Saturday, May 31, 2008


Laurence Hart and Standards Bodies (Part Two)

Figured I would disclose a tactic that I encouraged others to practice in order to get ECM folks to understand enterprise security...

Laurence Hart is now leading a Standards Body focused on ECM. He read into the fact that he met one of my coworkers when in reality, I actually learn more from outsiders on ECM.

Several weeks ago, I pinged several architects who are employed by AIG, Merck, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Home Depot, Liberty Mutual and others to ask probing questions related to ECM and Security at EMC World. I wanted them to ask these questions of speakers while others observed their response in hopes that others regardless of their understanding of the problem space would at least perceive that many aren't paying attention to it.

One observation is that security discussions with ECM vendors tend to occur in private where the responses are almost always sub-optimal. For example, if I ask along with my industry peers a question on security to Craig Randall while he is visiting each of our respective shops, he could provide a response (distinct from an answer) that regardless of the polish around it, will result in the desired functionality not appearing in the next release.

At some level, it is more interesting to know that others are also being blown off. Anyway, the interesting response I got back from my industry peers was that their questions where being responded to but otherwise not answered. They asked questions on integrating EMC products with non-EMC products, they asked about reference architecture, they asked about patterns and the only ray of hope was some guy named Laurence Hart who was going to address this in a standards body.

My take on this issue is that the ECM world needs more folks like Laurence Hart who are willing to step up and mature the industry as a whole. I suspect if Laurence comes up with industry standard ways of doing ECM with SOA, that Craig Randall will be busy making up stories as to why Documentum won't buy into it when the real issue is that it would require them to acknowledge that their current DFS WSDL is fugly. I get the sense that Craig isn't humble enough to admit that it needs to be rethought from scratch and instead will continue to ignorantly build upon it and convince others through thinly veiled PowerPoint that it is worthy of enterprise usage...

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Friday, May 30, 2008


Do consultants milk enterprises by being too consultative?

Have you noticed that many enterprisey types are enamored with the consultant who provides options even if they have zero value and don't truly provide a viable alternative...

Below are twelve areas of questions that anyone can use at anytime in order to appear as if they are adding value:

I am convinced that if I can teach my six year old son these points along with a healthy dose of Gartner nomenclature, he could consult for Accenture or McKinsey and bill at Partner rates...

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Thursday, May 29, 2008


Reuse is not an SOA concept

Many enterprise architects abuse concepts in order to create suboptimal hybrid architectures. Reuse is an enterprise architecture concept but not one of SOA...

When will EA acknowledge that the concept of reuse for the most part has been an abysmal failure? Why can't we stick with our usual spin-doctor tactics and figure out how to turn our failure into a positive? For example, if reuse has failed, then re-implementation is a resounding success!

Redeployment of selected portions of the IT portfolio have also been enabled through the use of object-orientation and therefore reuse has somewhat succeeded on a macro scale. For the most part though, it is guaranteed that when there is a technology/business change, then the entire application has to be started from scratch again.

In terms of enabling reuse, maybe enterprise architects need to stop believing the crap about BPM and instead figure out that the more practical level of reuse occurs by reusing business rules. Reuse of process feels intuitive yet at many levels is a trap while business rules is less understood due to its non-procedural way of approaching problems while prefering declarative thinking.

Reality says that the marketplace is doing bad architecture and savagely pursuing reuse using the wrong paradigm solely because of how IT people learn. Industry analysts provide more coverage for BPM because there are more BPM vendors paying them. Likewise, there is little coverage of business rules approaches because there are less IT vendors paying them. Should your architecture feel like an industry analyst quadrant?

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Laurence Hart and Standards Bodies

I heard through the grapevine that Laurence Hart will be the lead of a new standards body focused on ECM. It is good to see him recognize the need for standards in the ECM world. As I understand, one of his first activities will be to put together working groups on the following:

I wish you well in your undertaking and would be game to volunteer to help you out with all the security stuff...

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Enough with process; let's focus on practices...

