Sunday, September 30, 2007


Enterprise Architecture: The IT equivalent of the glass ceiling?

Women periodically hit the glass ceiling which prevents them from rising to their fullest potential. I believe that folks in IT have the notion of a glass wall which prevents many of them from expanding into other fields, not because they lack the ability, but because they lack relevant experience...

When I reflect on my own career, I realize that in the workplace, I am only as good as I was in the past and no one ever took the time out to truly understand my potential. The past is my shackles and I need to figure out how to become more than myself. One of the things that I have realized is that while I enjoy being an Enterprise Architect for my own employer, I have no desire to be an Enterprise Architect for anyone else.

Recruiters in large enterprises are tasked with hiring someone who is a good match for a job opening. This of course places too much emphasis on experience as opposed to ability. When hiring someone, an obvious starting point is their resume which naturally causes a focus on what someone has done in the past while not paying attention to what they aspire to become. Have enterprises ever figured out that if you know I do a kick butt job at Enterprise Architecture, how successful I may be if I were able to truly focus on something I really was passionate about?

If enterprises are truly serious about hiring top talent, they need to pay attention to the future, especially for those who are setting the strategic direction. Do you know how many positions I have interviewed for in the past where the focus was on strategy let they didn't ask a single question on where I wanted to head? Way too many.

What if recruiters were to stop thinking about resumes as a document that outlines ones pedigree and history while encouraging candidates to list their aspirations instead? Do you think this may lead to finding better talent? The funny thing is that not a week goes by where I don't get a ping from multiple recruiters seeking to find enterprise architects. In networking with them, I find it interesting that they are pursuing a dry waterhole in that they have never even figured out from the folks they are recruiting on behalf of how much training would they be willing to accept in a near match.

While my resume is transparent and unadulterated, I can certainly tell you that history does lie. Have you considered that the best way to learn about an individual is to simply ask them what they want to do in the future and what they aspire to become? You may even realize that candidates may tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth...

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Saturday, September 29, 2007


Enterprise Architecture, Email and Collaboration Patterns

I have in the past ranted about being in mail jail where the quota was exceeded on Microsoft Exchange and I couldn't send email until I got rid of all of those PDFs that software vendors keep sending me as attachments. Anyway, the secondary cause for folks spending time on email management is the CC his manager antipattern...

Sometimes, folks in large enterprises prove the theory that we are all just a bunch of silly little human beings. There are times where we in our matrixed organization chart where you report to everyone and no one at the same time need the services of others in a timely manner, but the person on the other end of the email doesn't respond. Of course, this too may be because they are also in mail jail but the odds are good that it is more likely they are ignoring your requests or believe it to be of less priority.

Folks over time have concluded that the best way around this conundrum is to CC his manager and put this person's boss in mail jail as well. The recipient of the email may feel pressured to respond and will answer the email also CC'ing his manager but will make sure that all future requests take longer than they should. He may also respond faster than he should and think about where in the hierarchy the person asking the request is vs responding in terms of its actual importance which means they are spending time on less important activities.

Furthermore, his manager may have a blackberry and may be reading emails in meetings where thinly veiled Powerpoint presentations are being conducted by closed source vendors and will send the recipient another email indicating its importance. The end result is that the recipient now has to spend time on five or six emails to get himself out of mail jail before he can take care of your request.

Everything is important, but sometimes us folks in large enterprises can't figure out what is more important...

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Friday, September 28, 2007


Enterprise Architecture: ECM and Compliance Oriented Architectures

I wonder if folks in the ECM world have ever read about Compliance Oriented Architectures as written by James Governor of Redmonk?

Both Laurence Hart and Jesse Wilkins said something in their blog that got me thinking about the importance of disposition and how it too can become a service. While the original discussion was all about IDARS, Alchemy and Documentum, I came to the conclusion that retention is not only something that should be part of an ECM platform and not a separate SKU but that this too needs to move away from the ECM-oriented insular thinking and migrate to be service-oriented.

Of course, I am of the belief that Enterprise Architects at Morgan Stanley in terms of their records management initiative are more than likely focused on productecture and consumed by features instead of architecture and thinking about how disposition fits within a larger context, but I will of course allow folks from that enterprise to chime in and provide their own perspective to readers in the blogosphere.

Let's consider the scenario where I am an Enterprise Architect for State Farm and I have three different platforms. I have a policy administration system, a claims administration system and my wonderful proprietary closed source ECM platform with horrific WSDL. From a retention perspective, I may want to have a retention policy for my policy administration system that says keep all insurance policies for cat insurance for two years after policy expiration unless they are in the state of Wisconsin and know how to bark which we want to keep them for four years after policy expiration.

Likewise, I may want to have a policy for my claims administration system that says to keep all claims information related to cat insurance for nine years or until the cat runs out of nine lives. Of course the claims administration system may not want the policy administration system to remove its information especially if the claim is still active.

From an ECM perspective, one could envision that the policy administration system stored pictures of cats, their favorite toys and the application they filled out prior to getting the policy which may have included their favorite food and whether they like catnip. It may even store audio of cats who know how to bark. One could also envision that the claim administration system also leverages the ECM platform and would store pictures of the cat being chased up the tree by Clifford and Blue.

If you think of this business scenario, you may conclude:

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Thursday, September 27, 2007


Records Management, ECM and an Enterprise Architecture Perspective

Laurence Hart provides wonderful insight into the RM world and is an insightful read for others...

Any thoughts on whether disposition when it is more about destruction could leverage external encryption services? For example, if Documentum were deeply integrated with Active Directory and could leverage its certificate services, documents could be destroyed simply by destroying the keys required to decrypt them. Of course this begs two questions of the first being coming up with better integration between ECM and PKI and more importantly, the various ECM vendors thinking about integration with products other than what originates from their own company. Maybe they need to first understand that SOA is not the golden hammer for integration.

