture, whether fully implemented or not, that addresses how IT and information will serve business needs must be periodically reviewed and updated to reflect these changes.
It is important that EA is not used as a mechanism that attempts to slow down delivery unnecessarily; it needs to add value to the business by producing superior solutions and not add unnecessary bureaucracy. A pragmatic approach to architecture is needed that balances the needs for agility and innovation yet delivers the efficiency and effectiveness in the technology solution provided by EA.
Architecture principles define the fundamental assumptions and rules of conduct for the IT organization to create and maintain IT capability. It provides a compass to guide it to its target architecture. A well-defined architecture principle consists of a name, definition, motivation and implications. Table 1 shows the Architecture Principles on the Reuse, Buy, Build Principle.
Table 1: Reuse, Buy, Build Principle
We prefer to reuse existing assets over buying, and buying over building
We are not a software company
Our company has many IT assets that are underleveraged because we have previously favored building rather than reusing or buying
We have many redundant applications and reducing this through reuse will reduce maintenance costs and improve system stability
Architecture Governance will ensure projects adhere to this principle.
Our company will develop an understanding of functional and technical assets available for reuse. This will be kept up to date.
We will strive for fewer and deeper software vendor relationships and need to influence their roadmaps to mesh with our needs
To add a new tool to our portfolio, we will also plan and fund replacement of the installed base of the former tool
Architecture principles become a core shared assumption for all initiatives in the enterprise. This radically simplifies decision making. It ensures that all projects align with and are moving toward the target state
Other enterprise architecture principles an organization might consider include:
- Don't Automate Bad Business Complexity Principle
- Avoid Package Customization Principle
- Prefer Service Orientation over Application Orientation Principle
- Don't Over / Under Engineer Principle
An example of the Banking Specific Architecture Principle:
- Only a master source of data can create business events
- All processing should be STP with manual interventions only for exceptions
- Combine multiple analytics libraries into a single common library (depends on trading desk size and product complexity!)
EA is important and without it organizations will be unable to deliver technology in an efficient and effective manner. If a project team works anyway they want to, and use any technology they want to, chaos will result. Functionality and information will be duplicated and reuse will occur sporadically, if at all. There will be conflict between systems that cause each other to fail. Individual projects may be deemed successful, but as a portfolio there may be serious challenges. Systems don't exist in vacuum, but rather co-exist with several and sometimes hundreds of other systems. For example, building a Bloomberg interface to store bond static and prices built by the rates front office IT group may be viewed as a success in isolation, but such functionality are required by many systems within the organization, e.g., e-trading, pricing analytics, risk, settlement systems, and other front office trading applications, e.g., credit derivatives and repo. If each area builds such functionality, costs skyrocket (e.g., multiple Bloomberg licenses, duplication of interfaces, data, hardware), and it increases complexity and operational risk within the organization. EA plays a fundamental role in preventing such scenarios from occurring.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" ...
Mar. 24, 2017 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 8,343
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
Mar. 24, 2017 04:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,479
The rise of containers and microservices has skyrocketed the rate at which new applications are moved into production environments today. While developers have been deploying containers to speed up the development processes for some time, there still remain challenges with running microservices efficiently. Most existing IT monitoring tools don’t actually maintain visibility into the containers that make up microservices. As those container applications move into production, some IT operations t...
Mar. 24, 2017 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,768
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
Mar. 23, 2017 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,435
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
Mar. 23, 2017 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,340
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In his Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will explore t...
Mar. 23, 2017 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,398
In recent years, containers have taken the world by storm. Companies of all sizes and industries have realized the massive benefits of containers, such as unprecedented mobility, higher hardware utilization, and increased flexibility and agility; however, many containers today are non-persistent. Containers without persistence miss out on many benefits, and in many cases simply pass the responsibility of persistence onto other infrastructure, adding additional complexity.
Mar. 23, 2017 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 4,102
Everyone wants to use containers, but monitoring containers is hard. New ephemeral architecture introduces new challenges in how monitoring tools need to monitor and visualize containers, so your team can make sense of everything. In his session at @DevOpsSummit, David Gildeh, co-founder and CEO of Outlyer, will go through the challenges and show there is light at the end of the tunnel if you use the right tools and understand what you need to be monitoring to successfully use containers in your...
Mar. 23, 2017 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,102
The IT industry is undergoing a significant evolution to keep up with cloud application demand. We see this happening as a mindset shift, from traditional IT teams to more well-rounded, cloud-focused job roles. The IT industry has become so cloud-minded that Gartner predicts that by 2020, this cloud shift will impact more than $1 trillion of global IT spending. This shift, however, has left some IT professionals feeling a little anxious about what lies ahead. The good news is that cloud computin...
Mar. 23, 2017 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 856
What if you could build a web application that could support true web-scale traffic without having to ever provision or manage a single server? Sounds magical, and it is! In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Munns, Senior Developer Advocate for Serverless Applications at Amazon Web Services, will show how to build a serverless website that scales automatically using services like AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, and Amazon S3. We will review several frameworks that can help you build serverle...
Mar. 23, 2017 05:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,406
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 abi...
Mar. 23, 2017 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 10,693
The essence of cloud computing is that all consumable IT resources are delivered as services. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Yung Chou, Technology Evangelist at Microsoft, demonstrated the concepts and implementations of two important cloud computing deliveries: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). He discussed from business and technical viewpoints what exactly they are, why we care, how they are different and in what ways, and the strategies for IT to transi...
Mar. 23, 2017 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,828
Thanks to Docker and the DevOps revolution, microservices have emerged as the new way to build and deploy applications — and there are plenty of great reasons to embrace the microservices trend. If you are going to adopt microservices, you also have to understand that microservice architectures have many moving parts. When it comes to incident management, this presents an important difference between microservices and monolithic architectures. More moving parts mean more complexity to monitor an...
Mar. 23, 2017 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,235
Microservices (μServices) are a fascinating evolution of the Distributed Object Computing (DOC) paradigm. Initial design of DOC attempted to solve the problem of simplifying developing complex distributed applications by applying object-oriented design principles to disparate components operating across networked infrastructure. In this model, DOC “hid” the complexity of making this work from the developer regardless of the deployment architecture through the use of complex frameworks, such as C...
Mar. 23, 2017 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,026
As Enterprise business moves from Monoliths to Microservices, adoption and successful implementations of Microservices become more evident. The goal of Microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases. Documenting hurdles and problems for the use of Microservices will help consultants, architects and specialists to avoid repeating the same mistakes and learn how and when to use (or not use) Microservices at the enterprise level. The circumstance w...
Mar. 22, 2017 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,085
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Mar. 22, 2017 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 8,300
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long developm...
Mar. 22, 2017 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,711
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Mar. 22, 2017 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 7,240
Without a clear strategy for cost control and an architecture designed with cloud services in mind, costs and operational performance can quickly get out of control. To avoid multiple architectural redesigns requires extensive thought and planning. Boundary (now part of BMC) launched a new public-facing multi-tenant high resolution monitoring service on Amazon AWS two years ago, facing challenges and learning best practices in the early days of the new service.
Mar. 22, 2017 03:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,783
All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the work...
Mar. 22, 2017 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,701