Showing posts with label Hybrid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hybrid. Show all posts

April 9, 2018

An Introverted Extrovert

I thought this was an interesting phrase someone used the other day to describe their personality.

They called themselves an "Introverted Extrovert."

I asked what they meant, and they explained as follows:

"I'm Introverted until I get to know someone then I am extroverted with them."

This actually made a lot of sense to me.

We may be reticent at the beginning when meeting new people, but once we feel comfortable with others and start to trust them, then we naturally open up to them.

The truth is most people aren't extroverted (social) or introverted (shy). 

Instead, people are on a continuum, which is generally a bell-shaped curve.  

In other words, most people are somewhere in the middle---either introverted extroverts or extroverted introverts. 

Well, what's an extroverted introvert?

It's someone who tends to be more comfortable and trusting and social with people, but they also need time alone to recharge, and perhaps they even get shy sometimes. 

Most people don't exist on the extremes--that's why they are called extremes!

So don't be so quick to judge yourself as an introspective introvert or an outgoing extrovert or anything else for that matter. 

We are "this" AND "that"--sometimes maybe a little more this or that, but that's all part of us and it's okay to be us! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 10, 2014

I Like That Technology

Christopher Mims in the Wall Street Journal makes the case for letting employees go rogue with IT purchases.

It's cheaper, it's faster, "every employee is a technologist," and those organizations "concerned about the security issues of shadow IT are missing the point; the bigger risk is not embracing it in the first place."


How very bold or stupid? 


Let everyone buy whatever they want when they want--behavior akin to little children running wild in a candy store. 


So I guess that means...


  • Enterprise architecture planning...not important.
  • Sound IT governance...hogwash.
  • A good business case...na, money's no object.
  • Enterprise solutions...what for? 
  • Technical standards...a joke.
  • Interoperability...who cares? 
  • Security...ah, it just happens!

Well, Mims just got rids of decades of IT best practices, because he puts all his faith in the cloud.

It's not that there isn't a special place for cloud computing, BYOD, and end-user innovation, it's just that creating enterprise IT chaos and security cockiness will most-assuredly backfire. 


From my experience, a hybrid governance model works best--where the CIO provides for the IT infrastructure, enterprise solutions, and architecture and governance, while the business units identify their specific requirements on the front line and ensure these are met timely and flexibly.


The CIO can ensure a balance between disciplined IT decision-making with agility on day-to-day needs. 


Yes, the heavens will not fall down when the business units and IT work together collaboratively. 


While it may be chic to do what you want when you want with IT, there will come a time, when people like Mims will be crying for the CIO to come save them from their freewheeling, silly little indiscretions. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 3, 2014

Rejuvenate Like A Starfish


Good video on centralization vs. decentralization.

A spider is the model of a centralized organism or organization--cut of the head and the thing is dead. 

But a starfish is the epitome of one that is decentralized--if you cut off one of the arms (it doesn't have a head) of a Blue Linckia starfish, it just grows another one. And if you cut off all five arms, it grows five new starfish. 

So when it comes to organizations, do you want one like a spider, where all power, decision-making, and talent is concentrated at the top, and if you lose your senior executive(s), you've lost the innovation or operational effectiveness of the entire organization (think what happened when Apple lost Steve Jobs as an example)? 

Or do you want to be an organization that is more decentralized (less hierarchical) like the Starfish--where talent is widely dispersed and work is delegated to the many within. Here the organization's very survival is not threatened when something happens at the top or to somebody. 

In most cases, there is no perfect spider or starfish organization, but more of a hybrid model, where some functions (like HR, finance, communications) are centralized and others are decentralized (based on specific business expertise). 

To me the main point here is that an organization is made up of many individuals, and everyone in the organization is valuable; no one person can do everything and we should leverage each person according to their strengths and help them on their weaknesses. This gives each individual and the organization the best chance of rejuvenation and survival. ;-)
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January 29, 2012

Platforms - Open or Closed

Ever since the battles of Windows versus Linux, there have been two strong competing philosophies on systems architecture.

