Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Lori MacVittie, Pat Romanski, Ruxit Blog, Elizabeth White, SmartBear Blog

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Linux Containers, @CloudExpo

Microservices Expo: Article

Bloomberg Agile Architecture in Action

How to think about and do architecture laser-focused on business agility as the fundamental business driver

“We have a mess on our hands,” said John, the CIO of an international hospitality and resort enterprise I’ll call Horizon (I’ve fictionalized the story but it’s based on a combination of true stories). “Every line of business wants something different from IT. There’s lodging, resort operations, restaurant operations, facilities management – even housekeeping, and they all want their own apps.”

It’s a familiar story, of course. I needed to get to the crux of the matter. “Of all the challenges you face, what’s the biggest?” I asked. “What keeps you up at night?”

“Lack of respect,” John replied. “IT has spent so much time and money over the years before I took this role, just trying to connect everything together and keeping the lights on, that we don’t have any time or money left over to innovate,” he explained. “So now the lines of business feel they have to go around IT and buy apps on their own.”

“Which only makes the problem worse,” I added.

“Precisely.” John ran his fingers through what was left of his hair. “I need to get Horizon out of this Catch-22, where IT’s internal issues prevent us from supporting the business, so the business makes their own technology decisions, which only make our integration, portfolio management, and governance issues worse.”

Time to apply my new approach, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Technique. The Bloomberg Agile Architecture™ (BAA) Technique offers a way of thinking about and doing architecture that is laser-focused on business agility as the fundamental business driver. Yet while the BAA Technique is an approach to Enterprise Architecture, it’s not a framework or a methodology. In fact, if you’re using TOGAF or SAFe or Zachman or any number of other architectural frameworks or methodologies, the BAA Technique doesn’t require you to throw them out. Rather, the BAA Technique simplifies your choices, as it lays out a particular path through all the options facing the architect that leads to greater business agility. Here’s how it works.

Applying the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Technique within Horizon
The starting point for Horizon’s BAA effort is to cast their problems as business agility drivers. Business agility breaks down into three core priorities: responsiveness and resilience, which are the tactical, reactive drivers, and the strategic, proactive driver of innovativeness. Responsiveness means being able to respond quickly and efficiently to positive change in the business environment, while resilience suggests being able to bounce back from adverse change. Innovativeness, in contrast, means being able to introduce change into the business environment intentionally, in order to achieve strategic benefits like increased market share or penetration of new markets.

At its core, however, BAA is a technology-driven technique, as it provides specific approaches for leveraging modern technologies like Cloud Computing and Big Data Analytics to achieve the business agility goals of the organization. The goal of the architecture exercise, therefore, is to connect the dots between the enterprise agility drivers and the necessary technology changes the IT organization must make in order to achieve those goals.

It’s important to remember, however, that BAA is itself an Agile technique – that is, instead of a heavyweight, big-bang approach, BAA favors an iterative, problem-focused approach that seeks to achieve real progress in a practical, step-by-step manner. As a result, even the most intractable of legacy rats’ nests can benefit from the BAA Technique.

Conversations with Horizon’s line-of-business executives uncovered their agility drivers. They wanted to expand into new markets, improve customer satisfaction in order to increase their repeat customer rate, and add new resort offerings to better compete in existing markets. We worked through these drivers, identifying the core challenges that centered on dealing with change. Numerous challenges presented themselves, and we worked them into their BAA Roadmap (more about such roadmaps in a future Cortex newsletter).

After a few weeks helping them understand their as-is architecture as well as their BAA Roadmap, we settled on a pilot project to serve as the first iteration of their overall BAA deployment. Such pilots serve several purposes: they solve a real, albeit limited problem; they prove the technique works; they get the team up to speed; and they establish an iterative pattern by serving as the first iteration. In the case of Horizon, the pilot focused on their loyalty system.

The loyalty system is supposed to track repeat customers, in order to recognize them as Horizon’s best clientele by offering special promotions, personalized service, and other premiums. Horizon’s problem wasn’t that they didn’t have such a system; their problem was that they had too many loyalty systems. The company had grown internationally through various acquisitions over the years, which led to the addition of various loyalty technologies. On top of these corporate acquisitions, various line-of-business managers within regions had taken it upon themselves to purchase their own loyalty apps. The result was a complicated mess that often didn’t recognize a loyal customer from one geography to the next, as well as causing a variety of related problems, like inconsistent and redundant emails to customers and front desk staff who didn’t know whether someone walking up was a regular or not.

