About a year ago, I did a series of posts on application transformation and doing more with more. This included videos from Geoffrey Moore that discussed moments that make a difference for a business.
A couple terms used during that series were systems of engagement and systems of record. These concepts can be important when addressing your application portfolio and the organization's application transformation needs.
The following video (produced by HP) provides more details on that concept.
Looks like it was filmed around Dallas, based on the DART train at the beginning.
Flash memory was once viewed as special tool to improve performance or allow for easy transportation of information (e.g., thumb drive – I can’t recall the last time I gave someone a CD, let alone a floppy drive). Now flash memory devices are a standard component of any storage performance strategy.
As the Solid State Drive (SSD) came on the scene, it was used as a plug replacement for spinning media hard drives, providing better performance, but the characteristics of an SSD are actually quite different. The storage industry has only now started to design storage systems that take advantage of the differences in flash memory.
The Flash Translation Layer (FTL) translates the typical hard drive block-device commands and structure into comparable operations in flash memory. FTL is really a compromise for compatibility, since there is no need for the block and sector structure in flash. Additionally, the SSD controllers must perform a number of additional functions such as garbage collection, write amplification, wear leveling, and error correction, since the writeable life span of each storage cell of flash is limited (although there is discussion of a cure to this long-time flash illness). We’re going to see more applications that skip the need for FTL and take direct advantage of flash’s direct memory access capabilities.
High performance software capabilities such as databases currently circumvent the Operating System file system to attain optimal performance. Modern file systems such as Write Anywhere File Layout (WAFL), ZFS (which used to stand for the Zettabyte File System), and B-tree file system (Btrfs)are designed to take advantage of the various storage medias capabilities. The resulting systems were more efficient and easier to manage.
Storage system performance was a concern when operations were measured in milliseconds. It matters more on flash devices, whose operations are measured in microseconds. Future technologies like Memristor that will be even faster demand and optimized approach to long term storage and access of information. Compromises for convenience will exist but the penalties in performance will be high, impacting the application portfolio of organizations.
Even a simple model can focus your attention in useful ways to help maximize the benfits of information technology.
Lately when I’ve been thinking about an organization’s application portfolio, I’ve begun to evaluate them from a few strategic directions. Sometimes the work that needs to be done may be boring, but prioritizing the portfolio spend defines the innovative nature of a business and our measures may need to change...
Recently there was a post in ComputerWeekly stating that Banks still handicapped by IT legacy, where they provided their findings about European financial institutions:
- “75% are still using outdated core banking systems, affecting their ability to accelerate growth.
- 80% said that outdated core banking systems were causing them to struggle to bring new products to market quickly.
- 75% face difficulties getting access to timely data, and close to two-thirds feel that existing systems do not support regulatory change.
- 55% are focusing on increasing wallet share within the existing client base, with only 20% trying to achieve growth through new customer acquisition.
- 79% said that the complexity of IT, combined with insufficient expertise within the business, was a major barrier to core system replacement.”
This concept of technical debt has been talked about for about as long as I can remember. Its focus is that we are constrained by the systems in production. These systems can constrain us in multiple ways:
1) They consumes funds for maintainance that could be applied to new investments
2) The codified models may not align to the business needs of today, so they limit our flexibility to respond to shifts and they may even limit our ability to see the shift at all
3) They constrain the workforce as well, since eventually the skills needed may no longer be readily available in the marketplace.
That’s one reason why organizations need both a strategic view of the alignment of the business, technology and investment through an enterprise architecture as well as a more tactical view through the application portfolio assessment. If they haven’t already, organizations should plan to measure technical debt in 2013 and plan for how to use this reality to their advantage. This can be especially important as organizations plan on implementing cloud, big data and other newer techniques.
In technology, today’s investment is tomorrow’s debt – plan on it.