Category Archives: Enterprise

The Cloud Bubble

The Gartner Hype cycle research shows Cloud Computing as being on the peak of expectations… the very top of the hype bubble roller coaster.

Vendors are looking for something to sell, and the consolidation of the data center, reducing operational cost and economy of scale are as convenient of an excuse as anything. There are some fundamental technologies as well that will make a big difference such as Virtualization.

Is computing becoming a utility?

When someone refers to cloud, the etymology of the term should be examined. This term comes from the days of network diagramming, and a cloud was an abstraction for the network. Basically whenever someone didnt feel like drawing all of the network entities, they would just draw a puffy white cloud. In essence the puffy white cloud is shorthand for “don’t worry your pretty little head about this stuff”.

Puffy White Cloud

In doing so, one hands over both control and visibility to a third party.

If your cloud provider fails, then you fail. Unless of course your cloud provides non-essential services. Don’t count on it. Large scale failures such as Gmail recently point out some of the flaws in “don’t worry your pretty little head”. You better start worrying your pretty head. Failures aren’t the only problem implicit in the cloud, the lack of transparency can lead to privacy failure. No SLA can ensure privacy, just ask the customers of UBS Bank in Switzerland.

So are there things that a business should not have to worry our heads about? (whether they are pretty or ugly or little or big)

Of course. At the risk of using the most tired analogy in Cloud Computing, we take our electricity and water as a utility. Of course any organization of sufficient size knows that backup generators may be needed. Or even emergency water supplies.

Now reading all this, you may think you know where I’m going with this “Cloud Bubble” thing. After all, vendors are our cloudwashing all of their products and the potential for an economic bubble is pretty large. but I am actually thinking of a different cloud bubble.

An Architectural bubble.

Much like the idea that everything can be viewed from a single point of view did not work for the SOA era, the idea that everything is in the cloud is equally preposterous. This is a legitimate perspective, as I said in my talk at the Burton Group Catalyst conference it is the perspective of Mr. Magoo.

Magoo cloud computing

Cloud folks need to understand that while cloud is their entire business, it is not and will not be the entire business of IT.

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Software AG signs intent agreement to acquire IDS Scheer

Creating a new one billion Euro superpower, Software AG agrees to acquire IDS Scheer, makers of the popular ARIS suite of Business Process and Business Analysis tools.

IDS Scheer represents 390M Euro of annual revenue. Combined this will result in about 1.1B Euro

After the acquisition of webMethods for $546M in April of 2007, many have speculated on the next steps in the growth aspirations of Software AG CEO Karl-Heinz Streibich–who is currently executing his aggressive 10 year plan to transform the company into a one billion Euro software superpower.

Well, that day has arrived.

Today, Mr. Streibich signed an agreement to acquire IDS Scheer, a global leader in Business Process Management (BPM) through the ARIS product family.

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Entropic heat death of IT

I originally wrote this piece in November of 2007. I wanted to revisit it today because of the strong emphasis in the downturn on two major themes:

* Consolidation and
* Modernization

Both of these are ways of dealing with the past–consolidation is a way of rationalizing and reducing the ongoing burden of the past, while modernization is a way of bringing the past into the present.

In any event, these thoughts, penned a few years ago seem to still have resonance for me in thinking about customer problems in large scale software projects.

In reflecting on this post, I think measuring entropy solely in terms of “people” needs to be revised, and virtualization is a good way to ensure that utilization of systems is maximized, therefore maintaining a high level of energy available for work. I think this might be a valid way of looking at the overall IT budget.

Increasingly I’ve been referring to SOA using a folk definition that includes “a way to maximize the business value of the existing and ongoing IT investment”. Keeping that in mind, Entropy is a key variable to watch.

As a final note which I hint at in this piece, the natural conclusion is that if there is no way to reverse entropy, the entire system achieves “heat death”. Another source of inspiration is the evolution of biological systems, where local entropy is reversed through the addition of solar energy. The thing is, we get more and more IT funding and budgets each year (not that the budgets get bigger mind you, I’m just pointing out that there is such a thing as ongoing funding) so what remains is how we apply that funding to the system as a whole.

Now on to the original post:

How is time measured in IT?

