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Connected Architecture for a Connected Planet
Or how to connect the architecture dots to support a smart connected planet

Or how to connect the architecture dots to support a smart connected planet.

Introduction
The notion of a connected planet is far from new. However, the number of connections as illustrated in figure 1 is growing at an exponential rate, and it is fast becoming a reality in which many organizations must operate.

However, I doubt many organizations are preparing for this in a systematic way. More likely, experience suggests that dozens of connected ‘solutions' will permeate the organization via myriad routes and just add to the complexity of the business and IT landscape, becoming yet more spaghetti that someone is left to untangle.

Architecture is key to dealing with this. However, architectural practices must evolve to themselves become more connected, and not a set of isolated disciplines as they are often practiced today. Hence, in this note as well as considering the challenges and opportunities provided by the connected planet, I outline the role of connected architecture.

The Connected Planet
The looming challenge, or for some the opportunity, facing organizations is how they cope with the scenario shown in figure 1.

Figure 1 - The Connected Planet

Namely, that there will be

  • Trillionsof connected things, sometimes dumb but increasingly smart
  • Used by billionsof people, socializing and interacting to evaluate and rate you, your products, prices, and competitors.
  • Generating quadrillionsof messages representing quadrillions of events, some significant but many insignificant
  • Connected to millions of APIs and services, hosted in the cloud
  • Accessing and creating petabytes of information, both current and historical

This is a scenario I first documented back in a blog in2009 [1]. IDC talk about this as the "3rd platform, built on mobile devices and apps, cloud services, mobile broadband networks, big data analytics and social technologies" [2], and paint a scenario in their research that reads remarkably similar to the above.

Winners and Losers on the Connected Planet
The key issue for organizations will be

  • How does the business cope with information overload, or derive value from it?
  • How does IT deliver business solutions that manage the resulting transaction and information explosion, in a cost-effective manner?

The winners in this scenario will be those that exhibit the characteristics outlined in Table 1.

Winners are:
Constantly Connected With their Customers. Anywhere, Anytime, Anyhow
Constantly Engaged To help customers (and themselves) make informed decisions
Agile Responsive to change Creating new opportunities
Decoupled Provider from Consumer Solution from Technology Application from Process from Capability
Responsive Sensing and predicting events Correlating events Autonomic response
Excellent Six-Sigma products and processes
Efficient Automated and Autonomic Low operational cost per event response (e.g. business transaction) Optimized processes
Federated Driving multi-party ecosystems (internal and external)
Focused On core capabilities Best sourcing and collaborative sourcing of non-core capabilities

Table 1 - Winners and Losers on the Connected Planet By implication, the losers will be those organizations that fail to exhibit these characteristics!

The Connected Architecture Solution
So, how does an organization make sense of trillions of connected things and billions of people accessing petabytes of information via millions of APIs and services? Firstly, organizations and their IT solutions need to become increasingly,

  • Autonomic, in the way they,
    • respond to events, and how they correlate events and information
    • discover new service providers and their APIs
    • manage resources, adopting the principle of ‘management of services, by services'
    • freeing up human resources to deal with exceptions and ‘special cases'
  • Analytical, in the way they,
    • make sense of events and information
  • Decoupled, in the way they,
    • participate in federated ecosystems, not tightly bound partnerships
    • separate service provider from service consumer
    • assemble solutions from services not implementations

Figure 2 - Connected Architecture

As stated earlier, architecture is key to dealing with this. However, there is no one architectural ‘style' that encompasses everything that is required to solve the problem. It would be tempting to say the answer is SOA, or the answer is WOA, or any other acronym that is or was flavor of the month, or for architects to believe that it all revolves around whatever is their ‘pet' approach. While SOA principles of encapsulation and separation will inevitably be at the heart of the connected architecture, the practical reality of a collaboration between disparate organizations and capabilities will mean a federated architecture involving different technical solutions.
As illustrated in figure 2 what is required is an agile federated approach to architecture that assembles a Connected Architecture consisting of the following,

  • Web 2.0 Architecture - enabling people to rapidly mash up user and community driven solutions, in turn assembled from millions of APIs and services, and generating quadrillions of events,
  • leveraging Enterprise Mobility to connect employees, partners and customers, and their devices, anytime, anywhere,
  • requiring Event Driven Architecture (EDA) to determine the autonomic response required to sensors and changes in state, and correlate events,
  • that are also placed into context by agile Business Process Architecture (BPA/BPM) and Information Architecture (IA), with Real-time Business Analytics (BA) to make sense of what is happening,
  • using capabilities provisioned through APIs and services in a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) that provides a formal basis for the decoupling of Provider and Consumers resources,
  • combined with a Web Oriented, or Resource Oriented Architecture (WOA/ROA) exchanging information between those trillions of devices in an efficient manner that will likely be done in a more lightweight manner than full blown Web Service-based SOA, with their implementations defined in a Component Based Software Architecture (CBSA) - with the focus on right-grained software units enabling agile, federated software delivery, that is hosted anywhere, anytime on a Cloud Based Architecture (CBA) that describes the virtualized, federated infrastructure providing scalability, reliability.

