Tue 30 Jan 2007
Tue 30 Jan 2007
Sat 30 Dec 2006
As a distillation of these predictions, I would project the following top 5 trends for 2007 and beyond:
Tue 7 Nov 2006
Today, I attended a technology briefing by IBM developerWorks on SOA governance. The presentations on IT and SOA Governance, the IBM Governance Model and SOA Best Practices were very well-thought-out, insightful and valuable.
Below is a summary of some of the key points. The entire slide deck can be found here.
Mon 6 Nov 2006
Today, I had the great privilege of attending a conference call in which Steve gave a presentation on customer-oriented BPM with the title “How To Succeed With BPM In The Age Of The Customer”, which is also the subheading of his recent book.
He started by proposing his definition of BPM:
“Business Process Management (BPM) is a natural and holistic management approach to operating business that produces a highly efficient, agile, innovative, and adaptive organization that far exceeds that achievable through traditional management approaches.”
Towers pointed? out that the single most compelling reason to improve and manage the enterprise’s end-to-end business processes and technology is to improve performance and thereby create value for customers and shareholders. He gave case examples of four companies: Zara, South West Airlines, Capital One, and Virgin that have outperformed their industry peers due to customer focus.
He argued for Successful Customer Outcomes and identified four steps to devise customer-oriented goals and strategies:
“Anytime a customer comes into contact with any aspect of a business, however remote, …”
Why BPM and why now then? The world has become prohibitively complex. This complexity causes us to do the wrong things: act reactively from inside out rather than proactively from outside in. By making the interactions explicit, one can then engineer them to simplify, rationalize and optimize business.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo da Vinci2643
Tue 3 Oct 2006
Essentially, I classified three degrees of processes and three paradigms to manage these type of processes, respectively:
I maintained that “controlled processes” take place within the scope of a single control and thereby pertain to the structure of the system. Workflow processes belong to this class of processes.
“Coordinated processes” consist of a network of concurrent processes. These processes execute in parallel and have their private control over resources within the structure, whereas the public process governs the externally observable message exchange between the processes (= the organization of the system). This class of processes covers structured collaborative processes.
Finally, the class of “contracted processes” enables negotiating the public process, i.e. change the declarative constraints of the business process during its execution. These processes also include irregular collaborations.
All these mechanisms, control, coordination and contract, will be required to achieve the architecture of an agile enterprise. The top-level strategy sets a contract for coordination (business processes) of controls (functions).
In the end, I extrapolated that in the near future both IT and human resources will be exposed as software agents that dynamically coordinate their actions by negotiating roles and future work in goal-oriented collaborations.
For more details, see the slides.
Thu 18 May 2006
Jaan Apajalahti, CEO, Efecte, argued that IT should be viewed as a business activity that needs to offer cost-efficient and competitive IT services for the enterprise. The internal IT organization must be competitive with and comparable to solutions offered by external vendors. The transformation of the IT organization from a “fire department” to a value-adding, strategic function requires enhanced communications and better coupling between business and IT. ITIL is one framework to facilitate this.
Service Level Agreements (SLAs) should define the entire operations of the IT. If there is no SLA, why is the service provided in the first place, as the business does not know it is buying the service? Apajalahti advises to make a service catalogue, agree upon service levels and price them together with the customers (the business). He visioned about an agile “IT-ERP” that would provide a unified view and support the versatile processes and data requirements of the ICT supply chain now and in the future. Such facilities would include ITIL processes, project management, procurement, invoicing, contracts, etc.
Seppo Saastamoinen, CIO, Tieliikelaitos (Finnish Road Enterprise), provided a customer case on employing ITIL in an IT organization. He emphasized Big Picture thinking but step-by-step approach, good communications and management support. ITIL should not be copy-pasted as such but be adapted to the organization’s particular needs. If somethink is not broken, it must not be fixed. Business benefits should drive the implementation.
Saastamoinen argued that while consultants should be used to get things going, the basic work should be done by the IT organization itself for the sake of learning. He also advocated investing in software tools and integrating and automating wherever possible. As the realized benefits of their ITIL project he mentioned the specification of an internal IT profit centre, “good bureaucracy”, decreasing number of tickets and accrual of documentation.
Petri Väyrynen from Wakaru Partners asked rethorically “IT and common sense — can they be combined?” and concluded that yes, they can. He argued that IT requires systematic management of people, processes and technology and that ITIL helps to systematize it — ITIL is essentially a management system. Business benefits can be achieved by setting clear objectives and measuring them. Some benefits can even be achieved fast and easily but it requires hard and systematic work.
Eero Aho from SysOpen Digia also referred to common sense by saying it is applied in best practices such as ITIL. This process-oriented collection of methods and documents provides a common vocabulary among the stakeholders and can be applied to the provision, acquisition and production of IT services. It is not “off-the-shelve” but needs to be adapted to the organization (just as Saastamoinen suggested). What makes ITIL special is that it is independent of the service provider and applicable to a variety of organizations.
In the end, there was an SMS poll in which the audience could vote with their mobile phones. The question “Is your IT organization aligned with the business objectives?” was answered as follows: Yes 40 %, No 60 %. The seminar was graded in the scale of 1-5 as good: 3: 14 %, 4: 54 %, 5: 32 %.28fb
Wed 26 Apr 2006
IDS Scheer’s Service Oriented Architecture Roadshow took place at the Theater Museum. Starring the show were Claus Günther (IDS Scheer Finland), Jean-David Muller (Gartner), Eero Koskinen (SAP Finland), Kari Hiekkanen (WM-Data) and Uwe Roediger (IDS Scheer).
