Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fortune Favors the Prepared Mind

I'm not finished yet, but I can already tell that The World is Flat [Updated and Expanded]: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century is going to be one of those books which is going to havea great impact on my professional life. There is so much truth (I don't have to like the truth) in the information presented, I was motivated to shoot an email to almost everyone in my email address book to recommend the book to them as a way to prepare for the impact of globalization on their life and careers.

The email had "Fortune Favors the Prepared Mind" as the subject line and read as follows:

A friend of mine recommended The World is Flat [Updated and Expanded]: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century to me as a great book on the impact of globalization. I'm only about 20% done with it (the audio version) but I think there is a lot of good material on outsourcing, offshoring, India, China, etc. which I believe would benefit each of you as you think the future and the kinds of opportunities we all probably need to prepare for.

See also some great quotes from the book at www.wikiquote.org.

Some samples:

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.
When the sun comes up, you better start running.
-African proverb

• In the pathbreaking 1989 essay, “Computer and Dynamo: the Modern Productivity Paradox in a Not-Too Distant Mirror,” the economic historian Paul A. David explained such a lag by pointing to a historical precedent. He noted that while the lightbulb was invented in 1879, it took several decades for electrification to kick in and have a big economic and productivity impact. Why? Because it was not enough just to install electric motors and scrap the old technology – steam engines. The whole way of doing manufacturing had to be reconfigured. In the case of electricity, David pointed out, the key breakthrough was in how buildings, and assembly lines, were designed and managed. Factories in the steam age tended to be heavy, costly multistory buildings designed to brace the weighty belts and other big transmission devices needed to drive steam-powered systems. Once small, powerful electric motors were introduced, everyone hoped for a quick productivity boost. It took time, though. To get all the savings, you needed to redesign enough buildings with small electric motors powering machines of all sizes. Only when there was a critical mass of experienced factory architects and electrical engineers and managers, who understood the complementarities among the production line, did electrification really deliver the productivity breakthrough in manufacturing, David wrote.

Bill Gates: 30 years ago, if you had a choice between being born a genius on the outskirts of Bombay or Shanghai or being born an average person in Poughkeepsie, you would take Poughkeepsie, because your chances of thriving and living a decent life there, even with average talent, were much greater. But as the world has gone flat, and so many people can plug and play from anywhere, natural talent has started to trump geography.

• America integrated a broken Europe and Japan into the global economy after World War II, with both Europe and Japan every year upgrading their manufacturing, knowledge, and service skills, often importing and sometimes stealing ideas and equipment from the US, just as America did from Britain in the late 1770s. Yet in the sixty years since World War II, our standard of living has increased every decade, and our unemployment rate – even with all the outcry about outsourcing – stands at only a little above 5 percent, roughly half that of the most developed countries in Western Europe.

• By automating these jobs, it enables companies to save money and free up talented brainpower from relatively mundane tasks to start new businesses in other areas. You should be afraid of free markets only if you believe that you will never need new medicines, new work flow software, new industries, new forms of entertainment, new coffeehouses.

• It takes a leap of faith, based on economics, to say there will be new things to do. But there always have been new jobs to do, and there is no fundamental reason to believe the future will be different. Some 150 years ago, 90 percent of American worked in agriculture and related fields. Today, it’s only 3 or 4 percent. What if the government had decided to protect and subsidize all those agricultural jobs and not embrace industrialization and then computerization? Would America as a whole really be better off today? Hardly.

• Well, here’s the truth that no one wanted to tell you: The world has been flattened. As a result of the triple convergence, global collaboration and competition – between individuals and individuals, companies and individuals, companies and companies, and companies and customers – have been made cheaper, easier, more friction-free, and more productive for more people from more corners of the earth than at any time in the history of the world.

• The sense that our kids have to be swaddled in cotton wool so that nothing bad or disappointing or stressful ever happens to them at school is, quite simply, a growing cancer on American society.

• In China today, Bill Gates is Britney Spears. In America today, Britney Spears is Britney Spears – and that is our problem.

• As exciting and as visible as the flat Indian high-tech sector is, have no illusions: It accounts for 0.2 percent of employment in India. Add those Indians involved in manufacturing for export, and you get a total of 2 percent of the employment in India.

• Immigrants are always hungry and they don’t have a backup plan. Young Chinese, Indians, and Poles are not racing us to the bottom. They are racing us to the top. They do not want to work for us; they don’t even want to be us. They want to dominate us.

• The best companies outsource to win, not to shrink. They outsource to innovate faster and more cheaply in order to grow larger, gain market share, and hire more and different specialists – not to save money by firing more people. (p. 360)

• The business organization consultant Michael Hummer once remarked, “One thing that tells me a company is in trouble is when they tell me how good they were in the past. Same with countries. You don’t want to forget your identity. I am glad you were great in the 14th century, but that was then and this is now. When memories exceed dreams, the end is near. The hallmark of a truly successful organization is the willingness to abandon what made it successful and start fresh.

• People don’t change when you tell them there is a better option. They change when they conclude that they have no other option.

• Louis Pasteur said it a long time ago: “Fortune favors the prepared mind.”

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Supercomputers, Not Just for Chess, Weather, and Nuclear Bombs?

Like most of you, I have marginalized the super computer space as a kniche I'll never play in. I considered that the realm of big government agencies predicting where the next hurricane will strike or modeling the temperature and density of uranium and hydrogen isotopes inside a nuclear bomb 9 nanoseconds after detonation. (Sorry, I read The Sum of All Fears.)

Well... my opinion was changed by an unlikely source yesterday. I stumbled across an investing article by The Motley Fool called "Do the Math: IBM Wins" in which the Fools extol the virtues of IBM as the best blue chip stock of 2007 because of supercomputing.

"I am convinced that IBM is going to be the best blue chip of 2007, but not just because it is a leader in the development and creation of supercomputers. Rather, it is because I believe that IBM's Global Consulting business, working in conjunction with its Center for Business Optimization (whose small staff specializes in applying advanced mathematics to business problems), will be able to first help businesses harness the power of these powerful computers to crunch data and then translate that data into meaningful -- and profitable -- insights."

"For example, IBM's Center for Business Optimization recently helped a company that had more than 70,000 SKUs (stock keeping units) with an inventory problem. Normally, finding the best way to manage this number of products would have taken six hours. With a supercomputer, it took 17 seconds.

What this implies in more practical terms is that the company, instead of waiting overnight for results, now gets them immediately. More importantly, because the results are available immediately, the company can now insert different variables into the program to find an even better way to optimize its inventory."

So it appears now I have to consider yet another hardware option in my solutions. I suppose somebody in IBM or Cray or both is selling super computer cycles "on demand" in a hosted environment for anybody who wants to rent one for a millisecond or two. (or is that nanosecond or two?)

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Overtime Pay for I/T Architects?

