Archive for the ‘Enterprise Architecture’ Category


February 20, 2009 Comments off


Carsten Molgaard over at the Rasmussen Report has an excellent overview of the newly released TOGAF 9 framework. I have never dived in depth with the TOGAF Framework, as most of my references have been back to Gartner. Carsten makes an excellent point to not focus too much on the “framework”. Use TOGAF as a collection of content and process templates.

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Build for Competitive Advantage; Buy for Competitive Parity

February 20, 2009 Comments off

This  is a well-known business mantra. If WalMart competes based on its supply chain, then it shouldn’t outsource its supply chain to FedEx. Alternatively, Family Dollar, or other companies in the retain industry, may have a reason to outsource logistics if that is not how they intend to compete.

This philosophy is not always properly reflected in the world of IT. IT architecture and priority decisions must follow the strategy of the company:

  • Build applications that enhance or automate a process that is a competitive advantage for the firm.
  • Buy applications that only need to provide competitive parity for the firm.

For example, Walmart should (and probably does) build their own logistics tracking and forecasting applications, while they probably purchase their HR management tools.

For every IT project, this distinction should be clear.

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Google and Internet Advertising

February 19, 2009 Comments off

I often ponder what it would be like BG. Before Google. How small and confusing the world would be if we couldn’t find the answer to all our questions after a few short keystrokes. In today’s world, understanding how to find information quickly is the most important skill.

What does Google get for this?

Google pioneered a new form of search advertising that is more effective at driving conversions (customers buying something) than any other method of advertising. It is effective because when a user conducts a search, unlike watching TV or even viewing a webpage, the user has provided intent to discover a product or service.

When I’m watching Hero’s, have I shown intent to buy a new car?

When I’m reading the newspaper, have I shown intent to buy groceries?

When I search Google for appliances in Minneapolis, I have shown intent to find (and perhaps buy) appliances in a specific city.

Last week, I, along with my study group, prepared a delivered a presentation on this topic to the Management of Technology program at the University of Minnesota. Below are my slides from that presentations. Enjoy!

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US Government Spending on IT Services

February 16, 2009 Comments off

I recently conducted an extensive case study of the US Federal Government’s spending on IT services as a part of my graduate studies. It includes a summary of the market, how it is segmented, and opportunities for expansion. Here is a snippet from the report:

Market Overview
The market for IT services in the US Federal Government is over $68 billion in 2009 and continues to grow at 5% annually. IT demand from the government is segmented between two very different concerns:

  • Defense information and intelligence systems
  • Line-of-Business application deployments

These concerns, and the skills required to deliver them, segment this market as shown in the figure below. Defense suppliers specialize in the design and deployment of the advanced custom systems market segment, which is over $32 billion in revenue annually. The handful of suppliers competing for a single buyer of services creates a monopsony and significant cooperation between the suppliers.

US Government IT Market Segmentation

US Government IT Market Segmentation

The commercial IT market for Line-of-Business applications, which primarily serves the civilian agencies of the government, has a far larger customer base that includes companies around the globe. This creates intense competition on cost and efficiency in the delivery of these standard services.

I am offering up the report free for non-commercial use to anyone who finds this interesting or valuable. If you find inaccuracies in the report, or if you would like to discuss this topic further, please leave a comment!

You can download the full report here. Enjoy!

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People Need to be Part of the System Design

February 2, 2009 Comments off

As the recent outage at Google demonstrates, including people in the design of a system is often overlooked in technology focused organizations. In that particular example, Google left the ability for a single user to take then entire system down by adding “/” to the blocked site list. Why would this ever need to happen?

More generally, IT organizations need to recognize the importance of people in our architectures. What good is a password if people will write it down? What good is a workflow if people are still printing and signing forms? What good is an ERP system if the numbers are still manipulated by hand?

Every project should include not only a technical understanding of what is being implemented, but also an understanding of the business processes and people that will operate in the system — both users and administrators.

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Enterprise Service Bus and Data Access Frameworks

July 31, 2008 Comments off

I am currently involved in an IT Project to build an Inventory Availability application for our partner’s to allow them to query each others inventory for a particular model or part.  This relatively simple effort has expanded into a number of questions on the role of web services, b2b communications, and an enterprise service bus.

We are planning on implementing an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) in the next 6-18 months, and it is complicated to define what exactly we should, and should not use it for.  Allow me to elaborate, below is the architecture of the Inventory Availability application.

High-Level Architecture

High-Level Architecture

The communications with are partners are currently handled by our B2B Integration tool, but we foresee migrating this functionality to the ESB when its deployed.  This will involve including in the ESB the knowledge (via a connector) to understand and use the XML format provided by our partners over FTP.

We also have a local database where we keep inventory history.  We want to use a data service to pull information from it, but does it make sense to build that service if the ESB can understand the database directly?  Could we (Should We) use the ESB itself to translate the XML requests into SQL requests for the database as we would translate an XML request into a call to a legacy system?

For a mid-sized IT department (with a relatively immature SOA practice), I don’t think it makes sense for to draw distinction between the service layers that handle ESB, B2B Integration, and Data Access.

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The Scope of Enterprise Architecture

July 24, 2008 2 comments

I have struggled with the scope of enterprise architecture since the beginning.  EA is expected to align IT efforts with business strategy so that IT delivers things that add value.  In trying to do that better, I have spent a great deal of time defining IT Portfolios and a management structure around them.  I did this in order to define ownership, functionality, and a strategy for all the “stuff” we have, and so far it has been successful in giving myself and others a better handle on what we have and where we are going.

Does that mean that IT Portfolio Management is Enterprise Architecture?  They are certainly related.

Enterprise Architect’s focus on different aspects of IT; things such as System Reporting, Configuration Management, or IT Governance.  But the thread that runs through all of these is to understand where the environment is now so that we can decide and align where we should be going.

What isn’t the scope of enterprise architecture?

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