Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What's the most practical way to start a move to the cloud? The same approach as for any SOA undertaking

When moving to a cloud-based model, one of the first activities I recommend to my clients is to deconstruct the target business processes of the organization, much in the vein of a solution architect's approach to functional decomposition. Consider the Wikipedia definition: "…the process of decomposition is undertaken either for the purpose of gaining insight into the identity of the constituent components… or for the purpose of obtaining a compressed representation of the global function, a task which is feasible only when the constituent processes possess a certain level of modularity (i.e., independence or non-interaction).

This identification and compartmentalization -- breaking the problem down into smaller bits -- is derived from the Kaizen approach that promotes the decomposition of a larger problem into smaller chunks, from which corresponding solution logic can be realized. A larger problem (for sample, the execution of a client induction business process) can be better addressed when 'chunked' into smaller parts. Each component (web service) that is built exists as a separate tool responsible for solving one or more of the identified, smaller steps in a process. This SOA-derived approach forms the basis for a distributed model.

To achieve this, I've adopted -- as part of the Bluedog Unified Process -- a business process modeling approach that addresses a comprehensive approach to architecture, enables modeling of processes with an economic model, and addresses other important enterprise-level issues. This means an enterprise may undertake software projects to successfully address modern requirements of flexibility and cost-effectiveness.

Friday, November 25, 2011

How do you make the Cloud Work? IMHO, with the same governance as for SOA

If you read my book, you'd know that I advocate for the position that service oriented architecture (SOA) enables an enterprise to be adaptive -- by committing to the agile approach to service-enabling business processes, an organization exposes IT infrastructure with shared/reusable web services.

In my experience, a big benefit of cloud computing (for example, the cloud model for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' implementation of the Federal health care exchange, as I envisioned while on task at MITRE) is how that approach minimizes capital investment, keeping costs proportional to traffic/usage. The additional benefit of ubiquitous services (including automatic hot site / failover, and load balancing across geographically dispersed data centers) means purveyors of cloud infrastructure provide a large component of the tools needed to achieve, well, the Zen of SOA.

Think about this scenario: using Amazon or Google, an enterprise may provision and deploy onto the cloud infrastructure new or additional instances of both a platform (CentOS, for example) and software on an as-needed basis. As new users subscribe/access, the cloud platform addresses increased provisioning needs. In the case of AWS or Google, this underlying platform expands quickly and cheaply. Oh, and also contracts when not needed.

When I've developed policies and procedures for a service-enable enterprise, I've witnessed how that governance can provide controls to manage web service life cycles. With the SOA approach (read about it here), CIOs can track modifications to services, and place controls over who can change or update such services. With my kaizen-modeled philosophy, this occurs in a repeatable fashion, when governance policies are enforced. From this vantage point, a service-enabled enterprise can leverage the benefits of a cloud model, almost from the get-go.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Is there anything tea cannot do?

Here's an article [ How-a-chain-of-tea-shops-kickstarted-the-computer-age ] talking about the anniversary of The Lyons Electronic Office (LEO I), the first major enterprise computer business system, utilized at a chain of tea shops (and other business divisions). As a Lyons man (my choice of black tea, as opposed to Barry's), I'm suitable impressed with their foresight. On that cold (perfect for a cuppa) the day in 1951, we can hail the opening of the age of business computing.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A few thoughts on OWS

From an economics and sociology discussion -- under the right circumstances, conservatives and libertarians were as likely as anyone on the left to give wrong answers to economic questions. The proper inference from our work is not that one group is more enlightened, or less. It’s that “myside bias”—the tendency to judge a statement according to how conveniently it fits with one’s settled position—is pervasive among all of America’s political groups.

And, on a somewhat related note -- the top 1% are a killin us! [ read more ]

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mobile and cloud go together like turkey and gravy

With such tools as HTML5 and web services making mobile apps connected to cloud platforms a reality, B2C-facing applications still are the most frequently developed mobile apps. But why is the cloud such an important component? Look at Apple's iCloud… this offers users the ability to move to a network computing model -- with the iPad and iPhone being so-called "thin clients." The "fat" part of the workload is at the core of the computer network paradigm (in this case, Apple's big honkin' data center).

Here's a quote from this BusinessDay article, "Bandwidth is an important factor in utilising cloud services effectively… Most decision makers are, as a result, weighing up the benefits of cloud-based services," Mr Reed says. And research firm Gartner points to cloud computing as the potential for a broad, long-term impact in most industries.

Manufacturers such as computer hardware and consumer electronics firms, are most likely to deploy applications to the cloud (according to a Forrester study), although services firms are also aggressive adopters. Developers at health care companies are lagging in use the cloud, at the moment.

Amazon Web Services has launched a pair of cloud software development kits (SDKs) for Google Android and iOS that the company said will make it easier for developers to build mobile applications and services that leverage AWS cloud services. This is good for government, a growing consumer of Cloud services.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

As DC installs more shared bikes, will the city adopt NYC's progressive stance?