The other thought that I had is this feels like an opportunity for Alfresco and Nuxeo to take marketshare away from Documentum and Stellent. The separate SKU sales pattern feels fugly when it should be a feature of an existing product and not something distinct as it cannot standalone on its own.

I wonder if Laurence believes the rat hole is in the products or in listening to Gartner? I wonder why the likes of Nick Patience of the 451 Group, Alan Pelz-Sharpe or other industry analysts haven't researched this aspect deeper?

Actually, it wasn't my definition but one I learned from another architect. It did include Microfilm and COLD devices as well. The hard part of this conversation is that I understand how RM and ECM are complimentary, but I still have no sense as to what the gaps are? What features does Alchemy have that Documentum doesn't and vice versa? Jesse Wilkins describes retention policies which feel like they are more strongly typed metadata in ECM. Does this beg for an industry taxonomy of metadata? The issue at hand is that if retention is solely driven off the ECM system being authorative then you could get it wrong.

Imagine a scenario where you have a BPM system and an ECM system integrated where documents are in the ECM and processes are in the BPM. Shouldn't you be able to via some industry standard that is implemented in all products be able to say that all documents are disposed of when the business process reaches a certain state without fugly syncronization?

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Enterprise Architecture: Retaining Top Talent

I still find it intriguing when IT executives don't understand how to recruit and more importantly retain top talent...

The notion of the exit interview seems like the latest fad that has gone without accompanying common sense. Why wait till the absolute last minute to solicit feedback from someone who has zero vested interest when you can seek feedback from those who still care? What if enterprises figured out not only a way to measure sentiment before folks depart but did it in such a way that it actually had integrity?

For example, I crafted several questions that if asked to developers within your enterprise, you may actually learn something:
  1. All other considerations being equal, what characteristic represents the ideal boss?

    (a) A respected industry guru such as Martin Fowler, James Gosling, Chris Date, etc
    (b) Someone who is passionate about community, bold in their communication and savage in the pursuit of excellence which includes individuals such as Todd Biske, James Governor or Brenda Michelson
    (c) Someone from a project management background who has never written a single line of code in their life and doesn't care to learn, but is keenly interested in process maturity such as CMM and Six Sigma

  2. Does the ideal boss focus on?

    (a)Technical excellence and demonstrated ability
    (b) Perception management
    (c) Process as a substitute for competence

  3. Does your boss understand that top talent wants to work with other top talent?
    (a) Top talent is just another management buzzword
    (b) Top talent is something he pursues but due to outsourcing no one wants to work there
    (c) While outsourcing is important, gaining access to top talent is more important and acknowledges that outsourcing removes much of the desired collaboration

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    Wednesday, September 26, 2007


    Thoughts on MBAs

    I just finished writing the last recommendation for a good friend and blogger who is applying to several top MBA programs and must say that writing a good recommendation is one of the hardest things one can do.

    At some level, one gets engaged at more of a personal level in that I want to see him accomplish his goals and know that some small part of it is tied to my own writing abilities. While I am flattered that he chose me to write his recommendations, at some level the pressure is tough. I will of course second guess myself until the acceptance letter arrives, but at least their is solitude in knowing that I have tried my best...

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    Folks don't think faster under pressure...

    While I am all for having a sense of urgency, I can certainly tell you that folks don't think faster under pressure...

    Have you ever reflected on your days in college? Would you have learned more if you had two weeks for every week of work assigned? Why do project managers think that pressure helps? Have they considered that putting stress on others causes suboptimal work that jeopardizes the longer term goal of strategic projects?

    People only think fast when the anxiety level is self-imposed. Otherwise, the problem of pressure will merely be reflected back in the direction over time to the person applying it. Simply put, anxiety is not the optimal mental state for clear thinking over longer periods of time. In fact, it more than likely jeopardizes any scintilla of planning that does occur.

    Maybe project managers and IT executives have gotten it twisted by reading too many books about sports. We all wanna be like Mike, a team player like Tim Duncan or even hit home runs like Barry BondsHank Aaron but reality says that us enterprise architects need to encourage our bosses to put down the sports management books. Physical performance may be a different thing entirely. That's why managerial techniques that may work for sports or physical labor backfire when applied to software development.

    An important time-management and stress-management technique is to set priorities, and then address each task in a focused-but-unhurried manner. You can never do everything you want/should, so focus on the tasks that have the biggest payoff. Trying to "work harder" doesn't pay off. Why can't focus understand the simple concept of not working harder, but smarter?

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    Transparent ECM and SOA

    Laurence Hart comments on the need for increased transparency and how ECM and SOA should converge...

    The server side of many ECM platforms still leave a lot to be desired. I agree with Laurence is terms of the importance of continuous improvement for client APIs but wonder which is more important?

    Yes, all good architectures take work and ECM vendors shouldn't be so hesitant to do a little bit. Have they heard of the notion of merciless refactoring? Maybe we can talk about why ECM vendors understaff their development teams as a separate discussion.

    Jesse Wilkins is a big proponent of records management and has mentioned concepts such as IDARS and products such as Alchemy. I wonder what features does Alchemy have that is missing from Stellent and Documentum?

    I don't believe it is as much as a catch-22 as it is a trap. The issue at hand is that there are more customers that want to integrate with products NOT from the ECM vendor than there are that do. The issue is that ECM vendors have been ignoring the desires of their customers and prioritize based on insular internal interactions over talking with others in the value chain.