Many have touted the benefits of open architecture--where system specifications are open to the public to view and to update.  

Open sourced systems provide for the power of crowdsourcing to innovate, add-on, and make the systems better as well as provides less vendor lock-in and lower costs.  

Open Source -----> Innovation, Choice, and Cost-Savings

While Microsoft--with it's Windows and Office products--was long the poster child for closed or proprietary systems and has a history of success with these, they have also come to be viewed, as TechRepublic (July 2011) points out as having an "evil, monopolistic nature."

However, with Apple's rise to the position of the World's most valuable company, closed solutions have made a strong philosophical comeback.

Apple has a closed architecture, where they develop and strictly control the entire ecosystem of their products. 

Closed systems provides for a planned, predictable, and quality-controlled architecture, where the the whole ecosystem--hardware, software and customer experience can be taken into account and controlled in a structured way.  

Closed Systems -----> Planning, Integration, and Quality Control

However, even though has a closed solutions architecture for it's products, Apple does open up development of the Apps to other developers (for use on the iPhone and iPad). This enables Apple to partner with others and win mind share, but still they can retain control of what ends-up getting approved for sale at the App Store. 
I think what Apple has done particularly well then is to balance the use of open and closed systems--by controlling their products and making them great, but also opening up to others to build Apps--now numbering over 500,000--that can leverage their high-performance products.

Additionally, the variety and number of free and 99 cent apps for example, show that even closed systems, by opening up parts of their vertical model to partners, can achieve cost-savings to their customers. 

In short, Apple has found that "sweet spot"--of a hybrid closed-open architecture--where they can design and build quality and highly desirable products, but at the same time, be partners with the larger development community. 

Apple builds a solid and magnificent foundation with their "iProducts," but then they let customers customize them with everything from the "skins" or cases on the outside to the Apps that run on them on the inside. 

Closed-Open Systems -----> Planned, Integrated, and Quality PLUS Innovation, Choice, and Cost-Savings

Closed-Open Systems represent a powerful third model for companies to choose from in developing products, and which benefits include those from both open and closed systems.

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April 25, 2011

Turning IT From Frenemy to Friend

Fast Company (December 2008) describes Frenemies as a "thrilling intricate dance" of friend-enemy relationships.

Half a year later, CBS News (July 2009) reports that this words is added to the dictionary: "Frenemy--someone who pretends to be a friend, but is really an enemy."

Recently, I've heard the term applied to Information Technology, as in they they here to help (i.e. friend-like), but boy are they often an obstacle as well (i.e. enemy-like).

Obviously not the message any IT executive wants to hear about their folk's customer service and delivery!

Today, the Wall Street Journal (25 April 2011) writes about the "discontent with the [IT] status quo" and it calls somewhat drastically to "Get IT out of the IT department."

Why?

Based on responses from business and IT leaders, here are some of the key reasons:

- "IT is seen as overly bureaucratic and control-oriented" (51% business and 37% IT)
- "IT doesn't deliver on time" (44% business and 49% IT)
- "IT products and services doesn't meet the needs of the business" (39% business and 29% IT)
- "IT consists of technologists, not business leaders" (60% business and 46% IT)

Therefore, the WSJ states "both for competitive and technological reasons...business unit leaders need to start assuming more control over the IT assets that fuel their individual businesses."

This is being called "Innovative IT"--where "IT shifts to more of a support role. IT empowers business unit self-sufficiency by providing education, coaching, tools, and rules, which allow for individuals to meet their needs in a way that protects the overall need of the enterprise."

The result is rather than delivering IT to the business, we deliver IT "through the business."