The world of software development is constantly changing and evolving. New ideas arise all the time and existing ideas go in and out of fashion. Software development processes find it very hard to keep up with this rapid rate of change, especially as they find themselves quickly going of fashion or becoming bloated as they bolt on more and more information. Teams find themselves struggling as they try to mix-and-match practices from various sources into a coherent way-of-working or work out where to start their improvements.

A new approach to capturing and sharing experience is required, one where:
1. Practices are First Class Citizens,
2. Practices can be made smart to truly help the developers in their work,
3. Practices can be used individually or in a multitude of combinations
4. Process is just a composition of Practices, and
5. Teams compose the process they need by selecting just the practice that they want to use

To enable this a number of innovations are required: innovations related to the way that practices are collected, presented and applied. Of course, number five is the most challenging to enterprisey thinking in that many folks think that governance is all about gates and being an impediment where as the original meaning was more about behavior. In order to realize this goal, the conversation needs to shift away from governance toward self-governance.

While there are many bloggers who blog on process such as Robert McIlree, Bob Sutton, Marc Crofton, Sandy Kemsley, Glenn Alleman, Elizabeth Harrin, David Maister, Charles Zedlewski, etc, I suspect that few of them actually have any viable tips on implementing self-governance practices within large enterprises. Many will choose to exercise their right to remain silent on this topic...

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Monday, May 26, 2008


Using process to cover up incompetence...

Does your enterprise savagely focus on process at the expense of competence? Click here for a great perspective. I wonder if his enterprise has ever encountered the likes of Robert McIlree?

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Sunday, May 25, 2008


No guns allowed at National Rifle Association Convention. How funny is that?

And to make it even more absurd it is because of the supposed Pro Gun Republican Presidential candidate John McCain! Because he is going to speak to the Pro Gun group. NRA members who walk through the doors will be greeted by metal detectors, they won't be allowed to carry in weapons, even if they have a valid concealed carry permit.

As a member of the NRA, I have now decided to cancel my membership. The secret service should allow for guns but maybe figure out how to ban bullets? Maybe if enterprise architects didn't fire so many bullets in their Powerpoint's, IT architecture wouldn't die...

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Saturday, May 24, 2008


Why Architects will never become CIO...

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Friday, May 23, 2008


I wonder how many of my coworkers read my blog?

Sometimes I get the sense that more coworkers are reading my blog than they are willing to admit. I figured one way that I can uncover who does is to plant a seed in their head that I know will grow.

I am a believer in UFOs and use metal detectors to find unicorns in my sock drawer. I believe that Elvis is alive and that there is no wrong way to eat a Reeses. If you happen to run into me in the hallway, I bet you can't get the thought out of your head that I need to be promoted to CIO...

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OWASP Hartford June 2008

The Hartford CT Chapter of OWASP will be having next meeting on June 11th and it would be great if you and your peers could attend. Click here for the agenda.

The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is a worldwide free and open community focused on improving the security of application software. Our mission is to make application security "visible," so that people and organizations can make informed decisions about application security risks. All meetings are free to attend...

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Thursday, May 22, 2008


Upcoming Speaking Engagments

Lately, I have scaled back my speaking gigs to a select handful of venues. Most recently, I have received several offers to speak in India but have turned many of them down as they have all been in Bangalore which I am avoiding like the plague. I would accept offers to speak in Delhi as they have a direct flight from the United States now.

My next speaking event will be this Friday in New York City at IASA where I will share insights into SOA and security. Of course, you can always find me at my local OWASP chapter meeting as well.

I haven't spoken in Europe since 2003 and haven't spoken anywhere in South America at all and would love the opportunity to do so...

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Links for 2008-05-22

  • Towns for Telecommuting
    A perspective on telecommuting that I wouldn't have thought about...

  • When software and politics mix, quality suffers
    Most organizations are messy affairs run by fallible human beings.

  • We can't write secure code
    Stuart King is on the money. He forgot to talk about folks who won't even consider it.