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    Tuesday, September 25, 2007


    Links for 2007-09-25

  1. ECM 2.0
    Jed Cawthorne asks what ECM 2.0 will look like. I am of the belief that it will look no different than ECM 1.0. Security will still be weak. There will be no interoperability and vendors in this space still will create horrific WSDL. 2.0 in the ECM world will be more of a branding exercise than a value proposition.

  2. Managing tough security projects
    In my travels, I have heard dozens of folks talk about the difficulty of rolling out identity management tools where one of the biggest problems is in how the tools make you jump through hoops, don't support all the products an enterprise has and most importantly don't interoperate very well with existing security managers such as RACF, ADAM, etc. I wonder when transparency in conversation around tools from Sun, Oracle, BMC and others will occur in the blogosphere?

  3. 40% of today's enterprise architecture programs will be stopped
    My peers in other enterprises are too busy having coffee clutch conversations with their business partners and focusing on perception management while not paying the needed attention to ROI. Sooner or later, many programs will be shut down and I will be esctatic when it happens.

  4. New Rules for SOA
    I love the quote, SOA is not EA. The problem though is if folks realize what SOA truly is, the sales of vendor projects may go way way down and they will have to hype something else in order to stay in business.

  5. Architecture Tweets
    The notion of the skip-level is simply fugly when enterprise architects participate. The funny thing is in prior conversations with one of the large enterprises across the street, I remember a couple of EAs telling me that they have never talked to their VP whereas a week doesn't go buy where I haven't chatted with at least one SVP. The notion of skip levels need to be shot and we need to help executives communicate downward better.

  6. Paying for SOA
    More discussions around the economic model for SOA need to occur in the blogosphere.

  7. Six sure fire ways to sink your enterprise architecture
    Brenda Michelson, noted industry analyst of Elemental Links calls out us enterprise architects. Maybe in a future blog entry, she can talk more about point five and how it compares/contrasts with perception management which is so freakin disgustingpopular nowadays.

  8. 450 analyst firms get less than half their revenue from vendors
    If vendors are frustrated with paying Gartner higher fees while they also feel that analysts lack deep domain knowledge, the question is why aren't they seeking alternatives? If you want to understand the mindset of an enterprise buyer, why not simply post questions in your blog and pay a bounty in the form of a charitable contribution to a worthy charity for whomever from a large enterprise responds?

  9. You can keep your business language: that's not meaningful conversation
    I wonder if James Governor understands at some level that folks in large enterprises are increasingly being encouraged to have less meaningful conversations by speaking in the tone of the business language. According to sage wisdom, this helps IT align with the business. I of course believe we are giving the business the business

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    Even more thoughts on Records Management

    Responding to the most thoughtful post of Jesse Wilkins...

    As stated, I am going on what I have learned from others which leads me to believe that there is no common definition for what even comprises records management.

    I would love to understand why this is any different than simply placing Access Control Lists on stuff stored in Documentum, Alfresco, Nuxeo or Stellent?

    Jesse only mentioned the big enterprisey guys and didn't mention open source players such as Nuxeo or even pseudo open source players such as Alfresco. I wonder if he is pro or con towards open source?

    You are now crossing into a space that security folks understand which is the notion of retention policies. I would argue though that enterprises keep too much information and need to start figuring out how to delete things to make the need for records management go away.

    For folks who will get it twisted, I didn't say that this was the priority of my organization or am I recommending anyone else to think about it this way. I am merely stating what it in terms of the priority of my particular agenda.

    Is anyone on the agenda going to talk about interoperability between records management systems? Any conversations about creating open source to solve the challenges in the records management space? Will there be conversations solely focused on those who are somewhat indoctrinated and otherwise insular or will the conversation be more focused on those outsiders such as myself where we can figure out how to incorporate it into enterprise architecture?

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    Monday, September 24, 2007


    ECM: Recent Thoughts on Records Management

    Awhile back, I made a comment on records management that wasn't quite accurate. Figured I would take this opportunity to correct myself...

    I am surprised that Jesse Wilkins didn't call me out. My mention of IDARS as I have now learned really has nothing to do with records management and fits into a space that Gartner refers to as report management. As I understand, records management is more about tracking physical paper and there are applications that help manage this.

    A records management application may know that my job application is in box 742, on shelf C, in aisle 23, in building 22. It may track retention and disposition status for lots of paper-oriented processes.

    One of the things that I think this dialog should contain is whether records management even makes sense nowadays. Why do folks still keep paper? Why can't they simply scan all documents and store within an ECM repository such as Stellent, Alfreso or Documentum? Why aren't folks simply converting from micro-film and all of the headaches around climate control that it brings and moving more of it into the data center?

    In terms of the thousands of applications a large enterprise may have, I have placed the notion of records management, in terms of its relative importance in the 996th position in a three-way tie with the application used by our employee fitness center along with the application the folks in the cafeteria use to keep track of employees who loose change in the vending machines. This reminds me to figure out if Gartner has a magic quadrant for lost change management applications?

    I find it intriguing that in my travels, I haven't ran across a single Enterprise Architect who even cares about this space. I wonder what we are missing?

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    Sunday, September 23, 2007


    Enterprise Architecture: When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation?

    James Governor of Redmonk said something intriguing that resonated with me. It was: If Markets are Conversations then Twitter is Money which got me to thinking about how Twitter can be used within an enterprise setting and how I may leverage it for my industry vertical identity management consortium I am attempting to get off the ground...

    James stated:His statement isn't just limited to bloggers but to folks who are practicing enterprise architecture in large corporations. We are constantly being pressured to extend our sphere of influence which has a dilution effect on our quality of conversation at the expense of perception management. There is a fine balance between reaching out to other demographics within the enterprise and staying more insular so as to have maximum impact.

