Monthly Archives: September 2009

John Zachman, father of Enterprise Architecture, to present at the next BCS Enterprise Architecture Speciality Group event on Tuesday the 6th of October, 2009

Wow! The BCS Enterprise Architecture Speciality Group has secured John Zachman, the de facto father of Enterprise Architecture, and creator of the “Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture” (ZFEA), to speak at its next event on Tuesday the 6th of October: Talk about a major coup. The BCS EA SG is really getting busy and is the fastest growing BCS Speciality Group I’ve seen so far, with 750+ members, and is gaining new members on a daily basis.

Come along and see John speak about “Enterprise Design Objectives – Complexity and Change”, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 100 Cromwell Road, London SW7 4ER on Tuesday the 6th of October, 2009. You can register your place here:

Of course, a serious advantage of the BCS EA SG is that it is framework agnostic, and as such can look at best practices and framework capabilities from across the EA community. In fact, less than six months ago a preceding event was an update on the recently released TOGAF 9 standard from the Open Group (typically seen as one of the other major Frameworks, alongside ZFEA, although you often encounter Organisation using a blended, best-of-breed, approach when it comes to EA implementation).

The BCS EA SG has got some other great events lined up, and I’m especially looking forward to hearing “Links with other IT disciplines such as ITIL and strategy” on Tuesday the 15th of Decemeber, 2009, over at the BCS London head quarters at 5 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7HA. Details of this event are still being confirmed, but it’ll be great to see how thoughts on mapping major capabilities to EA match with my own (I’ve been doing rather a lot in terms of co-ordinating EA, Service Management and Portfolio Management lately). Plus since TOGAF 9 removed the genuinely useful appendices showing mappings between TOGAF, ZFEA, and other disciplines and frameworks, promising to have them published as stand alone white papers, it’s great to know that experience and knowledge in this important area has not been forgotten and in fact is being collated and compiled by the BCS EA SG team.

I’m really looking forward to seeing John speak on the 6th and if you can make it I hope to see you there too! And please do come over and say “Hi” if you get chance.

Support Birmingham to host the FIFA 2018 World Cup

Got this via email and wanted to pass it on in it’s entirety, so here it is, personally I think you should just go to and vote for Birmingham to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

England is bidding to host the 21st FIFA World Cup in 2018 and Birmingham is one of 16 cities vying for the chance to be part of the official England bid.

We want everyone in Birmingham and the West Midlands to back the city’s official England 2018 World Cup Bid and pledge their support by voting for us as a host city at the official website here.

Whether you’re a die-hard footie fan – a Blue Nose, Villan or Baggies fan – or just proud to be from the city or the region register your vote now.

The last time the World Cup was hosted in England was in 1966 when we beat West Germany 4-2 in the Final, receiving the Jules Rimet trophy from the Queen and lifting it in front of the fans at Wembley Stadium. Let’s do all we can to help England host the World Cup again.

Birmingham and the West Midlands have the sporting heritage, facilities and the passion to guarantee that we would deliver an outstanding backdrop and incomparable atmosphere if we were selected as a host city for the 2018 World Cup. Winning this bid will bring hundreds of thousands of people into the region and provide a much-needed financial boost.

Help bring the World Cup 2018 to the region and show your support at the official England site by voting for Birmingham as a host city

You can also visit the new Birmingham website and also show your support at Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr.

Support your region and city; let’s bring the World Cup to Birmingham and leave a legacy to be remembered by the fans forever.

Back Birmingham, back England 2018!

Obv. you can vote for the City and Country of your preference, but of course I think Birmingham would be the best place to host the World Cup. :)

BCS Birmingham Branch Committee Summer Barbecue

Last Sunday I hosted a barbecue for the Committee of the BCS Birmingham Branch and thought I’d share a few of the photo’s that we took with you.

After the Branch Committee’s request for new Committee member applicants I’m very pleased to say we had five people come along and take up new positions on the Committee. We’re fortunate to be joined by Martin Froggatt, Rob Gilliam, Steve Harris, Dawn Peers and Hugo Russell, and most welcome they are too!

This bring the size of the Committee back up to a healthy twelve members, which is excellent, however we on the Committee thought that it would be good idea to hold a small event to help everyone get to know each other, and hopefully build a sense of camaraderie, outside of the usual Committee meetings and BCS Birmingham Branch events (one of which is on Tuesday the 15th evening). I was happy to host and for my part I wanted to say ‘thank you’ to the long serving members of the Committee for all of their dedication (as well as a couple of long serving ex-Committee members too).

We’ve also recently started to reboot the Branches approach to social networking technologies and will be refreshing the BCS Birmingham Branch facebook page, please consider joining if your a BCS member and either associated with or interested in the Birmingham Branch.

And here’s those photos I mentioned, as you can see we all had an excellent time, and as Peter Crouch had to say “Thanks also for posting Donna’s photos on the Web, now everyone can see what the Birmingham Committee does on a Sunday afternoon!”.

