Thursday, April 13, 2006


Is James McGovern too Enterprisey? (Part Duece)

Many have stated that us enterprisey folks take simple things and make them complex while others have suggested that enterprisey folks don't take advantage of opportunities to learn from what Internet startups are doing. There is some truth to both...

The first fact is that many enterprises often overprocure in the name of "enterprise" class solutions when workgroup-oriented products will do the job. The main reason for usually doing this though really has nothing to do with the differences in features between versions but more in the way that folks have to think about budgeting. In many cultures, if you have a budget you are forced to consume, kinda the use it or lose it proposition. No one has really figured out a way to compensate folks in the enterprise for true cost savings.

You may read in many magazines about lots of projects done within enterprises that have had huge ROIs yet the annual IT budget still increases. Another behavior that plagues many enterprises is that folks simply get promoted based on how much money they spend. For example, If I were to champion use of an open source Enterprise Service Bus such as ServiceMix and figured out a way to keep support internally while another colleague say championed purchase of a $5 million closed source Service Bus, which one do you think will get promoted quicker?

Another evil that is starting to grow is the effect that Sarbanes Oxley is having on enterprises and their IT systems. It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the vast majority of employees of auditing firms do not really have any business certifying IT systems and practices yet that is what they do. Audit firms are not employing CS majors but do employ a lot of accounting majors. Let's say the architect team at CSFB found a way to make all of their IT systems 100% SoX compliant using a couple of things freely downloadable from the Internet and spend a total of say $1,000, do you think that these accounting folks would actually publicly certify their solution or do you think they would need to see larger numbers and bigger solutions?

Several years ago, I did one thing that was not too enterprisey but was well received. We invited several architects into a closed room and played Diablo on company time which for the most part would have challenged lots of HR rules. The rationale for this wasn't about gaming but was about our ability to understand other architectural styles. We had a briefing with an architect who worked on the design of which supports at peak 100,000 users concurrently with subsecond latency and wanted to change our perspective as to how extremely scalable applications are really written. It would have been wonderful to get that type of analysis from folks like Gartner, Forrester or even Redmonk but they simply aren't talking about architecture but are somewhat still talking about products and vendors. Of course, I am hoping to work with all of these firms to see if they could provide alternative perspectives that us enterprisey folks can more easily consume.

For bloggers that have read my blogs, may have figured out that I am of the belief that I can learn a lot about content management from Internet startups as well. I am of the belief that are content management strategy and thinking while is more mature than other enterprisey folks elsewhere it is still junior to say what Playboy has already done in many aspects. Imagine the attendance if I invited architects into a closed room and used the same approach as I did with a game? Now for reality, this simply isn't going to happen. I would be ecstatic though if some industry analyst firm were to dig deeper into their implementation and create a case study in which we could consume and learn from.

I have also had conversations with an architect I know of that writes gambling software and their architectures. They currently run their data centers outside of the United States and have a slick way of load balancing across countries. Gambling sites have higher availability than most corporate systems and never lose transactions. Do you think anyone in the analyst community ever talks about architecture in this form?

I had the opportunity to visit a data center in Antigua where many sites that are unmentionable run. They had technology that is more modern than data centers here in the United States. Do you think they get any coverage or will show up on a quadrant? This data centers had the most mature implementation of enterprise guest management I have ever seen. They literally are the reference implementation as to how things should be done. Anyone game for a roadtrip?

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