Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Stackify Blog, Vaibhaw Pandey, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Wesley Coelho

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @DXWorldExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

What We Really Mean by Digital Transformation

Agile Architecture is the key to Digital Transformation

Want to know a secret? I loathe the phrase Digital Transformation. Not only is the word Digital silly and misleading, but Transformation ain’t much better. The mere act of naming a business initiative Digital Transformation suggests to people that once the transformation is complete, we’ll be done. Look at us! We’re Digitally Transformed!

Hogwash. A single transformation is better than nothing, but what we really want is the ability to transform our business as needed. Furthermore, we need to be agile with our transformation initiative itself. The last thing we want is to institute, say, a three-year transformation effort, only to find at the end of the three years that the world changed a year into the initiative, rendering it a useless waste of money and effort.

So, who are the right people in the organization to address this sorry state of affairs? Driving the change needed to make our organizations more successful at such ongoing transformation should ideally fall to the Enterprise Architects. Unfortunately, the way Enterprise Architecture (EA) is done today falls well short of this mark.

Traditional EA starts with documenting the initial state of an enterprise. Then Enterprise Architects document the final state as required by the business. Finally, they help the organization plan how to get from one state to the other.

There are only three things wrong with this way to think about EA: The initial state. The final state. And yes, the plan to get from one to the other. It’s no wonder most organizations who were fool enough to sink money into EA believe EA is completely broken. Even EAs think EA is broken, and they do it for a living!

But no matter how fun it is to bemoan this sorry state of affairs, this Cortex must help point the direction to a better way of thinking about – and doing – Enterprise Architecture. The success of any Digital Transformation effort hangs in the balance.

What’s Wrong with Point A to Point B?
It seems so intuitive that the way to solve a problem is first, understand the problem, second, understand the solution, and third, solve the problem. Unfortunately, many EA initiatives don’t get past step one. Documenting the initial state of an enterprise – or even simply documenting the initial state of an enterprise’s IT environment, which is usually where EAs focus their efforts – is an exercise in futility. There are simply way too many bits and pieces, moving parts made of people and technology, for such an activity to ever complete, let alone provide sufficient detail to add clarity to the situation. Remember, the organization is always in flux. Even if you could take a snapshot of everything, it would be out of date a moment later.

What about the final state? That’s the nirvana situation where all your problems are solved, right? OK, raise your hand if there was ever a time in your career where all the problems were solved, all the bugs were fixed, all the projects were complete. Anybody? Sounds rather unrealistic, wouldn’t you say? Even if you narrow your scope to a single aspect of your business or even a single project, there is nothing final about a final state, if you could even refer to such an implausible scenario as a state, which is asking a lot. Remember, everything is connected to everything else, and everything is always changing. The notion of a “final state” is an unrealistic simplification that misleads people into thinking the approach they’re taking will actually solve problems.

Very well, let’s say you’ve still reading, in spite of thinking my comments on initial and final state are a bunch of hogwash. Certainly, you may ask, the EAs can at least concoct some kind of plan for getting from point A to point B? Sorry to disappoint. If what you mean by a “plan” is a description of the steps you must take that you can put together before you take those steps, then no. You’ll never come up with such a plan that ends up having any relationship to reality by even the halfway mark. There are simply too many unknowns, and too many things can change along the way.

Moving Up a Level
The core problem with this traditional approach to architecture is that it is simply too literal. It deals with things as they are and things as you desire them to be, without dealing with the fact that everything is subject to change. But the good news is, we architects have a wonderful tool in our box of tricks for dealing with excess literalness: the tool of abstraction. If we move up a level of abstraction, we’re no longer thinking about initial and final state. Instead, we’re thinking about moving from being less agile to being more agile.