  • Tear down your cubicle walls
    Sad to say that the office of the future will make this perspective even more challenging to realize.

  • Nobody one knows commercial enterprise
    I wonder what the Ruby on Rails crowd thinks about this posting?

  • Should you avoid large consulting firms
    Gunnar Peterson talks about the business model of his firm. Having personal experience working with him, I agree that getting one person of high quality is better than jamming 15 blue suited kindergartners is better. One perspective that Gunnar didn't discuss is how us enterprisey types have been conditioned by Indian outsourcing firms such as Cognizant, Wipro and Infosys to have more folks than needed or is practical...

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    Wednesday, May 21, 2008


    Globalization, large enterprises and humanity...

    In thinking deeply about India and outsourcing, I am starting to conclude that globalization is a symptom of a larger problem...

    Folks in the corridors of large enterprises feel desparation as they watch life as they know it disappear. Employees shift into the mindset of there is nothing we can do about it mode. It's a set of habits of management that have become a trend in the nobody has shot us for doing this yet, so let's carry on.

    As long as employees are willing to accept that they are worth orders of magnitude less than owners and managers, then "costs" stay down. Once employees get uppity and start believing they're worth a bigger piece of the action, then "globalization" can be created by shopping the employees to a place where they're either willing or forced to accept order of magnitude less compensation.

    Over time turnover becomes a meaningless metric which further degrades into interpreting benefit structures as cost centers with little or no return. Over time, employee benefits further erode.

    Globalization is the symptom of a larger problem of shareholder greed and the illusion of profit. Enterprisey Widgets sells stock. We buy it. We have no say in how the company is run and will never be paid any portion of the company's profits. Enterprisey releases Widget 2.0 and this stock, which has abso-friggin-lutely no intrinsic value, is suddenly worth more. Welcome to the Wall Street Casino, where we print our own money and the value of any particular currency on any given day is subject to whim and rumor.

    When the disconnect between share value and actual production is as dramatic as this, when the whole reason to have a profit is so that the stock will become more desirable, then if you can redefine profit in a way that disconnects it from what you actually earn and actually spend, you can create a balloon of meta-money, sell it for real cash, and step gracefully off the sinking ship onto the deck of the next...

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    Praise for Mark Wilcox of Oracle

    If you haven't been reading the blogs of Mark Wilcox and care about the identity conversation from an enterprise perspective, you are doing yourself a disservice...

    Very few bloggers who work for software vendors feel it is their duty to respond to questions of customers and potential customers. Most will simply ignore.

    Anyway, it is good to know that others also believe that directory syncronization approaches such as the one used by Documentum is fugly. I am disappointed in Mark for not taking credit on behalf of Oracle to acknowledge that Stellent doesn't suffer from the same bad design. Reality says that ECM platforms should store content and not users which is the first thing that modern applications need to adopt as their mantra.

    Likewise, Mark mentioned the OctetString product which I think is a wonderful concept that Oracle provides for free and even takes it one step further by declaring where it is deficient. Imagine if other bloggers who worked for software companies did the same? Do you think I could get Pat Patterson, Mark Dixon or others to openly talk about where their products need improvement?

    On another topic, I know that Oracle uses tools such as Ounce Labs and Coverity to automate aspects of security code review but haven't heard what Sun uses? Gunnar Peterson mentioned that Sun is in Microsoft's rearview mirror on software security, but I wonder if they are also lagging behind Oracle?

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    Enterprisey CIOs and the ruining of America

    Would you expect a police chief to know how to write a ticket or arrest a criminal? So, how come you don't expect a CIO to understand how to also be hands on in IT?

    The profession of IT is going into the toilet. You no longer are required to have any understanding of how those below you do your job. Us enterprise architects aren't even required to understand how software is created. As long as we have a shiney Powerpoint presentation and spend sufficient time on perception management, we could lead any organization and force best practices upon the masses that ultimately leads to loss of competitive advantage.

