27 September, 2006

BPMs and SOA

A very interesting article has been published by Celia Wolf and Paul Harmon in BPTrends on the 26th of September. The content is related to the BPMs Market and the Majors.

I have found the following paragraph a little bit exaggerated…

"Probably the major development, over the course of the summer, is subtler. All of the software/infrastructure vendors are continuing to put a lot of marketing cycles into promoting Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). At the same time, there has been a growing recognition that SOA, without BPM, doesn't mean much. You don't do SOA just as an exercise in technology; you do SOA to provide better support for business processes, which you define in BPM. This is the clear message in all IBM's WebSphere advertising and it is increasingly the common theme of all of the major vendors who are promoting the move to SOA. Thus, increasingly, the attention that was focused on BPM is becoming mixed with the SOA marketing effort."

Even if SOA can be (or should be...) coupled to BPM initiatives, there are many situations where companies implement SOA for other reasons:

- Composite applications
- Portal integration
- Information Hub
- Migration from “old” client server applications to new architecture models
- Mash-up applications
- B2B

In fact, software vendors simply try to sell at the same time BPMs with the underlying technology...and all the associated professional services…

There are cases where SOA is justified only by the above mentioned reasons.

26 September, 2006

Configuration Management: How to really build a CMDB with an auto discovery tool

Service management projects that use a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) as central pointer to enterprise IT asset data should double in number over the next year; an independent research has concluded (Tertio Service Management Solutions). Configuration Management Database uptake is expected to double from 20% to 39% within a year, said the vendor behind the research. The reason for the increased popularity is down to a desire to adopt an ITIL based framework among 44% of respondents.

According to ITIL best practice recommendations, the CMDB should provide accurate information on the configuration of IT assets and their documentation in a way that will support all the other service management processes. For 70% of the organizations polled online during Tertio's research, the perceived benefits that results from implementation of a CMDB is expected to be an improved and coordinated picture of the application infrastructure, and the overall better management of IT assets.

Many companies who deployed Configuration Management have associated this process to the Asset/Inventory Management process/systems for the following reasons:

- Desktop Inventory is often based on inventory existing solutions
- Server Inventory is usually done with System Management solutions such as Tivoli, CA Unicenter, BMC Patrol, etc…

However, there is one activity missing from a Configuration Management view: the building of relationships based on Cis (configuration Items).

To be successful at Business Service Management, companies first should map applications and Services. This is probably the only way to know which IT failure is mucking up Business Services.

To address the issues with the Configuration Management process, companies should find a solution which would avoid creating manually the relationships between the various CIs (Configuration Items) which are identified with the various Inventory tools.

Companies need tools that collect systems configuration data, decode packets and watch kernel I/O to determine application dependencies. These are not service, performance or status monitors rather, they map all the servers, systems, applications, processes, services, users and sometimes even network devices to decipher what applications depend on, and what depends on them. This mapping also makes diagnostic, capacity and Service Management application delivery easier.

These tools should be able to:

- Improve the quality of data in a CMDB
- Be in real-time
- Populate data into the Service Desk
- Avoid to maintain manually the systems
- Keep in real time the relationship between CIs
- Improve all ITIL processes, but specifically Incident Management and Change Management
- Provide Change Impact Analysis features
- Track people changing the infrastructure into production
- Deliver Business Services views
- Map ITIL processes
- Integrate smoothly with both the Service Desk and the System Management solution
- Replicate these relationships into Business Service Management solutions
- Send alerts to the System Management console when for example a change on the Infrastructure is done in production
- Replicate these relationships with Enterprise Architecture platforms such as Mega, Troux technologies, Casewise, Popkin, etc..
- Provide out of the box connectors
- Cope with the long term strategy around Service Management and Enterprise Architecture

There used to be more that 10 to 15 vendors in that space, half of them have been acquired by companies such as Mercury, IBM, Symantec, BMC and others who integrated these tools into their Service Management products.

Companies haven’t yet considered implementing such solutions but this is slowly starting. Auto discovery tools are a must!

23 September, 2006

EGEE'06 Capitalising on e-infrastructures

The EGEE’06 conference is the major event of the EGEE project where Grid user communities, decision makers, resource providers and developers will discuss how to capitalise on past investments and plan a sustainable future for the Grid. The EGEE’06 conference will be the focus point of a large number of grid projects featuring prominently in both plenary and parallel sessions during the 5 days of this event. Welcome to the key European grid event of 2006!

