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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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In June I was presenting at the ThingsExpo conference  at the Javits Center in New York City. During my talk I was demonstrating how to integrate consumer devices into a business workflow. In particular, I was doing live measuring of my own blood pressure to show how to integrate consumer devices into a business workflow. Internet […]
I came across a very interesting story posted at the Reviewed.com. Website in the section covering home oven reviews. The headline read “The Smart Home Dominates the Internet of Things.” The story, based on a recent report published by Appinions, a market research firm, stated that while home automation “is used interchangeably” with the Internet of Things, the fact is that the IoT is far bigger than that. “It promises to unify a vast array of industrial and commercial devices and activities, not just your phone and dishwasher.” To be sure, home automation is leading the way right now, what with Apple, Google, Microsoft and other companies jumping on the bandwagon. What is missing in the piece is the real challenge (and opportunity) of the IoT: monetization.
The evolution of JavaScript and HTML 5 to support a genuine component based framework (Web Components) with the necessary tools to deliver something close to a native experience including genuine realtime networking (UDP using WebRTC). HTML5 is evolving to offer built in templating support, the ability to watch objects (which will speed up Angular) and Web Components (which offer Angular Directives). The native level support will offer a massive performance boost to frameworks having to fake all these features like Polymer and Angular. It will also encourage people who are not familiar with these next generational frameworks to get in on the action. As I am from a gaming background then I always complain that TCP (Web Sockets) is not genuinely real-time, so I look forward to seeing UDP (WebRTC) solutions being delivered like Desktop Sharing in Chrome 34.
So exactly how do you kick start a DevOps strategy? For example, say your organization is tied down to a very sequential, but cumbersome Waterfall approach to software development that is wasting precious dollars and hindering productivity? In the following we’ve outlined some strategy tips that every business leader will need to consider as they start down the path of DevOps adoption. Whatever steps your organization takes on the DevOps path of rolling out software faster and more effectively and deployment will require the support of your senior level management team. Explain the advantages of DevOps to the executive team in terms that they can easily understand. Provide an outline of how DevOps and cloud computing can save on ROI and get your new mobile application into the hands of the customer faster and more effectively with higher quality.
The IoT has the potential to transform the world, bringing new functions and efficiency to big problems such as disease, poverty, traffic, and government transparence. It also makes for a nice Christmas gift for “kids in science fair projects.” This latter point was made by Broadcom and Brian Bedrosian, the company's senior director for wireless connectivity. Specifically, the company has introduced its Wiced Sense Kit at a price of US$20. The kit—suitable for adult use, of course, as well--allows IoT developers and the millions of “makers” in the thriving Maker Movement to build sensors that communicate with iPhones, home communication hubs, and other devices. Suggested uses include baby monitors, door locks, and personal healthcare monitors. Broadcom's kit presumably competes with a US$25 kit from Texas Instruments, which also has Android and Bluetooth functionality.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is getting personal. Wearables, ingestables, even implantables – devices that not only help us with our fitness, but can monitor and manage disease and its treatment – are right around the corner. And where the IoT goes, money follows. In this case, Big Pharma smells opportunity. But while these new consumer doodads get all the press, health-related IoT technologies are only the tip of the iceberg for the Digital Transformation hitting the pharmaceutical industry, as it struggles with a turbulent business landscape. “There are very few blockbuster drugs,” explains Eric Pilkington, EVP Digital Strategy at McCann Health North America. “The pharma companies are trying to figure out what to do. The competitors are the generics: identical and cheaper. The pharmas have to provide value beyond the drug itself.”
Such devices and connected technologies exist today, and the sector is driving the leading edge of the Internet of Things under the label of the “Connected Home” or “Smart Home”. Fact is, some pretty traditional low-tech concepts are becoming technology-enabled, such as/including locking doors, turning on the lights, heating the home, etc. What this means is that technology companies are broadening into areas that have historically been outside of their business plans. Apple is in the fitness business. Google is in the heating business. Samsung is in the appliance business. Others include cable TV and Internet provider Comcast, and the Schlage-brand lock maker Ingersoll Rand.
When we talk about the impact of BYOD and BYOA and the Internet of Things, we often focus on the impact on data center architectures. That's because there will be an increasing need for authentication, for access control, for security, for application delivery as the number of potential endpoints (clients, devices, things) increases. That means scale in the data center. What we gloss over, what we skip, is that before any of these "things" ever makes a request to access an application it had to execute a DNS query. Every. Single. Thing.
Elasticity is hailed as one of the biggest benefits of cloud and software-defined architectures. It's more efficient than traditional scalability models that only went one direction: up. It's based on the premise that wasting money and resources all the time just to ensure capacity on a seasonal or periodic basis is not only unappealing, but unnecessary in the age of software-defined everything. The problem is that scaling down is much, much harder than scaling up. Oh, not from the perspective of automation and orchestration. That is, as the kids say these days, easy peasy lemon squeezy. APIs have made the ability to add and remove resources simplicity itself. There isn't a load balancing service available today without this capability - at least not one that's worth having.
As enterprises work to rapidly embrace the mobile revolution, both for their workforce and to engage more deeply with their customers, the pressure is on for IT to support the tools needed by their application developers. Mobile application developers are working with a massive variety of technologies and platforms, but one trend that stands out is the rapid adoption of NoSQL database engines and the use of Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) platforms and services to run them. Gartner has predicted that by 2017, 20% of enterprises will have their own internal mobile app store, meaning that enterprises are deploying both commercial and custom applications to their workforce at increasing speeds. There’s no denying the massive growth in mobile applications within the enterprise.
The Internet of Things is only going to make that even more challenging as businesses turn to new business models and services fueled by a converging digital-physical world. Applications, whether focused on licensing, provisioning, managing or storing data for these "things" will increase the already significant burden on IT as a whole. The inability to scale from an operational perspective is really what software-defined architectures are attempting to solve by operationalizing the network to shift the burden of provisioning and management from people to technology.
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Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
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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RightScale

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