    Have you ever considered what would happen if this mindset appeared within law enforcement? It would probably start with a retarded conversation on alignment where the police department needs to align with the public works department. We could argue that patroling the streets is a waste of capacity and instead should figure out how police officers can carry brooms to sweep the streets during downtime.

    We could eliminate walkie-talkies and laptops in their cars as the mindset of rationalization and infrastructure consolidation could take over. We would simply assign them crackberries instead. Consider the possibilities if we could instill a governance model where we convinced criminals to arrest themselves using best practices.

    Let's also eliminate the practice of orderly promotion and competencies in order to rise the career ladder and replace it with an HR approved method where college graduates with consulting backgrounds are now in charge of those more experienced. Their first task is to create an enterprise tracking application to measure how many donuts are consumed. We could hire lots of bean counters who can find interesting patterns in donut consumption behavior such as those who love sprinkles make for great project managers.

    We would then be interviewed by magazines such as CIO where we could attempt to convince others that knowledge of the domain is less important and even possibly convince the criminals of the world that they will benefit from this new form of leadershit...

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    Dead from EMC World

    I wonder how many enterprisey architects are busy being indoctrinated at the EMC World forgetting that many of the problems they face at work go unsolved...

    Several bloggers are learning about DFS Best Practices and have heard the pitch that DFS supports WS-Security, yet it is guaranteed they will be ignored if they ask how SAML can be used where Documentum is a relying party.

    I wonder how many hallway conversations are occuring regarding the need for ECM patterns. The Java community has J2EE Patterns, The SOA community has SOA Patterns and so on. Why is ECM the stepchild in the pattern community?

    Likewise, how come the ECM community doesn't have a common reference implementation? J2EE has PetStore, in the security camp, the folks over at OWASP have created WebGoat and so on.

    Of course, many will be amazed that if you want to integrate one product with another, you can do so as long as they are all from the same vendor! Not a single discussion will occur on being interoperable outside of the family. How about figuring out best practices for integrating BPM with ECM or ECM with XACML?

    I am barking up the wrong tree. Who is James McGovern to be so bold as to point out deficiencies within the community? The best answer when you don't know the answer is to simply ignore the message and live in a dream world where everything is serene. Just never wake up...

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    Tuesday, May 20, 2008


    Enterprise Architecture: Reviews should be constructive and not caustic

    Yesterday, I was joking with a peer of mines about my sometimes suboptimal behavior in moving noise to others instead of shutting it down. Us enterprisey architects spend a lot of time during our day reviewing the work of others and therefore it is important that we all focus on making reviews constructive...

    Whenever an Enterprise Architect reviews the work of others, it is guaranteed that it will become intimidating and generally unpleasant. The key though is to not make it unproductive. The purpose of a review is to make things better and this doesn't happen when folks hijack discussions for educational purposes.

    If you are reviewing an architecture, the goal of the review is to increase the potential for success in the creation of high quality valuable working software. The purpose however is not to demonstrate superior design/coding/powerpoint skills. The funny thing about code reviews is that reviewers need to come prepared to learn and get off their enterprisey pedestal. Even experts can learn from newbies. Aside from producing better working software, one fantastic side effect of review is knowledge transfer and getting to see a problem and its solution from another perspective.

    Please don't get it twisted and think that code reviews are about knowledge transfer. Focus on them being a side effect and not the main driver. One of the enterprise antipatterns is if you think of review as a learning activity, it gives far too many people an excuse to attend and more importantly, they will attend and be unprepared which guarantees that the value of the review decreases.

    Enterprises have also indoctrinated themselves via constant CMMi brainwashing that reviews are for fixing things. They are not. Reviews are for measuring how good or bad something is. AS a small side effect, obvious things are pointed out and fixed. In general, the review of something after it has been produced tends to be too late to fix things if they are really wrong...

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    Sometimes I forget to be human...

    The blogosphere is filled with discussions around security, ECM, knowledge management and even how to make process even heavier, but missing from the conversation is how each of us can make the planet a better place to live...

