Archive for the ‘Choreography’ Category

Where Art Thou Information? – Lost in Technology!

December 27, 2012

As another year of technology hype draws to a close, I wonder where the focus on the Information is. Information is the subject matter of “IT”, where the technology enables a proper capture, processing and presentation of the Information. Most of the focus is shifted to technology led transformation of businesses…..

Appification – a word coined to make an “App” (short for application!) that can be downloaded to perform a generic task on a mobile device.

Gamification – Again a word coined to create a simulated / augmented reality that “Engages” the user with the subject under consideration in a generic manner.

Cloudification – Deploying an elastic, self-provisioned, pay-per-use model of computing performing generic functions.

“Appliance”ification – pre-configured hardware + software bundles pushed in by the vendors to provide “optimized” & “efficient” solutions to problems following a generic pattern.

“Package”fication – deploying vendor provided generic package to provide predefined information flows by the vendor.

With all these “ifications” we have ended up with several suites of “products” that are branded as ERP, EIM, ECM, BPM etc., also we have “anything” as a service (saas, paas, iaas, dbaas, what not aaS!) providing everything on the move i.e, mobile.

So, what is the point I am trying to bring up? With all the possibilities of customization and promises of near zero time to market, and all the solutions around, we lost the focus on the “problem” that we are trying to solve!

If all these are solutions then what is the problem?

All the past year I have been working with the information management of the Insurance companies across the globe and interacting with the different levels employees representing the IT and business functions of those enterprises, the problems seems to lie in fundamental definitions of information flows. Legacy policy administration systems, multiple systems holding the data about quotations, pricing, products, policies & claims causing the “entropy” of not having the correct information to the different operational units within the business in the right time to make decisions seems to me the key problem.

As long as the real problem is not rightly understood with respect to the information flows between the organization units and within the operating environment, implementing newer technology solutions will not solve the problem.

I hope the new year 2013 gets the focus right on the problem of information and transforms the business based on facts i.e., what I call “Information led transformation” rather than the current trend of “technology led transformation”

Happy New Year 2013!!

Binding Energy of Software Systems

October 1, 2010

When we study basics of atomic physics, we came to know that “A bound system has typically lower potential energy (i.e., mass) than its constituent parts” To make it into simple words, the total mass of all nucleons is more than the mass of nucleus formed by them. This mass deficit when converted to energy equivalent is called binding energy. That is the “force” which keeps the system together and not let the different constituent components fall apart!

So, In software terms, this is the effort that has gone into the “integration” of the different system components into its final form of Business Application.

Traditionally the integration has followed different models in the software systems.

Silos: Multiple software components were developed on a specific technology / programming language like COBOL, C etc., and they are integrated vertically using the procedure calls and RPCs. It is difficult to integrate with a component that is outside the technology.

Star/Spaghetti i.e., point to point integration: In this method, different components of a business application talk to each other using the flat files, or other methods. As a need for integration arises, the necessary interface should be developed and deployed on both the interfacing components of the business application. Soon, we will have a very complex spaghetti created that is very difficult to maintain.

Hub and Spoke based EAI: To overcome the standardization problems of point to point interfaces, each component should talk a “common language” with a central HUB that mediates all the integration between the enterprise business systems in that common language. This technology has developed several standard adaptors for common business components.

Enterprise Service Bus (ESB): This is the most modern integration technique available today. The key difference is that the central HUB is replaced with a more open set of protocols that can integrate the business components beyond a single enterprise. It is more open and allows more loosely coupled, heterogeneous components to talk to each other by providing more sophisticated “translation” services to them.

So, it is important that sufficient “binding energy” is in the Enterprise Business System and the CORRECT structure/method is used for the integration to keep the software strong (for operations) and flexible (for tackling the changes) all the way through its lifetime.

For more information on binding energy (atomic physics) : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binding_energy

For more on Patterns in Business Service Choreography using ESB (IBM redbook): http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/redpapers/pdfs/redp3908.pdf