I didn't even know this was going on until this morning, but apparently several high-tech companies including IBM, Siebel, and Computer Sciences Corp. have settled class action lawsuits regarding overtime pay for technology workers.
"International Business Machines Corp. settled a federal class-action lawsuit Wednesday, agreeing to pay a total of $65 million to 32,000 technology workers who claimed the company illegally withheld overtime pay....The case involved workers classified as "Technical Services Professional and Information Technology Specialists." IBM considered them highly skilled professionals exempt from overtime laws detailed in the Fair Labor Standards Act and California labor laws....Software maker Siebel Systems Inc. settled a class action suit by more than 800 workers earlier this month. The workers, who had job titles such as "software engineer" and "senior software engineer," will receive a total of $27.5 million....Last year, El Segundo-based Computer Sciences Corp. settled an overtime class-action suit by 30,000 employees for $24 million. "
For more complete details, see IBM Settles Overtime Lawsuit for $65M.

I don't plan on spending the money until I see it in my bank account. :-)

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Companies that Need SOA the Most Are Least Likely to Implement It

My eyes were drawn today to an ITBusinessEdge post "Companies that Need SOA the Most Are Least Likely to Implement It". How could I resist that title? (That reminds me of a previous post of mine "Naming Well, an Essential Skill of an I/T Architect" but I degress.) That post in turn drove to yet another cleverly named post

Is SOA success in the genes? by ZDNet's Joe McKendrick -- Todd Biske recently responded to my post about Microsoft's recommended approach to SOA (inch by inch, it's a cinch; mile by mile, its a trial), and ponders whether some organizations can get SOA right away, but others will never get it. How do organizations end up with their IT out of synch with business [...]

The basic premise here is worth entertaining. Companies that already have good alignment of I/T and business, already have good governance in place, already think proactively and strategically about I/T, etc. will find moving to a Service Oriented Architecture just the next incremental step in their improvement process. For the other companies out there (the vast majority?), the gap between where they are today and SOA is an insurmountable chasm that they dare not even try to cross.

I think there is an element of truth. I've seen a lot of situations where a company could benefit from new approaches but because they organize a bunch of independently funded, tactical projects no one project can fund the leap to the next level of maturity and flexibility. (See also "The Scourge of the I/T Architect's Universe".) Just a couple of weeks ago an acquanitance of mine at a major manufacturer told me he was interested in using SOA software products for their EAI-like-middleware value but he didn't think his organization was ready to embrace SOA yet. I guess this is like "flying under the radar" to wait until the political situation is more receptive to SOA.

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Still More on Reverse Engineering Code into UML Diagams

Judging by the unexpectedly large number of hits on my recent posting about reverse engineering Java into UML diagrams, I am not the only one interested in this topic. Along the same lines, I found this pretty cool demo of reverse engineering UML sequence diagrams from Sparx Systems. I haven't actually used the tool but what appears to be different with the reverse engineering capability of their Enterprise Architect tool is that it will generate diagrams via runtime execution. It also let you manually step through your code as it executes in a debugger type presentation. This would let you control how far “down in the weeds” you want your sequence diagram to go. For example, do you really want to include that call to the Integer class?

(Dec 2007) English not your native language? I've begun making podcasts of popular posts and they are available at http://artsciita.podbean.com/. Listen online at that URL, with the MP3 player below, or subscribe to the podcast using the RSS feed and listen with your favorite MP3 player.

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Musings on Bill Gates, the IT Shortage, and Globalization

I've taken an interest (by necessity) in the globalization of software development (and corporate life in general) so I read with interest "Bill Gates Says West Not Supplying Enough IT Talent" by James Kilner of Reuters. Bill Gates was speaking in Moscow and is quoted as follows:

"Worldwide, a lot of the developed countries are not graduating as many IT students as they were in the past, which is kind of ironic as it does mean it does increase the opportunities."

"There is a shortage of IT skills on a worldwide basis. Anybody who can get those skills here now will have a lot of opportunity."
If you follow the link above to the story about Gates and look at comments posted at the bottom, they were mostly bemoaning the fact that I/T jobs in places like Russia, China, and India pay a lot less than the US and other Western nations. They attributed the "shortage" to a shortage of people willing to work for low wages.

I was probably as nervous as anyone else about the globalization of software development a few years ago. Since then I guess I gotten past my fears. On my best days, I have embraced the idea. On my worst days, I guess I just try to make the best of it.

It does appear to me that CIOs are taking the cost savings of global resourcing and using it to fund additional projects. If they had a budget 5 years ago to do 4 major projects a year then today they are using a similar budget to execute 5, 6, or even 7 major projects. These "extra" projects are often the ones that are the most fun to work on. They would have been "stretch" projects that never got funded in the past. One change that has happened, however, is that those of us in the US are having to play more of a leadership role vs. doing the "heads down" coding.

Another anecdotal piece of evidence that the sky is not falling. I've done some interviewing right here in the US for college graduates. Are we taking just anybody? No, we are being selective. But this is quite an improvement over just a few years ago. We're hiring both overseas and in the "high wage" countries.

By the way, see the Oct 31st article "IBM Plants New SOA Development Centers in India, China" to see that this trend is only accelerating. This is not about using global resources to maintain old code. This is about investments in the latest and greatest SOA technology... and doing it with talent from around the world.

"It's all about business model innovation—giving clients the ability to rapidly change business models by building applications with reusable software components," said Sudhir Sastry, leader of the IBM SOA Solutions Center, in Pune.

Key to the initiative is IBM's WebSphere Business Services Fabric—based on technology IBM recently acquired when it purchased Webify Solutions, Sastry said.

Back in September 2004, I got to make a trip to Bangalore, India. I saw an office building for almost every big-name tech company while I was there. Here's a few samples from my personal photo archives. They aren't great pictures as they were taken through the window of the taxi I was riding in.

First Oracle

  • Next Intel
    And finally Microsoft

    Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

    The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Future Market

You've really got to view this new commercial showing how wireless technology can be a game changer in retail. See "The Future Market" (a play on words.. think super market).

I've been told the commercial is actually pretty old but I don't ever remember seeing it. Maybe IBM needs to try using it again.

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Silo-ed Organization Abolishment and Other Variations on the SOA Theme

Brenda Michelson has some clever variations on the acronym SOA in her post Talking "S-O-A" with the Business.

Some of my favorites from her post include:

  • Strategy Offering Agility
  • Stream of Acronyms
  • Seizing Operational Agility
  • Silo-ed Organization Abolishment

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Little Shop of IT horrors

For your Halloween reading pleasure: Check out Little Shop of (IT) Horrors.

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Reverse Engineering of UML Class and Sequence Diagrams from Java

About a year ago I had to stop work on an interesting project. There were just too many projects going on at one time, not enough resources to work on them all, and the other projects were more important from a political point of view. The project involved our B2B application making a call to a service provided by a 3rd party outside the firewall. One of the developers had built some great Java code to do this right before we stopped work.