No one of these styles covers the problem space by itself. Rather, the problem space needs to be decomposed and the appropriate architecture approach applied to each domain.

Connected Platform

Another key enabler will be the increasing use of ‘Connected Platforms'. Cloud ‘platforms' such as Salesforce, Facebook or Amazon are in wide use and are already dominant in their respective domains because their platforms provide a considerable benefit by way of platform capabilities in comparison to building their own, and more importantly to business perhaps, provide a gateway to a ready-made ecosystem that use the platform.
Expect Connected Platforms to emerge that act as a ‘hub' or focal point around which industry ecosystems evolve, and it is likely that every industry will come to be dominated by a few key platform providers.

Many organizations will therefore have little choice of which Connected Platform they use as they will be forced upon them by participants in their industry - either by the 400lb gorillas who already dominate their industry, or by the platforms to which their ecosystem and end customers have gravitated, forcing them to adopt.

As illustrated by figure 3, the challenge for each enterprise will be to determine,

  • what their role is in the ecosystem, as provider and /or consumer, or possibly platform operator
  • hence, which services they should be expected to provide, and which they should consume
  • what services the Connected Platform is or should be providing, and who should providing them
  • their willingness to depend on the Connected Platform and the extent to which they allow the platform to dominate
  • the extent to which architects design their service architecture around the Connected Platform, or to what extent they should design their own platform independent architecture, especially for large organizations who may participate in multiple overlapping ecosystems, with multiple Connected Platforms.

Figure 3 - The Connected Platform

The Architect's Challenge

The key challenge for architects is that they cannot treat the various elements of the Connected Architecture as they often do today - as architectural silos [3] in ivory towers. Instead, as discussed earlier the elements must work seamlessly together. But this isn't solved by Enterprise Architecture - which may contain elements of all these - at least not alone, as this is about working at the detailed level to deliver solutions, not just a high-level view of the enterprise.
Hence it is important that architects develop a consistent framework for collaboration within the Connected Architecture. This is an area in which Everware-CBDI is well placed to assist.

IASA UK Architecture Summit

My colleague David Sprott and I will be running a one day workshop on these and other related ideas at the IASA UK Architecture Summit.

References

[1] Architecture for the Smarter Planet. http://lwsoa.blogspot.co.uk/2009/10/architecture-for-smarter-planet.html [2] IDC Predictions 2013. November 2012, IDC #238044, Volume: 1 http://www.idc.com/research/Predictions13/index.jsp#.UR4HSmf-unI [3] Beware the new silos! http://everware-cbdi.com/index.php?cID=118&cType=document

Read the original blog entry...

About Lawrence Wilkes
Lawrence Wilkes is a consultant, author and researcher developing best practices in Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), Enterprise Architecture (EA), Application Modernization (AM), and Cloud Computing. As well as consulting to clients, Lawrence has developed education and certification programmes used by organizations and individuals the world over, as well as a knowledgebase of best practices licenced by major corporations. See the education and products pages on http://www.everware-cbdi.com

