If you are an enterprise architect, or otherwise influence the enterprise architecture of your organization, you are likely involved in a yearly cycle of EA Planning. In the best practices of EA, such cycles generally review the current state of Information Technology (your “as-is” IT portfolio) and develop a future state. The future state is the architecture plan of where you are going and what you are going to build; it’s analogous to a building architect’s plans and schedules for a building. The best architects are cognizant of the new methods, tools and materials at their disposal and the value these resources bring to the plan, as well as when and how to deploy them.
In this light, the enterprise architect will scan the industry analysts, the trade journals and the vendors for ideas and trends. Here is my short list of six trends for 2012:
1. Big Data – Databases of large magnitude are not uncommon anymore. I recall discussions at client sites only ten years ago lamenting how hard it was to handle terabytes of data. The physical constraints and cost of storage per unit is declining, and now we speak of exabytes and zettabytes of storage. The data isn’t just traditional databases of the 3rd normalized form, but unstructured data, email, video, mobile, and much more. Your future state architecture should consider tools, methods and infrastructure to support initiatives like access, de-duplication, appropriate backup and recovery, and retention strategy. Analytics and social media are a huge part of this. [Note to EAs: well-informed Information Architects are going to be your new best friend on this one.]
2. Data analytics – This adjunct to the big data discussion highlights the growing demand for data analytic tools, process, and access to data that has not been traditionally accessed. Not only is the structured data valuable for analysis, so is what you can glean from social media or combinations of your data silos, marts and warehouses in the organization. If your cloud strategy is in place, have you considered providing a service to create a data snapshot for analysis? For example, the user selects the dataset service; the cloud service provisions the infrastructure and software and copies the snapshot for use; and the user pays for use, decommissioning and releasing the service when complete, and perhaps doing the same thing next month.
3. Consumerization of IT- As an EA, your focus has traditionally centered on what the business needs, and how to support it. In the past, the “business architecture” was derived from key business stakeholders, and used to create the application, information, security and infrastructure architectures. Consumerization of IT suggests a revision to that model by making IT responsive to its consumers, users and clients with content and solutions they expect, provisioned as Instant-On . It suggests a commoditization of IT products, and it suggests services offered as a menu of choices. The latter is competitive to that which they can purchase outside IT and which they can provision instantly. It suggests the consideration of the social media strategy. Consumerization of IT also suggests that a number of innovations are required to support these demands.
4. Mobility –Unless you are under a rock, you already see the influence of mobility on your future state architecture, and likely it is already a part of the current state architecture. This year, however, mobility is no longer a bolt-on solution for email and texting in the enterprise. It is being promoted by the consumer of IT as the preferred device for interactions through “apps.” “Bring your own device” or BYOD is becoming the norm rather than the exception. How will you handle lost devices that have sensitive data on board? [Hint: develop a remote wiping strategy, or limit access]. It’s unwise to ignore your unified communication strategy. Unified Communications as-a-service (UCaaS)* needs to be discussed as a strategy (see this Network World report: top 5 UC predictions for 2012).
5. Context-aware IT – Programmers and designers always consider the parameters of where their products are used, and by whom, but context awareness is a paradigm where new and existing products must be aware of, or capable of understanding, their operation based on the user’s intentions, location, history, tasks or other context-related information. If I am a plant manager, my interface to technology will change as I use my mobile device in the factory or at home, or if I use my desktop. As a mobile worker, I would like to enter my timesheet easily while I’m on the road, from a smartphone app, and have full access to reports and detailed data when I’m in the office. It is deeper than this when one considers the implications for analytics, cloud service selection (the selection asking, “You chose a development platform last time, do you want the same thing now?”) or web-based client interactions.
6. Cloud Computing - I see an interesting trend where the cloud is disappearing from the hot trends this year. I see this not as an omission, but an acknowledgment that the early adopters have a cloud strategy and have implemented some or part of it. It is a part of the enterprise architecture more than ever, since the cloud services that are deployed need review for viability, efficiency, and renewal. If you are operating a hybrid cloud, mixing traditional and cloud services, you have the opportunity to review the mix and put more or less in the cloud. Review your public cloud strategy. For those organizations not invested in the benefits of cloud computing, you have the opportunity to align your direction to improve the service strategy, process, portfolio, culture and infrastructure to leverage the savings and agility of the Instant-On cloud solutions. (Learn how HP helped one company to build a cloud data center that improved service deployment time from three to five days previously to just 20 minutes today: 369 KB, PDF.)
Enterprise Architects…start your engines!
HP Strategic IT Advisory Services (SITAS) is prepared to assist you with enterprise architecture planning and design to improve your leverage of IT to support the consumers of IT.
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