Claus Günther started the show by introducing IDS Scheer and ARIS Platform. He was happy to announce that IDS Finland has been founded just recently this year, although his company CWG Change Ware Group has represented IDS already since 1995.
Jean-David Muller’s presentation was titled “BPM, SOA & EA: only acronyms or clear value for your business”. In Gartner jargon, he alleged that Real Time Enterprise is an emerging business discipline: “The RTE competes by using up-to-date information to progressively remove delays in managing and executing its critical business processes.”
According to Gartner, Business Process Fusion is the transformation of business activities that is achieved by integrating previously autonomous business processes to create a new scope of management capabilities. Business Process Fusion will become a key driver for IT investment in a majority of Global 2000 by 2007 (probability 0.7). It forces new architectural models based on a service infrastructure.
Muller asserted that SOA is not only about technology. By 2015, SOA will transform software from an inhibitor to an enabler of business change, but one needs to look at something else than technology to achieve this goal. Decisions to be made include:
Architecture, according to Gartner, is the fine art of defining for the business how you are going to support what they wanted to do, a consensus as to the way how technology will be used, a means of communication between business and technology.
In conclusion, Muller recommended to think and design BPM strategically, but buy it tactically. Reusable best-practice process templates should be employed where possible. He also reminded that SOA does not equal to Web services. BPM and SOA programs should go hand in hand and be fully integrated to the overall EA program.
Eero Koskinen from SAP Finland gave his presentation modestly on “SAP ESA — the most comprehensive SOA-solution on the market”. ESA stands for Enterprise Services Architecture and SAP defines it as ESA = SOA + ES, Enterprise Services being “Business Services which are basically modular pieces of software that perform a discrete, well-defined business function”.
The presentation was mainly about ESA Adoption Program, a comprehensive and scalable consulting program of SAP and its partners. I was not listening that much. All I learned was that ARIS will be embedded in SAP NetWeaver.
Kari Hiekkanen was speaking about “Challenges of the rapidly changing IT environment”. His basic tenets were that the IT industry has matured and its role has changed from support to enabler. Business cycles are shrinking and cost efficiency and productivity have become pronouncedly important. Change is the only constant factor as the number of systems grows and emerging technologies open new opportunities and challenges.
Hiekkanen listed a number of trends going on in the changing environment:
Of course, Hiekkanen also put forth his own definition of SOA:
An approach to loosely coupled, protocol independent, standards-based distributed computing where software resources avilable on the network are considered as Services.
Uwe Roediger from IDS Scheer gave his presentation on “BPM — vital for SOA success”. He argued that the current approach of BPM vendors is only technical modelling and that no process modelling accepted by the business departments can be found. There is a gap between Business BPM and Technical BPM, different culture, different tools. BPM is supposed to bridge this gap between IT and business.
Roediger presented ARIS P2A (Processes to Applications) and SOA Solution in more detail, but I did not keep up with his pace with my notes. However, ARIS approach appeared to be very well thought-out.
The roadshow concluded with a panel discussion that wrapped up the day: SOA is here to stay.28ec
Tue 25 Apr 2006
Breakfast at BEA. The topic of the day was AquaLogic User Interaction (former Plumtree) and AquaLogic BPM (Fuego acquisition); both new product suites were presented on a high level. The portal solution got slightly more airtime as the consultants came from Plumtree. Its roadmap was also ready to be presented, whereas Fuego’s role in the overall AquaLogic picture was less clear.
AquaLogic Interaction comes with the following components:
AquaLogic BPM has the following components:
The roadmap of portal aims at enhanced interoperability between WebLogic Portal and AquaLogic Interaction in the first phase (through WSRP and JSR-168). Later on, portal services will be refactored to reusable components and shared services that will eventually be unified to a common portal framework. The two products, however, will be kept separate.
The roadmap for WebLogic Integration and AquaLogic BPM (Fuego) was not published yet, but it was suggested that WebLogic Integration is more applicable to system-centric process integration and composition of reusable services, whereas AquaLogic BPM leverages these reusable services and addresses human-centric processes better.
Fri 24 Mar 2006
BEA held a seminar on Enterprise Service Bus jointly with Mercury and Systinet (recently acquired by Mercury) this morning. They subscribed to Gartner’s definition of ESB as the “Web services capable middleware infrastructure that supports communication and mediates application interactions” and argued about it’s role and need in a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA).
As the level of abstraction raises to the enterprise level, IT is more about configuration than development and stateless brokering rather than process-level management.
The most interesting presentation was made by Systinet on SOA Governance and the pivotal role of a corporate-level service registry. It was argued that the benefits of SOA cannot be achieved without appropriate governance. Ungoverned SOA comes with high costs due to:
The need for a single authoritative source for all metadata including taxonomies, policies, specifications and capabilities was accentuated. The bottom line was that SOA + governance = flexibility and consistency.
My question about the expected synergies of BEA’s Fuego acquisition went practically unanswered, but they promised to come back to the question in one month on BEA’s upcoming seminar on BPM and business rules.20ab
Thu 16 Mar 2006
Moblogging on my Nokia 6610i with Opera Mini browser from Oracle/Telelogic seminar on Business Process Modeling.
Talk about “Closed Loop BPM”. Recognition of business process as different from orchestration. Distinction between high-level BPMN process modeling and lower-level BPEL process implementation. Choreography and collaborative processes not addressed.