Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hillarious Look at Implications of Outsourcing

I ran across a great article that will really make you think about the concept of outsourcing and the potential impact on ourselves, our work habits, the economy, and the world. You'll get a chuckle reading this very non-technical, non-I/T treatment of outsourcing through the eyes of a magazine editor. Check out My Outsourced Life by A. J. Jacobs of Esquire Magazine. Warning, there is a small amount of off-color language and a bit of male chauvinism, too. Its worth reading and a lot more fun than that the latest thought leadership on business-I/T alignment or J2EE vs. .NET web service compatibilty issues.

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Monday, November 21, 2005

My Forward Thinking Employer Wants Me to Blog !

Check it out: IBM to workers: Blog away
Report: The technology company is encouraging its workers to publish to the outside world.

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Will IBM Create an Open Source Version of DB2?

A friend passed me this link which says IBM is considering an open source version of DB2:

Wow! What would that do in the on-going battle with Oracle for market share?

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Facinating Look at Intellectual Property Law

I stumbled across an interesting blog which talks about all kinds of topics related to intellectual property law and the impact of pirating and open source communities. Check out PHOSITA:::an intellectual property weblawg , a "blawg" (legal blog) blogging intellectual property legal issues of interest: patent, copyright and trademark law.

One article seems particularly interesting:
Engines of Growth - Report of the Economic Contributions of the US Intellectual Property Industries.

Copyright © 2005 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Scourge of the I/T Architect's Universe

Many companies basically have little or no budget allocated for infrastructure enhancements for the common corporate good. Instead, everything is lumped into the budgets of various projects. Usually, no one project can absorb the entire cost to establish a new infrastructure across the enterprise. And... the individual project managers feel it is to their advantage both NOT to rely on someone else’s project for infrastructure critical to their project success and NOT to promise to help out someone else’s project infrastructure.

Nobody wants to be dependent on someone else successfully executing their project to be successful on their own. At least if they don’t have to. Project managers call that a dependency. Nobody wants to spend “extra” money on infrastructure out of their pot of money, even if that would be being a good corporate citizen.

Project-based funding models tend to focus most attention on the short-term requirements of the business. If it is on a screen presented to a user, it is important. If it affects the response time when going through user acceptance testing, it ranks high. If it provides extra flexibility that nobody realizes a need for yet, it rates pretty low in priority.

As each project manager optimizes their individual projects and short-term agendas, they sub-optimize the entire corporation.

The result for us poor I/T Architects? We would like to apply our intellect to enterprise-wide projects with a big impact across many high-visibility projects, this opportunity is all too often denied us by the project-based funding model. We are deprived of the chance to really play the role of an Enterprise Architect. We see that there is a better way or a better approach but it is unattainable.

Our only recourse I fear is that we as I/T Architects simply have to get better at selling the benefits of shared infrastructure, shared services, and Enterprise Architecture in general to the business types who basically don’t care what happens “under the covers.” After all (and perhaps rightly so) they usually control the budgets. We have to stop looking at this as crossing over to the dark side... the dark side populated by purveyors of marketing “fluff." It is something we have to master to have the funding for those “big impact” projects we believe in.

Copyright © 2005 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

How do you define SOA?

Malte Poppensieker has a nice dicussion of the problems of coming up with a really good definition of Service-Oriented Architecture.

Copyright © 2005 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Still More Good Words on Intellectual Property Issues in the New World Order of Open Communities

Irving Wladawsky-Berger says it much better than I could. Check out out Supporting Innovation in Open Communities to read observations about the talent present in self-organizing groups of people with a purpose and how they might attract "the attention of those who view it as a competitive threat and might want to use IP as a “FUD” factor" and attract the attention of "those who are looking to enrich themselves by claiming IP infringements. "

Copyright © 2005 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Royalty-free Linux Patent Sharing

An interesting development in the continuing saga of Linux and whether Linux users are open to patent infringement lawsuits. IBM, Sony, Phillips, Novell, and Red Hat have joined forces to form the Open Invention Network (OIN) to create a company for sharing Linux patents, royalty-free.

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Role of the Business Transformation Architect

As our friends in the emerging I/T hot beds like India, Brazil, China, Eastern Europe, and the Philippines demonstrate they have excellent programming skills, many of us I/T folk in the US or Western Europe are frankly nervous about “What’s left for us?” “Will we eventually train our emerging market friends into taking our own jobs away?”

Perhaps I have been shown the answer to this perplexing and politically charged question. Have you ever heard of the job title “Business Transformation Architect” by any chance?