I recently picked that project back up again and needed to dig into that code, understand how it worked, and create some design documentation for the overall project. I also had just recently made a conscious effort to upgrade my object modeling tool from Rational XDE to Rational Software Architect (RSA).

I decided I would start by reverse engineering the Java code to create a class diagram. I had done this numerous times as a Rational Rose and Rational XDE user in the past so I had no worries. I managed to import the source code and began fumbling through the menu options looking for reverse engineering features. I got a sinking feeling at first that someone at Rational had taken the reverse engineering features away. I found numerous transformations for forward engineering from UML class diagrams into something else (like Java). It was not obvious, however, what to do if I already had the Java code and wanted to go in the reverse direction. I had a sinking feeling inside. Had the Model Driven Development / Model Driven Architecture adherents at Rational lost their minds? Had they taken those reverse engineering features away on purpose? Was this a heavy handed means of forcing the whole world to adopt a “forward engineering only” view of the application development process?

Luckily, I was able to determine that Rational had not lost its collective mind. Yes, it was indeed possible to reverse engineer code into a diagram and as I got more into it, I decided it was actually an improvement.

I highly recommend a meaty white paper I found on developerWorks called The new IBM Rational design and construction products for Rose and XDE users” by William T. Smith, a Product Manager supporting model driven development at IBM Rational brand software. From it I discovered that many reverse engineering capabilities were available in RSA (as well as Rational Software Modeler (RSM)) and they appear to be significant improvements over what I was used to in Rose and XDE. There is a great deal of new terminology to get used to, however.

Here is a quick summary of what I learned about reverse engineering using RSA

  • I can select Java classes of interest with my mouse and quickly reverse engineer a class diagram by “visualizing” a “Topic Diagram”. This diagram can be synchronized with code as the code is modified.
  • I can “harvest” classes from the topic diagram and paste them into a separate UML diagram.
  • I can mix “pure” UML classes and harvested classes on the same diagram and the tool will mark classes reverse engineered from code with a glyph in the upper left hand corner.
  • There is a new “Browse Diagram” capability which allows the user to explore existing code by quickly generating class diagrams “on the fly” showing classes related to a selected class. Selecting a different class on this diagram will generated yet another diagram on the fly with all classes related to that class. This quick navigation from one diagram to another is a great way to “get to know” code someone else wrote. You can control which kinds of relationships are included when the class diagrams are created and how many levels (up to 3) removed from the selected class in the center of the diagram. I made great use of this on my project.
  • (Drum roll please!) I can reverse engineer Java method bodies into UML Sequence Diagrams by “visualizing” a “Static Method Sequence Diagram.” This type of program understanding tool has long been missing from UML modeling tools. It will be a windfall to any poor soul who must maintain/modify poorly documented Java code created by someone else who is perhaps no longer around. The only downside is that if the method makes any calls to low-level Java classes like “Integer” those method calls will clutter the generated diagram. But.. think of the time you’ll save!

Together, these reverse engineering capabilities will just about take away the last excuses for not having design documentation match the “as implemented” state of the Java code. It really is easy to create both class and sequence diagrams and rapidly document both the static and dynamic behavior of “as is” Java software.

(Dec 2007) English not your native language? I've begun making podcasts of popular posts and they are available at http://artsciita.podbean.com/. Listen online at that URL, with the MP3 player below, or subscribe to the podcast using the RSS feed and listen with your favorite MP3 player.

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved
The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Halloween Horror Stories for I/T

Out of the many emails I get from the various online trade rags, one jumped out at me from my inbasket the other day. The email pointed me to one article with a title inspired by the upcoming Halloween season: 25 Terrifying Information Technology Horror Stories. There's even a great video clip from an old black and white horror movie, "The Brain that Wouldn't Die".

I won't say I've read through all of the horror stories but from what I can tell, the lessons learned are worth a visit by any serious I/T Architect, project manager, CTO, CIO, and anyone else who doesn't want to be pointed out to the whole world as an example of how NOT to execute an important project.

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

What Could Possibly Be Wrong With Corporate Blogging?

Not all I/T Architect-bloggers are as fortunate as I in that my employer actually encourages us to blog. (See my very first post in this blog.) I'll reproduce a quote from the IBM employee blogging guidelines I quoted back then. "It is very much in IBM's interest – and, we believe, in each IBMer's own – to be aware of this sphere of information, interaction and idea exchange."

Obviously, not all corporations embrace this kind of thinking. Dan Gillmore points out two very different scenarios in " Corporate Blogging: What Could Go Wrong? The first is the obvious concern about someone leaking new product information and potentially giving a competitor an early start on catching up. But the second scenario was more interesting. It was about the cost of NOT using blogging and NOT being clear and transparent about problems in the open media. He makes an interesting point about not getting out in front of "bad news" and actually engaging potential customers in solving the problem.

"The real danger is not letting your employees harness the full power of an interactive, edge-in communications medium. If you keep the reins too tight, you won't reap the benefits of informed and passionate readers and users. And sometimes, if you're not communicating freely with your readers and users, bad news can catch them by surprise."
I have to admit I see his logic... especially in the area of product development. If I was trying to come up with the next generation Apple iPod I am sure I could recruit an army of passionate bloggers to help me. But what if client A has a whole bunch of fuzzy business requirements, a hodge-podge of technology accumualted from their merger history, and a minefield of political considerations. How would a crowd on the outside be able to digest all the client-specific nuances of the situation? And would the client even want their client-specific details out in the open?

Still...I've heard of the popular business book, The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations devoted to the innovative use of ideas from outside the company. I haven't read it yet, but maybe I need to. I'd be curious to hear if any of my readers have had success in using blogging to make better one-of-a-kind solutions for clients.

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Getting Good Service from SOA

You may find this article interesting regarding benefits being realized by Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). The author makes a point to reference many different companies and give some highlightes of their experiences. Here's a couple of samples:
"At Railinc Corp., a transportation logistics firm based in Cary, N.C., Garry Grandlienard, director of enterprise architecture, notes that many of his company's applications draw on certain basic information about railcars, stored in one main database. Before SOA, changing one element of that database might have meant changing 100 applications. With SOA in place, he may not need to make any application changes at all, since he can change the service layer and it will translate the database change for all applications.

Farmington Hills, Mich.-based RouteOne LLC is an exchange established by the finance arms of General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., DaimlerChrysler AG and Toyota Motor Corp. to provide auto dealers with access to a variety of financing options and services. Here, SOA gives CIO Joel Gruber a cost-effective way to make changes to his internal infrastructure without disrupting all the firms that use the exchange. In August, RouteOne began piloting an electronic contract feature, called eContracts, to allow auto dealers to forego paper contracts. Key to the eContracts pilot is a service the company built to test its messaging environment. At RouteOne, a transaction, such as an auto loan application, is treated as a type of message, and the testing environment lets the company see if new message types will cause any problems. "It doesn't sound like a service," notes Gruber. "But it's a utility service that means we don't break anything for our customers when we change something.."