    The 80/20 rule comes to mind in that enterprise architects shouldn't focus on everything and likewise industry analysts need to stop sending out surveys to IT executives attempting to measure where the gaps reside. Sometimes having gaps is a good thing. Everything and everyone is important but who is more important?

    James goes on to state:It has been a long, long time since I have personally advocated for the creation of small, highly nimble teams that are empowered. Somewhere along the way, I have lost my soul and will be vigilant in terms of getting it back. Today, we are so indoctrinated and bought into the notion of governance that we forget about the core principles we should all adhere to. The law of large numbers gets in the way of us remembering that we are just silly human beings that want peace, love and prosperity.

    James then mentionsIt is sad, as I have been so heads down on my current activities that I truly haven't had a meaningful face-to-face conversation in the last several weeks. Now is the time that many folks in large enterprises are preparing for their 2008 budget and get consumed by tweaking numbers, creating over-hyped sales pitches, flooding each other with emails and otherwise forgetting about the human on the other end.

    There are lots of benefits to face-to-face conversations. While they take longer and most certain put pressure on the elusive work-life balance, it does help reduce the headache of managing your email inbox, especially if your shop institutes mailbox size quotas. Now I know why I am always in mail jail...

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    Saturday, September 22, 2007


    Enterprise Architecture: Perception Management destroys Innovation...

    Folks need to "manage" the physical, sociological, spiritual, and perceptual. However, many IT executives under the guise of IT aligning with the business will spend nearly all of their time managing only the perceptual. Companies that practice this look quite good in the eyes of the business, but rot away internally.

    At its highest level of immaturity, perception is reality tends to breed communication patterns where employees are told what they want to hear instead of what is actually happening. Metrics are created left and right as a flag waving exercise to show that transparency is the goal but if you look carefully, the metrics measure activity and not value. The funny thing is that the business side of the house as consumers of most metrics receive them but neither understand nor challenge. In reality, IT won't get better and expenses will continue to rise relative to the value provided unless business folks have the ability to tell the difference between when IT is lying or when they are truly going out of their way to meet business expectations.

    I wonder how many executives understand what those below them think in terms of how they are perceived? Are modern IT executives merely facades for those that came before them? Nowadays, it isn't too difficult to find an IT executive who focuses on the following in increasing amount of time but in decreasing order of importance:

    If you study the behavior models of those who evangelize perception is reality, you may hear them talking about innovation and how they are the linchpin to making it happen within the enterprise, but reality tells a different story. If you were to look at history, the innovators of the past have had less of a perception mindset and more of an engineering mindset where their focus wasn't on perception and in all reality had a totally different set of priorities. At some level, they thought about things in terms of importance as follows:

    Maybe what is wrong with modern IT is that IT executives forgot the simple fact that they need engineers to make things and the sole focus isn't just on making thinly veiled PowerPoint presentations. If you also look back to the days when IT was cheap, you would realize that there were more engineers than perception-oriented folks. Likewise, if you were to plot when IT expenses started to grow faster than revenue, you may discover the time when IT executives started focusing on perception and thinking that if they don't like what engineers are telling them, then they can just go get another.

    People skills are important, but not more important than engineering skills within an IT culture. People skills are nothing more than knowing how to appear good to others. We have to do something about the death march downward spiral of spending time and effort acquiring people skills as it means we are obviously focusing less on learning science and making things well which can only result in increased IT spend and less competitive advantage...

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    Friday, September 21, 2007


    SOA: Traveling to India

    I may be visiting three cities in India in the January timeframe to speak on various aspects of SOA within a large enterprise. It looks like my agenda will be comprised of visiting Chennai, Bangalore and Pune. I would love the opportunity while there to meetup with a diverse set of bloggers to have a face to face conversation. While I am there, I would love to meet bloggers from diverse backgrounds that work for Indian outsourcing firms such as Wipro, Cognizant, Infosys, Satyam and TCS who are also christian, muslim, buddhist and jewish. Likewise, I would love to meet women who blog, those that are Dalits and even those of whose preferences do not align with my own. Nothing personal against those Brahmin class male Hindu's, but I probably won't have to make any effort to meet you folks.

    Anyway, whenever I travel to another country I haven't previously been to, I tend to think of this as yet another opportunity for charity. If there are any projects in these countries that are sponsored by any of the large Indian corporations analogous to our Habitat for Humanity, where they are building homes for the poor, I would most certainly love to swing a hammer and do my small part. Likewise, I wouldn't also mind volunteering to work in a soup kitchen or two. Hopefully, I can find some India-based bloggers to keep me company.

    My Nephew, who has recently entered the IT profession and is busy programming for a cool site that is in stealth mode may also be travelling with me. He has an interest in meeting single Indian women and hopes to find women who look like Rani Mukherjee, Isha Koppikar, Shamitha Shetty, Riya Sen or Priyanka Chopra. I think he will be out of luck, but will let others provide the opportunity to correct me. An Indian friend of mines once said that if you want to find beautiful Indian women, Bangalore and Chennai are the last places in India you want to go.

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    Links for 2007-09-21

  11. Do you love IT conversations? Show It
    I wonder if Phil Windley knows that I am a big fan of IT Conversations. Having worked all day last Saturday and Sunday being alone at work on the floor, I put Anne Thomas Manes, Stephen O'Grady, Gary McGraw and others on blast while I attempted to write code. I realize that even I am dangerous nowadays when attempting to build working software

  12. Patriotism, India and Charity
    Hopefully our friends in India outsourcing firms can consider supporting this worthy cause.

