Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Liz McMillan, Flint Brenton, Jason Bloomberg, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: PowerBuilder, Java IoT, Industrial IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Machine Learning

PowerBuilder: Article

A Pragmatic Approach to Enterprise Architecture

Examples from the Financial Services industry

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
  • Quality
  • Integration
  • Extensibility
  • Location transparency
  • Horizontal scaling
  • Isolation
  • Portability
  • Reuse

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
  • Technology

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.

Examples:

  • 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.

Examples:

  • 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.

Examples:

  • 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:

  1. Business drivers tell you that you need to do business differently. Customers may be demanding better or different services.
  2. 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?

Architecture Governance
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
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

Definition

(What)

We prefer to reuse existing assets over buying, and buying over building

Motivation

(Why)

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

Implications

(How)

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!)

Conclusion
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.

More Stories By Sanjeev Khurana

Sanjeev Khurana is Head of Development at a large European Investment Bank and has over 20 years of IT experience. He has also been a part time Lecturer at Universities such as Brunel, Middlesex, Greenwich teaching undergraduates and postgraduates Software Engineering.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes a lot of work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reduction in cost ...
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...
Don’t go chasing waterfall … development, that is. According to a recent post by Madison Moore on Medium featuring insights from several software delivery industry leaders, waterfall is – while still popular – not the best way to win in the marketplace. With methodologies like Agile, DevOps and Continuous Delivery becoming ever more prominent over the past 15 years or so, waterfall is old news. Or, is it? Moore cites a recent study by Gartner: “According to Gartner’s IT Key Metrics Data report, ...
Many organizations are now looking to DevOps maturity models to gauge their DevOps adoption and compare their maturity to their peers. However, as enterprise organizations rush to adopt DevOps, moving past experimentation to embrace it at scale, they are in danger of falling into the trap that they have fallen into time and time again. Unfortunately, we've seen this movie before, and we know how it ends: badly.
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to maximize project result...
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
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.
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.
You often hear the two titles of "DevOps" and "Immutable Infrastructure" used independently. In his session at DevOps Summit, John Willis, Technical Evangelist for Docker, covered the union between the two topics and why this is important. He provided an overview of Immutable Infrastructure then showed how an Immutable Continuous Delivery pipeline can be applied as a best practice for "DevOps." He ended the session with some interesting case study examples.
Both SaaS vendors and SaaS buyers are going “all-in” to hyperscale IaaS platforms such as AWS, which is disrupting the SaaS value proposition. Why should the enterprise SaaS consumer pay for the SaaS service if their data is resident in adjacent AWS S3 buckets? If both SaaS sellers and buyers are using the same cloud tools, automation and pay-per-transaction model offered by IaaS platforms, then why not host the “shrink-wrapped” software in the customers’ cloud? Further, serverless computing, cl...
"We view the cloud not as a specific technology but as a way of doing business and that way of doing business is transforming the way software, infrastructure and services are being delivered to business," explained Matthew Rosen, CEO and Director at Fusion, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), held June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Eric Robertson, General Manager at CollabNet, will discuss how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...
We all know that end users experience the internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices - not doing so will be a path to eventual ...
"DivvyCloud as a company set out to help customers automate solutions to the most common cloud problems," noted Jeremy Snyder, VP of Business Development at DivvyCloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
We all know that end users experience the Internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices – not doing so will be a path to eventual b...
"This all sounds great. But it's just not realistic." This is what a group of five senior IT executives told me during a workshop I held not long ago. We were working through an exercise on the organizational characteristics necessary to successfully execute a digital transformation, and the group was doing their ‘readout.' The executives loved everything we discussed and agreed that if such an environment existed, it would make transformation much easier. They just didn't believe it was reali...
"Opsani helps the enterprise adopt containers, help them move their infrastructure into this modern world of DevOps, accelerate the delivery of new features into production, and really get them going on the container path," explained Ross Schibler, CEO of Opsani, and Peter Nickolov, CTO of Opsani, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, provided a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services with...
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Archi...