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When discussing disruptive technologies, the topic of blockchain inevitably enters the conversation. Gartner recently listed blockchain as one of the ‘Key platform-enabling technologies to track.’ Approximately $1.4B has been invested in blockchain just this year, according to PwC executive Seamus Cushley. IBM announced this week a Blockchain-as-a-Service Enterprise offering at their Interconnect Conference. While there is a lot of ‘hype vs reality’ discussions going on, there is no arguing that blockchain is being taken very seriously across industries and cannot be ignored.
Digital transformation. It’s only two simple words, but in the increasingly complex, customer-centric enterprise IT landscape, it’s a phrase that carries multiple meanings — to the point where some would probably observe, tongue-in-cheek, that it doesn’t mean anything anymore. It’d be hard to argue that “digital transformation” hasn’t been pushed into buzzword territory by those of us who write about business IT, but I feel like that speaks more of the concept’s genuine relevance and importance to the success of today’s digital first enterprises than just simple hype. The sports media talks ...
I happened to be in India last November when prime minister Modi announced the demonetization program, where 86% of the currency in the form of two paper bills (Rs. 500 and 1000 denomination) were made defunct. People were given time to deposit their existing currencies in the bank. Those who had unusually high volume of such currencies were supposed to declare the legal source or face stiff penalties such as 60-75% tax. The goal was to catch the money hoarders and black marketers who avoid paying taxes on such undeclared money.
Choosing a programming framework for a small business can be overwhelming– there are so many. Here are a few of the best choices, to help you get started. Ask a room of ten developers which programming framework is the ‘best on the market,' and you're liable to receive ten different answers. Each developer will sing the praises of a different language, and each one will very probably feel that theirs is the only logical choice. The most confusing thing, though? Each and every one of those developers will be correct.
My daughter is taking a class on entrepreneurship in her senior year of high school (yep, that’s the Silicon Valley for you). She loves the class, the energy of the teacher, and the creativity associated with the subject. As a result, we have had several conversations about what does it mean to be an entrepreneur. While I am sure there are folks more qualified than me to define what it means to be an entrepreneur, I’ve run into enough of those folks over the years to believe that I have a pretty decent perspective.
Digital transformation is happening everywhere. It starts with an expectation that whatever an organization does in the real world is supported by—and expands through—its digital presence. As the process continues, digital transformation should drive innovative ways to engage customers, get the most from resources and differentiate its way into completely new markets. All these great expectations come from both within and outside an organization, and can add up to a big challenge for any team. According to MIT Sloan Management Review, “Preparing for a digital future is no easy task. It means ...
Today, it seems like we’re reading about more advanced and intelligent kiosk implementations across every industry. Whether it is in healthcare with the medication disposal kiosks, Walgreens introduced last fall in 14 locations across Indiana, or it’s the new self-service devices at McDonald’s for automating ordering. Even sporting and entertainment venues are getting in the game by introducing kiosks and integrated mobile solutions to bring new levels of play and competition to sports such as golf and bowling. Managing data flowing to and from these devices back to the enterprise can be compl...
Containerization is popularly viewed as the ‘virtualization of virtualization’ or ‘next generation virtualization.’ However, containers have existed long before virtualization or the advent of modern container technology like Docker and Linux Containers. Similar tech was built into mainframe systems that pervaded the IT landscape for the preceding decades. However, the implication, as the name suggests, is that modern software containerization will have the same seismic impact on the IT industry as shipping containers have had on maritime freight transport. Indeed, it is quite common now for ...
The IT industry is undergoing a significant evolution to keep up with cloud application demand. We see this happening as a mindset shift, from traditional IT teams to more well-rounded, cloud-focused job roles. The IT industry has become so cloud-minded that Gartner predicts that by 2020, this cloud shift will impact more than $1 trillion of global IT spending. This shift, however, has left some IT professionals feeling a little anxious about what lies ahead. The good news is that cloud computing is relatively new by IT's standards, which means it's constantly expanding to encompass new career...
Trends as Internet of things (IoT), distributed IT, data sovereignty requirements, and pervasive security concerns are combining to challenge how IT operates. Thanks to adoption of hybrid IT, tech organizations are shifting to become strategists and internal service providers. To help us define a new ideology for hybrid IT, we're joined by Neil Thurston, Chief Technologist for the Hybrid IT Practice at Logicalis Group in the UK. The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Lots of cloud technology predictions and analysis are still dealing with future spending and planning, but there are plenty of real-world cloud use cases and implementations happening now. One approach, taken by stalwart GE, is to use SaaS applications for non-differentiated uses. For them, that means moving functions like HR, finance, taxes and scheduling to SaaS, while spending their software development time and resources on the core apps that make GE better, such as inventory, planning and sales. Essentially, as for more and more large enterprises, GE is getting out of the infrastructure b...
Information Technology has advanced in different areas at different speeds. This has always been true, as people found workable solutions to the problems that faced them today, most often before there was a market for those solutions. While things like virtualization and eventually cloud computing grew slowly, programming languages sat at the same point for around a decade before the current round of new languages and approaches—Python, Ruby, Node, Swift—came about. These things seem unrelated, but there is a union of the two sets of changes that we are about to see blossom.
Big data is old news. Today, the key to leveraging data effectively is to do fast data. In a similar fashion, traditional incident management—which entails collecting and analyzing large volumes of monitoring information—is no longer enough. Organizations must also now do “fast monitoring,” which means not only collecting monitoring data; but making it actionable in real-time. This post examines what fast monitoring means, and explains how incident management teams can implement this approach to realize great benefits.
The mad dash to connect virtually every noun to the internet or The Internet of Things, is creating a massive M2M network for all the devices, systems, sensors and actuators to connect & communicate on the Internet. With that, they need a communications protocol to understand each other. One of those is Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT). MQTT is a “subscribe and publish” messaging protocol designed for lightweight machine-to-machine (or IoT) communications. In this episode of Lightboard Lessons, I light up how MQTT works.
In 2016, blockchain technology came close to hitting its peak on Gartner’s annual Hype Cycle, signaling an imminent shift from an emerging, theoretical technology to widespread adoption. Like cloud, big data, and the Internet of Things (IoT) before it, blockchain is the tech industry’s latest Next Big Thing. Analysts and industry experts say it holds immense potential for organizations, but many business leaders don’t yet see a practical application for their operations. While a lot of people know blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies, what about ent...
These days attacks are becoming more sophisticated and more common. Mobile devices, cloud computing and the Internet of Things have increased the number of access points that must be secured. To complicate matters, CISOs are been directed to secure system without compromising the seamless experience that customers expect across channels, and if the organization is in a regulated industry, compliance issues likely increase the team’s workload. To best detect threats and respond to incidents quickly, many organizations decide they need a security operations center to provide proper protection a...
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Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

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Oracle

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OpSource

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PwC

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Oracle

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AWS

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