Monday, November 10, 2014

IT as a Service

In order to provide effective and efficient IT support and reduce complexity and cost, IT is evolving to provide commodity services that enable the separation of business functions from common shareable IT services. As identified in the Federal Line of Business Initiatives, IT management is becoming one of the Line of Businesses (LoBs). The growth of cloud computing is helping IT business to achieve its commodity service goal. The term of “X as a Service” is becoming popular accordingly as well. Therefore, the term of “IT as a Service” is unavoidably coming up for discussion.

In general, we can consider IT with three major components: information processing (e.g. with software applications), IT infrastructure, and IT management and operation. The IT as a Service (ITaaS) is to apply the shared service concept to the three components respectively. For the shared services in information processing, we have the concept of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), and Software as a Service (SaaS) in cloud computing arena; For the shared services in IT infrastructure, we have the concept of Service Oriented Infrastructure (SOI), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) in cloud computing arena; For the shared services in IT management and operation, we have talked about a new generation IT operating model (, i.e. a service oriented IT operating model, which can work together with ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library).

The role of SOA: SOA is an architectural style and modeling approach that emphasizes well-defined, loosely coupled, reusable and shareable services. SOA concept can be well adopted in both software applications (e.g. for information processing) and IT infrastructure, as well as in IT business services. The core of SOA architecture style consists of three components: 1) Service Provider: who publish services to Service Registry; 2) Service Consumer: who find services from Service Registry and use them; 3) Service Registry: where contains information for available services.

The role of Cloud Computing: Cloud Computing enables a practical implementation mechanism for SOA concept, with software as a service, platform as a service, and infrastructure as a service running on cloud. However, ITaaS has a larger scope than cloud computing.

The role of the new generation IT operating model and ITIL: The New Generation IT Operating Model is mostly associated with the current trend of service orientation. The“Plan/Build/Run” is a typical and simple IT operating model, which is still valid if we apply lifecycle with it, and have service orientation content being imbedded into all its operating stages. The lifecycle presented in ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) can be considered as its extension from IT service management prospective. ITIL has five stages instead of three: Service Strategy (plan), Service Design (build), Service Transition, Service Operation (run), Continual Service Improvement. ITIL can be an integral part that fits into the Plan/Build/Run model, with focus on IT service portfolio management and IT service management lifecycle.

In conclusion, the concept of ITaaS is to apply service orientation to its three components respectively, to enable IT being operated as commodity service and as a line of business by itself.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Big Data, All Data, or Just Data

 Big data is a hot topic these days, and it is extended to “All Data” recently. Actually, we are dealing with data from multi-sources, multi-channels, and multi-media; and the data can be from real-time business operation, data warehouse, back-office business data (e.g. financial, CRM, HR), social media, etc. The accumulated data amounts are enormous, although each individual data source can be big or small. The data correlations from different sources are as important as the analysis of “big data”. Therefore, we cannot ignore the importance of data management and processing.
Information and data management is getting more and more challenged due to the velocity and volume of data generation, as well as the tendency of increased data production. An important step for information and data management could be how and what data should be collected. The speedy growing of data could make people wonder even we can store them (e.g. using the new technologies like Hadoop), how we can catch up in processing them to make them really meaningful during analysis, e.g. to transform the data into meaningful information, and transform information into useful knowledge. Therefore, we need to improve the data collection mechanisms, e.g. to have cleaner data and better data organization mechanisms, with data/information correlation indicators. More meaningless data involved more burdens to the process. If data processing speeds continue lag behind data collection speeds, the data collected will not be as useful as expected, but add burden to the slow process. Yes, this is the new challenge in dealing with data, regardless big data or all data.

This is also published on LinkedIn:

Monday, May 12, 2014

New Training Course: Architecture for Knowledge Management

We are providing a new training course: Architecture for Knowledge Management, which provide a Structure for a Cohesive KM Mechanism with Comprehensive Knowledge Sources. The abstract follows:

Internet provides us with explosive information, and enables us to collect and distribute information conveniently as well. However, information has to be organized and be comprehended to become knowledge. For an enterprise, in addition to its information and knowledge maintained internally, public Internet provides good information sources for knowledge extraction as well. The Architecture for Knowledge Management provides a structure and operation guidance for such cohesive knowledge management mechanism with comprehensive knowledge sources.