    In 2007, I was savage in the pursuit of charity and encouraging others to contribute to meaningful causes. I have blogged less on this topic in 2008, not because I don't feel it is important but more importantly, I feel there are other aspects of my persona that need addressing.

    Starting today, I will be embarking on 1000 acts of kindness. 2.5 acts of kindness a day equals 1000 acts in 12 months. Somewhat of a simple goal if you really think deeply about it. More importantly, I must inspire my co-workers and other communities which I participate in to also engage in the acts of kindness program.

    Another goal that I will immediately address is to right one wrong that I have done in my life. The wrong I have chosen to right is to volunteer my time to making the IT systems for my town secure. In high school, I was known for helping out students stay eligible for sports by modifying their grades (slightly). My final act of improving myself is to mark time off on my calendar for empathy training. This will be the absolute hardest challenge for me as my coworkers will most certainly attempt to step on my calendar. Anyway, I have chosen as a goal for empathy training, one day blind, one day mute and one day in a wheelchair.

    I hope I get the support of my friends, family, coworkers and bloggers in helping me make myself a better person. Pray, fast and be charitable...

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    Monday, May 19, 2008


    Is Enterprise Architecture better in Europe than America...

    Joe McKendrick, John Michelsen, Ronald Schmelzer and Alan Inglis all have an opinion on whether Europe is ahead of America in their practice of enterprise architecture. I figured I would join the conversation...

    There are several dynamics at work and in order to land on an answer, it requires understanding folks perspective on enterprise architecture. Europeans tend to be ahead of America in terms of documenting enterprise architecture and have embraced traditional text by Zachman and others. If you understand that Zachman and the academia approach is more about documentation and less about the practice then you may conclude that no one is ahead of another.

    Enterprise architecture has to have a component where there is an enablement of the strategic intent of the business. This is more than cost cutting rationalization but involves innovation and focusing on the human aspects of technology above and beyond embracing a process.

    Alan is correct that Americans spend more money on enterprise architecture but didn't go deep enough to understand how it is spent. Consider that the Federal government has the enviable task of managing consulting firms whose sole purpose is to extend their billings. When combined the need to have a phonebook thick contract for anything that is built while not acknowledging that big design upfront never works requires them to use enterprise architecture more to patch and manage chaos than to enable strategic intent.

    Alan also didn't consider that American enterprises are organized much differently than their European counterparts. Americans love to create matrixed organizations and reorganize them frequently while Europeans tend to be more hierarchical and stable in structure. Architecture in America needs to be socialized, but when the targets of socialization tend to change, the costs of enterprise architecture will increase.

    The model of influence also takes more effort and resulting expense when compared to a model that is more command and control. I suspect that European enterprise architects have more direct authority than their American counterparts who have to use influence as a tool...

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    Sunday, May 18, 2008


    How should enterprise architects think about architecture...

    First, it is important for us to stop twisting the meaning of architecture and to acknowledge that architecture is a self-reinforcing metaphor...

    Architecture should be thought of as a frame; a set of rules which tells you where a solution is an acceptable addition. There are usually more than one way a problem can be solved, but some make more sense than others given that you already have systems in place.

    Why are some solutions better than others? Well, sometimes there are technology limitations. If you are making a distributed system, you may have constraints which force you to distribute some things and not others. If a developer breaks those constraints, they break the architecture. If you have lots of legacy COBOL code, then you must certainly can't consider using Ruby on Rails.

    Conversations around architectures should center around determining not what's important, but what's more important. By focusing on constraints, their reason for existence and the human aspects of technology, better architectures can emerge...

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    Saturday, May 17, 2008


    Does your enterprise suffer from bad morale?

    I noticed that the morale of software developers in large enterprises nowadays is in the toilet. Maybe the best way to motivate developers is to let them develop...

    The funny thing is that morale is in the can not because developers aren't motivated but because they are receiving confusing messages from enterprise architects and other IT executives. We speak in cliche phrases such as buy-vs-build and how IT must align with the business which makes no sense to those actually writing software.

