Monthly Archives: March 2009

Yesterday’s Enterprise Architecture Case Studies Presentation

I’m putting it down to Saint Patrick because yesterdays “Case Studies of Enterprise Architecture” presentation went down even better than Monday’s Futurology lecture; something I really thought could not happen!

Many thanks to all those that attended last night, it was extremely encouraging for me as a speaker to see such a large turn out. We had around seventy people at the event, which was extremely good going and as well as the nature and content of the presentation I attribute the large participation to two factors; (1) the IET and BCS working together to deliver joint events, to the credit of the two organisations, and (2) the excellent and very professional publications and marketing capabilities of the IET and BCS. Many of the attendees were neither members of the IET nor BCS and it was really good to see so many potential members come along.

Also attending the event were Sun Microsystems only Fellow of the IET, Mike Ashton, one of our leading Programme Managers world-wide, a Sun “Principal Project Manager”, Anthony Harrison of the BCS’s newest ‘Speciality Group’, that of Enterprise Architecture itself, Andrew Mohan, Chairman of the BCS Manchester Branch, and Paul Ashmore, Leader of the IET Manchester “Engineering, management and manufacturing technical group”.

Special thanks to both Andrew and Paul, as well as Arvind Sud (of Sun Microsystems), for setting up and co-ordinating the event with participation and involvement from both the IET and BCS. At the end of the presentation I was extremely surprised, and pleased, to be presented with a pair of crystal flutes, so many thanks for that.

As usual afterwards I stayed around to speak with the attendees, and answer their questions, I even got a pint of Guinness too! I’ve included the follow up information that people either asked or emailed about here:

  • Lot’s of people have asked for a copy of the slides, although as I said during the presentation it’s not much use without the Brummy at the front because this demonstrates my current preference on slides (i.e. not a lot on them except for a few key data points whilst I concentrate on giving an informative and interesting presentation), however a copy is available here (in PDF format):
  • The Thoughtworks article, by their then CTO, Rebecca Parsons, entitled “Enterprise Architects Join the Team”, which contains probably the earliest suggestion of rotation of staff to and from project teams to help minimise ‘Ivory Tower’ syndrome is available here (in PDF format):
  • Francis Heyligen’s paper on the subject of increasing system complexity and information overload caused by the Ephemeralization of systems, and how this complexity can negate some of benefits of that Ephemeralization (a key problem I see in the proliferation of complexity of large scale IT estates), entitled “Complexity and Information Overload in Society: why increasing efficiency leads to decreasing control” is here (in PDF format):
  • As to the young person asking about PhD syllabuses in “Large Scale and Complex Computing” and “Web Sciences” respectively, then I’d probably suggest having a look at the University of York (especially their “Centre for Complex Systems Analysis” facility) and Bristol University (specifically their “Advanced Computing Research Centre” facility) for the former and the University of Southampton (and it’s “School of Electronics and Computer Science” facility) for both the former and the latter. These suggestions are made based upon what I’ve been hearing from across the UK academic computing community over the last year or so.
  • Some research into the comparative effectiveness of Project Management methodologies can be found in “Business Focused IT and Service Excellence” by David Miller, specifically the section entitled “Learning from the past” (figures 1.1 and 1.2 particularly pertinent).
  • The first pass review that I did of TOGAF 9 at it’s release, including some of it’s major issues and why I am wholly supportive of the standard despite these, as well as links to number of other reviews of the standard, is here:
  • The blog article I wrote which captures the response to the Capgemini CTO blog that included quotes from the above article, which I had replied to, looking at some of the challenges still facing TOGAF 9 is here:
  • The Open Group’s “IT Architect Certification” (ITAC) programme is probably the most mature, objective and framework neutral certification programme for IT Architects. In my opinion ITAC is easily the best of the Architect Certification programmes at the moment, and is based upon demonstrable examples of your work as an Architect; along the vein of ‘implementation matters’, which for me is the only valid current metric. What’s especially good is that it is not biased towards TOGAF whatsoever. Sadly, when I last looked, I found that it was rather expensive and this is the primary reason I believe that it’s adoption has not been as successful as one might have liked. I was hoping that the newly inaugurated BCS Enterprise Architecture Speciality Group might work towards getting the ITAC standard adopted in, or at least integrated with, the BCS and SFIAplus, the IT Skills Framework published by the BCS with support from the IET and the UK e-Skills Council (the sector skills council for IT and Telecoms skills). And I further hoped that at some time in the future we might even see a “Chartered IT Architect” qualification similar to “Charted IT Professional” (CITP) and the beginnings of genuine recognition for the Business and Technology Architectural profession, something I know the IET have already started to persue. Perhaps with the joint effort of the IET and BCS we might see this come about in the relatively near future. The link to the ITAC main page is here:
  • Finally no UK wide Sun Tech Days event this year instead we in the UK have decided to host the Sun UK Developer Update, on Thursday the 19th March 2009 (which is tomorrow I’m afraid to say), where there will be the latest news, reviews and updates from Sun’s Java Evangelists and the James Gosling, the original designer behind Java (both Language, Compiler and Virtual Machine):

