|By Jason Bloomberg||
|June 16, 2014 05:57 AM EDT||
“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.
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
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.
Aug. 1, 2015 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 469
One of the ways to increase scalability of services – and applications – is to go “stateless.” The reasons for this are many, but in general by eliminating the mapping between a single client and a single app or service instance you eliminate the need for resources to manage state in the app (overhead) and improve the distributability (I can make up words if I want) of requests across a pool of instances. The latter occurs because sessions don’t need to hang out and consume resources that could ...
Aug. 1, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 215
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.
Aug. 1, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 219
The Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), which enables organizations to seamlessly run in a hybrid cloud model (public + private cloud), is here to stay. IDC estimates that the software-defined networking market will be valued at $3.7 billion by 2016. Security is a key component and benefit of the SDDC, and offers an opportunity to build security 'from the ground up' and weave it into the environment from day one. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Reuven Harrison, CTO and Co-Founder of Tufin,...
Aug. 1, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 508
Approved this February by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), HTTP/2 is the first major update to HTTP since 1999, when HTTP/1.1 was standardized. Designed with performance in mind, one of the biggest goals of HTTP/2 implementation is to decrease latency while maintaining a high-level compatibility with HTTP/1.1. Though not all testing activities will be impacted by the new protocol, it's important for testers to be aware of any changes moving forward.
Aug. 1, 2015 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 184
Aug. 1, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 304
Alibaba, the world’s largest ecommerce provider, has pumped over a $1 billion into its subsidiary, Aliya, a cloud services provider. This is perhaps one of the biggest moments in the global Cloud Wars that signals the entry of China into the main arena. Here is why this matters. The cloud industry worldwide is being propelled into fast growth by tremendous demand for cloud computing services. Cloud, which is highly scalable and offers low investment and high computational capabilities to end us...
Aug. 1, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 160
[slides] Storage for Docker Containers By @OnModulus | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #Docker #Containers #Microservices
Learn how to solve the problem of keeping files in sync between multiple Docker containers. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Aaron Brongersma, Senior Infrastructure Engineer at Modulus, discussed using rsync, GlusterFS, EBS and Bit Torrent Sync. He broke down the tools that are needed to help create a seamless user experience. In the end, can we have an environment where we can easily move Docker containers, servers, and volumes without impacting our applications? He shared his results so yo...
Jul. 31, 2015 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 788
Modern DevOps Tool Kit By @Logentries and @NewRelic | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #Containers #Microservices
Auto-scaling environments, micro-service architectures and globally-distributed teams are just three common examples of why organizations today need automation and interoperability more than ever. But is interoperability something we simply start doing, or does it require a reexamination of our processes? And can we really improve our processes without first making interoperability a requirement for how we choose our tools?
Jul. 31, 2015 11:15 PM EDT Reads: 428
Cloud Migration Management (CMM) refers to the best practices for planning and managing migration of IT systems from a legacy platform to a Cloud Provider through a combination professional services consulting and software tools. A Cloud migration project can be a relatively simple exercise, where applications are migrated ‘as is’, to gain benefits such as elastic capacity and utility pricing, but without making any changes to the application architecture, software development methods or busine...
Jul. 31, 2015 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,352
The Internet of Things. Cloud. Big Data. Real-Time Analytics. To those who do not quite understand what these phrases mean (and let’s be honest, that’s likely to be a large portion of the world), words like “IoT” and “Big Data” are just buzzwords. The truth is, the Internet of Things encompasses much more than jargon and predictions of connected devices. According to Parker Trewin, Senior Director of Content and Communications of Aria Systems, “IoT is big news because it ups the ante: Reach out ...
Jul. 31, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 409
Where the Network Got Invited to the Party By @LMacVittie | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #Docker #Containers #Microservices
At DevOps Summit NY there’s been a whole lot of talk about not just DevOps, but containers, IoT, and microservices. Sessions focused not just on the cultural shift needed to grow at scale with a DevOps approach, but also made sure to include the network ”plumbing” needed to ensure success as applications decompose into the microservice architectures enabling rapid growth and support for the Internet of (Every)Things.
Jul. 30, 2015 08:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,775
Designing the IT Architecture of the Future with Adrian Cockcroft | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #Docker #Containers #Microservices
Our guest on the podcast this week is Adrian Cockcroft, Technology Fellow at Battery Ventures. We discuss what makes Docker and Netflix highly successful, especially through their use of well-designed IT architecture and DevOps.
Jul. 30, 2015 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 787
[slides] A New Architecture for the Internet of Things By @JKirklan | @ThingsExpo @RedHatNews #IoT #M2M #InternetOfThings
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 Arch...
Jul. 30, 2015 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,408
This week, I joined SOASTA as Senior Vice President of Performance Analytics. Given my background in cloud computing and distributed systems operations — you may have read my blogs on CNET or GigaOm — this may surprise you, but I want to explain why this is the perfect time to take on this opportunity with this team. In fact, that’s probably the best way to break this down. To explain why I’d leave the world of infrastructure and code for the world of data and analytics, let’s explore the timing...
Jul. 30, 2015 05:45 PM EDT Reads: 385
Take the Long View with Digital Transformation By @IoT2040 | @ThingsExpo #IoT #M2M #API #Microservices #InternetOfThings
Digital Transformation is the ultimate goal of cloud computing and related initiatives. The phrase is certainly not a precise one, and as subject to hand-waving and distortion as any high-falutin' terminology in the world of information technology. Yet it is an excellent choice of words to describe what enterprise IT—and by extension, organizations in general—should be working to achieve. Digital Transformation means: handling all the data types being found and created in the organizat...
Jul. 30, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,099
[slides] Workloads and Public Cloud at @CloudExpo By @utollwi | @ProfitBricksUSA #DevOps #Containers #Microservices
Public Cloud IaaS started its life in the developer and startup communities and has grown rapidly to a $20B+ industry, but it still pales in comparison to how much is spent worldwide on IT: $3.6 trillion. In fact, there are 8.6 million data centers worldwide, the reality is many small and medium sized business have server closets and colocation footprints filled with servers and storage gear. While on-premise environment virtualization may have peaked at 75%, the Public Cloud has lagged in adop...
Jul. 30, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,218
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with ...
Jul. 30, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 120
[session] DevOps State of Mind By @RedHatNews | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #PaaS #Jenkins #Kubernetes #Docker
Rapid innovation, changing business landscapes, and new IT demands force businesses to make changes quickly. The DevOps approach is a way to increase business agility through collaboration, communication, and integration across different teams in the IT organization. In his session at DevOps Summit, Chris Van Tuin, Chief Technologist for the Western US at Red Hat, will discuss: The acceleration of application delivery for the business with DevOps
Jul. 30, 2015 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,126
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, S...
Jul. 30, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,064