St. Mary and St. Margaret’s Church Heritage Weekend and Fundraising Launch

Tomorrow, on Saturday the 12th, the local Parish Church, Saint Mary and Saint Margaret’s, will be holding a ‘Heritage weekend’ and fund raising launch for the new ‘community church room’ that is planned to be built into the church.

We’re going to be presented with some of the results of the archaeological dig on the Church grounds (and Castle Bromwich hall, upon whose grounds the Church sits), hear from local historians, and get unprecedented access investigating a church which is at it’s heart almost a thousand years old! The gardens of Castle Bromwich hall are also well worth a visit, containing walled baroque gardens that are the only remaining example in the country of a formal English garden design.

If you have an interest in the Castle Bromwich and it’s history then perhaps this might be something you’d like to come along to.


  • Time: 14:00
  • Date: Saturday the 12th of September, 2009
  • Location: St. Mary and St. Margaret’s Church, Castle Bromwich, just behind Castle Bromwich Hall.

Here’s the flyer for the event:


UK innovation ranking compared to the rest of the World – why do we get so little ‘bang’ for our ‘buck’?

Back on my topic of concerns about the UK economy this article looks something which I find highly problematic, that is the UK’s spending on research and development (R&D;), against world wide spend, and then measured against world wide innovation ‘league tables’.

In the theme of trying to get all these ‘backed up’ blog posts ‘out of the door’ I’ll be keeping this as succinct as possible, avoiding my usual Lovecraftian levels of verbiage, so please excuse the change of tempo.

The UK spends a great deal on R&D;, in fact it spends around 2.5% of GDP, about the same percentage it spends on the Military and Armed Forces, which for 2007 comes out at around £54 Billion.

In terms of R&D; spend and investment in the future, innovation and science, in $B, the UK ranks 4th after Germany, Japan and the USA. There is another way of measuring this investment, which is by % of GDP, which is a good comparator, but hides the vast amounts spent on innovation.

All well and good you might think, especially if that investment brings us in to the top four benefiting from that investment, but, well, there’s your problem, the UK doesn’t come in to the top four. It doesn’t even make the top ten.

In fact the UK comes in at fourteenth in terms of the “innovation index”. I think this is pretty rum as countries with a tenth of our spend on R&D; still do much better in terms of the Innovation league tables. Now ostensible you’d be right to ask what is the “innovation index” and what does it measure, unsurprisingly it is a measure of the adoption of new technology, and the interaction between the business and science sectors (it includes measures of investment into research institutions and protection of intellectual property rights).

The UK does slightly worse on the “technology readiness index”, coming joint fifteenth. This measures the ability of the economy to adopt new technologies (it includes measures of ICT usage, the regulatory framework with regard to ICT , and the availability of new technology to business).

Now you might say that this is not a fair comparison, in that R&D; is not analogous to Innovation nor the way it is calculated nor presented or that the UK’s investment in R&D; is exhibited in other areas, such as joint work abroad and investment overseas where the end ‘innovation’ benefit is generated and calculated. And you may well be right, but the numbers are pretty definitive and hard to avoid once you’ve unearthed them.

So what is the problem? The majority of people that I speak to about the subject seem rather reticent to view the issue from the top down, because of the magnitude of the problem and effectively addressing it at a ‘macro’ level. Instead the majority of those I spoke with preferred to look at influencing a variety of ‘levers’ and mechanisms that the government might have to improve the discrepancy.

However I’m really not sure this addresses the root cause, even if such a root cause could be, or had been, identified.

From my point of view the mechanism to get money from the Government (and EU who are also big investors into the UK’s R&D; funding, followed by business) is highly complex. The number of agencies that work in the sector is high, along with the mechanism itself (i.e. at the most basic level money is divided-up amongst the research councils and funding bodies, predominately by subject and topic area, before being divided up again amongst the universities, education and research establishments, who deliver those subjects).

Another issue may well be the difference in focus in the UK in terms of R&D; to much of the World, especially compared to the USA and major EU member nations. For instance 15% of US public civil R&D; spending is on development rather than basic or applied research, whilst it is only 2.3% in the UK. It’s likely that this better alignment with business means that the investment actually gets a better return on investment.

Possible inefficiencies and complexity of the system may only be one, albeit a major one, of the issues at hand, as is focus of R&D; effort and the closeness it has with business. The other popular opinion I hear is that Research Council funding needs to much better meet genuine business needs, which suggests that the relationships between universities and enterprise can continue to be improved upon significantly.

Other items that come up are (i) clarity of Government policy and associated packages, (ii) the relative size and funding of the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the need to scale up further, (iii) higher availability of business relevant skills and the need to continue to promote STEM skills, (iv) a focus on key technology ‘families’, (v) better engagment of the SME community with Universities and R&D; beyond Tax Credits and supporting and strengthening the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), and (vi) better engaging UK Business with 7th Framework Programme (FP7) perhaps by getting the UK to address the discrepancy between large businesses, SMEs and Universities where FP7 funds only up to 50% at enterprises, whilst universities and SMEs may receive 75%, possibly by ‘topping up’ funding to make it more accessible to these large companies. However I feel these seven items are minor in comparison to the three major issues above.