Check out:Getting Good Service
The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Company that Can Run Itself from Wherever It Makes the Most Business Sense

I found this interesting blurb highlighting the continuing changes in corporate life:

"A job reassignment notice from IBM today signals something more than that another American executive is moving his office halfway round the world. John Paterson, the company's chief procurement officer, is relocating from Somers, N.Y., to Shenzhen in southern China. IBM's (nyse: IBM - news - people ) global procurement division is going with him. It is the first time, the company says, that it has moved a corporatewide headquarters division outside the U.S. Shenzhen sits just north of Hong Kong on the southeastern side of the Pearl River delta.....That shifting global pattern of employment is old news, but that the top-boss job in a key division is relocating marks a milestone along the road of IBM's transition from an American multinational to a global company, one that can run itself from wherever it makes the most business sense. "

Check out: IBM Goes Global - Forbes.com

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

College Hiring

I present this little bit of anecdotal evidence that employment prospects for I/T professionals here in the USA are bright. I am making my first college recruiting trip! I will be interviewing undergraduates and graduate students at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville on October 27, 2006 October 20, 2006 for positions in IBM Global Business Services-Application Services. We’ve been hiring experienced professionals all along for several years but this is my first personal experience interviewing college students for entry level positions. I like to look at it as hiring the next generation of I/T Architects and others who will become the technical leaders of tomorrow. Think about it. This is a clear indication of confidence in our future prospects for new business and demonstrates a willingness to invest in the training and mentoring of new employees who don't have lots of real-world experience.

I was actually on campus a couple of weeks ago to speak at an "info night" to talk about Application services and what career in consulting is like. Here's a picture of the UT University Center.

Monday, September 18, 2006

De-Nerding Your Geeks

It seems that everywhere I am reading another article in some trade rag about the need for technology people to have "soft skills" and be able to communicate with non-techies. Here's a quote from a particularly good example that I stumbled across from the Australian version of www.cio.com. It goes so far as to quote one frustrated CIO who said 'Forget the technology skills, give me business skills and I'll teach them the technology'.
"I don't know what exactly happened, but when the program director came back he was very concerned about the project. I had expected him to be pleased," Setty, now chairman and chief evangelist for US-based Cignex Technologies, says. "I asked him what he was concerned about."

It turned out that program director had asked programmer whether he could make some changes to the program, and if so, how long they would take. Programmer, thrilled at this unexpected chance to flaunt his ability, had launched into an elaborate rundown of the work involved. As a result, program director got intricate details of child and parent windows and other jargon the intensely non-technical director could only translate as gobbledygook. That led program director to two misguided but deeply disturbing conclusions: the team was doing something like rocket science, and there was great strife ahead. "I asked him for a simple change. Now it looks like it will take three days and there is a risk to the project," the program director complained to Setty.

Setty soothed program director's ruffled feathers and assured him his team could indeed make the changes with little risk. That left program director with just one question: "Are you sure you've got the right team for the job?"

Of course, hardly anyone sees today's CIOs as geeks: most CIOs long ago discarded their white socks and sandals for the business suits that gave them passage to the executive suite. But the best laid plans of CIOs can and do often "gang" astray when the geeks who work for them slip their restraints and rub shoulders with - and the sensitivities of - non-geeks of influence within the organization.

Too Many Egos, Too Little Time

"My organization has plenty of people with massive egos that need to be soothed," says one CIO. "If they're having trouble with the computer I can't send some punk into the office who mumbles, won't look them in the eye and grunts, or next thing I know they're on the phone saying: 'I'd like to be treated with respect. I tried talking to him but he couldn't even be bothered answering me'."

So having expelled every last shred of geek-hood from their own bearing, CIOs must now find ways to start purging any symptoms of same from their staff.

"One of the biggest things that geeks have to learn is how to communicate with a non-geek," Setty says. "It's so important. The reason is, the budget most of the time lies with the person who is not a geek: it's with the CFO or a line of business manager. Typically at that level IT staff can't go down to the details of how exactly the software works. These managers just switch off if the geek starts explaining why this 'thing' happens," he says.

Many CIOs have become so sensitive to these difficulties that finding IT staff with business skills is becoming a major preoccupation, says Gartner Executive Programs managing vice president Mary-Anne Maxwell. "CIOs know IT staff need those business skills, and it's getting to the point that a lot of them are now saying to me: 'Forget the technology skills, give me business skills and I'll teach them the technology'. Over the long run that is more important than hiring a person who has a particular outlook on a technology that day."

For more fun reading, check out: CIO | De-nerding Your Geeks

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Microsoft Patent Non-Assertion Covenant for Web Services

Interesting post by David Berlind at Microsoft patent non-assertion covenant is remarkable | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com

"Microsoft has issued a declaration — something it calls the Open Specification Promise — that it won't assert certain Web services patents it holds (or may hold in the future). Martin Lamonica reports:

Microsoft is pledging not to assert its patents pertaining to nearly three dozen Web services specifications–a move designed to ease concerns among developers by creating a legal environment more friendly to open-source software….The software giant published on Tuesday the Microsoft Open Specification Promise (OSP) on its Web site."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Living on the Bleeding Edge for Fun and Profit

"Let’s start by acknowledging that bleeding-edge has negative connotations for a lot of people. Just think for a minute about the imagery. Bleeding edge evokes danger. ....Engage in that battle, and you might survive, but you’ll get bloodied in the process. ....But my conversation with a couple of IT executives has me thinking about an alternative vision for the bleeding edge.....until you start messing around with new stuff, you can’t answer the question about whether it might provide a competitive advantage or suggest a new business model.....The implication here is that even a company that is uncomfortable adopting a new technology until someone else works out the bugs can’t really afford to wait to check it out. The bleeding-edge might be your competitive edge. And it starts to look smart, rather than dangerous."

Death of the Packaged Application?

Judith Hurwitz says that SOA could result in the end of packaged applications as we know them. Check out SOA and Unintended Market Consequences - Weigh In - weighin - CIO

SOA Anti-Patterns

I stumbled across this article in developerWorks which was very timely for me. The antipattern I'm most worried about right now in my current project is "Chatty Services". I can see how it would be very easy to "fall into this trap" if we try to implement the same level of application-to-application interactivity as we currently enjoy between a user and a web page. Check out SOA antipatterns by Jenny Ang, Luba Cherbakov, and Mamdouh Ibrahim.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Evils of PowerPoint

Scott Mark's blog also pointed me to this gem. Check out: .NPR : Edward Tufte, Offering 'Beautiful Evidence'. I'm sure we've all experienced "death by PowerPoint."

