Friday, August 04, 2006

How Flashmap Systems Helps Architects


Most enterprises possess lots of non-integrated information, located in different silos, and collected in various formats such as Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, and multiple different databases. My company, Flashmap Systems, sells products that help IT organizations establish, communicate, and enforce IT standards, architectures and strategies.

Architecture That's Not Communicated Does Not Add Value

Flashmap's flagship product, ITatlas, provides a focus for transforming and integrating existing content so that architects can explain what they are trying to do and how are they going to do it. Success, in terms of architecture, begins with communicating the right information to the right people at the right time. This requires simple and easy access to architectural information.

Enterprise architecture's chief purpose is to create a unified, standardized environment of hardware and software systems with tight links to business strategies and goals. IT assets encompass logical resources, such as applications and databases, as well as physical resources, such as processors, storage, and networks. A firm optimizes these assets by developing a map of its IT assets and business processes, and a set of governing principles that support the business strategy and how it can be expressed through IT.

The enterprise architecture blueprint specifies hardware, software, protocol, and interface standards. It also includes a development/deployment plan that describes the projects needed to achieve the architecture's desired target state.

There are many models for developing an enterprise architecture, including the Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), the Zachman Architecture Framework, and the Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework (FEAF). Most frameworks contain four basic domains:
  1. Business and/or Process Architecture
  2. Information and/or Data Architecture
  3. Application and/or System Architecture
  4. Infrastructure and/or Technology Architecture
Enterprise Architecture standards and conformance criteria must be clearly communicated. Make sure architecture artifacts aren't so esoteric that no one understands them. The key to successful EA is to keep it simple.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Robert Pearson said...

Thanks for the info. I will have to digest this and respond.
I have been busy looking for the "Tiger Woods" of Storage.

From the ITatlas page...
"ITatlas now available! The next generation of IT portfolio management has arrived.
Find out how ITatlas can be used to establish, communicate and enforce IT standards, architectures and strategies in your organization."

Are you talking about anything other than ITIL, IT Service Management or SOA here?

The ITatlas might qualify you to be the "Tiger Woods" of IT Portfolio Management.
Do you have a bi-directional flow from ITatlas to your own Manageware concept?
What I mean here is, it is fairly intuitive or obvious that an IT Portfolio element design would have a "material take-off" capability to generate
products to evaluate or purchase, Implement and then Manage.
It is not so intuitive or obvious that a stand-a-lone or "one-off" product would have an easy path to incorporation into the IT Portfolio. As an integrated tool!
All at once SOA is a "hot" acronym. The "Just load all that Java code into the Client-Server paradigm" has hit the wall.

2:52 AM  
Blogger ITscout said...

Robert,

Your comment suggests some significant confusion.

ITatlas is a tool that helps IT organizations establish, communicate, and enforce IT standards, architectures and strategies. In other words, ITatlas is a communication tool intended for use by enterprise architects.

ITatlas is not an ITIL tool. ITIL is a set of processes.

ITatlas is not an IT Service Manager. IT Service Management is the combination of a repository and a set of management tools that support ITIL-like processes.

ITatlas is not an SOA tool. SOA is a type of application architecture that specifices how components can be partitioned and integrated.

ITatlas enables architects to provide context so that people don't inadvertently compare "apples" and "oranges". It can help different people share common definitions and descriptions so that they don't confuse terms such as ITIL, IT Service Management, and SOA.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Robert Pearson said...

Jeff,

Thanks for the clarification.
However, it appears we have a dialogue disconnect. I'm not sure why. I am pretty sure it is my lack of training and formal education so it is almost purely semantic.

Here is an example of a real world problem I have an interest in providing solutions for:
"Just lookin around - interested in IT maturity - gradual improvements - if desired - worthwhile. I’d like to find ILM to ITIL map. Any advice?"

In researching this question I discovered this answer:
http://www.knowledgetransfer.net/services/storage/index.htm

Does ITscout or Flashmap Atlas offer anything like an ILM to ITIL map?

6:56 AM  
Blogger ITscout said...

Robert,

I am not aware of any ILM (Information Lifecycle Management) to ITIL map.

I'm not sure what such a map might look like from an industry perspective. On the other hand, it would make great sense to map out an individual enterprise's "Storage Infrastructure". This map could show strategic direction -- including as-is and to-be temporal information. A related tactical map could show actual layouts of storage farms right down to the details of information stored.

