Saturday, October 14, 2006


A week in the life of an enterprise architect

Figured I would share some of the things I did throughout the week...

On Friday, I had a deep conversation with some folks at Goldman Sachs on the notion of entitlements. Several months ago, our team had a conversation with one of their executives (Phil Venables) who is probably one of the most technical IT executives I have ever had the privelege of talking with. It was time to repay the favor and share what we have learned since our initial conversation with them. As you are aware, security usually doesn't result in competitive advantage and therefore it doesn't make sense to keep security innovations secret.

Anyway, the team at Goldman Sachs rocks. We have had open security architect positions for awhile now and I know in what direction I should point our own recruiters. Seriously though, they have their act together and are pretty thoughtful about this space. Our conversation centered around the usage of XACML and where we are planning on taking our vendors. XACML is not just something to be talked about in context of portals such as BEA or Liferay, nor J2EE containers such as JBoss. XACML is relevant to document and content management and BPM engines as well.

This week I had a very deep conversation with folks at EMC and their adoption of XACML on the roadmap for Documentum. I suspect that they will beat the folks at Alfresco in incorporating this specification. I also learned that other Documentum customers such as Bank of America and CSFB are also paying attention to how XACML will converge with the ECM space.

Likewise, I got positive confirmation that another vendor we use in the BPM space will be supporting both SAML, SPNEGO and XACML into their future product roadmaps as well. I hope to have a similar conversation next week with the folks at Mercury Interactive to encourage them to incorporate XACML into the former Systinet products along with their ITG suite.

Another conversation I had this week that was thought provoking was with the folks from Voltage who are known for Identity Based Encryption. Awhile back, Pat Patterson from Sun commented on one dimension of it. I will have some work on my plate to convince him that he needs to revisit his position as there is merit in using IBE and combining it with SAML and WS-Federation. Likewise, Sun has an opportunity over its competitors to merge IAM with IBE to allow customers to do things such as build in-house e-signature platforms which are on a lot of folks radar.

I have given myself several pieces of homework based on conversations. I have come to realize that industry analysts aren't having the right conversations when it comes to security. I periodically ping Dan Blum and Gerry Gebels of the Burton Group on my thoughts surrounding XACML but realized that the folks I need to bother are really Anne-Thomas Manes. I wonder what it would take for her to include in upcoming research projects to ask vendors a couple of simple questions such as are they building in XACML support into their portals, application servers, CRM platforms and so on. The notion of building security-in is not just something for Dan and his team.

The biggest highlight of the week for me was related to a program named Math Buddies in which employees volunteer time to teach math skills to fourth graders in inner-city schools. The student I will have as my buddy is named Juan Nunez. Fourth grade is a critical turning point for inner-city children and to know that my peers are spending time not just in donating monies to charities such as United Way but more importantly donating time brings joy to my heart. The most interesting part is that I got to see a list of folks who are volunteering and there are an aweful lot of IT executives on the list. In fact, they are showing up us Enterprise Architects. It is rare to find IT executives in corporate America who know how to be human and I guess I am blessed to work for an employer who has more than their fair share...

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