QA standards overview and (company) implementation choices and benefits

The first part of the presentation will introduce QA standards such as :

- Service Management (ITIL, ISO/IEC 20000-1/-2:2005)
- CMMi
- Quality Management ISO 9001,
- Security Management ISO 2700

The second part will present (company) implementation choices and benefits

Id: 109
17 rue de Varembé,
CH - 1211 Geneva 20
Room: Conf. Room 7+8
Starting date: 27-Sep-2006 11:00
Duration: 45'
Primary Authors: Mr. THORN, Serge (Director IT Research & Innovation)

22 September, 2006

Why could TOGAF be the next big thing?

Looking at the last four years, very few people were considering Service Management seriously. ITIL was almost unknown in Europe outside of the UK and the Netherlands. Small initiatives were taken places around process improvement and from time to time companies were envisaging some sort of service improvement program.

Vendors (mostly help desk solutions were selling in some ways, improvement with the OGC processes by promoting system management solutions). Years after years, ITIL became famous, most vendors started to re-brand their offering and solutions, which became "ITIL compatible" (which does no mean anything by the way...). Companies such as HP, IBM, CA, SUN, and many others started to sell the concepts of best practices, adopting IIL as the way forward.

These days, many people have now jumped on the bandwagon and everyone is referring to ITIL. All software and IT consulting companies pretends mastering Service Management. Yesterday EMC even positioned themselves as a new Service Management company. ITIL is now a given and every single It Data Center is now embracing the framework which has become an IT Governance pillar.

But how can we improve the famous IT Business alignment, as Service Management contributes to this but is not as visible as expected despite what is claimed by the IT industry!

Enterprise Architecture is becoming a new standard as already described in my other article “Why is Enterprise Architecture becoming the “next big thing? ”, but people will be looking at a framework in the same way they looked at a framework for Service Management.

After several months of investigation, studying the various existing Enterprise Architecture frameworks such as: META (Gartner), Zachman, TEAF, FEAF, DODAF, IEEE Std 1471, ISO RM ODP, NASCIO, IBM ESS, I came to the conclusion that TOGAF 8.1 was the most evolved and appropriate framework for a company which is process oriented. Other frameworks are sometimes referring to process, but not as detailed as the one from the Open Group.

Developed by the Open Group in 1995, The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) provides the most comprehensive methodology for producing architecture deliverables. With its most recent version (version 8), also known as TOGAF Enterprise Edition — TOGAF’s Architecture Development Method (ADM) was quite substantially expanded beyond technology architecture to include business architecture, information architecture, and application architecture

It is an open framework, highly customizable. The core components of TOGAF are its Architecture Development Method (ADM) and the TOGAF Foundation Architecture.

The ADM defines a process for developing and maintaining the organization's Enterprise Architecture, and for implementing the architecture through a planned program of work
It is non-prescriptive about how to build the models that represent the architecture, and supports all standard modelling technologies, such as the Unified Modelling Language (UML), Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN), and Integrated Computer-Aided Manufacturing (ICAM), Definition (IDEF).

The Foundation Architecture describes an Enterprise Continuum through which the developing architecture progresses from the general (foundation) to the organization-specific

What makes TOGAF popular is that it is a definitive and proven step-by-step method for developing and maintaining Enterprise Architecture. It covers the four principal architecture domains of business, information systems (application and data), and technology infrastructure, and focuses strongly on the need for architecture to support business objectives and requirements.

It also takes into account establishing the goals and objectives of the Enterprise architecture effort itself, guiding users on determining how much of the enterprise is needed to model to realize significant gains, and the realities of getting buy-in from throughout the organization.

20 September, 2006

Do you really need SOA? And if yes…why?

Many companies are told by either vendors or institutions such as Gartner, Forrester and others, than SOA should bring some of the following benefits:

- Alignment with the company’s Business Model and Strategy
- Enable business changes, technologically based business opportunities
- Improved interoperability and integration
- Enabled agility
- Reduced costs
- Better assets utilization
- Reduced time to market

Now when you look at SOA projects in some companies, very often they run some sort of submarine programs. In other words, because of the difficulty to sell to the business such technological projects, these projects are considered as foundation for future business projects and are done in the shade. ROI on SOA then becomes potentially measurable after a first business project and users are rarely aware that the underlying architecture has fundamentally changed.