"Tufte's most recent book, Beautiful Evidence, is filled with hundreds of illustrations from the worlds of art and science. It contains historical maps and diagrams as well as contemporary charts and graphs. In one chapter alone, there's an 18th-century depiction of how to do a cross-section drawing of how a bird's wing works, and photos from a 1940s instruction book for skiing.

They all demonstrate one concept: Good design is timeless, while bad design can be a matter of life and death.

He's an outspoken critic of PowerPoint presentations, saying they oversimplify and can stand in the way of communication. Far too often, he says, the bells and whistles of PowerPoint are used as a crutch by people who don't have anything to say."

Cultural Diversity for I/T Architects

I found myself appreciating Scott Mark's reaction to his first visit to China. I had a similar reaction to India two years ago. Take a look at Application Architecture for the Enterprise: China and the Swarm

"China is amazing in many ways to me. For one thing, it's an incredibly pedestrian society. It's lightweight and limber at the lowest levels. Buildings are literally flying up all around Shanghai, and yet you see the bricks arrive on site via handcart and bicycle basket. I can't imagine the amount of goods in China that are hauled around by individuals rather than machines. Is that inefficient, or the product of a behind society? I don't think so. I think it's amazingly limber and responsive. The West is in the process of trying to discover or re-discover the swarm. China is the swarm."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

WebServices and SOA Security

I had the good fortune to complete a second week of SOA-related training in Pittsburgh last week. (See also The Many Flavors of IBM ESB Implementations). One of the instructors was Tony Cowan, a frequent contributor on IBM's developerWorks website. I was particular interested in his discussion of security in SOA implementations. I would like to point my readers to a series of four recent articles on implementing web services security on WebSphere Application Server Version 6.x. These four articles seem to have lots of good security-related information for those of us who aren't security experts, regardless of whether you are a using WebSphere Application Server or not. (This is especially true for part one, which Tony wrote.) Check out:

Introduction to security architectures
This article introduces various IBM® WebSphere® Application Server Version 6 Web services architectures, considering them strictly from a security perspective.

Using Username Token and SSL
In Part 2 of this series on Web services security, you'll learn about one of the most common ways to secure a resource: using a user name and a password. You'll learn about the UsernameToken Profile and how to use it with Web services using IBM WebSphere...

XML encryption and digital signature
In Part 3 of this series on Web services security, learn the steps required to implement XML Digital Signature and XML Encryption in a Web service using IBM® WebSphere® Application Server and IBM Rational Application Developer.

Using the LTPA token
Learn how to use the Lightweight Third Party Authentication (LTPA) token to secure a Web service using IBM WebSphere Application Server V6 in Part 4 of this series on Web services security.

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Methodology and SOA for the Methodology Nazi in You (and Don't Forget Governance)

The title is a little tounge-in-cheek but there is a segment of the software community that cares a lot about application development methodology and making it easier for a large team to follow the associated best practices (and correspondingly harder to make excuses for going off and doing their own thing). The current focus on Service Oriented Architecture has placed a really bright spot light on these issues and the stakes are high for ignoring best practices.

IBM's Rational Method Composer (RMC) can be used to customize an established development methodology such as the Rational Unified Process (RUP) for your particular project or organization. RMC comes with "multiple process content libraries, including RUP, RUP plug-ins, SUMMIT Ascendant methods, and other processes for Program, and Portfolios management."

Once you customize your development methodology, you can export it to Rational Portfolio Manager to help project managers create project plans. See Exploring Rational Method Composer and Rational Portfolio Manager integration.

You can also export your customized methodology into content that loads into Rational Application Developer for WebSphere (RAD) so that your developers can refer to the guidance from within the same Eclipse shell as they develop their Java code. The method content is displayed within RAD in a "Process Advisor" view as described in New Features of RAD 6 for WSAD v5 Developers Course Outline beginning on page 8.

For those of you who worry about making sure your organization follows a newly established SOA Governance policy as they start creating new business services, rolling out an Enterprise Service Bus, and making "grow my own" vs. reuse decisions, download IBM Rational Method Composer plug-in for SOA governance. This helps "identify appropriate best practices, merged with your existing IT processes, to provide proper governance of the capabilities introduced with SOA. The end result is a project plan to create your organization's unique governance framework." Note the project plan tie-in which would benefit from the integration of Rational Method Composer with Rational Portfolio Manager as described earlier.

For those of you who are both methology czars and service modelers there is a free download UML Profile for Software Services, RSA Plug-In which can be used to customize Ratonal Software Architect for modeling services in an SOA environment. It uses the conceptual model described in UML profile for software services and adds many useful stereotypes to your UML models such as Message, Service Partition, Service Provider, Service Consumer, Collaboration, Service Collaboration, Service Channel, Service Specification, Service, Service Gateway, and Message Attachment.

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Many Flavors of IBM ESB Implementations

A few weeks ago I had the good fortune to receive an email at work which invited me to attend some training on Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). I jumped at the chance and quickly registered for two classes as it is so difficult to find time for serious learning while trying to keep my head above water in my "real job."

This week, the class has focused on how we could implement various Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) scenarios using the different IBM products. (Be prepared for WebSphere overload.) In particular, we've talked about:

To a lessor extent, we've been talking about:

Tomorrow, I hope to finish my lab in which we demonstrate an ESB scenario which uses both WESB and WMB. We are also supposed to address systems management issues using IBM Tivoli Composite Application Manager for SOA (ITCAM). And... tomorrow we also get around to that frequent afterthought called "ESB security".

The class had been in Pittsburg and I must say I've been favorably impressed with the city so far. Below is a picture of the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela Rivers at Pittsburgh as seen from the top of the Duquesne Incline, over 400 vertical feet above the river. The class is in the brown building on the right side right above the yellow arch of the bridge.

Here's the view from the IBM training facility on Stanwix Avenue alongside the Monongahela River. For you old timers, I'm told this facility dates back to the days of the IBM acquisition of TransArc and their products like Encina. Nice view. Tough duty, huh?

Click here for more Pittsburgh pictures.

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Friday, August 04, 2006

How on Earth Do We Test SOA?

More than once on my SOA journey I have wondered to myself and out loud "How on earth do we test this stuff?" with the "stuff" meaning an SOA infrastructure or an SOA-based application. Intuitively I have always thought that the testing strategy must have to be different. One of my numerous email newsletter subscriptions ( IT Business Edge Hot Story )caught my eye the other day with the catchy title "The Pitfalls of SOA Software Testing." Its worth taking a look:

There's not a lot of talk about software testing in an SOA, maybe because it's so complicated. Even in a simple database that's part of, say, an order processing application, you have to expose the application code as a service, make sure it does what it's supposed to do, make sure it doesn't do anything you don't know about, regression test the original database, stress test the service, acceptance test it—and that's only one service. It gets worse with composite applications.Read "SOA and Software Testing" at IT-Director.com.