I had the good fortune to listen in on a conference call last week led by Douglas McDavid, an IBM Business Transformation Architect and Member of the IBM Academy of Technology on the role of the Business Transformation Architect and how this new role is developing into a formal career path in IBM. With his permission, I will share a few insights which I hope will be of interest to you.

Some quotes...

There is a well known gap between clients’ desire to solve business problems (enter new markets, gain competitive advantage, reduce costs..) and IT’s ability to enable required business solutions.

Industry outlook & trends indicate the need for new skills to achieve success in the business transformation domain:

Tighter alignment between business & IT is essential to execute on complex business transformations. This requires a blend of business and technical design skills and the ability to partner with business owners & IT executives” – Information Week

“IT needs new skills to accomplish the transformation to service oriented IT. IT can not expect to insert pure techies & geeks into business discussions & gain any stronger connection with the business.” – Forrester

The need for dedicated attention to detailed and rigorous architecture of business is apparent

  • On demand business requires synergy between business and technology
  • Valued business results require focus on business changes that work together with modular and flexible IT applications and infrastructures.
  • Clients increasingly demand small, incremental steps toward transformation.
  • There is increased interest in standardized architectural frameworks.

Business is largely a human social system that is intangible and invisible. Software is also intrinsically complex, malleable, abstract and invisible.

Information technology can be a jumbled mess, but architectures and patterns can help make sense of it. Business can be a jumbled mess too, but architectures and patterns can help make sense of it as well. The job of the BTA is to focus on how these architectural viewpoints come together.

BTAs may have (or work with people who have) some or all of the following specializations -- analogous to an IT Architect working with technical specialists

  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Legal
  • Strategic Management
  • Operational Management
  • Organizational Change
  • Knowledge Management
  • Learning
  • Marketing
  • Product Development

(me - In a previous post, I talked about how good I/T Architects are “Pi-Shaped”)

Good Business Transformation Architects are “I-Shaped” and can be grown by adding business knowledge to architect skills or by adding architecture skills to business consultants.

(In the above chart EA=enterprise architecture and CBM=Component Business Modeling)

Business Transformation Architect Role Defined (partial)

  • Identify and advise on the On Demand characteristics of a Client Enterprise
  • Distinguish the differentiating from the non-differentiating parts of a Client Enterprise and advise on how to proceed with each
  • Recommend the actions necessary to prioritize and improve the On Demand characteristics of an Enterprise to deliver short and long term client value
  • Advise on coordinated business and technology transformation initiatives to Differentiate and improve Product Leadership, Operational Excellence and Customer Intimacy within a Client Enterprise
  • Bridge the gaps between business executives and IT architects to help the enterprise document its operational business design based on sound principles and standards.
  • Perform Business Design
  • Perform Capability Analysis
  • Perform value placement.
  • Perform organizational design and job role selection.
  • Lead business process change.
  • Perform requirements maintenance.
  • Design the total solution delivery environment.
  • Perform selection of business modeling tools
  • Perform business implementation.
  • Keep abreast of Board Room topics
  • Architect Solutions using business architecture components.
  • Architect Solutions using process change.
  • Architect intra and Inter enterprise solutions
  • Architect Solutions using organizational change
Now that you’ve heard more about it, do you see “Business Transformation Architect” on your next set of business cards? Those of us who are now too expensive to write programs anymore may need to embrace the idea.

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Ellusive Goal of Business - I/T Alignment

Here is a quote from an insightful article called "The Business Of I.T. Is Business
Six keys to lasting alignment with your business partners."
from Susan Cramm at

"To tackle alignment, CIOs must first accept the fact that IT's business counterparts will always want more for less, without delay. CIOs need to learn how to balance the limited supply of IT services with the seemingly infinite demand in a way that is acceptable to the business. This is done through strategy and governance practices that force the business to acknowledge limits and say no to themselves. IT capacity constraints (which are more often people-based than money-based) can be relieved by designing technologies and organizations that "flex" as business volume and project demands ebb and flow. "

I really like that "say no to themselves" part. However, I fear that business users restrain themselves like I say "no" to another chocolate chip cooke. :-)

Check out the article.

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Do Peer Pressure and Vendor Products Define Your Enterprise Architecture?

Muli Koppel has an interesting discussion on Enterprise Architecture and the not-always-positive influences of vendors and social pressure to conform to what other people have already said is the "best". Here's a couple of quotes I like:

"[they] keep building things, making things that are sticky and where YOU basically brand yourself: 'I am a Google person', or 'I am a Yahoo Person', an 'AOL Person', or a 'Microsoft Person' and that's really how it's shaping up".

If architecture is reversed-engineered from an existing portfolio of technologies, paradigm shifts wouldn't be possible."