In this model, there is an emphasis on partnership between the business and IT, where:

- IT provides services to the business (i.e. through a service-oriented architecture of capabilities)--systems, applications, products, tools, infrastructure, planning, governance, security, and more.
- The business exploits these services as needed, and they innovate by "dreaming up ideas, developing prototypes, and piloting changes" that will most impact on-the-ground performance.

I believe this is consistent with stage 4 (the highest) of architecture maturity--called Business Modularity--as described by Ross, Weill and Robertson in Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: In this stage, we "grant business unit managers greater discretion in the design of front-end processes, which they can individually build or buy as modules connected to core data and backend processes. In effect,managers get the freedom to bolt functionality onto the optimized core." The result is a "platform of innovation...[that] enables local experiments, and the best ones spread throughout the company."

Related to this are interviews in the WSJ today with 3 CIOs, that all bear out this IT leadership direction:

- Frank Wander (Guardian Life Insurance)--"We have IT embedded into each business and we have a seat at the table. We're partners."
- Norm Fjeldheim (Qualcomm)--"We're structured exactly the same way Frank is. IT is embedded in the business. I'm only responsible for about half the IT budget."
- Filippo Passrini (Proctor & Gamble)--"Our business partners are people outside IT....in the past we were always in 'push' mode...now...there is a lot of 'pull'."

So one of the goals of IT and business is to transform from a relationship of frenemies to friends and genuine partners; this will leverage the strengths of each--the expertise of our technology professionals and the customer insights and agility of our business people.

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August 12, 2009

Andy's Cloud Computing Presentation on MeriTalk

Introduction

First let me start out by saying that cloud computing brings us closer than ever to providing IT as a utility such as electricity, where users no longer need to know or care about how IT services are provided, and only need to know that they are reliably there, just like turning on the light. This is the subscription approach to using information technology, where base services are hosted, shared, and you pay only for what you need and use.

In cloud computing, there are a number of basic models. First, in public clouds, we have a multi-tenant, shared services environment with access provided over a secure Internet connection. In contrast in a private cloud, the IT shared services is behind the company’s firewall and is controlled by in-house staff. Then, there is also a community cloud, which is an extension of the private cloud, where IT resources are shared by several organizations that make-up a specific community.

The advantage to cloud computing—whether public or private—is that you have a shared, enterprise-wide solution that offers a number of distinct advantages:

  1. Efficiency–with cloud computing, we build once and reuse multiple times—i.e. we share resources—rather than everyone having their own.
  2. Flexibility–we are more nimble and agile when we can quickly expand or contract capacity on-demand, as needed—what some call rapid elasticity. Moreover, by outsourcing the utility computing elements of our IT infrastructure, we can focus our internal efforts on building our core mission areas.
  3. Economy (or economy of scale)–it’s cheaper and more cost effective when we can tap into larger pools of common resources maintained by companies with subject matter expertise. They then are responsible for ensuring that IT products are patched, upgraded and modernized. Moreover, we pay only for what we actually use.

Issue

So cloud computing sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? What then is the big issue? Plain and simple it comes down to—Is cloud computing effective for the organization? And what I mean by that is a few things:

  • First is customization, personalization and service: when you buy IT computing services in this shared services model, do you really get what you need and want – or are you just getting a canned approach, like the Model T that came in one color, black? For example, when you purchase Software as a Service are you getting the solution you need for your agency or the one built for someone else?
  • Next is security, privacy, and disaster recovery. This is a big deal because in a public cloud, you are capturing, processing, sending, and storing data outside of your proprietary infrastructure. This opens the door for theft, manipulation, or other ways of our data being compromised by criminals, cyber-terrorists, and even hostile nation-states.
  • Third, and maybe most important, is cultural, especially in a very individualistic society, like ours, where people are used to getting what they want, when they want, without having to share. For example, we prefer owning our own vacation home to having a time-share. We love the concept of a personal home theater. Everyone now has a personal cell phone, and the old public telephones that were once on every corner are now practically extinct. And most people prefer driving their own cars to work rather than using mass transit—even though it’s not environmentally friendly. So the idea of giving up our proprietary data centers, application systems, the control of our data, in a cloud computing model, is alien to most and possibly even frightening to many.