If any more questions come through I’ll make sure that I post my responses in the above list as well as respond directly so that everyone has access to my responses.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

There it is in the title, have a great Saint Patrick’s Day!

Here’s the wonderful Ronnie Drew (sadly missed) and Shane McGowen (thankfully still with us), of the Dubliners and the Pogues respectively, on the Late Late Show with Gay Byrne, to help kick start the day…

Frankly, you don’t get much more Irish than that.

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Cloud Computing interest growing; on the ground and from research

We already have a number of customers in the UK building out private clouds (and even more building public clouds), but who’ll be the first to go public with a successful implementation?

Plus interest in building private clouds continues to grow in recent analysis from

Interest in cloud computing services among our readers was much higher than we anticipated. Out of almost 500 respondents, 155 companies said that a reduction in IT budget made cloud services more attractive, while a third said they were researching the topic and needed to know more. Roughly 30% of respondents said building a private or internal cloud versus tapping into a public cloud like Amazon was more compelling to their organization. About 13% said public cloud services were more compelling, 24% said neither was interesting right now and 31% said they didn’t know. Improving IT efficiency was the biggest driver for building a private cloud infrastructure, but ironically, 45% of readers said that keeping existing operations running prevented them from moving to a private cloud.

With the economy and budget constraints on everyone’s minds, the lack of clarity about the cost of cloud computing came out as the biggest barrier to adoption among our readers. Unknown management and support headaches was the next biggest turnoff, followed closely by concerns about security and reliability. Respondents also worry about getting locked into a cloud provider and how the move to cloud services would affect their staffing.

In regards to the inhibitors above we at Sun UK can definitely help when it comes to understanding costs involved and implications for management and support, as well as approaches to security of the service. Engineering for reliability is something were very proud of at Sun and have significant experience, and part of the answer to staff skills portability is to ensure you adopt open and accessible cloud implementations which engender low costs of entry and low costs of exit.

Get in touch if you’d like to know more:

Last nights Futurology presentation…

Last nights presentation went well, which is always a relief, especially as my sat-nav had sent me ’round the Wrekin’; we had good attendance and it was great to see so many people I know come along too. …..

Presenting on ‘Futurology’ in Derby on Monday the 16th of March, 2009


I’m going to be talking about Futurology in a presentation hosted by the Nottingham and Derby Branch of the British Computer Society (BCS) on Monday evening.

The talk is entitled “Sun Microsystems’ View Of The Future Of The Technology Industry” and is advertised here:

I’ll be speaking about Futurology, how Sun sees the future of the technology industry, the trends in the industry, what the implications are for the UK and the wider World given the expected changes, and how they are set to impact us in both our personal and professional lives.

Here are some more details about the event:

  • Date: Monday, 16th March 2009
  • Time: 7.00pm (refreshments available from 6.30pm)
  • Location: Novotel, Bostock Lane, Long Eaton, Nottingham NG10 4EP (map)
  • Price: Free and non-members are more than welcome! (reserve a place)

And for those of you interested in attending any of the other locally hosted events a full list of the branches events schedule for 2009 can be found here:

As usual I’d be delighted to see you there and will stay around a little while afterwards if anyone would like to talk over any of the contents.

In an odd moment of synchronicity our next door neighbour has just been round and I happened to mention the talk on Monday. Saying that I’ll probably talk about Ray Kurzweil and might even speak about Toffler (often credited as the ‘Father of Futurology’). My neighbour, who spent many years in the Army, went on to say that he’d met Alvin Toffler many years ago when Toffler had been commissioned to speak with the US and UK military about the future of warfare and the impact advancing technology would have on it. Given that anecdote it seems appropriate to quickly cover Buckminster Fuller, as well as more modern, British, futurologists like James Martin and Peter Cochrane too.