The key unit of time in IT is the “project”. Projects are funded, each of which seeks a specific ROI and each project succeeds or fails on it’s own.

How is time measured in Physics?

In Physics, the concept of the “arrow of time” is modeled using Entropy. It’s how we know time is passing, which is the increase in the Entropy of systems. You put a drop of ink in water and it spreads out.

So what can we learn from physics through applying the analogy of Entropy to IT systems?

First of all we must understand what is axiomatic about Entropy:

* Definition: Entropy is the measurement of the energy in a system that is unavailable for work.
* Tendency: A closed system tends towards maximum entropy.

If Entropy is defined as the energy in a system that is unavailable for work, it means that some quantity of your IT systems are unavailable for work. I would suggest that you could roughly measure this by the number of IT persons dedicated to supporting, maintaining, troubleshooting and otherwise babysitting unmaintainable messes left by previous generations of IT projects.

Now you could blame the business projects for causing Entropy in IT systems, but you’d only be partially correct. The mechanism for reversing local entropy is adding energy. You could consider the influx of capital (project funding) to be a way of locally reversing entropy and putting more of your IT systems to work.

The problem is that without a structure in place, the energy is just converted into heat, not into more structure.

Therefore business projects have the potential to reverse entropy locally in IT systems… but it has to be applied correctly.

What I tend to see are Business Projects which are funded and executed without any respect for the implications to IT and I see additional unmaintainable complexity being shoved down into IT in order to meet short term business goals. Some of this complexity is shoved down into offshore teams. This is an attempt to reverse entropy locally within a subgroup. For example, the business team can push entropy to the development team and they can push it to the offshore team. Unfortunately, unless you optimize the whole system towards local decrease in entropy, you will eventually degrade the ability of the entire system to produce work.

This is a perhaps the most important principle in SOA–that unless you’ve aligned your business and IT organizations you will continue to increase entropy in your IT system. The implication is that less and less of your IT system will be available to do work.

This means that eventually IT will grind to a halt.

The organization that is unable to reverse this process will not be competitive.

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Oracle Snorkel One Ring to Rule Them All

Today, Chuck Phillips, president of Oracle said that Oracle was committed to provide “A Single Stack of Technology to Simplify Enterprise IT”.

I fundamentally question this premise.

In order for a “Single Stack” to successfully simplify IT, Enterprise Software practitioners must commit their entire Enterprise Architecture to a single vendor, namely Oracle. Recall that architecture is a *design* discipline. The absolute underpinnings of design is *intention*. This is a fundamental premise of my book, SOA Adoption for Dummies.

Handing your Enterprise Architecture over to Oracle is unrealistic. For end-users who want to capitulate and give up on IT as a provider of competitive differentiation, this might seem like a way of reducing cost and complexity. In the short term, they will be able to reduce their costs by eliminating most of their IT departments. However, in the long term, being beholden to the Dark Lord Sauron, the master of the ring will prove to be expensive.

In the shadow of Oracle’s towers of Orthanc and Minas Morgul, Oracle launches 11g on all of middle earth.


Oracle has made a big committment to Java with the acquisition of Sun.. to serve as the next layer up from SQL.

Is Java the one ring to rule them all? To some extent, Java certainly provides some nice unifying application logic for the Oracle stack.

But the true core is murky and nebulous at best. The demonstration featured discussion about SCA (Service Component Architecture) and the “Single Layer of Metadata”. But the “Single Layer” alluded to by Chuck Phillips seemed to refer to the configuration management database that glues together all of the pieces of Oracles M&A Strategy. This makes sense because Chuck Phillips is in charge of Oracle’s M&A strategy.

However, Thomas Kuran seems to allude to a “Single Layer of Metadata” in the “SOA Development” layer featuring their Java Software Developer suite, formerly JDeveloper.

When asked to demo the SOA Governance solution, the demoer seemed to be alluding to the “closed loop governance” capabilities of the Oracle SOA Governance Registry Repository. This product has its historical roots in BEA Flashline.

So instead of “Fusion Middleware” we have Confusion Muddleware.

Now if you add the WebLogic Apache Beehive, MySQL, Sun Identity Manager, JCAPS, GlassFish and all of the exciting middleware technologies coming from the Sun Microsystems acquisition, you have Contusion Scuttleware.

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