July 23, 2014 | Written by: William Genovese
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When you build a house, do you do it haphazardly without requirements or specifications? Of course not. You want to ensure that the house has a solid foundation, running water, electricity, access to public services (or you will need to provide your own private services, in some cases), cable TV, internet, telephone, physical security services and zones in the house—all while adhering to specific zoning regulations in your town and state.
You may select a plot of land and have an idea in your mind on what the house will look like. You’ll draw up some diagrams, or even hire an architect to provide a set of well–designed and detailed blueprint or set of blueprints, that will identify, in many cases, down to the level of detail showing both your “private” services and your “public” services you need to access from the town, state and even government.
The same holds true for corporations that are now venturing into the cloud. They use a well-defined strategy with specific services, and a blueprint or framework that provides building blocks that can act as investment enablers for decisions, and what services may be further developed in determining public, private or hybrid cloud models for the corporation.
An Enterprise Technology Framework is key in an enterprise-wide business and IT architecture, as part of enterprise architecture. An Enterprise Technology Framework defines the technology services and functions (IT capabilities) required to support the business applications and data, including Common (or shared) Application Services, Common Data Services, Common System Services, Network Services, Security Services, Platform Services, as well as the management tools used to support the delivery of IT service. It also helps to define the specifics for a line of business that may be required as well, or in the case of a hybrid cloud model—what system or application must stay in the datacenter at the corporation (i.e. “system of record” vs. what may be hosted in a SaaS public model or accessed via a “system of engagement” via a mobile device).
The Enterprise Technology Framework must be totally aligned with the business applications and data, if the business goals, objectives and benefits are to be realized. The framework can help to define private or bounded services as well.
This work product may be produced to varying levels of detail depending on the stage at which it is produced. This work product does not represent a complete functional specification of the future IT requirements. Rather, it defines them at a sufficient level to allow alternate potential technologies and solution paths to be evaluated and investment decisions to be made prior to proceeding with the design and implementation of specific hardware and software components and application systems.
The Enterprise Technology Framework is used to:
• Provide a repository of information about the technology (IT enablers and capabilities) required to support both the various parts of the business, and the achievement of the overall business goals and objectives, which guides IT investment decisions.
• Provide a repository of agreed technology principles, standards, products and components that can be selected at system design time and implemented.
• Reduce the amount of time spent by individual development projects in the evaluation and selection of products and components.
• Provide pre-defined combinations of implementable components, standards and interfaces.
• Ensure individual systems can be integrated effectively, including the sharing of common services, functions, middleware and data.
• Provide a known technology base for service delivery planning (capacity, performance, and availability) and measurement, to meet future business requirements.
• Provide the basis for the specification of the required (“to be”) IT systems.
• It helps to identify opportunities to enhance the current or new information technologies that can be adopted with beneficial impact on the desired IT environment.
The following is a customer example. The blocks in red are the gaps that were agreed to be closed by the program funding—as based on the agreed Enterprise Initiative (in this case an analytics with MDM initiative, public and private cloud, and portal, security and infrastructure improvements provided by Software Defined Compute, networking, and storage).
1. Access Points – Develop and execute and end user platform strategy and roadmap that addresses the needs of all international locations and drives toward a modern standards based thin client model.
2. Access Integration Services – Develop and execute a strategy for transforming existing end user applications to use a portal shared services model
3. Business independent Application Services – Develop a strategy for externalizing business independent services (from their existing proprietary applications) and hosting them as a set of shared services
4. Application & Process Integration Services – Develop a strategy for implementing a set of Process Integration Services with appropriate handling of business events and provision of business activity and process monitoring
5. Business Data & Data Services – Externalize, decouple, and centralize Customer, Product, and Arrangement information as a set of master data management services. Centralize and integrate all data warehouses and data marts and their associated services (ETL, data quality management, etc…)
6. Infrastructure integration and Security Services – Develop a robust security architecture aligned with corporate standards and business needs, and meeting AICPA, SOC2, FedRamp, COBIT 5.0, ISO/IEC 27001:2013, NIST SP800-53 R3
7. Platform Services – Rationalize and consolidate workloads on a minimal set of compute nodes while meeting performance, scaling, availability and DR requirements, assuming platform x, y strategically through Software Defined Compute, Software Defined Network, Software Defined Storage
8 Physical Infrastructure Services – Optimize utilization of servers, storage and network components strategically through Software Defined Compute, Software Defined Network, and Software Defined Storage
9. Service Delivery – Develop a strategy and execution a solution for systemic application supported service level management, availability management, capacity management, continuity management, and financial management
In conclusion, the Enterprise Technology Framework can help identify what is required before embarking on large scale journeys into the technical unknown. In the absence of a defined framework of IT enablers, capabilities and requirements, many assumptions and design decisions may be made in a vacuum (especially at the project level). This can greatly increase the risk that the overall business objectives, requirements and expectations may not be met, putting the enterprise at risk, or the enterprise as a whole may miss out on greater opportunities that are only achieved at a project level.
In my next post, I will further explain in detail the framework with some scenarios for Cloud Computing Architectures and Software Defined Environments.
Note: Enterprise Technology Framework is an IBM asset and architectural work product.