Sunday, March 30, 2008

Common Information Model

The idea of a Common Information Model to rule all within a business has been around for a long time. It's gained a lot more traction recently with SOA. Here is a post from Nick Malick at Microsoft and some of their efforts. His post is part of an ongoing conversation with Alex Maclinovsky at Sun.

They both bring up good points but I find myself leaning towards Alex's realism a bit more. I can bring up the point that the average business IT shop does not have a lot of luxuries when it comes to time. CIM's take time... a lot of time. They also take knowledgeable data architects, expert negotiators and the ability to bend the space time continuum. Simply out of reach to most IT shops.

Would a large model that rules all hold up to the daily demands of the constantly changing business? I know the academic arguments around versioning, governance etc but that within itself can be difficult even with a governance product. By the way Microsoft has a new product in this space, only for MS products though. :(

I've stated before that one size doesn't fit all meaning what works for my organization might not work for yours. I have found that smaller simplistic data structures combined with more granular services can achieve a lot of flexibility and reuse. These can be wired together to make more coarse grained services but the reuse tends to go down and the complexity goes up.

Ultimately data translation and manipulation has to happen anyway to satisfy the needs of the off the shelve systems as well as old legacy systems. Some common simplistic data structures can help with that without having to go for the big bang approach that a CIM can create.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Upgrade Time

My home server is in need of an upgrade/replacement. Here is a picture of it (Notice the cool steering wheel). I think my mobile phone has more RAM than it.

Home PC

It's served me well for the 100+ years its been around but I'm thinking time for a upgrade plus I'm getting tired of the black smoke coming out of it. Don't get me wrong the three laptops in the house have more than enough computing power for my everyday use. But the keeper of the blog needs a little more juice. Plus the OS it's running on needs a little upgrading as well.

I haven't decided what its new platform and OS will be, I'll have to do a little pondering on that. SUSE has served me well but I might want to shake it up a bit just for the grins of it. I'll keep you posted on my pondering.

Monday, March 24, 2008

How's SOA?

This seems like a strange question since most field IT folks (not analysts) are still not really sure what SOA is or how to implement it. Is a year really long enough to give organizations time enough to get their stuff together? How many IT shops have the luxury of stopping time and focusing on changing the way they build applications? Isn't SOA really an iterative journey over a longer period of time? Todd Biske wrote a very good post on Setting SOA Expectations.

Todd was inspired by this post from Anne Thomas Manes who was looking for SOA success stories. Although Anne painted a pretty bleak picture I not sure enough time has past to call it a day and move on to the next set of buzz words. This quote from Anne in particular got me thinking:

This company reorganized IT around functional capabilities (rather than business units) and established strong positive and negative incentives that encourage people to adopt a better attitude toward sharing. I'm beginning to think that this is the only path to SOA success.

I not sure I would go along with this train of thought. The dynamics of a company, the personnel in the IT shop, the business landscape the company plays in, the size of the company are all factors that shape the way an IT shop functions. There is no one size fits all. What works for one organization is probably not going to work for another. Still I think there is potential value to be had on the road to an SOA style of architecture and the sharing of best practices. That doesn't mean all best practices will work for us or are required for us to derive value.

Okay my next post will be back to more technical in nature(XML Schema). I know you can hardly wait, XML Schema discussions make for such fun dinner conversation.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

It's Back

It's been a year since I shut down the blog. I'm finally starting to settle in at my new company so I thought it would be a good time to get going again with the blog. I can't believe a year has gone by so fast.

The IT shop is much smaller than my previous one but the intensity is much higher. I was brought in to jump start the webMethods practice and that's what we have done over the past year. I've spent most that time developing rather than architecting and it's been a blast. There is just something about being hands on that just can't be beat.

In addition to webMethods, I'm really focused on Web Services right now and in particular XML Schema design. Stay tuned for more on that.