Presenting ‘Enterprise Architecture Case Studies’ in Manchester on Tuesday the 17th of March, 2009


This coming Tuesday evening I’m going to be delivering my “Case Studies of Enterprise Architecture” presentation in Manchester, at a meeting hosted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Manchester Network and jointly with the BCS Manchester branch.

For more information the event is advertised both with the IET and BCS. The core details are:

  • Date: 17 March 2009
  • Time: 18:00 Refreshments / 18:30 Start
  • Location: Conference Room 6, The Manchester Conference Centre, Sackville Street, Manchester M1 3BB.
  • Cost: Free, open to all (including non-members of the IET or BCS), no registration required.

The case studies presented explore my experiences with Enterprise Architecture in three major customer engagements. They include an Enterprise Architecture team which led its company into a £70+ million ‘pitfall’; the use of Enterprise Architecture to define a Service Oriented Architecture; and an example of how much Enterprise Architecture is about achieving the proper governance model.

Key takeaways:

  • Enterprise Architecture best practices drawn from multiple engagements.
  • How to use good governance to avoid and limit the ‘Ivory Tower’ syndrome.
  • How to combine Enterprise Architecture and Service Oriented Architecture to deliver sustainable Transformation.

Although given the current downturn I’ll probably also go into some of the issues facing EA programmes due to the credit crunch and what can be done to ensure that they continue to receive executive sponsorship and funding.

Happy to answer any and all questions; please consider that I’ll be attempting to condense three major and very large scale Enterprise Architecture case studies into a talk lasting an hour and a half or so, therefore I will definitely be around to speak with afterwards.

The nice people at the IET have also created a flyer for the event, which is available here.


And I’d just like to say ‘Many Thanks’ to Arvind Sud (of Sun) for originally helping to organise this event with the Engineering, Management and Manufacturing Technical Group of the IET and especially for co-ordinating the initial joint participation of both the IET and the BCS at this meeting.

Links to the IET and BCS pages for the event:

Response to Jonathan’s “Sun’s Network Innovations (3 of 4)” article

I posted the following comment in response to Jonathan Schwartz’s latest blog post and vlog “Sun’s Network Innovations (3 of 4)“, however Jonathan and his blog pixies can’t be up and reviewing this yet because it’s awaiting moderation (and too right too, it’s the dead of night in California, and frankly I’m happy Jonathan is keeping busy running Sun, as he’s our CEO, if you didn’t know).

Hi Jonathan,

In 1998 I was involved in building Harrods Online as Chief Architect (employed by Harrods). We used a heavily Netscape based stack, using both Netscape Web Server and Netscape Application Server. And at the time Netscape had over 56% of the Enterprise Web Server market-share as well as being some of the best available technologies at hand.

Both of these technologies were available under free to use licenses from Netscape, with payment for support on top. Well I have to tell you in three years running this stack in production we never once paid for support, not a bean, nada, not on Christmas day, not on any day. Why? Because these were such stable technologies performing in their core capabilities that we knew from direct experience that very little would go wrong and because we architected a fully redundant and highly-available architecture based around horizontal scaling, network load-balancing, and avoiding session persistence where possible.

Looking back I would have liked to have paid Netscape something, even a token amount, because they were a great company, sadly missed, and perhaps if they’d been able to generate more revenues they’d still be with us. However this was a completely economic based business decision so we didn’t. Of course Sun eventually acquired these technologies through the iPlanet Alliance and we were able to integrate some of the innovation, robustness and domain knowledge into our own technologies.

I really wish at the time MySQL had been available, because we wouldn’t have had to pay Oracle either (our biggest license cost outside of Vignette, which was a core component). And before you ask, no, Harrods Online never went down because of any of the Netscape components, if anything by far the biggest problem areas were Vignette (esoteric, overtly Vignette specialised skill set required) and Oracle (connectivity to Vignette, Netscape, the other technologies we used, a number of content version issues, and it’s applicability as a web-scale technology). I know that some of these issues in these technologies have been resolved, but in both cases this was true then.