    When was the last time you ever heard an IT executive addressing a bunch of developers communicating what kinds of programs will please the business the most? Have you ever considered that developers like to please and they will more than likely give you that kind?

    Developers are already motivated. The trick is not how to motivate them, but how to not de-motivate them. What would it take for us to put our so called savage pursuit of best practices on pause for a minute to understand their unintended consequences?

    If you want to become an employer of choice which should be part of the enterprise strategy, one needs to consider eliminating of every process that is demotivating. Can we acknowledge within our own backgrounds that the best places we have worked focused on productivity where developers were allowed to develop, to improve the quality of software when they saw it necessary, to explore new technology where appropriate, to dress as casually as legally feasible and to work the hours they wished?

    Can we also acknowledge that the places we disliked the most were the ones that enforced dress codes, where project managers ignored team input into schedules, eschewed quality in order to hit a date and attempted to treat employees with a manufacturing mindset as if they were factory workers?

    When was the last time your boss assigned you to a project not just based on skills but also on interest? One interesting observation is that folks over in India also are some of the most motivated folks I have ever ran across and I have the utmost respect for them in this regard. It is horrific that their own employers and IT executives in large enterprises have put in processes that are designed to keep developers as far from users as possible. This is not only unproductive, but de-motivating as well.

    Yes, it is true that if developers interact with users, that those interactions have a high risk of scope creep, but isn't this really the best way to satisfy the business and have better alignment?

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    Friday, May 16, 2008


    Enterprise Architecture and admitting ignorance

    Admitting ignorance is the hardest thing for an enterprise architect to do and near suicide for a CIO...

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    Twisting the meaning of architecture

    In the halls of large enterprises, the word architecture is the most overused twisted word in the vocabulary of IT today...

    Architecture is the most overused word in software engineering today. Analysis and Design are close on its heels. Depending on whom you believe, it is:
    Enterprise Architects need to abusing the word Agile and need to start practicing it. Agile methods for software development such as Extreme Programming set an excellent precedent by not talking about architecture, design or analysis, but talking about concrete activities with unique names appropriate only to themselves. If someone chooses to interpret an XP activity as architecture, or design, or analysis, or hog-calling, this person isn't doing XP or Scrum - they're bullshitting. Is this activity like that activity? These folks usually haven't recognized that such activities that are supposed to provide clarity, in fact are evidence that distillation is a mental disorder. Frankly, so long as each activity is understood well enough for it to be conducted efficiently, it simply doesn't matter. It's just bullshit...

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    Thursday, May 15, 2008


    Work from home? even more perspectives on telecommuting

    Working from home can distort the meaning of work/life balance...

    My boss is results oriented and I know if I asked for permission to periodically work from home, it would be granted. Yet, I haven't asked as I haven't figured out how to become disconnected.

    Consider the fact that I have two sons and that they don't understand that I have to work and can't play monopoly with them always manages to consume my thinking and spread guilt. I think I have concluded that I'd rather do my time in the office. Work on things that also remind me of something innocuous that I can do during downtime as opposed to being bored at home...

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    Distillation is a mental disorder

    Are you an Enterprise Architect that loves abstractions? Instead of doing proper homework, do you ask others for the Readers Digest version? Do you admit that you are addicted to abstractions...

    There is nothing wrong with searching for higher-order ways to develop software, create better strategies that enable the strategic intent of the business nor improve the daily lives of humanity. Sometimes distillation works, sometimes it fails, and sometimes it works, but others complain because they are not used to either abstraction itself or my flavor of abstraction used.

    When abstractions make things clearer (and not just for the person doing abstracting) or more maintainable, they can be good. However, the goal should be to make sure that abstractions don't leak. All non-trivial abstractions, to some degree, are leaky. In other words, an abstraction is a model of reality; because it is a model, it doesn't exactly map to reality and that impedance mismatch can cause problems.