"So what I usually do while digesting new technologies, is to reverse-engineer their architecture. And if my existing architecture is equal or better – I am not engaging myself in any technological change whatsoever. But, if the pure principles behind the new technology are better than those I employ, well – that's usually an exciting moment."

Check out his blog article "Mind the Gap."

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Vendor-Neutral I/T Architect Certification

Nearly every major software vendor has some kind of certification program to help identify people who meet a certain minimum set of standards in regards to a particular type of skill in I/T. Microsoft, for example, has many different ones including Microsoft Certified System Engineers, Microsoft Certified Database Administrators, and Microsoft Certified Professional Developer. See their certifications page for a complete list.

Sun has another group of certifications which are well known, particularly in the Java community including Sun Certified Developer and Sun Certified Enterprise Architect. See their Java certifications page.

And my employer IBM has a long list of product-focused certifications including things like IBM Certified System Administrator - WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment V6.0 and IBM Certified Associate Developer - Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software V6.0.

All of these technology certifications have one flaw, if you want to call it that. They are tied pretty closely to a vendor. Some are even tied to specific release levels of a particular product of a particular vendor. What about us I/T Architects whose value to the application development process is not really dependent upon whether I’m using IBM or BEA application servers? Does my contribution vary depending on whether I’m using version 5.0, 5.1, or 6.0 ?

What you may find yourself wanting is vendor-neutral, externally recognized certification that is not tied to a particular technology company or version.

The project management community seems to have this problem solved already. They have one of the most widely recognized certifications of this type. You may have heard of the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute.

Well... all you architects out there who have been having certification envy of our project management friends, you no longer have to wait. The Open Group which pushes I/T standards and its vision of “Boundaryless Information Flow™” has started an I/T Architect Certification Program which should become similarly well recognized and valued.

And.. if you happen to work for an employer who has their own internal I/T Architect program (IBM is one, HP is another I think) and they get their program certified by The Open Group, you will be able to stake claim the externally recognized Open Group I/T Architect Certification as well. This should play well with future clients or employers.

No more certification envy! Parity with Project Managers! I/T Architects Rule! (sorry, couldn’t resist)

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Crisis in Time, Talent, Trust and Transformation

I received a great presentation the other day entitled “Four Crises for Business: Time, Talent, Trust, and Transformation” by Peter Andrews at the IBM Executive Business Institute. While this is not exactly an I/T Architecture issue, I think the issues he brings out will show up in the business drivers and business requirements of our I/T projects. We're certainly affected by the these issues in our work environment.

With his permission, I will share a few quotes from his work that I think will resonate with I/T architects.

At a high level, there are no surprises. Executives have been putting the challenges of globalization, cost-cutting, disaster planning, shortened product lifecycles and attracting and retaining the best employees onto their top ten lists for years. Politics, the world economy, technological advances, investor impatience, natural disasters and other drivers of change have been pushing business hard for decades. Once mighty companies have lost their footing, and many have fallen....

Everyone is working harder, but are we doing anything differently? Are radical changes in direction even considered?”....

Consider four crises that thematically sum up our difficult times, and then consider what might be done about each:

The Crisis of Time. Douglas Adams said, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” Most of us have far too many deadlines whooshing by and it doesn’t inspire feelings of affection. Take a poll of your team and see how many of them feel like their task lists are longer and someone has been stealing minutes, if no hours, from their clocks.”....

....progress in interruption management systems are all on the way to help. Think of the effort your business puts into cost cutting and see if you can do the same thing for time cutting – at the level of individuals, as well as teams. But first, think wisely about what you and your colleagues will do with the time savings, and hold onto the time for those purposes. Even if those purposes include taking a deep breath or daydreaming.”

The Crisis of Talent. “Great people make a great company ..... But there aren’t enough great people to go around and we don’t use them well. Part of the problem is scheduling (as can be seen in the Crisis of Time), but part of it is just finding and training them. How do we know who the great people are when our measurements have been reduced to revenue numbers? How do we expose and develop talent when training is just a cost number? How do we get talented people involved in the right projects? How do we keep talented people engaged and motivated? How do we keep them at all?....

And don’t forget training, which may need to take on new characteristics as those who have learned as much from online multiplayer games than from classroom instruction begin to enter the workforce. ....

The Crisis of Trust.

Half of all strategic business relationships fail to meet their objectives, .... Confidence in management is dropping. In a survey of 13,000 employees at U.S. companies, Watson Wyatt Worldwide found only 39 percent trust their senior leaders. And every time a deadline is missed or an offhand comment is misconstrued, a virtual team starts to strain its seams....

