Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Suboptimal Thinking within Enterprise Architecture Practices

Many organizations attempt to run their "airline" by ordering DC-3's for their transatlantic runs, building huge airports which are "best practice" based off Heathrow or LAX, giving the aircrew mechanics crash courses in nautical engineering, and selling free parachutes with each airline ticket as "added value". What is the stimulus for stopping the insanity of how enterprise architecture is practiced?

Consider the infamous Winchester House and its architecture that created rooms with no doors and stairs that lead to nowhere. At some level though, through the lens of perception management, it satisfied the whims of its creator and was built for purpose.

Many of us will focus on the fact that the Winchester House was built in a highly inefficient manner but at some level, we aren't acknowledging the inefficiencies in our own shops for fear they may be disturbingly similar.

What can we learn from the Winchester House? After all, it had an overall plan and a big framework, yet the outcome wasn't aesthetically pleasing. Maybe we need to figure out the line as professionals we shouldn't cross when it comes to managing perception? We need to remember that enterprises live and thrive beyond just the current person at the helm.

Lets face it, a solution needs a problem. If the people required to change do not perceive there is a problem, you can spend from now until the cows come home but you will never convince them to change and will be doomed to creating great plans, large frameworks and delivering monstrosities that are pleasing to the customer but no one else that comes afterwards...

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Monday, June 27, 2011


Enterprise Architecture Consulting is breaking Enterprise Architecture

There are lots of discussions in various social networks as to the challenges of enterprise architecture and making it successful. I have always found these discussions fascinating in that they almost never include the insight of end customers of enterprise architecture and only focus on what consultants and analysts think.

While they believe they are working towards solutions, they haven't considered how they may actually be the problem...

So, imagine you are a CIO who primordially believes in the value of enterprise architecture and wants to improve the practice within your own enterprise. You know you need outside help and consider the following as options:

Indian Outsourcing Firms: At some level, firms such as Cognizant, TCS, Infosys and Wipro will provide cheap (not the same as low-cost) and even free resources to help you with your enterprise architecture, yet it is somehow lacking. Is it because their take is solely focused on finding ways to steer more work offshore even if there are ways you can solve your challenges through packaged applications that may not increase their headcount?

Can all problems be eventually moved offshore? Of course not, if that weren't the case, we wouldn't need onsite IT people for any reason. With that being said, does it make sense to you that you can be wildly successful in flying in a person from another country who may not be intimate with your culture to guide you on enterprise architecture challenges that may be cultural in nature?

Software Vendors: You can always buy enterprise architecture services from the likes of Oracle and Microsoft but what does that buy you? Last time I checked, enterprise architecture had a goal of being business aligned. So why would you hire a strictly technology company? Sure they can help you get your IT house in order, but don't think much beyond this.

Let's say you wanted to hire Oracle to provide Enterprise Architecture Services. How much value could they provide to an organization that has software provided by other vendors? If Oracle can replace the other vendors technology with their own, then there may be some value. You should of course ask yourself in this model, where does the sales model stop and where does enterprise architecture begin.

Imagine if there is business value in adopting open source and replacing commercial software. What kind of guidance should you expect vs what you will receive?

Management Consulting: Back up the school bus and send in a team of Accenture consultants who may not have even been in IT for five years let alone know anything about your business and have them create wonderfully looking eye candy enterprise architecture artifacts. Does this really have value beyond just feeling good?

Is maturity of an enterprise architecture practice measured by the amount of documentation an enterprise has and its aesthetics? We seem to be repeating many of the same mistakes learned over the history of software development and repeating in the creation of enterprise architecture. Firms such as Accenture can help you with process, but can't help you with practice.

Industry Analysts: You can get sage wisdom from experienced practitioners in 30 minute chunks and wonderfully written generic advice published in the form of research. If the time horizon for enterprise architecture is say five years, how comfortable should you be in making strategic decisions based on 30 minute conversations?

I believe there is a better way! What if you could secure the experiences of an enterprise architecture practitioner that has at least twenty years of IT experience to consult with your organization 100% at no cost? What if this practitioner focused solely on enterprise architecture challenges and promised that they wouldn't attempt to only focus on software offered by that firm? What if you could have access to this practitioner whenever you needed ranging from a week upfront to a couple of hours over the course of a month for the next several years? What if you could access this resource without having to go through an extensive process, procurement cycle or even formalities of calling it a dialog but could collaborate via email, phone or whatever channel is best without any intermediaries?

The above is now becoming possible. In the short-term, you will be able to get this service on a vertical-by-vertical basis with Insurance and Capital Markets being first.

While I have intentionally withheld more information, I hope I have piqued your curiosity. If you are an employee of a large enterprise and would like to know more, please do not hesitate to reach out to be via LinkedIn, Twitter, etc with your contact information and I will share privately.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Is your martial arts school a McDojo?

The traditional definition of a McDojo is a martial arts school that allows students to buy their rank instead of earning it. More modern definitions have included instruction methods that simply don't work or are reminiscent of shady business practices found in late night infomercials.

So whether you train in McDojo-oriented styles such as Shaolin Kempo Karate and have been blissfully ignorant to date or simply want to avoid other forms of McDojo, I have created a checklist of characteristics of martial arts schools to avoid...