But why is an IT department considering going for SOA? Agility…yeahhh for sure..But why? It appears to me that very rarely SOA is based on a real case study.

I have identified several types of reasons why we should go for SOA:

- A BPM program or initiative has been identified
- There is a need to build new composite applications in an easy way
- A company’s portal needs to integrate easily new applications, portlets, or services
- There is a need to migrate old applications (e.g. traditional Client server applications) to new layered and modern applications
- To provide integration between companies (B2B)
- Others?

Some companies have SOA programs in place…but are they able to justify the investment if none of these requirements have been documented?

19 September, 2006

Modeling processes, how and when do I start?

More than 10 years ago, people started to consider BPR (Business Process re-engineering). Business Processes had to be more efficient and possibly automated. At that time, many companies were selling workflows solutions where very often integration with legacy applications were highly complex , using various communication mechanisms, from proprietary API’s to ODBC, or messaging types of connections. To model these processes, most of the time IT people were using workflow engines to model these processes. Business people were using other types of modeling tools , very often based on methodologies/notations such as IDEF0.

Among these tools, we could select solutions such as Holosofx (now IBM), Proforma and Aris from IDS Sheer. There was no links between these tools and the various workflow engines such as FileNet, IBM Flowmark, Staffware (now TIBCO) among others…

Interesting enough, some of these tools evolved towards Enterprise Architecture, considering Business Modeling as an activity in Business Architecture. The latest being a layer an Enterprise Architecture Framework. Other Enterprise Architecture modeling tools such as Popkin Software (now Telerate), Mega, Casewise and Proforma have also evolved towards Enterprise Architecture and provide Business modeling with various notations types such as BPMN, UML or proprietary ones.

For a couple of years now, everyone is overloaded with vendors’ information related to BPM (Business Process Management). Maybe BPM is only a re-branding of BPR., but then everyone claims (at least vendors and IT Analysis consulting companies) that BPM brings business agility and flexibility, minimize IT costs in terms of reuse, time to market, specifically when built on top of SOA (Service Oriented Architecture). BPMs (BPM Suites) are solutions which can include different layers such as modeling, simulation, orchestration, rules management, and integration.

Processes can generally be captures in the modeling layer from the BPMs and be improved in an iterative way, through simulation and real time monitoring.

The reality is that many companies’ ends up with two sets of modeling tools which does rarely connect one to the other. Business modeling on the business side realized with either BPR or Enterprise Architecture suites are not reusable by BPMs. Some standards are available to exchange models such as XMI, but not all vendors have applied yet these features.

The following questions remains:

- Should we use two set of tools?
- Should we use one as the master and export to the BPMs or the other way around?
- Should we find a single tool or solution which connects to the BPMs/orchestration suite (eg. Telerate and IDS Sheer have already announced integration between their modeling suite and Business automation/orchestration platforms such as the Oracle Fusion middleware. Other probably to come...)?

The conclusion is that the market is still immature and many companies jumping into BPM/SOA will have to consider with caution the way they will model their Business processes, in order to be able to measure business impacts and automate at the same time their Business Processes.

12 September, 2006

To select today an integrated IT Governance platform is a major challenge…

Once a company has decided to design its governance framework, it is usually looking for a platform to support the underlying processes.

Service Management is usually supported by Service Desk solutions such as Peregrine, Remedy, CA and many others ITSM suites. PPM is usually supported by companies which started with project management solutions and extended the capabilities to Portfolio Management such as Primavera, PlanView, Prosight, etc.. Some companies also have time sheet solutions based or not on Microsoft Project. Demand Management solutions have been until now isolated from PPM and usually are also standalone solutions such as IBM RequisitePro, Mercury and Telerate DOORS. Enterprise Solutions can be found from various vendors such as Mega, Troux technologies, Telerate and others.

We can observe trend where solutions start to become integrated through the M&A wave. CA bought Niku, HP acquired both Peregrine and Mercury, but still. many companies have best of breed solutions which are not integrated and do not provide integrated views on the health of an IT department.

CIOs and other Managers would like to see integrated dashboards to find out where issues are and what actions have been taken on.

