I have been very fortunate to be in information technology through one of its largest growth curves. I came out of college with a B.S. in electronic engineering in the early 80s (hate to admit it, but it is good experience) and joined organizations where their IT group grew exponentially. One example was in the early 90s. I joined a major shipping company and saw the IT department grow from around 400 to 3,000 in less than five years.

With this explosive growth in the industry came a lot of rapid changes – only change was constant. I started programming at Bell Telephone Laboratories when I was in college using c-language and was fortunate to meet Kernighan and Ritchie (it’s inventors). They had created the language to build one of the worlds most powerful operating systems (UNIX) – it is still one of the few operating systems that does not have viruses and has withstood the test of time.

I have really enjoyed reading the comments of readers of my humble blog on the IT world. It's only one person's opinion, but it is the comments that make it a dialog; and it’s a dialog of individuals that create the momentum to morph an industry. IT is a big industry and we have all contributed to it.

I recently came back from Enterprise Data World (after giving the talk with Dr. Peter Aiken on “Data Services and Virtualization”) and noticed all of the comments here. After EDW 2010 came the Gartner Symposium in Vegas on MDM, EA and BI. With all of this running around, I have not had the chance to update my blog – my apologies to all.

These conferences reinforced many of the points that readers made and per my promise, I will devote this blog to reader’s comments and input.

MDM and data governance are foundational to IT:

  • Back in December 2009, I talked about Dr. Richard Hackathorn and his brilliant chart called the Time-Value Curve. He first published in January 2004, and he brought up some great points (take a look at his comments on the blog). What good is speed if it doesn’t set the mood?
  • In February 2010, a reader brilliantly noted that: "relationship management" is a key. I would go on to note that it is the management of expectations that makes IT successful. Relationship management is required because we are a cost-center and a business enabler (in most cases). Most of the time businesspeople don’t understand what we are going to give them. Starting small is the way to go, because through a pilot project businesspeople can see value in what you are proposing.

End of a tough year:

  • A reader mentioned “If we look at society which progressed towards borderless one nation from territorial divides to one community called IT - it is in our hands to make the world survive the next financial crisis, next environmental crisis, next Swine Flu crisis and next Crisis itself to mankind and make a better World for All… and hopefully people who lost their jobs will also be back in the coming year.” We face a lot of challenges, but with IT we can solve many of them – improving the supply chain of pharmaceuticals, helping track global viruses, etc.
  • It is my hope that many of my friends (who are experts with tons of experience in their respective fields) get assignments in this year. Business is starting to pick up. If you need an expert in a specific discipline, drop me a note and I can send you some incredibly talented, experienced, knowledgeable resources with great references!

Back in the beginning of my blog (early 2009), there were a lot of comments about enterprise architecture and the Zachman framework.

  • All of the comments I read were true – Zachman was an industry pioneer and his process still stands true. If we understand the business architecture, then we understand the business challenges, dilemmas and how to facilitate the automation and improvement of business processes.
  • That is our ultimate goal when you think of it. Architecture (of KPI’s for example) is really the understanding (monitoring in this example) of the business and the feeding of information that will improve them (BAM, BPM – if it looks like a rose, smells like a rose, you know the rest!)

Data services and virtualization:

  • This article elicited a lot of comments and all were good. Take a moment to read them.
    Ed noted the need for orchestration (similar to but not the same as choreography). He was right-on in that when you implement services-based architectures you need to coordinate the integration using rules. But there are even ways around this. Consider publishing using a MOM or services bus a data name that is unique for each system and now you can integrate what you need when you need it. Still, overall, Ed is correct – we are implementing business rules so consider using a "rules engine" (orchestration layered with rules and metadata) when the complexity get’s enormous.
  • Ram was correct in stating that it’s not just technology. I have always tried to tell management that the challenge we face is a combination of: process, technology/tools and people. Remove any one of these from your analysis and development and you have a solution that will not be very useful! An old superior of mine used to purport that: "A fool with a tool is still a fool." (He was a heavy drinker though and lost one of his best assets. So, I don’t know if this can be a trusted source of information. LOL)

As for the growth of data, consider that when tech analyst John Gantz, a researcher IDC, began tallying up all the digital information generated annually, he first looked in the obvious places. Gantz ultimately calculated that 161 exabytes of digital data -- or about 161 billion GB -- were generated in 2006!

  • Bob of Composite Software made a great point about perspective and wanted to know about my opinion of standard. Here it is. Standards always lag behind the industry leaders. First we create a product that solves a problem; others want to capitalize on the solution; they create a version; integration becomes a challenge; so standards are needed; a body is created and takes committees a long time to agree; by the time there is agreement, there is a virtual industry standard in effect (consider electronic gadgets like DVDs – they change so fast that the standard becomes the best seller like BlueRay). Just having fun Bob, I agree that there is a need for standards. I’ve joined a DAMA committee on standardizing the DMBOK to include ‘Integration’ – you may want to consider joining!

We’ll that's all for now, keep the comments coming and let’s create a better world together by joining forces to solve the IT challenge that lie ahead of us. Remember that change is the only constant so you need to consider a changing plan – not a stationary one since the target will move by the time you get there. That’s why I like iterative development projects and methodologies and small pilots to prove out concepts. If you can gain credibility and value quickly, then you can gain it long term iteratively!

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