The Reality

So how do we harmonize the distinct advantages of cloud computing—efficiency, flexibility, and economy—with the issues of customization, security, and culture?

The reality is that regardless of customization issues, we can simply no longer afford for everyone to have their own IT platforms—it’s wasteful. We are recovering from a deep financial recession, the nation has accumulated unprecedented levels of debt, and we are competing in a vast global economy, where others are constantly raising the bar—working faster, better, and cheaper.

Moreover, from a technology standpoint, we have advanced to where it is now possible to build an efficient cloud computing environment using distributed architecture, virtualization/consolidation, and grid computing.

Thirdly, on a cultural level, as individualistic as we are, it is also true that we now recognize the importance of information sharing and collaboration. We are well aware of the fact that we need to break the stovepiped verticals and build and work horizontally. This is exemplified by things like Google Docs, SharePoint, Wikipedia, and more.

In terms of security, I certainly understand people’s concern and it is real. However, we are all already using the cloud. Are you using online banking? Are you ordering things online through Amazon, Overstock or other e-commerce vendors? Do you use yahoo or Google email? Then you are already using the cloud and for most of us, we don’t even realize it. The bottom line on security is that every agency has to decide for itself in terms of its mission and ability to mitigate any risks.

How to Choose

So there are two questions then. Assuming—and I emphasize assuming—that we can solve the security issues with a “Trusted Cloud” that is certified and accredited, can we get over the anxiety of moving towards cloud computing as the new standard? I believe that since the use case—for flexibility, economy, and efficiency—is so compelling, that the answer is going to be a resounding yes.

The next question is, once we accept the need for a cloud computing environment, how do we filter our choices among the many available?

Of course I’m not going to recommend any particular vendor or solution, but what I will do is advocate for using enterprise architecture and sound IT governance as the framework for the decision process.

For too many years, we based our decisions on gut, intuition, politics, and subjective management whim, which is why statistics show that more than 82% of IT projects are failing or seriously challenged.

While a full discussion of the EA and governance process is outside the scope of this talk, I do want to point out that to appropriately evaluate our cloud computing options, we must use a strong framework of architecture planning and capital planning and investment control to ensure the strategic alignment, technical compliance, return on investment, and risk mitigation—including of course security and privacy—necessary for successful implementation.

How Cloud Computing fits with Enterprise Architecture:

As we move to cloud computing, we need to recognize that this is not something completely new, but rather an extension of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) where there are service providers and consumers and applications are built by assembling reusable, shared services that are made available to consumers to search, access, and utilize. Only now with public cloud computing, we are sharing services beyond the enterprise and to include applications, data, and infrastructure.

In terms of a transition strategy, cloud computing is a natural evolution in IT service provision.

At first, we did everything in-house, ourselves—with our own employees, equipment, and facilities. This was generally very expensive in terms of finding and maintaining employees with the right skill sets, and developing and maintaining all our own systems and technology infrastructure, securing it, patching it, upgrading it, and so on.

So then came the hiring of contractors to support our in-house staff; this helped alleviate some of the hiring and training issues on the organization. But it wasn’t enough to make us cost-efficient, especially since we were still managing all our own systems and technologies for our organization, as a stovepipe.

Next, we moved to a managed services model, where we out-sourced vast chunks of our IT—from our helpdesk to desktop support, from data centers to applications development, and even to security and more.

Finally, the realization has emerged that we do not need to provide IT services either with our own or contracted staff, but rather we can rely on IT cloud providers who can offer an array of IT services, on demand, and who will manage our information technology and that of tens, hundreds, and thousands of others and provide it seamlessly over the Internet, so that we all benefit from a more scalable and unified service provision model.