A traditional architectural solution would focus on hammering out the to-be architecture, which in this case might center on a single loyalty system that replaced the motley assortment they started with (which would be unlikely, as every line-of-business manager favors the one they’re using), or more likely an approach to integrating existing systems so that they would present to the customer as a single, coherent application. Such an effort would likely bog down when the data architects tried to rationalize the various and sundry data models that each individual loyalty app depended on. Many months and perhaps millions of dollars later, Horizon might have ended up with a working loyalty system.

That is, until the business environment changed. Perhaps due to a new acquisition. Or maybe an addition of a line of business (there was some buzz about acquiring a cruise line). Or even regulatory change. Now that tightly integrated but fragile loyalty system would no longer meet the requirements, and it would be back to square one.

With BAA, in contrast, there is no to-be architecture – or at least, not in the physical sense of architecting a working app as above. Instead, the focus of the architecture is expecting and supporting ongoing change by specifying technology that is inherently flexible. In other words, architects must begin at the Meta layer, the top layer of the BAA Abstraction Layers diagram below.

Bloomberg Agile Architecture Abstraction Layers

I discussed the Meta layer in my book, The Agile Architecture Revolution, as well as in other articles over the last few years. At the Meta layer, architects (and others) treat business agility as a metarequirement (a requirement that affects other requirements). The also hammer out metaprocesses (processes for creating and modifying processes) and metapolicies (policies for how to do governance). In the case of Horizon’s loyalty system, work at the Meta level focused on how they will deal with changes that might impact the loyalty system, and what processes and policies at Horizon should be put in place to deal with such change.

While architects must generally start at the Meta level, in practice each iteration should be tackled both top-down and bottom-up at the same time. The architects must have a good understanding of existing technology (working at the Physical layer) as well as the core abstractions that are in place for dealing with that technology (for example, data schemas, Web Service or other API specifications, etc.), which take place at the Abstracted layer. As the team works through the iteration, they will eventually derive recommendations for how to make changes at the Physical and Abstracted layers, but in order to make such recommendations, the architects’ focus must shift to the Dynamic layer.

The Dynamic layer is the key to the entire BAA technique – the glue that ties organizational and process efforts at achieving agility at the Meta layer to the changes Horizon must make to their application and infrastructure environment to support the agility drivers that apply to this iteration. As I explained in the last Cortex newsletter, the focus of the Dynamic layer is on creating abstract models that the underlying infrastructure can resolve at run time into the specific logical representations in the Abstracted layer. Get this step right and you’re on your way to implementing technology that is inherently flexible.

The Intellyx Take
The work so far at Horizon has really just begun, of course. Understanding that abstract models must drive the underlying technology decisions is an important first step, but we must still answer the how question – how to get technology implementations that follow the BAA technique to actually work. I’ll be filling in such important details in my Cortex newsletter as well as my DevX Agile Architecture Revolution blog over time. (If you can’t wait, then join me in one of my upcoming Bloomberg Agile Architecture Certification courses or drop me a line.)

In the meantime, take another look at the BAA Abstraction Layers diagram above – especially if you’re an architect with years of experience dealing with other, similar layer cake diagrams. True, the bottom two layers are tried and true – nothing particularly new there. To really understand why BAA is different, you must understand the top two layers: in and of themselves, and how they relate to everything else. Simply adding one layer of abstraction on top of another is also a familiar architectural rat hole, but one I’ve been careful to avoid. If you understand why that is, you’re on your way to understanding Bloomberg Agile Architecture – just as John at Horizon is well on his way to getting some respect.

Horizon is a fictitious company. Any similarity to a real company is purely coincidental. Image credit: Kevin Dooley

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@MicroservicesExpo Stories

Let's just nip the conflation of these terms in the bud, shall we?

"MIcro" is big these days. Both microservices and microsegmentation are having and will continue to have an impact on data center architecture, but not necessarily for the same reasons. There's a growing trend in which folks - particularly those with a network background - conflate the two and use them to mean the same thing.