  13. Good policy makes good security
    Jackson Shaw comments on how Active Directory is becoming the center of the universe within many enterprises. I wonder though if the Quest ActiveRoles product should be something that Microsoft should purchase and simply put into the next version?

  14. Logging out from Cardspace
    I hate when folks complain about technology when they haven't researched deeply enough the underlying issues why what they are asking for is problematic?

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    ECM: Five Questions for John Newton of Alfresco and Brian Huff of Stellent...

    John Newton and Bex Huff are two of the smartest in the world of ECM. I figured I would ask them questions in hopes of them responding...

  16. Historically, Documentum and some of the other vendors in the ECM space as part of the design of their product made folks duplicate user stores. Brian Huff has chimed in stating that ECM products should focus on content and not users which is something most folks will agree with. What makes it so hard to move away from the legacy approach? Is it really that embedded?

  17. If you hang out with the portal crowd, you have folks discussing common industry standards such as portlets. If you hang out in the rules engine crowd, you have standards such as rulesML and so on. If you look at pretty much any and every technology horizontal, you can find not only evidence of standards but vendors being passionate about working together to create more. Why is ECM the sole domain that doesn't have this mindset?

  18. What do folks actually talk about at AIIM conferences? How come there is never any discussion regarding interoperability? I know that if you go to a Burton Group conference they will talk about interoperability for federated identity, entitlements management, portals, BPM and other technologies. If folks in the ECM world aren't talking about interoperability, are they simply encouraging their attendees to wander mindlessly ogling the latest products in a stovepipe manner?

  19. The whole SOAP vs REST debate seems intriguing to me. Many in the world of ECM think that REST is a natural fit which I would agree if they think about ECM in an insular way. What does it take to get ECM vendors to NOT think about searching for a document, retrieving a document and so on and instead thinking about how ECM plays i a larger process such as I want to retrieve all documents for a claim? I suspect the conversation may migrate more towards SOAP if they had the right mindset. Curious to also understand why it has to be either/or and not both? Yes, I expect part of the issue is time but what else is an impediment?

  20. You probably have heard of design patterns, Core J2EE patterns, SOA patterns, .NET patterns and so on. When will folks start talking about ECM patterns?

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    Thursday, September 20, 2007


    So, exactly what is innovation?

    I suspect that if your enterprise isn't filled with process weenies who substitute process for competence then the odds are good that you have real genuine leadership that understands that innovation is about structured creativity. So, then what is creativity? Creativity is 1% invention and 99% stealing. Innovators recognize the good things in other contexts, in proven practice and have the ability to see things in patterns.

    Two of the best innovators I know is James Tarbell and James Governor. Notice a pattern...

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    Wednesday, September 19, 2007


    Helping your boss transition from being a manager to a leader...

    In a culture of outsourcing work to suboptimal countries such as India, American developers need to do a better job of helping their managers become leaders...

    Many developers bitch and complain that their managers don't understand what the team is doing, don't provide the necessary resources, and have unrealistic demands or expectations. Here is yet another scenario where perception over reality thinking should be shot. Most managers are neither stupid nor malicious and are honestly trying to do their jobs well. You can help your manager to be more effective by following a few simple rules. Making your manager effective and happy is an excellent way to advance your career. Following these rules makes the manager and team more effective, which is good for everybody.

    Here are some things to noodle:
  22. Managers are required to be offensive: There is a distinction between being offensive and being insulting. One thing that offends many is when managers ask tough questions. It's their job to do this so don't get it twisted and take it personal. Most managers don't enjoy humiliating folks and aren't looking for an excuse to fire you. Reality says that they would rather see you successful than to spend all their remaining free time writing tons of documentation for human resources to can you.

  23. Managers have lots of issues that developers don't nor have visibility into. This should translate into a simple understanding that their priorities may seem twisted but in reality they may be more aligned than you think. Folks need to get better at assuming good faith and not think everything is about throwing daggers

  24. A manager's job is to allocate resources, to track progress, and to manage risk. You can help the manager do that job by presenting information in that context.

  25. Present multiple alternatives. Don't just tell managers that there are problems, and wait for them to tell you how to fix them. That's not a manager's job.

  26. If you think your managers are making unreasonable requests, then talk to them about it. They often do not realize they are being unreasonable. Managers want to know the truth, and most managers are very willing to change their minds. Good managers want people to correct them. Some managers like to Push people until they push back

  27. It's better to be credible than to be agreeable. Managers will defer to your judgment if they believe that you know what you are talking about. If you get too defensive, or if you are too willing to agree with them, they will lose confidence in your abilities.

  28. The pointy haired boss at the end of a day is a human. Managers make mistakes. Managers get tired. Managers sometimes collapse under pressure. Managers sometimes get irritable or angry without good reason. Managers sometimes get distracted by personal problems. Don't hold managers to an incredibly high standard just because they make more money, have an impressive title, or have the authority to fire you. They are just people, trying to do their jobs the best they can, learning by trial-and-error, hoping to make their house payments and raise their kids and have a little fun once in a while.

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    Links for 2007-09-19

  30. Secure coding - Getting Buy-In
    Gunnar Peterson shares his advice on secure coding within an enterprise context that for the most part I agree with. Of course, he should ask the question whether secure coding should be championed by the security team or is it better positioned by being championed by Enterprise Architects? Likewise, he skipped over an important success factor in terms of security at large and that is the acknowledgement that the vast majority of folks in large enterprises who have security responsibility don't know how to program.