What’s cracking is that Sun has some of the best Architecture Services for Open Source deployments, especially large-scale implementations. Sun have a genuine sweet spot in the three areas needed to get these to work in the most cost efficient manner: Open Source Software (low barriers to entry, low barriers to exit, ease of availability, applicability to function), cost effective and highly price performant Hardware (Servers and Storage, both Open Source and Open Standards based), and the Professional and Managed Services needed to tie it all together and ensure operational effectiveness.

Frankly, I suppose we were ahead of the pack in many ways at Harrods Online, because the architectural principles used there are precursors of the one’s you’d see in a modern web-tier architectures, such as Flickr or Delicious. I know that if I was building that now not only would we have a near on 100% Open Source stack, but I’d also be looking at how I could offload some of our costs (especially in terms of low level and non-functionally focused skills and technologies) by utilising a Cloud Computing based infrastructure and platform provider.

All the best,


If, and when, it gets authorised I’ll add a link here.

Response to the Capgemini CTO Blog article on the release of TOGAF 9

About five weeks ago, on the 3rd of February (2008), I celebrated the launch of the Open Group’s TOGAF version 9, with a short review of the new Enterprise Architecture (EA) Framework standard.

My article was kindly picked up across the web, notably by the Open Group themselves and by the excellent Capgemini CTO blog in their article “TOGAF 9: A Sunny Day in San Diego“.

Afraid to say I couldn’t help responding to the author of the article, Ron Tolido (VP and CTO Continental Europe and Asia Pacific at Capgemini and Director at the Open Group), by adding a comment to it.

Being so busy I didn’t give it much thought after that, however last night, whilst at the inaugural meeting of the BCS Enterprise Architecture (EA) Speciality Group (SG) I met up with Matt Armstrong-Barnes, Chief Architect for the NHS Data SPINE Programme at BT, and a peer Chartered Fellow of the BCS (FBCS CITP), whom I haven’t seen since we worked together at HMRC.

Speaking with Matt we covered the release of TOGAF 9 and the article I’d written. He hadn’t seen the response I’d left at the Capgemini CTO Blog and guessing that you probably haven’t seen it either and, as it contain some further insight into my opinions on the latest release of TOGAF, I thought I’d repost it here too:

Hi Ron,

Many thanks for the mention; very kind of you.

When I last worked with Capgemini using the IAF I remember it being very much Zachman influenced, dare I say derived, in fact I recall the main overview diagram was extremely similar to the classic Zachman ‘framework’ diagram (a layered approach incorporating the six serving men model).

It’s a good job you guys have donated so much of your time and experience to the TOGAF standard, because frankly the Content Framework (or lack thereof) was the most obvious gap in the TOGAF portfolio. However I look forward to that particular area maturing because it is still only the first iteration. I believe that weaknesses in that particular area are the no.1 reason that Enterprises are still having to adopt more than one EA Framework to achieve a realistic EA.

There is one major gap still in TOGAF of course, but it shares this particular issue with all the major EA frameworks. And that is if only TOGAF could teach one how to architect then we might be getting somewhere!

Then we get down to the ‘minor’ practical areas that still need to be addressed, i.e. addressing ‘Ivory Tower’ syndrome, maintaining programme sponsorship and support, delivering an inclusive EA Governance structure that includes vendors and partners, rotation of EA staff into delivery programmes to maintain estate awareness, maintaining programme relevancy during the current economic downturn (when the Enterprise will be forced to focus on tactical issues), compartmentalising EA delivery into individual ‘steps’ which deliver incremental tactical advantage, getting the EA team to deliver value quickly, avoiding excessive focus on EA tools when the focus needs to be on defining a shareable and readily communicable EA, approaches to delivering an agile EA and derived estate which can readily adopt and react to industry and other outside pressures (such as radical innovation and ‘disruptive’ technology, changes in legislation, the effect of acquisitions and mergers, or new business stream and extreme business change). I would go on, but I’m sure you can think of many more yourselves.

Great post by the way, I enjoyed it a lot and agree wholeheartedly with much that you’ve captured here, especially around standardisation and having a common language across the EA community.

All the best,


Since writing this a number of people have added comments, some of them quite informative, and this and the Capgemini CTO blog article itself are well worth five minutes investment if you’re interested in EA or TOGAF:

links for 2009-02-07

The greatest motivation poster ever conceived? 'Keep calm and carry on'

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