Flashmap's ITatlas product would be helpful for communicating the information related to maps in exactly the same way that people use ITatlas to communicate information about enterprise architecture models.

Note that ITatlas is not a modeling tool per se. The "expert" needs to define the model and then populate it with data. The ITatlas product is a tool that helps to convey the information inside the model(s) to a group of untrained individuals who have an interest in accessing the information contained in the models. Different people may want to see different views of the information. There may be differences between businss units. People with different jobs might need access to different information.

Where ITIL is important is in terms of the actual change management process itself. ITIL is all about process.

ILM (Information Lifecycle Management) describes the model(s). It includes all kinds of possible data, including specific products and vendors, geographic locations, as well as hosts of documentation such as backup and recovery procedures, disaster recovery procedures, etc.

Considering all the information pertaining to the ILM models, and all the information related to processes, you can imagine that communicating the right information to the right people at the right time is a huge challenge. That's the space where ITatlas helps out. It can assist the team responsible for the ILM (the models) and the ITIL (the processes) to communicate the right information to the right people at the right time, and make access to that information simple and easy without any need to explicit training by those accessing the information.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Robert Pearson said...

Jeff,

Thanks for the great reply. Reading your reply caused something to click in my brain to resolve my dilemma about Flashmap and ITscout.
You are a holistic guy and I am a niche guy. Darwin and Russell.

Your statement of:
"Enterprise architecture's chief purpose is to create a unified, standardized environment of hardware and software systems with tight links to business strategies and goals."
hits the nail on the head.

To me, this is all about Units of Technology that are "enabling" or "enhancing" or both.
I am the guy who separated the Unit of Technology from the Unit of Information to understand each better.
EA deals with both but seems to me in my limited knowledge to be "Technology Centric".
In particular, "Product Centric".

The Unit of Information is "Information Centric" and is the way I understand things better.
The following quote is from Peter Morville of Findability.org. This particular quote is at:
http://www.findability.org/archives/2006_05.php

"Our Internet of Objects

I'd like to thank Caroline for highlighting this passage from Ambient Findability:

As we build our Internet of objects, the permutations of sociosemantic metadata will create new avenues of findability. Where has this object been? Which objects were in close proximity to this object? Who touched my object? Where are they now? The era of ambient findability will overflow with metadata, as every object and location sprouts tags: social and semantic, embedded and unembedded, controlled and uncontrollable. Imagine the sensory overload of a walk in the park. Every path shimmers with the flow of humanity. Every person drips with the scent of information: experience, opinion, karma, contacts. Every tree has a story: taxonomies and ontologies form bright lattices of logic. Desire lines flicker with unthinkable complexity in this consensual hallucination of space and non-space, a delicious yet overwhelming sociosemantic experience.

Reading this from a distance reminds me how much fun it can be to write. "

To me this is the essence of Information Technology. This is my mantra.

Two corollary mantras are:

“Findability precedes usability. In the alphabet and on the Web. You can't use what you can't find.”
- PETER MORVILLE

"findability
Findability refers to the quality of being locatable or navigable. At the item level, we can evaluate to what degree a particular object is easy to discover or locate.
At the system level, we can analyze how well a physical or digital environment supports navigation and retrieval."

Granted, EA plays a key role in IT for delivering the Unit of Information.

A real world example is when my Uncle died. His wife preceded him by a few years.
My Uncle loved to take pictures. He had thousands of pictures.
He had some made into movies. He loved to show these at the family reunions. One whole room was his for the slide shows and the home theatre.
And he took more pictures all the time.
He knew all the people in the pictures and had stories to tell about the person, the place, and the picture.

I helped his children transfer all these pictures to CD. Not every recipient had DVD capability.
But we really didn't know what to do with them. They seemed very valuable to us somehow. Like a valuable piece of history.
They should have been made with a VCR, or transferred to a VCR, so there would be audio but that technology wasn't available until much later.
Between all of us we could probably identify 10% of the people and places.
We physically archived the pictures, movies and master DVD, made the CDs and disbanded.
That video Information has become valueless.
The technology is there to view them at any time. To what purpose?
Nobody derives any value from viewing them.

3:47 AM  

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