  31. Enterprise Architecture and the Invasion of the Project Snatchers
    It is good that Satyam's Chief Mr. Raju acknowledges that they should use Americans for higher value American projects and others will agree with this as sound business judgement. However, one of the topics not discussed is why would an American want to work for an Indian outsourcing firm especially if they are at the top of their game. Indian outsourcing firms have the stigma of not paying as well as their American counterparts and therefore won't gain access to the same quality of talent. Every American I know that has worked for an Indian outsourcing firm is severely underpaid.

  32. Thinking SOA...
    David Linthicum shares some great thinking on thinking about SOA. Most folks tend to get it twisted.

  33. MySQL 5.1
    Too bad the MySQL community is still busy misleading folks by convincing them that their product is open source when you can't find 100% of the code base for the current release. I guess you can twist words or they can move to a model such as Liferay which is 100% open source for life.

  34. Linux is NOT ready for the laptop
    Linux is also not ready for the Enterprise desktop either

  35. GlassFish V2 ships
    I wonder which analyst firm won't be willing to show GlassFish in the Leaders Quadrant?

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    India, Racism and Christianity...

    On the cover of today's Wall Street Journal, there is a great article on how India discriminates against Christianity...

    Almost all Christians in India hail from the so-called Dalit community, the former "untouchables" relegated to the bottom of the Hindu caste hierarchy. Under India's constitution, Dalits are entitled to affirmative-action benefits including 15% of all federal government jobs and admissions in government-funded universities. The government however didn't require outsourcing firms to step up and do their part to right this historical wrong.

    Any Dalit caught abandoning Hinduism for Christianity loses these priveleges and can be fired from jobs gained under the quota. The rules are enforced by vigilant local officials who keep a close eye on comings and goings.

    India's Dalits have tried over the centuries to escape their low status, which Hindu scriptures teach is a punishment for sins in a previous life, by embracing caste-less religions. Dalits are now turning to Christianity, attracted by benefits such as education and health care that are sometimes offered by Western funded congregations.

    While discrimination against Dalits is illegal, it is in practice widespread where people from higher castes often won't touch a Dalit or share food or water. Many people of higher castes object to any action such as quotas which seek to right past wrongs and prefer to talk as if they are the victims of systemic discrimination while others who are employed by outsourcing firms will simply pretend that this problem doesn't exist and exercise their right to remain silent on this matter.

    My take is that India is one of the most diverse countries on the planet only if you choose to change the meaning of diversity. If you see diversity through the lens of caste, gender, ethnic origin or religion, you may see something other than diversity, but who am I to challenge a nation of Billions to stand for the poor...

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    Tuesday, September 18, 2007


    Patriotism, India and Charity...

    A friend of mines (Hi Pratul) suggested that I would be better off making folks aware of lack of diversity by using kind words than challenging their lack of open thinking by throwing daggers. Like myself, he believes that charity may be the best gift one could give to others...

    I guess he is encouraging me to put my money where my mouth is. One of the most honorable things one can do is to die in the name of your country. Many young American men and women are dying in the pursuit of spreading freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. In this war against terror, we have lost thousands of lives.

    I guess one small token of gratitude would be for me to personally donate to worthy charities that benefit fallen soldiers who died to protect our freedom to outsource jobs to other countries, to perform ungodly acts in public settings and to allow us to waste food at industry conferences while children in third world countries starve.

    I would like to offer $200 for each and every soldier who was born in India and perished in Iraq and/or Afghanistan who served in the United States Armed Forces to either the charity of their families choice or to a worthy charity such as Freedom is not free which aids wounded service members and their families.

    Please post their names, rank and branch of service so that I and others can honor them in a way that they deserve...

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    Links for 2007-09-18

  37. Being an employee or a consultant
    I wonder if the brainwashing regarding total compensation packages is something that others are experiencing? Is competitive compensation the same as modest? The best quote is: You are rated based on the stupid rules invented by someone in the HR department. All year you are earning points for good behavior. The highest points are earned if you fill and submit your timesheets which I cannot refute.

  38. Gartner's Magic Quadrant for User Provisioning Report
    Rajesh asks whether Sun Java System Identity Manager appearing in the magic quadrant is a surprise to anyone. My response is no as Sun pays lots of money for this to occur. I am still awaiting news that someone in the past has actually landed in the leaders quadrant without paying fees.

  39. ISE issues EA Framework
    I suspect lots of folks in the federal government are giddy that they got yet another framework to help them create comprehensive documentation that will sit on the shelf.

  40. Insourcing and outsourcing: two sides to the same coin?
    Here is a story of graceful degradation in how Infosys discusses how many of their customers bringing work back in-house. They have mentioned how they are also moving up the foodchain which I totally support without of course mentioning that as you move up, the need for lots of butts in seats goes down and the trend that revenues will grow while also weeding mediocrity is beneficial for both parties. There are hundreds of thousands of folks in IT in India today that shouldn't be.

  41. The difference in being an enterprise architect and consultants providing enterprise architecture services
    I would love for others to share their thoughts on this topic. I plan on responding sometime next week in a separate blog entry.

  42. ECM and Secure Coding
    Here is evidence that Nuxeo at least is noodling secure coding. I wonder if Alfresco and Stellent are as well?

  43. Why software developers should aspire to become enterprise architects
    I wonder what enterprise architects should aspire to become?

  44. Magazine Oriented Architecture
    Finally, a proposal on SOA that makes a lot of sense. I suspect though that Aloof hasn't acknowledged that introducing a definition that has more integrity wouldn't allow for propagation of magic quadrants and other forms of distillation that many IT executives love.

  45. To be or not to be an identity provider?
    Does anyone know why being hub-based is evil?

  46. Entitlement Management
    Many identity bloggers will exercise their right to remain silent on topics that make sense within an enterprise when they don't have a product that fulfill this important need.