Literal-minded thinkers (and I know you’re out there) will be protesting at this point that “being less agile” is our initial state and “being more agile” is our final state, so we’re just playing word games. And if you squint and hold your nose, there is a minuscule portion of truth in that overly literal perspective – but you’re missing the point here. “Being less agile” describes any number of possible initial states we may find ourselves in, and “being more agile” means being able to deal with change better, no matter which state we started at or where we happened to end up.

Put another way: moving from A to B describes a change (or actually, a set of changes) in the organization. Moving from less agile to more agile describes a change in how the organization deals with change, from being less able to deal with change to being more able to deal with change. In other words, we’re now thinking at the Meta level. We’re not doing architecture any more, oh no. We’re doing meta-architecture: we’re architecting our architecture.

Introducing the Bloomberg Agile Architecture™ Maturity Metamodel
Time to put some meat on these bones. As I’ve explained before, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture (BAA) Technique is a particular approach to implementing EA that is business agility driven. It’s not a framework you need to subtract from but a technique that complements other architectural efforts. Today I’m rolling out a core BAA artifact: the BAA Maturity Metamodel.

Try as I might, I couldn’t fit the entire chart into this article, so instead, I’ve linked to a pdf version of the Metamodel. Click here or the image below to download the pdf.

Unfortunately, there isn’t room in this Cortex to fully explain the BAA Maturity Metamodel (for that, take one of our classes to learn all the details, or drop me a line). But there is room here for a few of the highlights.

First, notice the four levels: Chaotic State, First-Gen SOA/Centralized, Next-Gen SOA/Cloud-Centric, and Agile Architecture. These designations refer to the organization’s context for architecture as it matures from less agile to more agile. In other words, it maps how your architecture is evolving – and thus the chart represents an aspect of your meta-architecture.

Second, note the twelve dimensions (rows), sorted neatly into four areas: Organization, Process, Information, and Technology. This organization of dimensions is more a matter of convenience than anything else. Feel free to rearrange the dimensions as you see fit.

In fact, feel free to change anything in the metamodel you see fit, based upon your situation – and always be willing to change it as your architecture evolves. Remember, there are two sides to being agile: the core driver of business agility (increasing in the metamodel from left to right) and the fact that BAA is Agile in approach (in other words, generally follows the principles of the Agile Manifesto). And as ye old Manifesto sayeth, thou shalt respond to change over following a plan. Even if the plan is to be Agile!

Finally, never forget what this diagram is for. It’s for helping architects coordinate change across the organization as driven by business needs. The metamodel – or any other aspect of the architecture – never tells the business what it should do. In the immortal words of a well-known sage: “business needs drive the architecture, and architecture drives the technology. Never let technology drive the architecture or the architecture drive the business.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

The Intellyx Take
I know that many of you who took the time to download the Maturity Metamodel will have many questions about it – and over time, I’ll get to the answers. But just to whet your appetite a wee bit further, let’s take a moment to discuss the first dimension: Business Transformation.

The starting point for business transformation, of course, must be “no transformation.” As the organization gets a handle on their architecture and moves to first-generation SOA, IT moves into the role of service provider – not simply IT services, but also Web Services that automate the interaction with existing systems of record. Instead of simply integrating those systems, now the IT organization publishes interfaces that can be consumed as needed, transforming the relationship between IT and the business (which was always easier said than done, hence the relegation of first-generation SOA to Level One).

As the architecture matures to next-generation, Cloud-friendly SOA (which in many cases loses the “SOA” name, but is Service-oriented nevertheless), the transformation story centers on the move to the Cloud. Cloud Computing, you see, is far more than a change in technology deployment. It represents a force for transforming the business.

But even Cloud-driven transformation isn’t the end of the story. The move to Agile Architecture is a move to continuous business transformation – where the organization is as agile as it wants to be, and is able to deal with change as a routine part of how it does business. Continuous business transformation, of course, has always been the center of the Agile Architecture story – and is what we really mean when we say we want Digital Transformation.

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@ThingsExpo Stories
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things’). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing? IoT is not about the devices, it’s about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. In his session at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo | DXWor...