They are not.

One is about the application. The other, the network. T...

DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Am...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
This is a no-hype, pragmatic post about why I think you should consider architecting your next project the way SOA and/or microservices suggest. No matter if it’s a greenfield approach or if you’re in dire need of refactoring. Please note: considering still keeps open the option of not taking that approach. After reading this, you will have a better idea about whether building multiple small components instead of a single, large component makes sense for your project. This post assumes that you...
Before becoming a developer, I was in the high school band. I played several brass instruments - including French horn and cornet - as well as keyboards in the jazz stage band. A musician and a nerd, what can I say? I even dabbled in writing music for the band. Okay, mostly I wrote arrangements of pop music, so the band could keep the crowd entertained during Friday night football games. What struck me then was that, to write parts for all the instruments - brass, woodwind, percussion, even k...
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Yoseph Reuveni, Director of Software Engineering at Jet.com, will discuss Jet.com's journey into containerizing Microsoft-based technologies like C# and F# into Docker. He will talk about lessons learned and challenges faced, the Mono framework tryout and how they deployed everything into Azure cloud. Yoseph Reuveni is a technology leader with unique experience developing and running high throughput (over 1M tps) distributed systems with extre...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Isomorphic Software will exhibit at DevOps Summit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Isomorphic Software provides the SmartClient HTML5/AJAX platform, the most advanced technology for building rich, cutting-edge enterprise web applications for desktop and mobile. SmartClient combines the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simp...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Sharding has become a popular means of achieving scalability in application architectures in which read/write data separation is not only possible, but desirable to achieve new heights of concurrency. The premise is that by splitting up read and write duties, it is possible to get better overall performance at the cost of a slight delay in consistency. That is, it takes a bit of time to replicate changes initiated by a "write" to the read-only master database. It's eventually consistent, and it'...
Node.js and io.js are increasingly being used to run JavaScript on the server side for many types of applications, such as websites, real-time messaging and controllers for small devices with limited resources. For DevOps it is crucial to monitor the whole application stack and Node.js is rapidly becoming an important part of the stack in many organizations. Sematext has historically had a strong support for monitoring big data applications such as Elastic (aka Elasticsearch), Cassandra, Solr, S...
No matter how well-built your applications are, countless issues can cause performance problems, putting the platforms they are running on under scrutiny. If you've moved to Node.js to power your applications, you may be at risk of these issues calling your choice into question. How do you identify vulnerabilities and mitigate risk to take the focus off troubleshooting the technology and back where it belongs, on innovation? There is no doubt that Node.js is one of today's leading platforms of ...
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools have cloud orchestration plugins that can be leveraged, but there are also cloud-native tools that can dramatically improve the efficiency of managing your application lifecycle. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, ...
Ovum, a leading technology analyst firm, has published an in-depth report, Ovum Decision Matrix: Selecting a DevOps Release Management Solution, 2016–17. The report focuses on the automation aspects of DevOps, Release Management and compares solutions from the leading vendors.
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
If you are within a stones throw of the DevOps marketplace you have undoubtably noticed the growing trend in Microservices. Whether you have been staying up to date with the latest articles and blogs or you just read the definition for the first time, these 5 Microservices Resources You Need In Your Life will guide you through the ins and outs of Microservices in today’s world.
This digest provides an overview of good resources that are well worth reading. We’ll be updating this page as new content becomes available, so I suggest you bookmark it. Also, expect more digests to come on different topics that make all of our IT-hearts go boom!
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor – all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
There's a lot of things we do to improve the performance of web and mobile applications. We use caching. We use compression. We offload security (SSL and TLS) to a proxy with greater compute capacity. We apply image optimization and minification to content. We do all that because performance is king. Failure to perform can be, for many businesses, equivalent to an outage with increased abandonment rates and angry customers taking to the Internet to express their extreme displeasure.
Right off the bat, Newman advises that we should "think of microservices as a specific approach for SOA in the same way that XP or Scrum are specific approaches for Agile Software development". These analogies are very interesting because my expectation was that microservices is a pattern. So I might infer that microservices is a set of process techniques as opposed to an architectural approach. Yet in the book, Newman clearly includes some elements of concept model and architecture as well as p...