  47. Diversity or the black and white thingy
    A Jewish guy in New York talks about racial diversity or the lack of (depending on one's perspective) in a bold way. Most folks would never talk of such topics within their blog. My personal opinion is that more conversations such as these need to occur in the blogosphere. He is spot on when it comes to Black and Indian folks. I wonder what his thoughts are regarding Asian and Hispanic. I wonder if he would agree that racism is propogated when folks are afraid to offend and where honest dialog cannot occur?

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    Monday, September 17, 2007


    Fair Trade is better than Free Trade...

    Free trade refers to a general openness to exchange goods and information between and among nations with few or no barriers to trade. Fair trade refers to exchanges, the terms of which meet the demands of justice...

    Fair trade organizations, such as the Fair Trade Federation and the International Federation for Alternative Trade maintain that fair trade practices alleviate poverty, enhance gender equity, improve working conditions, the environment, and distributive justice.

    By contrast, free trade proponents believe that under a system of voluntary exchange, the demands of justice are met. Although free traders hope to alleviate poverty and improve conditions around the world, they prefer measures that are less intrusive than fair traders, who regard the unfettered market as injurious to these same goals.

    Free traders argue that in the long run markets will solve - that is, when permitted to come to equilibrium, both rich and poor nations will benefit. In this way, free traders hold that free trade is fair trade.

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    George P. Alexander, Diversity and India

    Continuing the dialog with George Alexander who is a software developer in India...

    George, I am going on the attack but not for the reason you may initially assume. I don't like India because they are adopting more of a Western mindset. Us men are immoral, power hungry inhumane savages who only care about making money and almost never take a pause to think about the human condition. Within India, women are the moral fiber which makes India a rich cultural treasure chest. Women are modest in their behavior and don't dress like Britney Spears or Paris Hilton, the divorce rate is incredibly low whereas in America there are more folks who have been divorced than who stay married. Some aspects of Indias culture towards the treatment of women are horrific such as burning women to avoid dowry but other aspects are Godly across all religions practiced there. As you participate in a larger global ecosystem, I would love to see India bloggers encourage their fellow countrymen to remain open minded but not throw the baby out with the bath water.

    Can we agree that if folks are doing this on their free time that their employee isn't involved and therefore Infosys isn't participating in the larger community? Can we acknowledge that training, creating solutions and consulting says that they use open source but don't contribute to it? Can we acknowledge that if they are using open source in an RND way but this RND stays private that it is not open source?

    My question wasn't about training as I know this occurs. My question was specifically about books. Awhile back, I blogged that a friend of mines who went to India mentioned that none of the folks he met had any recent books on their desks. He also mentioned that many of the books that were there were bootlegged copies that were printed on rice-like paper. The conversation came up in the context that we were both book authors and did notice that not only our respective statements from various publishers showed that book sales in China were order of magnitudes higher when compared to India but couldn't find any book author that have contradicting royalty statements. One take is that Indian outsourcing firms don't buy books for individuals and only their libraries. Another take is that they don't buy books at all and leave it to the individuals to acquire at the cheapest way. Another take still is that folks simply rely on google to find their information. I would hate to think that as a client if I outsourced production support activities that folks didn't have readily accessible information and had to rely on google for the answers.

    I wonder if you have ever noted that I have encouraged this behavior for American businesses as well? Have you ever thought about the consumer perspective of outsourcing? The usual pattern is that when an American company outsources work to India, they tend to at many levels cripple the level of access afforded to them in the name of security. If you acknowledge that a pattern frequently found is that offshore folks don't have the same levels of access as onshore folks then you must equally acknowledge that the ability to serve the consumer in many circumstances may also be affected. While the tactic I suggest harms the innocent call center workers who are simply attempting to earn a living, it does have a trickle down effect to the bottom line of evil corporations that don't treat their customers as being important.

    I bet you don't also know that harrassment and complaining can be a good thing in terms of customer service as well? If you voice your opinion loud enough, many companies will buy you off by sending you coupons, free merchandise and so on. In other situations, complaining also works to a consumers advantage. For example, if you have a Sprint cell phone and want to cancel service yet your two year contract isn't up, the best way to get out of it is to not pay for termination charges that can be as high as $175 but to start complaining. Sprint tracks the number of calls that each customer makes to their call center and determines which are the most expensive customers and fires them.

    I am happy to note that George knows that I am not anti-outsourcing in general and in fact believe that it makes sense in some situations. I would be curious to know though if he has any thoughts as to why I may have certain beliefs. What do others think my perspective is on India? Maybe this is an opportunity for him to ask me questions?

    I do thank George for helping me see things through his lens. Part of being diverse has nothing to do with what race, religion, ethnic origin or gender one is but the ability to be savage in the pursuit of understanding others. I still have one other question that I didn't ask that is related to charity. One observation I have is that folks in India IT outsourcing firms expect their employer to handle charity and eschew direct participation / conversation about this. I understand time constraints but is this the right mindset that employees should have? If not, what would it take to get India based bloggers to talk about charity within their own blogs and to help spread the wealth?

    I will be in India speaking at a conference in February and would love to network with fellow Indian bloggers and look forward to having many face to face conversations. Hopefully, we can dig deeper into the meaning of from incite comes insight and not think of it as request/response but an ongoing dialog where one truly wants to understand another's culture.

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    Sunday, September 16, 2007


    George P. Alexander, Diversity and India

    George left several comments in my blog that I thought were worthy of further exploration...

