Monday, March 06, 2006


Responding to comments made by James Governor

When I started blogging, I made a personal commitment to go easier on folks who have my first name in the blogosphere but have already broken this rule by commenting on blog entries by James Tarbell and James Taylor. I have thought on something said by Redmonk analyst James Governor and figured I too wouldn't let him off the hook...

First, let me start with a disclaimer. The reason I blog is not to provide a status of all the things I or others do within a work context. The main reason is that I find zero value in communicating the "status" of anything to others and it would otherwise be a waste of time. Project Managers care about status and I am not one. I am an architect and I care about architecture. One could conclude that there is more value in teaching one about how to think about a problem than patting oneself on the back for all of the wonderful things they have delivered in terms of a status report.

My blog though does focus on things that I think about with a primary concentration on information technology with periodic sprinkles of politics. Of course, if I talk about technology folks will "read into" that I am talking about work and I leave this up to them. Likewise, if I talk about politics and target the Republican party and their incompetence, folks may also read into that I am a decromat. Reading into anything I say will almost always lead you to the wrong conclusions...

Below is a quote from James Governor:
I want to see your IT portfolio information made public. Never mind a reference architecture, we want to know about your real architecture. So we can compare it with others, parse it, look for best practice or portfolio overlaps or whatever. Of course some people at work might want to fire you if you tried to share the information. Its that old chestnut - "competitive advantage".

I don't know where to begin my assault so I will start with the first sentence. What makes you think that large companies are not willing to share their IT porfolios? Maybe it is because all those software vendors who only want quotes when information suites their marketing efforts want us to talk but yet when they lose a benchmark, don't have secure software development practices or attempt to stiff folks at license renewal time don't want to have anything to say, so they blanketly put into all of their contracts non-disclosure agreements. I would turn it back to you and ask if you would be willing to pick up the phone TODAY and call every single large enterprise vendor and convince them that it is OK for every Fortune enterprise to publish internal benchmarks, tell the world about all of their bugs, especially the security ones and agree to allow us to talk to the press without litigation / moderation, then by all means we are game.

How could you say "Never mind a reference architecture". What if we desired reference architectures so we can create software ourselves and make them open source. What if Redmonk wanted to pick up the phone and call IBM and Microsoft up and provide some UML on how to integrate Infocard with RACF and several of my peers not only code it but we make it open source. Imagine if there was a publicly available reference architecture in the identity management space, do you think it may enable folks in large enterprises to actually particapte in the open source community. Reference architectures may help build a shared perspective. Don't discount them.

As far as portfolio overlaps, yes we have them. Every single Fortune enterprise has them. Shouldn't the real question be whether folks could provide real insight as to how to change them for the better and not just perform quantitative analysis around them?

Several folks at work also contribute to open source projects. I have talked about the ones I and several of my peers on numerous occasions contribute to. Maybe the problem is not us folks in corporate America wanting to contribute but the analyst community not wanting to tell our story. How about all analysts stop telling open source stories about Microsoft, Sun, IBM, BEA, Oracle, cA, etc and start telling the story of open source contribution by my employer, Duke Energy, Boeing, GM, Merrill Lynch, and others. Maybe Redmonk could call up Jon Udell and get him to make this a featured article in Infoworld.

I can honestly tell you that old chestnut of "competitive advantage" isn't really used by any of my peers. How can we buy products that are off the shelf and expect that no one else will buy them? Competitive advantage comes from thought leadership we develop internally not in the buying of products from large vendors.

And as far as sharing, that is the icing. In my own background, since being with my employer, I have co-authored five different books, have written dozens of articles, blog every single day (Haven't missed a day in over six months) and am scheduled to speak at least six different IT conferences this year. No, this is not all about me. If you were to search Amazon, you may notice that I am not alone. My peers in total have co-authored over twenty books, hundreds of articles for dozens of publications and will speak at over twenty different technology events this year.

If analysts would like to see us folks in corporate America share more, simply invite us to speak at your conferences. I have dozens of peers that would be more than willing to share...

FYI: I know James desires an honest open dialog as part of his motto to declarative living. So let the dialog begin...

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