It appears, according to Michael Kimmelman, that New York City is ripe for a revolution: "Decades ago the architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown wrote about how we see cities differently at different speeds… On a bike time bends. Space expands and contracts… it may sound a little crazy to talk about meditating on urban scenery when the issue is crashing into double-parked cars, abruptly opened taxi doors and reckless riders, which is where properly designed and enforced bike lanes come in, or increasingly will, as their network grows." He goes on to write that the ciry has installed 260 miles of bike lanes in the last four years, and is setting up a bike-share system.

In DC, the Capital Bikeshare is expanding. The planned expansion of the Capital Bikeshare program is underway this month with more docking stations being added at the most popular locations where riders pick up and leave bikes in the District. Thirty-six docks, which keep bikes securely locked between uses, were added to four stations Monday. Four other stations were expanded Friday, and a total of 18 stations will have the capacity to handle more of the red bikes when the expansion is complete.

This bodes well for the bicycle as an alternative to bus, train and car (oh, and walking). While the weather may be turning nippy, rest assured you can find me out on the streets and trails…

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Has A.I. made its way to the consumer world? iYes

The iPhone 4s is mostly the same as the 4 (hardware-wise), but with an improved "smart" dual antenna configuration, cool higher-res camera, and a few other tweaks. But the main draw of the new Apple mobile platform (calling the iPhone "just a phone" is an injustice) is the so-called voice recognition built in, called Siri.

Siri traces its lineage directly back to the largest artificial intelligence project in history, the Pentagon’s CALO project -- “Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes” -- a project that involved hundreds of the world’s top researchers in various aspects of A.I. This happened at a DoD-sponsored effort. Siri is not “voice recognition,” it’s an app linked to a cloud-based artificial intelligence at Apple's spiffy new data center.

Siri uses Vlingo Nuance for speech recognition and as such, the speech recognition component is modular. Theoretically, if a better speech recognition comes along (or Apple buys one), they could likely replace Nuance without too much trouble.

A.I. is the science (and application) of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs -- using computers to understand humans, and, perhaps, go beyond mere computational capabilities.

Learn more about our coming computer overlords here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Three minimalist things that should be more popular than they are...

Spork. I don't know why a titanium spork is such a fun thing to own but it is.
Maybe it is because what you have is the idealized form of a piece of technology, the derivation of one of human's oldest tools. In this iteration the spork is as tough as steel, light, non-toxic, manages hot food without a problem, scoops up yogurt, soup, stew. Heck, you could dig an escape tunnel with it. Did I mention it is made out of the same material as the SR-71?

Zippo. When the hardcore dick is interviewing the busty blonde for an exciting case, he lights his filterless Lucky Strike with a Zippo. Of course, if eating utensils are old, fire is human's oldest tool. What better way to get that campfire going, or light the Molotov to toss at the surging zombie hordes, than a shiny cool lighter. Bonus: learn some tricks.

Esperanto. Ok, this isn't a "thing" per se, but a language. Well, an invented language. In 1887 a linguist named Zamenhof came up with the idea that humanity should all speak a common tongue, and from his efforts was born Esperanto (his first impetus was to revive Latin, but nobody was keen on that). While there are many people who study and practice Esperanto, my guess is, there are more speakers of Klingon.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Peer-to-peer ubiquity

BitTorrent has made arrangements for an "always on" client to be pre-installed on Buffula's network attached storage devices. BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol used for distributing large amounts of data over the Internet. BitTorrent is one of the most common protocols for transferring large files, and it has been estimated that it accounted for roughly up to 70% of all Internet traffic. Interestingly, some feel bit torrent offers an alternate to the cloud model. “Cloud computing is a harkening back to centralizing everything,” BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker said, “...that’s just not the model that made the Internet so powerful.” His company, confusingly, is named after the protocol.

The main objective with cloud computing is to create a centralized system where organizations and people place their content or IT infrastructure in a handful of companies and services, but the Internet was built on a distributed model, rather than this centralized one.

Instead, a different model of the Internet’s future growth would to re-focus on the distributed model of file sharing, in effect, " crowd sourcing" infrastructure,in a distributed fashion.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

HTML5 - followup

Well, it occurred to me, understanding HTML5 might require further details. Luckily, this does a great job of laying out the convospectraspects of the standard. The good thing is, the (pending) standard really accomplishes a lot, in terms of how the presentation layer ends up "rich," like a traditional thick client.

EDIT: Another dead link, so try this...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Techie post - useful HTML5 reference

This is a really clever way to summarize HTML5. Note, the table shows the 100+ elements currently in the HTML5 working draft and a couple of proposed elements. When the "V" in Model-View-Controller should work well with mobile clients, widespread (and muli-vendor) browsers, and perhaps event TVs. Is HTML5 the final nail in the Flash coffin? I don't like predicting, but I do like open standards.

This fellow collects some interesting web apps that leverage the standard (use a modern browser, natch).

EDIT: Link updated to different version, courtesy of Robert Mening, Web developer & designer from Sweden, Malmö.