Information can be obtained through data processing, and knowledge can be obtained through information processing. The conversion from data to information usually doesn’t need to consider the information receivers. However, the conversion from information to knowledge has to consider the knowledge receivers. Knowledge to one person can be only information to another. In other words, information is target less, while knowledge has target and beholder. Therefore, for information to become knowledge, we have to interpret them for its targeted audience. In this regards, enterprise architecture is helpful in identifying the sources and targets for knowledge management. The architecture for knowledge management covers mainly three components: 1) knowledge capture, 2) knowledge management, and 3) knowledge distribution.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Architecture for Modern Enterprise

I am invited to publish on LinkedIn. This is the first article I published there:

As a witness of computer and Internet evolution in the past thirty years, I’m truly impressed about the difference Internet has made to businesses and to our lives. The world is connected, businesses are connected, and components inside businesses are connected, as well as our daily lives. These connections and free information flow form a new ecosystem that breaks the traditional man-made boundaries, and are re-establishing relationships and reforming people behaviors in an intended and not intended way.

Business meets technologies in an ever closely intertwined manner. We are continuously trying to use new technologies to advance business operations. In order to deal with the complex business environment and the ever changing business requirements, the technologies and engineering practices are getting more and more complicated. Due to the difference between business and technology in nature, complex .vs. complicated, the gap cannot be closed without the help from architectures that provide simplified views of the complex to enable disciplined adoption of complicated technologies and engineering processes, without increasing the complication level beyond human capabilities. Therefore, architecture for digital and IT-enabled businesses is increasingly important in order to take advantages from the technology evolution instead of being hindered by inflexible legacies. In other words, the businesses are reforming, you can let it reform based on architectural guidance, or it will reform itself in an unexpected way.

First, I’d like to clarify the concept of Architecture and the Architecture for Modern Enterprise in this context. The original definition of Architecture by Sir Henry Watton in The Elements of Architecture stated “In architecture as in all other operative arts, the end must direct the operation. The end is to build well. Well building has three conditions: Commodity, Firmness and Delight”. This definition is applicable to our context as well, where the position of architecture for modern enterprise is similar to the position of architecture for a building construction. The purpose of the architecture for modern enterprise is for the effective and efficient operations of the enterprise. The architecture should serve all its relevant audience and stakeholders in the enterprise, should be understandable by them via various views (commodity). The architectural products has to be solid and practicable for implementation (firmness), and it has to be well accepted and appreciated (delight) to be adopted and be effective in guiding enterprise operation.

More precisely, the architecture for modern enterprise, or digital and IT-enabled business, is to provide vision and plan via comprehensive yet simplified views as a blueprint for business to evolve. It is to ensure business competence and operation optimization by effective usage of digital technology and IT during its evolution. It helps businesses to achieve high performance with reduced complexity and cost, and to achieve dynamics by design. Its concepts, value proposition, creation mechanisms, and usages must be well understood by practitioners, stakeholders, and broad audience in order to serve the purpose.

The core of architecture is its vision, insight, concepts presented, and implementation guidance. It is a practical art, a result of creation, which is not a result of engineering or process in a mechanical production manner, but it guides engineering process for implementation. The architecture for modern enterprise is in a complex domain of people, systems, and culture; and in a constantly changing environment. For such architecture development, it is important to balance discipline and control with flexibility and freedom for organic growth, due to the limitation of human capability in predicting the future and in handling complex matters.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Updated Service Portfolio

ArchiTech Consulting LLC is a boutique digital world architecture firm that provides consulting, R&D, and training services to IT and digital enabled enterprises and businesses. Our updated service portfolio is summarized as the following:

1)     Shared Service Platform with Cloud Computing: It is a natural step forward to have Business Domain Based Common Service Platforms for business service on demand implementations, where our project of A Platform on Cloud for Education on Demand is one example. This is where Service Oriented Architecture meets Cloud Computing with Enterprise Architecture and Inter-Enterprise Architecture as useful guidance for a cohesive, open, long-term focused, disciplined, and efficient service on demand platform. There are three major innovation aspects:
  1. A new generation Service on Demand conceptual model based on Internet for the selected business domain
  2. The cloud service implementation model, which involves multi-tenant based multi-media digital content management system. It will evolve from Software as a Service (SaaS) to Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  3. The associated business model, service model, and operation model
This new paradigm common service platform demands comprehensive talent, knowledge, and skills to its Architects, where is the service we offer.

