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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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This complete kit provides a proven process and customizable documents that will help you evaluate rapid application delivery platforms and select the ideal partner for building mobile and web apps for your organization.
A recent CIO editorial by Bernard Golden regarding the future of private cloud spurred some interesting commentary in my network. The pushback seemed to focus around the viability of the term “private cloud”. These individuals are well-respected thought-leaders in cloud with significant experience guiding senior IT executives transition to modern architectures, so I decided I’d engage them in a discussion regarding the future of self-managed infrastructure as a whole.
Generally speaking, there are two kinds of companies in the world: data rich and data poor. The richest of the data rich are easy to name: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple. But you don’t need to be at the top of this list to use data to create value. You need to have the tools in place to turn information (data) into action. That’s what the data rich do that the data poor and the data middle class do not.
With 2016 crossing the half way point, let’s take a look at some technology trends thus far. Breaches: Well, many databases are half empty due to the continued rash of intrusions while the crooks are half full with our personal information. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), there have been 522 breaches thus far in 2016 exposing almost 13,000,000 records. Many are health care providers as our medical information is becoming the gold mine of stolen info. Not really surprising since the health care wearable market is set to explode in the coming years. Many of those weara...
In a series of articles, I am going to share my thoughts on the state of IT infrastructure and how we've arrived with current architecture trends. The topic today is SAN. Storage Area Networking (SAN) is a technology that solved a real problem that existed a couple decades ago. SANs have been a foundational piece of IT infrastructure architecture for a long time and have helped drive major innovations in storage. But how relevant are SANs today in the age of software-defined datacenters? Let's talk about how we have arrived at modern storage architecture.
Server Virtualization has transformed the way we manage server workloads but virtualization hypervisors were not the endgame of datacenter management. What is the role of server virtualization and hypervisors in the new age of cloud, containers, and more importantly, hyperconvergence? I covered SAN technology in my last Infrastructure 101 article, so for today I'm going to cover server virtualization and maybe delve into containers and cloud. Server virtualization as we know it now is based on hypervisor technology. A hypervisor is an operating system that allows sharing of physical comput...
Since its introduction in 2009, Microsoft Azure has gone through a significant transformation. What started as a hardcore set of platform services is now a force to be reckoned within the infrastructure market as well. According to Gartner, Azure is inching closer to AWS, firmly securing its place in the top right section of the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Magic Quadrant, which is reserved only for the market leaders.

Let's just nip the conflation of these terms in the bud, shall we?

"MIcro" is big these days. Both microservices and microsegmentation are having and will continue to have an impact on data center architecture, but not necessarily for the same reasons. There's a growing trend in which folks - particularly those with a network background - conflate the two and use them to mean the same thing.

They are not.

One is about the application. The other, the network. There is a relationship, but it's a voluntary one. They are two very different things and we need to ...

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Past SYS-CON Events
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2011west.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
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    Cloud Expo West
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    Virtualization Expo West
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2010west.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo Europe
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    Cloud Expo East
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2010east.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo East
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    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2009west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualizationconference
2009west.sys-con.com
    GovIT Expo
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    Cloud Expo Europe
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Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

Butte
PwC

Leone
Oracle

Riley
AWS

Varia
AWS

Lye
Oracle

O'Connor
AppZero

Crandell
RightScale

Nucci
Dell Boomi

Hillier
CiRBA

Morrison
Layer 7 Tech

Robbins
NYT

Schwarz
Oracle

What The Enterprise IT World Says About Cloud Expo
 
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Navisite
 


 
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Chief Scientist
Univa UD
 


 
"Good crowd, good questions. The event looked very successful."
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CTO
Citrix Systems
 


 
"It's the largest cloud computing conference I've ever seen."
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CTO
Brick Group