    In the past I have stated that all abstractions lie. Reality says that delusion exists when folks are good at balancing practical versus ideals. One can over-value idealism the same way that Howard Hughes over-valued cleanliness later in life. Such extremism could be driven by either displeasure with "messy" models, and/or a need for mental masturbation; to constantly tinker and improve rather than move on. In their mind, they are overweighing the benefit of spending the time to master an abstract model versus moving on to the next project...

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    Wednesday, May 14, 2008


    Work from home? Another perspective on telecommuting

    Words means things and the whole concept behind working from home has become overloaded...

    The conversation in large enterprises regarding working from home has become somewhat distorted. The view of the employee is more about the spirit of not being in the office in that it can potentially enable work/life balance. By reducing commute time, one can gain back part of their day and even reduce the effect on the planet especially since gas is now at $4 a gallon.

    The view of the employer is at some level complimentary (and conflicting) in that the term is more literal. I have ran across many IBM employees who talk about working from home which translates into still being pinned to one's desk only that the location has changed. IBM employees are required to be online in order to receive instant messages and to participate in knowledge management activities of nebulous value.

    Of course, my own definition of working from home isn't really about being at home, and is all about not being at my cubicle. During the summer when the weather gets nice, I have been known to schedule meetings with my coworkers where we meet in the park, discuss architecture while walking around the block and even sit on the lawn.

    The key value proposition I seek is to not only not be tied to a location but also afford the opportunity to be disconnected from being online. Let it be known that the way I maintain work/life balance and have the opportunity to blog is that I don't own a cell phone nor carry a blackberry. I don't check work email after hours.

    This isn't to say that I don't bring work home. I do however do work not only when I want but where I want as well. This is the ultimate in telecommuting...

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    Can Agile work if you outsource to India?

    There are a few random occurrences of success, but the odds are heavily against it...

    If your company has outsourced its development team and is thinking about using Scrum to develop software, you are probably trying to find out a process to overcome the distance factor. In thinking about the issue of collaboration, I landed on several challenges along with several solutions.

    First, the challenges:

    1. Different work culture
    2. Language barrier
    3. low fidelity communications channels
    4. Creating sustainable team dynamics

    The above challenges are neither mutually exclusive nor completely exhaustive but are well understood or at least somewhat intuitive. Now, let's focus on some potential solutions.

    1. Acknowledge that work culture and home culture aren't that distinct. Consider that many coworkers also interact outside of work that these two demographics are blended. Maybe, one potential answer is to figure out social activities where cultures can also blend. How about organizing a videogame party, paintball outing or fishing trip?

    2. Break down the language barrier. Do folks in India acknowledge that most American's in corporate America aren't multilingual? Do folks in India understand that it is somewhat rude to speak in native tongue as it creates a feeling of isolation? What would it take for Indian outsourcing firms to mandate that its employees only speak English if there is an American present? Of course some folks feel they have the right to speak whatever language they want when they want, but this is sheer ignorance. As a person who is multilingual, whenever my significant other rings me at work, I only speak in English. Just as it is important to have your own rights, you have to equally respect others.

    3. Can we acknowledge that conference calls with lots of participants is a weak way to communicate? What is wrong with instant messaging? While the human voice is comforting and expedient, sometimes the need to have lots of folks participate becomes an antipattern. Onsite liaisons need to steward but not mediate nor moderate client interactions.

    4. The dynamics of a team only occur over longer periods of time. India needs to figure out how to prevent job hopping and clients can help by penalizing the outsourcing firms. Imagine what would happen if India staff turnover where part of the service level agreement?

    Anyway, if you have your own thoughts on this topic, respond back from your own blog so that the conversation may continue...

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    Tuesday, May 13, 2008


    Outstanding questions for Directory Services Gurus

    I have many outstanding questions on LDAP directory services that I think folks such as Jackson Shaw, Mark Wilcox, Rohan Pinto, Curt Devlin, James Bayer, Terry Gardner, Matt Hardin and others may be able to provide insight into...

    1. There is a lot of talk about leveraging a virtualization layer but no discussion on when it is a better strategy to simply copy data. Most directories I have ran across aren't that big and most will fit into memory.