2)     The New Generation IT Operating Model: Businesses and governments are experiencing a paradigm shift in how IT, Internet, and digital technologies can impact business opportunities, performance, processes, and organization dynamics.  Businesses increasingly rely upon IT to achieve its goals and to implement its strategies. With technologies and products of many generations, and with stove-piped implementations, current IT complexity is growing faster than ever in replying to the required changes and integrations. IT costs are increasing exponentially.  Enterprise architecture, SOA, and Cloud Computing are aimed at meeting these challenges. Our New Generation IT Operating Model is to use a Foundation-Based Approach with a guidance framework to provide a cohesive solution involving EA, SOA, and Cloud efforts. A white paper can be found in our website.

3)     Big Data and Knowledge Management with Enterprise Architecture: Information can be obtained through data processing, and knowledge can be obtained through information processing. The conversion from data to information usually doesn’t need to consider the information receivers. However, the conversion from information to knowledge has to consider the knowledge receivers. Knowledge to one person can be only information to another, because another person cannot comprehend it. In other words, information is target less, while knowledge has target and beholder. Therefore, for information to become knowledge, we have to organize them for its targeted audience. We help enterprise in integrating a successful enterprise architecture development process with a process that transforms data to information, and transforms information to knowledge for its targeted audience via various views. We also offer a cohesive management approach for knowledge, information and data with the help of enterprise architecture.

4)     Enterprise System Modernization: The demands for enterprise system modernization are driven by mainly two reasons: 1) many systems are aging, and cannot meet current e-business and e-government requirements in digital age; and 2) most enterprise architecture (EA) are created in business layer and at a high-level with limited coverage in systems and technologies, which need to be completed for system implementation. Gaps exist in most organizations between enterprise architecture and system level modernization efforts. Our Enterprise System Modernization service is to help organizations in developing solutions to close the gaps between bottom-up system modernization efforts and top-down EA endeavors. We use a Foundation-Based Approach for this effort with a Foundation-Based Framework as guidance, which providing a disciplined and systematical way to achieve Information Technology Management expectations.

5)     Enterprise Mobile Solutions: In post PC era, we live in a world with great mobility facilitated by smart phones, tablets, laptop, etc. with wireless connections. We are living in a big Cyber Human Social System now, thanks to Internet. The impacts from this ecosystem to our lives are tremendous, across both of our work life and personal life; it is actually merging the line between them. The workforce productivity improvement from the usages of mobile computing is well recognized. The enterprise mobile solution is an integral part of the current changing paradigm in IT. The transformations can be considered from the following aspects:
  • Enterprise Culture Transformation
  • Enterprise Structure Transformation
  • Communication Mechanism Transformation
  • Enterprise Mobile Technology Transformation
Our enterprise mobile solution will address the above aspects to provide a comprehensive solution roadmap.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Presentation in The BIT's 3rd Annual World Congress of Cloud Computing 2014

I am invited to present in China this June, in The BIT's 3rd Annual World Congress of Cloud Computing 2014. It seems to be a big event. There are other two conferences happening at the same time and location:

The BIT's 3rd Annual World Congress of Info Tech 2014
The BIT's 4th Annual World Congress of U-World (IoT) 2014

The hosting organizations are:

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Era of Service on Demand

I touched the concept of Service on Demand in mid 90s when I worked for IBM. Some of our folks had worked on TV on Demand as well back then. This is becoming popular in real life now after 20 years.  
Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is the foundation to enable the service on demand.  The basic concept of SOA is illustrated in the following figure:

Now, Internet is playing the service registry role that connects service providers with service consumers by the help from search engine. The service providers and service consumers can be both organizations and individuals. The evolution of this service model has greatly challenged the infrastructures of our society; affect both business enterprises and our daily lives.
Currently, our social infrastructures are formed to organize the resources and service providers into business entities. People, as skilled resources or service providers, work for business entities to take advantages from business infrastructures provided as common services for effective production with collective benefits. Businesses are responsible in selling products to their consumers.  Therefore, businesses are the service brokers in this picture. With business brokerage service function being available on Internet, the traditional business structure and operation model will be challenged. We have seen the trend that more people are leaving big business organizations, and begin to work as individual via Internet.

At the meantime, Internet provides an environment for service organically growth, where the best will survive and mediocre will disappear naturally along time. This is the ecosystem of service on demand.