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

IBM Acquires Webify

See IBM Acquires Webify. This acquisition has both a Software Group play and a Global Services play in the SOA space.

"Webify software helps accelerate the development and deployment of applications that business users need to quickly respond to market and competitive pressures. It provides hundreds of industry-specific, pre-built standards-based accelerators, tools and frameworks. Webify's offerings help solve business problems that are specific to a given industry such as HIPAA compliance for healthcare companies and ACORD standards in the insurance industry.

IBM's acquisition of Webify strengthens its leadership in service oriented architecture, which helps a company reuse existing technology to more closely align it with business goals, resulting in greater efficiencies, cost savings and productivity. By bringing together IBM's development and use of open industry standards with Webify's expertise in semantics, IBM can better solve common business problems in a given vertical industry. Together, IBM and Webify will help businesses run more efficiently by accelerating the integration of business processes and the sharing and reuse of proven applications and best practices. "

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Leading a Software Project Like Directing a Movie?

A couple of weeks ago a co-worker passed me an article that really got me thinking about what it takes to lead a significant software development project. In Successful software management style: Steering and balance* Walker Royce, Vice President Rational Brand Services, makes an interesting argument that running a major software project is a creative act, more like directing a movie than what most of us think of when we think of project management.

I must admit his argument is seductive. I think that as an architect, I consider myself more of a “creative type” who makes something out of nothing. Often I don’t like being held to a plan I had no part in making. And when I help make a plan, I budget some time for some tinkering.

Maybe Walker Royce has a point. Here are some quotes:

“Managing software projects successfully has proven to be very failure prone when using the traditional engineering management discipline. Comparing the challenge of software management to that of producing a major motion picture exposes some interesting perspectives. Both management problems are concerned with developing a complex piece of integrated intellectual property with constraints that are predominantly economic. This article introduces some comparisons between managing a software production and managing a movie production, then elaborates four software management practices observed from successful projects. The overall recommendation is to use a steering leadership style rather than the detailed plan-and-track leadership style encouraged by conventional wisdom.”

""Heresy!" some may shout. "Software projects need more disciplined engineering management, not less." Before you dismiss my claim as an insult to the profession, consider these observations:

  • Most software professionals have no laws of physics, or properties of materials, to constrain their problems or solutions. They are bound only by human imagination, economic constraints, and platform performance once they get something executable. Some developers of embedded software are the obvious exception.
  • In a software project, you can change almost anything at any time: plans, people, funding, milestones, requirements, designs, tests. Requirements -- probably the most misused word in our industry -- rarely describe anything that is truly required. Nearly everything is negotiable. "

"Metrics and measures for software products have no atomic units. Economic performance more typical in service industries (value as observed by the users vs. cost of production) has proven to be the best measure of success. Most aspects of quality are very subjective, such as maintainability, reliability, and usability."

"Process rigor should be much like the force of gravity: the closer you are to a product release, the stronger the influence of process, tools, and instrumentation on the day-to-day activities of the workforce. The farther you are from a release date, the weaker the influence. This axiom seems to be completely missing, or at least grossly underemphasized, by the process evangelists and literature, but it is usually very observable in successful software projects."

"Most unsuccessful projects exhibit one of these characteristics:

  • Over-engineering on the early phases (creative aspects) of the life cycle. You need maneuverable processes that easily adapt to discovery and accommodate a degree of uncertainty to attack a few major risk items, prototype solutions, and build early and coarse artifacts. What creative discipline can you think of in which more process rigor is considered beneficial in helping humans think?
  • Under-engineering on the later phases (production aspects) of the life cycle. Extensive change-managed baselines of detailed and elaborate artifacts need engineering processes with insightful instrumentation and attention to detailed consistency and completeness to converge on a quality product."

On the flip side, there is the problem of “Can my customer culturally handle the kind of “give and take” in a creative software development process? Do they understand the idea of “discovery” of requirements or do they think they've identified them all already? Can customers really admit how little they know about what they want or how poorly they sometimes articulate their “requirements”. Can they accept trying out an idea, deciding it was all that good, and throwing the work away?

Another problem area is that for most of us is that we have to live within a budget which often must be cast in stone very, very early in the process before those requirements (negotiable as they may be) are really well understood. How many customers really work in an organization that allows them to “go back to the well” and ask for more money without commiting some kind of career suicide?

Then there is the recurring problem of technical orgainzations expecting to have their budget estimates cut so they pad their numbers. Business users then come to expect to routinely receive padded numbers and promptly cut the estimate by an even larger percentage. For a humorous look at this situation see Project Approval Games: Three Fantasies mentioned in a previous post Feudal Line Management and Shared Resources.

My gut tells me to accept a lot of Walker Royce’s ideas and bake them into a project plan that appears more traditional by adding a lot of tasks with formal sounding names that really mean “verify we really understand what they want”. My experience is that customers often articulate pretty well the “happy path” of what they want when everything works like they hope. They are not so good, however, at telling you how many things can go wrong and telling us what the software should do when an exception occurs and we are no longer on the “happy path”. It may be wise to add a few formal sounding task names that really mean “contingency for exception handling we don’t know about yet goes here”.

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hot Skills / Cold Skills - What's the Near-Term I/T Future?

I’m sure I am not the only technical professional who has pondered questions like:

  • Are my skills becoming obsolete?
  • Am I becoming too expensive to do the things I’m good at or like to do?
  • What kind of skills do I need to develop to stay gainfully employed? (keep from getting fired - play defense)
  • What kind of skills do I need to thrive in the future? (get promoted - play offense)
I stumbled across a ComputerWorld article by Stacy Collett entitled “Hot Skills, Cold Skills: The IT worker of 2010 won't be a technology guru but rather a 'versatilist.'

In the article she has some interesting quotes such as:
  • “The most sought-after corporate IT workers in 2010 may be those with no deep-seated technical skills at all.”
  • “IT departments will be populated with "versatilists" -- those with a technology background who also know the business sector inside and out, can architect and carry out IT plans that will add business value, and can cultivate relationships both inside and outside the company.”
  • “the skills required to land these future technical roles will be honed outside of IT. Some of these skills will come from artistic talents, math excellence or even a knack for public speaking -- producing a combination of skills not commonly seen in the IT realm.”
Check out the article. I’d love to hear from others about what skills they think it will take to “play offense” and thrive as an I/T Architect in the near future.

Also, for anyone who has had their head in the sand, you may want to see these for a little motivation to consider the future. (hint) Both of these are focused on the latest and greatest SOA technology, not legacy code.

You may also want to check out some of my previous posts which address similar issues related to our changing and evolving careers:

The Globalized I/T Architect

I Really Am a Master Certified I/T Architect

Are All the Good I/T, Science, and Engineering Jobs Going Overseas?

The Role of the Business Transformation Architect

A Culture of Innovation? Or NOT?