There seem to be a couple of threads running through these issues and I’d say that they are complexity of the funding eco-system possibly leading to inefficiency and one of R&D; investment alignment to business.

Whatever the root cause, be it one of those, or another, or more likely a mixture of some or all of these issues, ‘tweaking’ certain items without a fundamental understanding of the aforementioned root causes will likely continue to have a less dramatic effect then the UK rapidly getting anywhere near the no.4 spot in the international innovation league tables.

The problem with automated provisioning (III of III)

The third of my articles on the macro-level issues with (automated) provisioning, which build on the previous articles, specifically the comparison of Enterprise versus “web scale” deployments described in “The problem with automated provisioning (II of III)” and the levels of complexity, in terms of automated provisioning, set up and configuration that is required.

As I’ve said before in this series of articles provisioning a thousand machines which all have the same OS, stack and code base, with updated configuration information is easier to set up than a thousand machines which use a mixture of four or five Operating Systems, which all have differing patch schedules, patch methods and code release schedules, with a diverse infrastructure and application software stack and multiple code bases. And to express this I’ve postulated the equation “(Automated) Provisioning Complexity = No. of Instances x Freq. of Change”.

What I’d like to move the focus over to is that of runtime stability and the ability of a given system to support increasingly greater levels of complexity.

I find that it is important to recognise the place of observation and direct experience as well as theory and supposition (in research I find it’s useful to identify patterns and then try to understand them).

Another trend that I have witnessed in regards to system complexity, including the requirement to provision a given system, is that the simpler and more succinct a given architectural layer, the more robust that layer is and more able to support layers above it which have higher levels of complexity.

Often Architectural layers are constrained in terms of there ability to support (and absorb) high numbers of differing components and high rates of change by the preceding layer in the stack. AKA the simpler the lowest levels of the stack the more stable they will be and thus more able to support diverse ecosystems with reasonable rates of change in the layers above them

The more complex the layer below the less stable it is likely to be (given the number of components and instances thereof and the rate of update which significantly drive up the level of complexity of the system).

This phenomenon is found in the differing compute environments I’ve been speaking about in these short articles, and again they affect the ability of a given system to be provisioned in any succinct and efficient manner.

More accurate Enterprise

Typically Enterprise IT ecosystems are woefully complex, due to a mixture of longevity (sweating those assets and risk aversion) and large numbers of functional systems (functional as in functional requirements) and non-functional components (i.e. heterogeneous infrastructure, with lots of exceptions, one off instances, etc.).

Subsequently they suffer from the issue that I’ve identifioed above, that is as lower levels are already compolex, they are constrained in the amount of complexity that can be supported at the level above, the accompanying diagram demonstrates the point.


More accurate Web Scale

Whilst Web Scale class systems often exhibit almost the opposite behaviour. Given they often use a radically simplified infrastructure architecture anyway (i.e. lots of similar and easily replaceable common and often ‘commodity’ components) in a ‘platform’ approach, there isn’t often the high levels of heterogeneity that you see in a typical Enterprise IT ecosystem (homogeneous). And this approach is often found in the application and logical layers above the infrastructure, i.e. high levels of commonality of software environment, used as an application platform to support a variety of functionality, services, code and code bases.

Subsequently, because of the simple nature of low level layers of the architecture they are much more robust and capable of withstanding change (because introducing change into a complex ecosystem often leads to something, somewhere breaking, even with exceptional planning). This stability and robustness ensures that the overall architecture is better equipped to cope with change and with the frequency of change, and that layers of high levels of complexity can be supported.


And so that concludes my articles on provisioning, and the problems with it, for the time being, although I might edit them a little, or at least revisit them, when I have more time.

September 2009 blog catch up

Apologies to all my blog readers I’ve been lax of late and haven’t posted a great deal recently, and I’m afraid that in an attempt to clear down all the draft blog entries I have prior to the transition and acquisition (of Sun by Oracle, of course) I’ll be posting a number of blog entries in quick succession, some of which I expect may need expanding upon in the future.

Topics I have to complete include part three of my provisioning article series, a number of posts on Google and the Google architecture, a number of posts on UK Government messaging systems, specifically DIS, a number of posts on the continuing issues with the economy and innovation and science spending in the UK, as well as a few others.

On the economy side, I was hoping to follow up my articles “DBERR’s views on the future growth of the UK economy ‘New Industry, New Jobs’” and “Industry contributions to the UK economy and investment in R&D; by industry” with pieces which might include looking at:

  1. ‘innovation’ investment in the UK versus the UK’s place in the World Wide league tables
  2. UK versus US stimulation packages
  3. Services Sciences and Web Sciences
  4. the state of UK Manufacturing and “Robot”isation in the UK
  5. a review of the recent ‘Digital Britain’ report
  6. possibly a comparison of R&D; spending and focus in the UK versus other nations (European comparison might be the most pointed)

But for now I’ll see how I get on!