1. Lock students into long-term contracts that must be paid whether the student attends class or not. Schools that are confident in their instruction and business model will allow students to pay a small rate on a month by month basis without a contract.

2. Create numerous ranks and charge testing fees (large or small) for each one or even worse also charge for stripes within the ranks. It is important to ask how many ranks and stripes do you have before reaching black Belt? If you come across a school with say four belts and six stripes spread across equaling ten progressions then you know you aren't suffering from belt inflation. I have seen schools do ten different belt colors along with seven different stripes for each.

3. Require school sponsored uniforms and equipment to prevent students form buying from cheaper sources. There is something to be said for consistency. With that being said, many schools will require a simple patch that costs no more than $5 and allow you to purchase your uniforms off the internet. A typical uniform off the Internet for Taekwondo or Karate goes for around $20. Some schools make this a non-issue by simply giving away freely the uniforms required as part of tuition. Beware of schools that charge more than $40 for the uniforms.

4. Require that students attend tournaments, seminars, camps, etc. from which the school gets a cut of the profits. While there are numerous expenses associated with running a tournament from rent to insurance, a reasonably priced tournament should not exceed $40 for both kata and kumite.

5. Require students to learn extra stuff that is not included in the classes but which is offered in books or videos or on DVDs. If the books or material aren't available on be especially careful.

6. Offer all types of expensive items for sale that advertise the school on them. Why do you want to become a walking billboard? Maybe you should consider paying me for walking around with my Twitter handle on your underwear.

7. Have adult classes overrun with teenagers where adults will be expected to help control and train them. There should be some separation of adults and kids as this robs both participants of opportunities to have real practice together.

8. Many schools attempt to hide the lineage of the instructors for a variety of reasons. Would you be impressed if you knew I was going to teach your children and was promoted to Black Belt yesterday by my mom? You should always question why an instructor would want to hide their lineage especially if they have pride in it.

9. Avoid making contact when sparring and justify it under the guise of student readiness. Are lower-ranks required to wear expensive sparring gear for safety purposes when they aren't going to ever make contact? Many McDojo's will justify this behavior under the guise that newer/younger students need to develop self-control first but of course they won't miss out on the opportunity to sell the soccer mom's training gear at an additional profit. The next time your son or daughter gets bullied in school, think about the value of them being unprepared for real contact!

10. Before allowing a prospective student to try out a class, they must first "test" with an instructor. This is a misdirection technique. If you are there to evaluate a class by participating (distinct from observing), but aren't permitted to on your first visit, then you should run in the opposite direction. Part of your evaluation should not just be the instructor but interaction with others taking the class as well.

11. Does the school award stripes for things that have absolutely nothing to do with martial arts? Stripes for things such as being able to run fast, sitting quiet or even knowing the Klingon national anthem aren't things that a martial arts school should spend class time on.

12. Pay attention to the length of class especially for younger children. You will find that some schools cheat parents out of instruction time by selling the notion that young children don't have the same attention span as adults. Are they really saying that they are incapable of keeping the attention of children for extended periods of time? You will find that there are schools that offer classes to children as young as six years old that train for 1 1/2 hours successfully.

13. Does the instructor accept challenges from newcomers? While I am not an advocate of Karate Kid Cobra Kai style challenges, there is some merit in having an instructor that isn't afraid of actual confrontation. Instructors at McDojos many have questionable, exaggerated or fake qualifications. Some McDojo instructors may have only a rudimentary understanding of marshal arts and rely largely on self improvised techniques.

14. Be cautious of martial arts chains such as Villari's or Tiger Shulman's. The odds are increased that you will find an instructor that teaches martial arts solely for reasons of passion at an independent school over one who is more interested in simply focusing on the revenue side of martial arts. It goes without saying that you should however not enroll in a school that isn't profitable as you want to choose a school that will be around for a very long time...

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Thursday, June 09, 2011


Cloud Bursting will pose multiple enterprise licensing challenges...

Many large enterprises who have hundreds of enterprise applications where the benefit to cloud is more focused on automating their internal infrastructure can benefit by allowing their applications when in high demand to "burst" and leverage cloud capacity outside their organization. This however can cause some interesting licensing challenges...

Traditionally, many enterprise software licensing agreements allowed an enterprise to use their software as long as it ran within their data center. The concept of cloud and bursting will cause software vendors to request additional tracking of applications (particularly virtual) that are delivered via a 3rd party provider or bursted on to a 3rd party provider.

Many software vendors are leveraging advancements in software licensing technology to bind the application to the virtual machine (server or desktop). This enables dynamic workload allocation and bursting while providing additional security not only for the software vendor but also the enterprise. Knowing what applications are being bursted, what test scenarios will be required, etc. is important for the software vendors. It is also important for the enterprise to know that the additional tests, support calls, etc. will increase the costs of goods sold for the software.

When putting on my Information Security hat, I believe it is vital that an enterprise ask the 3rd party provider what level and types of reporting are available within the 3rd party network to track access control and general audit requirements BEFORE implementing a 3rd party service. More importantly, enterprises need to account for the scenario of who pays for usage fees when you burst to a third party that also is required to license the software...

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