    I originally asked: Where can I find EEOC numbers indicating the number of Hispanic employees in the United States employed by Wipro, Cognizant, Infosys and TCS? and he responded with Where do you usually find EEOC numbers indicating the number of Hispanic employees in the United States employed by Oracle, IBM, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google? . I guess one could always respond with another question pointing out inequality in making certain numbers public but I think at some level this misses the point. If you were to walk the corridors of the firms you mentioned, it wouldn't take that long to bump into a truly diverse culture. I can also say that in my travels along with personal networks that I know these firms employ hundreds of folks of Hispanic origin. I have yet to meet face-to-face or virtually any hispanic employees of Wipro, TCS or Cognizant that work in India. If you know of a dozen or two, please do not hesitate to introduce them to me.

    I also asked: Do any of the Indian outsourcing firms have any Dalits in the senior management ranks? where he responded: Frankly, Indian IT outsourcing companies do no care whether you are a dalit, a brahmin or a millionaire as long as you do the job expected. At a senior level, if you are capable of doing the job and they're happy with you, they take you in. One could interpret from a numbers perspective that zero point zero Dalits exist in senior management ranks. The folks who stand up and say that they aren't biased tend to be the places where diversity is lacking the most.

    Another question was: Do any of the Indian outsourcing firms have any women in the senior management ranks? and he responded with Offcourse, consider Kiran Mazumdar Shaw: CEO of biocon. There are a few of ladies in my company too who are on top. If you've got what it takes, no one is going to stop you. If you don't have what it takes... you know the rest of the story. I have to admit, I never heard of BioCon but I suspect that they are no where near the size of Wipro, TCS, Infosys, Cognizant and so on. If I were to read into your response, it feels as if your employer is diverse in that you have a few ladies on top but this is by no means representative of Indian outsourcing firms at large.

    The most avoid question was: Do Indian outsourcing firms restrict their employees from contributing to open source on their free time? where George responded with Do they provide resources to participate? No they don't restrict. Sheash, off course not. Infact, they encourage in many ways. Our CIO had once asked our entire group to do something productive as a showcase project. The funny thing is that a showcase project doesn't feel like at any level open source? After all, open is exactly that. You didn't mention the project name nor did you mention if folks outside your firm even participated. Can we acknowledge at some level that open source requires a community and not just one company?

    I wonder if George has any thoughts on which will be the first Indian outsourcing firm to establish a blogging platform that is publicly exposed for all of its employees. Kinda like Sun?

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    Why Software Developers should aspire to become Enterprise Architects...

    Figured I would share sage wisdom in terms of making a career move...

    In case you haven't figured it out yet, the vast majority of enterprise architects work less hours than hardcore software developers with compatible pay. While I will disclaim that dinosaur mainframe folks tend to work the least amount of hours in IT, enterprise architects have similiar priveleges.

    Consider the fact that even for us enterprise architects that do work a lot of hours, we still have certain luxuries as to how and when work will get done. For example, I have been thinking about what should be part of my 2008 agenda and I have been able to noodle this while driving a car, eating dinner, at the mall and so on. I bet software developers can't do their craft well while driving.

    Software developers love to think of their code as a thing of beauty and always attempt to gain reuse yet it cannot match the reuse of Powerpoint and the frequent conversations many enterprise architects have. Consider the simple fact that I have been reusing the same Powerpoint presentation with only minor tweaks on the subject of SOA since 2002. I expect that based on current adoption rates, I still can get at least another five or six presentations out of it in the next couple of years.

    When enterprise architects are busy aligning with the business, we have to remember to dumb down our vocabulary. Reality says that in many situations we can skip much of the homework required and just stay dumb by learning a few buzzwords, focusing on nomenclature and practicing hand waving techniques. If we are really smart, we will master the artful copying of quotes from industry analysts in our emails and presentations. If we are even smarter, we don't even have to understand reality and can instead stay focused on perception management. After all, the higher up in the clouds you go, perception is reality.

    Imagine not having to bust your brain figuring out complex problems and simply being able to defer it to others whether it be poorly dressed slobs otherwise known as software developers or high-classed pimped out consultants who will gladly interview developer for opportunities and then nicely package it as their own. The best situation though is that enterprise architects get to listen rapty to the vendor sales pitch on their value proposition, strong ROI and how we are all partners without ever asking ourselves if ever vendor provides ROI, then how come IT is so damn expensive.

    Reality says that enterprise architects can exercise their rights to remain silent when it comes to federated identity, open source or anything truly valuable and instead focus on drawing cartoons for the executive crowd while dreaming about the day when all the vendors stories will manifest in terms of ROI and they are the only employee left in IT and they can be king of the hill...

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    Links for 2006-09-16

  49. ECM and Records Management
    Jesse Wilkins mentioned something that I have always had as a thought in the back of mind which he mentions that he doesn't program. I am curious how pervasive the lack of programming experience is in the world of ECM? Maybe this explains why WSDL is horrific and no one is complaining?

  50. The social etiquette of blogging
    Blog eitquette is hogwash. We need more incite so that insight can emerge...

  51. SOA Confusion — Practitioners versus Pundits
    I wonder why enterprise architects aren't listening to their industry peers and instead prefer abstract conversation on SOA from software vendors and consulting firms?

  52. Leadership and corporate behavior
    I like the thinking of Mike Kavis. While I know he has limited influence in terms of CIO magazine, we do need to encourage him to encourage CIO to publish more print articles on the bottom up perspective of leadership. To many IT executives are busy patting themselves on the back when they should be kicking themselves in the bleep.

  53. Enterprise Architect, another new name for doing nothing?
    I wonder if Chris Han understands that many enterprise architects spend all day miseducating non-technical IT executives on expensive closed source products. When they are not busy doing this, they may be crafting their next four color chock-a-block eye candy Powerpoint and practicing handwaving techniques. They are incredibly busy

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