How to Become More Creative in Solving Problems

$1 Billion Investment in "Info on Demand"

Are you Pi-shaped?

Epidemic Career Advice

SAP Disrupts Everything

Naming Well, an Essential Skill of an I/T Architect

Vendor-Neutral I/T Architect Certification Program

I/T Architect Certification Revisited

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What's in a Name? SAP Gives Up on ESA and Adopts SOA Terminology

I heard today that SAP was abandoning their name "Enterprise Services Architecture" name (see this ESA post from 2004 and Breaking Down SAP's ESA Strategy) in favor of the more widely used term Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA). I decided to do a little Googling tonight to check it out. I could find no official announcement about the name change (I didn't look all that long) but many of the top ranked search results now seem to come back with the term "Enterprise SOA" (see SAP's Enterprise SOA Adoption Program). It is a little amusing that on one SAP page pointing readers to white papers, both terms are used.

I don't know how significant this really is, but it appears they are grudgingly adopting the terminology everyone else is using.

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Feudal Line Management and Shared Resources

There is often a fuzzy line in practice between the role of a project manager and an I/T architect. I say in practice because all too often it is not possible to be a “pure” I/T architect. We have to help the project manager be successful if we want to continue to have our fun creating new solutions to solve new problems.

I know, for example, that my project managers often rely on me for help setting up a viable project plan. How are they supposed to know which tasks in the technology mix are predecessors of others if the I/T Architect doesn’t tell him? And since all of my projects have at least some first-of-a-kind (with the client anyway) element to them, how would the project manager know what the tasks are in the first place.

Then there are the resource issues. If the first-of-a-kindness of the project involves some development tool or middleware that we haven’t used before then a good I/T Architect should help the project manager identify the skills required. I know once names are submitted, I often get involved in the interview and selection process as well.

One of my project manager friends and I were discussing a common project management problem – the resource that everybody needs for their project. In our case, we are anticipating that if our client adopts SAP then the already thin ranks of the programmers supporting the legacy systems will be in great demand. Who will provide the routine support if these people are in requirements discussions related to SAP? Who will create that urgently needed report if they are in a conference room trying to help the data migration team move the legacy transaction history over to SAP? What if the client’s business climate becomes more competitive and the business requires yet another tweak to the legacy system to support the latest marketing program? But there are all those SAP meetings to go to!

We came to the quick conclusion that the client could hire 20 or 50 or 100 SAP consultants (or another 250 in India) and not deliver a working SAP instance any faster because those few legacy subject matter experts (SMEs) could only attend just so many hours a day of meetings.

My project manager friend pointed me to a set of really wonderful project management “fables” which uses the feudal system of middle age Europe and the story of Robin Hood to illustrate the real-world, political problems faced by today’s project managers in a the resource constrained realm of shared resources. Check out Robin Hood PMs and Feudal Line Management by Dick Billows at 4pm.com. This article makes some great points and is amusing reading and all too true! A small sample of this gem:

“Sure, there were all those blasé assurances of “full support” from the line managers before the project started. Now that the work has begun, these feudal Sheriffs of Nottingham patrol their castle walls hurling stones and boiling oil on PMs who attempt to utilize one of their artisans.....’A person can have but one boss and that is I.’.... the sheriff notes the PM’s project work assignment on a scrap of paper but does not assign a specific individual from the castle to complete the task. ... They (the PM) don’t know who will be working on the assignment When the sheriff finally does allow work to start, the selected individual is usually not the most skilled artisan in the castle. Often, the sheriff picks an individual whose absence from the castle may actually improve the castle. .... The sheriff may recall them on a whim or to silence another whining Robin Hood. How does the borrowed person react to all this? It’s clear that the project assignments should not, in any way, interfere with the person’s accountabilities in the castle. It’s there after all, that the sheriff will decide on compensation, promotion and continuing employment. The PM has none of these rewards to dole out... With several borrowed people on the team, usually on critical path assignments, the project team takes on an excessively casual, holiday-like atmosphere. This is in stark counterpoint to the user or client King who views the project as a crusade and reminds the PM of its importance at annoying frequent intervals.”

Another gem from the same site, Project Approval Games: Three Fantasies where the fantasies are Executive Fantasy Land (too much confidence in the PM), the Used Car Lot (PM as “slick shyster” trying to rip the executive off), and The Eager Puppy Dog (which drives PMs to pad their project estimates with contingency and executives to assume there is extra fat which can be cut).

Read both and enjoy!

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Back from a Blogging Hiatus

I am hopefully back from a long blogging hiatus. Things just got a little crazy for a couple of weeks at work and at home. I spent a lot of time working with some members of the IBM SAP consulting practice on enterprise integration issues related to connecting SAP to non-SAP systems. It was fun and I learned a little about the “order to cash” process while I was at it but it suffocated my blogging-related brain cells. I also spent numerous weekend hours braving the June and July heat in Nashville to scratch a couple of items off my “honey do list.” These items were however only belatedly off the list as I was reminded “if you’d done it earlier in the year it wouldn’t have been so hot.” Also during this time I have been trying to take better care of myself and get some much needed exercize on weeknights. Put those three things together and you have very few discretionary hours left for blogging. Surely, I am not the only blogger to have this problem?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Globalized I/T Architect

There was a lot of fanfare about the IBM "town hall" in Bangalore, India recently. My teammates in Bangalore all got to attend. Based on the Tuesday morning conference call comments, it was a big hit over there

Sam Palmisano, also had some interesting words in the Financial Times the other day. Basically he said the multi-national corporation is dead ... to be superceded by "the globally integrated enterprise." I have no way of knowing how much of this is truly original thought but I would point his comments out to readers.

All of this globalization has a huge impact on those of us who have to shepherd complex software projects along. The globally dispersed development model is alive and well. I suppose, however, that almost any big company that might move a lot of software work offshore has already done it. So now what happens? What does this mean for us as "high wage country" I/T architects? Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Whether we like it or not our job often become to ensure that the global model chosen by the bosses way above us is succesful. Project sabatoge to get them to change their mind is career suicide.
  2. Our job will be getting even more consultative. We will likely spend even a greater percentage of our time worrying about business requirements.
  3. Our "Soft Skills" become even more important as we spend more time writing, presenting, facilitating, persuading, planning, coordinating, selling our ideas, etc.
  4. We'll focus more and more on the things which must be done face-to-face with the business users, excutives, clients, etc. If you can do your job over a VPN from your home office, beware because the job could probably be done from the other side of the world.
  5. We'll write more documentation than ever before so as to enable the armies of offshore developers to be successful (see #1). More and more we will be successful when we achieve results thru others. (Almost sounds like management doesn't it?)
  6. The offshore teams' work will move "up the food chain" to become more and more strategic. See a URL I've pointed to before, IBM to invest $200 million in Global Business Solution Center. The technical lead for this effort, Ray Harishankar, was recently appointed an IBM Fellow, the highest level a technical person can achieve in IBM. There are only 62 of them today out of over 300,000 IBM employees.