Of course, from a target architecture perspective, cloud computing really hits the mark, because it provides for many of the inherent architecture principles that we are looking to implement, such as: services interoperability and component reuse, and technology standardization, simplification, and cost-efficiency. And on top of all that—using services on a subscription or metered basis is convenient for the end-user.

Just one last thing I would like to point out is that sound enterprise architecture and governance must be user-centric. That means that we only build decision products that are valuable and actionable to our users—no more ivory tower efforts or developing shelfware. We need to get the right information to the right decision makers to get the mission accomplished with the best, most agile and economical support framework available.


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October 18, 2007

IT Projects - Get It Right or Fix It Later?

The Wall Street Journal 25 September 2007 reports on a new model being called the “wave of the future”, where IT projects are rolled out “on schedule…even if all the kinks haven’t been worked out” and then fix it later, as problems arise.

The idea of this model is that by rolling out and fixing problems on the fly, you avoid extensive schedule delays and cost-overruns common with IT projects.

Arizona University followed this model in rolling out their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and it was hailed as “highly successful” by a VP at Oracle, even though “there were payroll mistakes that left some [3000!] workers unpaid, underpaid, or overpaid.”

“Oracle hailed it as a model for both universities and corporations to follow.” The strategy is to “implement, adapt, grow.”

This model of fix it later is being used by “Internet companies like Google Inc. These companies label the software they release ‘beta,’ meaning that it is good enough to use, but it isn’t finished. Sometimes they keep it that way for years, using feedback from users to create ever more-refined versions.”

In the fix it later model, you “admit from the start that there will be mistakes; then work through the glitches [after rollout] with users’ help. This is the opposite of the traditional model that says companies “take their time and don’t start using a new computer system until they are convinced almost everything works right.”

Which approach is better?

From a User-centric Enterprise Architecture point of view, we have to balance two competing drivers.

  • One is the importance of meeting user needs and mission requirements, and this means that we don’t delay important IT rollouts unnecessarily, incurring schedule delays, cost overruns, and unmet requirements—This sides with the Fix It Later model.
  • On the other hand, we don’t compromise the mission by taking unnecessary risks and rolling out IT systems that are not tested ready and reliable—This sides with the Get It Right model.

Perhaps, the best IT model is a hybrid that I would call—“Get It Right, On Schedule and Within Budget!”


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September 30, 2007

Centralized, Distributed, & Hybrid IT Management and Enterprise Architecture

In User-centric EA, users IT needs are met (timely and with quality solutions), while governance ensure that those needs are aligned with mission and prioritized with others across the organization. To achieve these goals, how should IT management best be organized in the enterprise—centrally or distributed?

The debate over a centralized or distributed management model is an age-old battle. A popular theory states that organizations vacillate in roughly three year cycles between a strong centralization philosophy and a strong decentralization philosophy. The result is a management paradigm that shifts from standardization to autonomy, from corporate efficiency to local effectiveness and from pressure on costs and resources to accommodation of specific local needs, and then shifts back again. The centralized system is perceived to be too slow to react to problems in the field or to issues within a particular company department or division, and the decentralized operation is perceived as fragmented and inconsistent.

To address the pros and cons of each model, there is a hybrid model for IT management, which incorporates centralized IT governance and solutions along with distributed IT planning for the line of business and niche execution.

In the hybrid model for IT governance, an IT Investment Review Board (IRB) centrally directs, guides, and authorizes IT investments through enterprise architecture, IT policy and planning, and a CIO governed-consolidated IT budget. At the same time, IT requirements come from the lines of business, and the lines of business develop their own segment (business) architectures. In some cases, the lines of business actually plan and execute niche IT projects for their areas, while the systems development life cycle for enterprise IT systems and customer support are handled centrally.

The hybrid model for IT management is a very workable and balanced solution that demonstrates true business acumen in that it recognizes the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches (centralized and distributed management), and capitalizes on the strengths of each in coming up with a best solution for the organization.


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