    2. Mark Wilcox provided an example of virtualizing Microsoft ADAM that was technically sound but didn't talk about the economic aspects. He didn't mention what OVD costs but I have to assume it is pricier than an ADAM instance. Does it make sense to spend say $30K to virtualize something that costs say $3K?

    3. Enterprise Applications such as Documentum use a syncronization paradigm for group structures and at some level this approach is fugly. Directories such as Active Directory have the ability to create dynamic group structures based on specifying attributes. How should products consume dynamic group structures? Additionally, what will cause Documentum, Alfresco and other products that are still doing LDAP syncronization in a legacy fashion to modernize?

    4. If directory enabled products are still doing syncronization instead of binding at runtime, this would lead me to believe that the community at large needs to define best practices in creating directory enabled enterprise applications. Who is in the best position to lead this effort?

    5. Without exploring the whole legacy conversation, shouldn't it be considered a best practice for modern applications to not even be aware of LDAP as a protocol? If an application instead interacted with an STS, shouldn't it pick up the attributes at runtime vs having hard-coded binding to a directory interactions?

    6. Taking this one step further, if you have XACML and you are writing a PEP, why would your application ever need to know about LDAP?

    7. Oracle has a wonderful product known as OctetString which allows a LDAP directory service to work with JDBC but this is on the client. This begs the question of whether products such as Sun One Directory Server, OpenLDAP, Microsoft Active Directory and others should instead figure out how to allow a SQL client to connect to the directory and support it natively. What prevents vendors from going down this route?

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    Why Enterprise IT needs to emulate Microsoft hiring practices

    Microsoft is repeatedly voted one of the top places to work in America...

    Nick Malik shared some insight on what makes Microsoft a great place to work...

    a) benefits are great. More important than paid family leave and all the free soda pop: the best health insurance plan in the USA. Dead serious. Add in things like support for adoption, matching 401(k), Stock bonuses, and employee morale budgets, and you can see why people like to be here.

    b) money means nothing if your boss is an idiot (I am blessed with a wonderful boss and it can only go downhill from here). At MS, every manager gets an automatic, anonymous, 360-degree review by their staff, their peers, and their manager, as part of an annual survey process called MSPoll. Senior managers are reviewed on the basis of how well the managers under them are respected and valued by the men and women who write the code, sell the products, and answer the phones. Managers get training, support, and mentoring in leadership. We all know who our leaders are. Accountability is built-in.

    c) One of best, most experienced, and most effective executive leaders is the Vice President of Human Resources. She (Lisa Brummel) is smart, decisive, and in control. She is a respected and full member of executive staff. HR matters in Microsoft, and that means that employees know that their voices will be heard.

    d) No strategy statement, from the top line to the individual managers, is considered complete without strategies for insuring that the people are looked out for. You cannot talk about improving efficiency or increasing sales without also talking about improving training, increasing readiness, and maintaining morale. Once again... it's cultural.

    They say that "the fish stinks from the head down" and if you want to find the source of a cultural problem, look at the founders. But the inverse is true, too. The virtues of a founder can become a core part of a company.

    Bill Gates is the product of a strong pair of parents. His mother ran the United Way in Seattle for decades, and believed strongly in charity, giving, and social responsibility. Now that Bill is retiring, look at what he has moved on to. He is feeding people, providing needed medicine, and insuring that libraries, schools, and communities around the world are prepared for the challenges of an overpopulated world.

    In this case, Microsoft is a beneficiary of that fundamental belief in human potential. Where else would we go to be more respected, more valued, and more able to make a positive contribution to the world? Certainly not most enterprises...

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    Monday, May 12, 2008


    Why Enterprise Architects need to master Double Think...

    Double think is the the ability to hold two mutually contradictory ideas in mind simultaneously and believe both of them...

    Ever notice how trite sayings come in pairs and often contradict each other? This goes to show that nothing is ever absolute even in popular wisdom. Some phrases that come to mind include:

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