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Monday, June 05, 2006

I Really Am a Master Certified I/T Architect

I have previously blogged about the on-going efforts for vendor-neutral certification of I/T Architects, The Open Group which is running the program, how the goal is to get this certification as widely recognized as the PMP certification for project managers, and how IBM was the first employer to have its internal I/T Architect certification program "accredited" by the Open Group. (Drum roll please...) I would like to officially announce that according to the Open Group I am now a "Master Certified I/T Architect".

Anyone who would like make sure I didn't make this up may do so by going to the directory search and using "IBM Corporation", "Hartman", and my personal confirmation code of "ART_SCI_ITA" as the search criteria.

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved /p>

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Are All the Good I/T, Science, and Engineering Jobs Going Overseas?

Over the last several years, I have endured much gloom and doom talk among I/T professionals about the evil influence of offshoring of I/T jobs to India, China, and other lower-cost countries with large numbers of highly educated workers. The mood around me seems to have improved over about three years ago from one of panic to one of acceptance (or is that resignation that offshoring isn't going away?).

I recognized early that one important enabler of this business model was the wide availability of inexpensive and reliable telecommunications. This allows, for example, me to have my regular Tuesday and Thursday morning conference calls with my co-workers Bangalore without anybody really worrying about the cost of the phone call. I do, however, remember making my own jokes about how the US needed the CIA to put some Navy SEALs in mini-submarines on the floor of the India Ocean to cut the fiber optic cables heading to India.

As a sign of the improved relationship with my Indian friends, I got brave enough to share my joke with one of our programmers from Bangalore. I was pleased to find he took my joke in a good natured way and countered my joke with a laugh and something along the lines of "Oh... we have so many redundant lines we'd be ok in Bangalore. But Pakistan... if you cut one fiber optic cable the whole country would be out of business!"

I've been a little behind in my blog reading and I stumbled across a gem on Irving Wladawsky-Berger's blog. He's the IBM Vice President, Technical Strategy and Innovation. He has a posting entitled Skills, Jobs, Competitiveness, and Innovation which address the comment I've heard many times from I/T professionals "I wouldn't let my child go to college to major in computer science." He makes several good points:
  • According to the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) the size of the IT employment market in the United States today is higher than it was at the height of the dot-com boom.
  • Information technology appears as though it will be a growth area at least for the coming decade, and the US government projects that several IT occupations will be among the fastest growing occupations during this time.
  • And... like we in leadership positions in custom application development business at IBM Global Services have been preaching to our practitioners... the role of the I/T professional in the US and developed countries is changing to one which is more consultative vs. heads down pounding code into the keyboard. Soft skills and business knowledge are becoming more important. "These new jobs are much more collaborative, interdisciplinary and broad than in the past. They require solid technical competence, combined with industry, business and management knowledge as well as good communication and interpersonal skills."

I will add this one cautionary note. The attitude now is both that offshoring is not going away and that decision makers will lead with offshoring. By "lead with offshoring" I mean that almost any big project will be assumed from the beginning to be delivered by a globally dispersed team. For consulting organizations, that means the first proposal will already have global resources baked into the projected costs. (If for no other reason than the assumption that the competition will.) For more evidence see IBM announced a $200 million investment.

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

SAP Projects and the "Big Bang" Theory

A fellow IBMer saw some of my previous posts about navigating the SAP maze from a custom development point of view and sent me an email basically asking the question "Can SAP projects be iterative? All the ones I've ever seen always seem so 'big bang.'" The more I thought about his question, the more I realized how reasonable the question seemed to those of us who've been building custom applications. After all, how many small SAP projects have you seen? How many have put something in production in 3 months? Don't most of them have budgets in the tens of millions of dollars (or even more)?

I decided to pose his question to a "real SAP consultant" I met recently. She claimed that SAP projects can be iterative. An project can cycle thru multiple iterations of the ABAP programs used for point-to-point integration with SAP (the old style integration pre-dating XI) and companies can and do gradually add new modules to their SAP environment. (This is probably more incremental vs. iterative).

I challenged her "don't the customization done at the beginning of an SAP project drive the generation of database schemas? Aren't these database schemas hard to change?" She said she typically isn't involved in that kind of SAP setup but that it could be done. There was, however, a catch. Such a change would probably require some kind of data migration project associated with it to move data from one schema to another. My gut tells me these data migrations are almost always painful. There is a reason IBM acquired Ascential a while back. The phrase Master Data Management (MDM) is familiar to all SAP consultants. If your client is looking at SAP, you'll get familiar with it too.

I think this may shed light on why SAP projects appear to be such a "big bang". Most companies do not want to support more than one system of record simultaneously. (The "E" in ERP stands for "Enterprise" so otherwise you are taking the "E" out.) They want SAP to take over all of whatever it is doing (for example the order to cash process). Otherwise you get into a need for the new SAP and the old legacy system to exchange a lot of information to keep each other "in synch" with what they are doing. Everyone these days wants their data up-to-date in real time so that probably means real-time synchronization.

I know of a company facing exactly that kind of decision. They don't really like the idea of rolling a new system out across the whole company. They'd prefer to roll new capabilities out to a single line of business first. But... each line of business shares a lot of the same customers and dealers. They often share warehouses. Shipments to customers often contain a mix of products from different lines of business. With today's legacy systems, customer can mix products from different lines of business on the same order. Imagine the implications of changing the order to cash process to a new SAP system and rolling it out to only one line of business at a time:
  • Do I track inventory in two different systems?
  • How do I load a truck at the warehouse if the shipment includes products from both systems?
  • How do I keep up with vacant storage bins in the shared warehouses if the inventory is split between two systems. Do I draw a line down the middle and and disallow putting line of business A's inventory on the line of business B side of the line?
  • How will I generate the pick list for the people that load the trucks? Will they have to work from two lists? How do yo make sure it'll all fit on the same truck?
  • Dealers don't have to split orders by line of business today, will they have to split their orders into two separate orders tomorrow while we're in transition?
  • Will customers have to check the status of different line of business orders separately?
  • Will my dealers get a single invoice with all line items like today? or will they get two separate invoices, one for each system?
  • Will dealers get a single monthly statement?... or two separate monthly statements?
  • When a dealer visits the B2B website today they can order products from different lines of business from one screen. In the future, will they have to go to one screen for one line of products and to a different screen for the others?
So, the choices are clear (or is that murky?):
  • Offload the data integration onto your employees and customers; making them deal with separate orders, separate shipments, separate invoices, separate statements, etc. OR
  • Spend millions on middleware solutions to broker all transactions so that they all look to the external customer like there is a single back end system OR
  • Put the "E" back in ERP and don't even try to roll out an order-to-cash process until your whole business (Enterprise) is ready.
Which would you choose?

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.