Two things need to be considered for the time being:

- to develop in house solutions to retrieve information coming from these various solutions in order to have a single coherent and consistent view of the IT department and deliver the expected visibility to the business users
- to exchange information between these solutions:
o Demand management probably linked to Change Management
o Enterprise Architecture linked to PPM
o PPM linked to Time Management
o Change Management linked to Release Management solutions (e.g. desktop, business solutions such as ERP, CRM)
o Enterprise Architecture linked to Change Management

And probably much other integration…

Everything would be based on the pillars of the company’s IT Governance framework. As an example…how would a company using Six Sigma or CMMi, integrate with a Service Management solution?

May be in 3 to 5 years time…vendors will understand that we need integrated solutions and acquire the missing modules for a full IT Governance solution. Today, best of breed remains the only possibility…

05 September, 2006

The art (and difficulty) of selecting an IT Governance Framework

IT Governance is one of those concepts that everyone is talking about.

Many companies after having selected a set of IT Governance pillars are looking for solutions to support them and deliver several types of dashboard to either the Corporate and/or IT Management. But, what are these pillars? Some IT department considers one or more components as IT Governance, some other cumulates several components.

IT Managers very often refer to ITIL, or COBIT, or Balance Scorecards or any other frameworks which will improve efficiency and give some visibility to the business.

Let me briefly describe first what I’m considering as components of an IT Governance, but prior to that, I would like to refer to a very simple definition from the Harvard Business School:

“We define IT Governance as specifying the decision rights and accountability framework to encourage desirable behavior in IT”

Fundamentally, IT Governance is concerned about two main things: IT’s delivery of value to the business and mitigation of IT risks.

The components of IT Governance can or should include at least:

- Aligning IT strategy with the business strategy
- Quality Management
- Strategic IT Planning
- Enterprise Architecture
- Project and Portfolio Management (PPM)
- Service Management
- Audit Management
- Security Management
- Risk Management
- Performance Measurement

The list is not exhaustive and could obviously be completed.

I tried to find if there were any IT Governance frameworks available in the market and always ended with specific frameworks related to the components of this IT Governance. ITIL, COBIT, ISO 9000, CMMi and others… Now, from there, where do I start?

What we need is a Framework of Frameworks… where I know where to start, where to pursue, where to end…all of that in an iterative mode..

I recently discovered The Calder-Moir IT Governance Framework http://www.itgovernance.co.uk/page.framework which looks like as a good initiative in terms of standards framing. This has been developed by IT Governance Limited.

Until today, to my knowledge, no single organization has provided a full picture of how to manage IT Governance. Is this framework something which should be seriously be considered or only a way to sell consultancy?

01 September, 2006

Why is Enterprise Architecture becoming the “next big thing”?

IThese days, everyone is referring to ITIL as being a pillar of IT Governance but without really understanding if improvement has to be done at the IT operational level or somewhere else… Some people also imagine that Service Management is a way to improve what everyone loves to refer to: “IT Business Alignment”.. My belief is that in can contribute in some way, but is not the primary goal as an objective.

For sure Service Management is a component of IT Governance but other components are worth being looking at such as Enterprise Architecture.

An Enterprise Architecture consists of the vision, principles, standards and processes that guide the purchase, design and deployment of technology within an enterprise. An Enterprise Architecture describes the interrelationships between business processes, information, applications and underlying infrastructure for that enterprise, and provides best practices for technology purchase, design and deployment.

Enterprise Architecture structures and processes govern adherence to an organization’s technology strategy and provide a managed environment for the introduction of new technology.

The Key Benefits and Value proposition can be

  • Alignment with the company’s Business Model and Strategy
  • Enable business changes, technologically based business opportunities
  • Make easier the introduction of new technologies
  • Allow standardization
  • Information (or data) consolidation
  • Reduce enterprise/application integration complexity
  • Facilitate outsourcing if required
  • Better assets utilization
  • Better assess the impact of changes
  • Reduced time to market

Coming back to IT Business Alignment, the objectives should be:

  • Better understand the company business model (current and future)
  • Understand the relationship between the business model and the current and future IT architectures
  • Reposition IT such that it is aligned with business strategy, and be able to communicate that alignment to the business community

Build roadmaps showing how IT can create credible solutions that align with the business strategy

For all these reasons. Enterprise Architecture should be considered as a top priority level for IT Departments who wants to be real partners to the business.