And yet, eBay, where most buyers and sellers never meet face-to-face, has an estimated US$23 billion worth of transactions each year. This is possible because the company provides over a dozen trust enabling/establishing services, including security, payment escrow, user agreements, a privacy policy and, most importantly, the input of peers. Feedback, stars, rating the raters – it’s all part of a reputation management system that allows the community to vouch for the individual. Similar clusters of technologies can provide a basis for trust across the organization (and, not incidentally, give your team access to talented unknowns).

The Crisis of Transformation.

You can’t anticipate everything, but you have to be ready for anything. Scenario planning and good backup systems can help with disasters, of course. But flexibility will be demanded of almost all businesses in a world where global outsourcing breaks down barriers and shifts value, where challenging regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley in the U.S. require more accountability, where the viability of channels changes and the ability of companies to cluster into well-positioned virtual corporations creates new, vital competitors....

Intriqued? Check out Peter Andrews' class on Business Futures at the Executive Business Institute... and take your C-Level with you.

Some of my more random thoughts on this. That means don't blame Peter if you disagree me on this. :-)

  • I am certainly a victim of “time-cutting”, time wasting, and interruptions. I bet you are too.

  • I wonder what the cure is. Will it be “interruption management” systems? Part of me would like to go back to the days when someone in my position had a secretary. A real person who would run interference for me. But, realistically that is nostalgia. I can’t envision that scenario happening. I also wonder if I’m culturally ready to turn over my calendar, phone, email, etc. to an electronic secretary with a mission to keep me from being interrupted.

  • Will companies start measuring how interrupted their employees are? Will we be getting software requirements for those interruption management systems in the near future to try to squeeze more hours of productivity out of employees? I wonder if I could articulate the benefits of such a system to someone who actually had budget authority to fund it?

  • “Training is just a cost number” More nostalgia. I remember when I was almost expected to go into an online catalog of training classes in various cities across the country and pick a couple classes a year. These were real classes in nice facilities in nice cities with real teachers and real labs and real whiteboards. Those were the days! Now they want us to do everything in some kind of virtual classroom via the internet. Airfare and hotel ? Forget it! And why do I, a person who makes his living on computers, hate the idea of a virtual classroom. I kind of like chatting with the other students on breaks and over lunch. I learn something there too. Is there a way to at least partially reproduce this under today's cost constraints?

  • Undiscovered talent / Un-Nurtured Talent - As a senior I/T Architect it is part of my job to develop talent. In the consulting business this is viewed as increasing our capacity to deliver solutions to our clients. Frankly, as I practice it today it is more gut instinct, Golden Rule, and taking advantage of mentoring opportunities as they present themselves. Is this enough? What if I don’t meet those programmers working in romote places face-to-face and don’t have impromptu white boards sessions? What if the time of day that I am all energized and in the mood to play coach and mentor, those remote programmers have already been working all day on their timezone and want to go home?

  • Trust - Here I can see some real business requirements and some real value. Imagine looking to see how many stars someone has earned before deciding to use them on your project. Would I really take a “talented unknown” on the basis of their intranet “star rating”? Imagine looking to see how many stars a boss has before accepting a position. Imagine if I could earn a bonus from my stars! And how do we prevent everyone giving each other good grades and the resulting “trust inflation” because nobody wants to be the bad guy.

  • Transformation - I am reminded of all the process choreography discussion that goes on around Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA). Imagine all those ovals on the whiteboard with service names inside them. Imagine if there were really readily available providers for all those ovals. The company would only exist to wire together or choreograph the process, consisting of these services.

  • Could I make more money selling process choreography software?

  • If this is for real, how many of us I/T Architects are going to quit our jobs and become entrepreneurs? Anybody ready to create your own company to provide one of these easily plugable services? Want to be in the business of providing the service in one of those ovals on the whiteboard?

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Will State Income Taxes on Telecommuting Put a Damper on Geographically Dispersed Application Development?

My friend just showed me a an article from the Nov 1, 2005 Wall Street Jornal, Page D-1 entitled "Telecommuters May Face New Taxes." Apparently, the US Supreme Court, by not choosing to review a case, will let stand a New York decision to tax the income of a Tennessee man who was working for a New York-based company via telecommuting. He was only in New York 25% of the time but was taxed on 100% of his income. (This may also be an issue with Tennessee not having a state income tax.)

I think the impact of this decision (or is that non-decision?) will be huge! If you've got a team of programmer spread around the country, will your software project team members soon be facing new state income taxes? Will staffing decisions on new projects now have to consider which state tax telecommuters? Will talented programmers quit because of sudden cuts in take home pay? What about all those global teams? Will states start trying to collect taxes from non-US citizens doing application development work from places like India, China, Brazil, and the Phillipines?

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.