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Author: Eric Michiels, Executive Architect and Chairman of the IBM Benelux TEC. You can reach Eric via e-Mail at Eric_Michiels@be.ibm.com
TEC stands for “Technical Expert Council”. This is a community of IT professionals who can be considered as the technical leaders within IBM BeNeLux. They represent the different technical professions within IBM – such as Project Manager, IT Architect, IT Specialist and Consultant – and also integrate the different IBM business units – such as Software Group, Systems and Technology Group, Global Technology Services, Global Business Services, Strategic Outsourcing, and Sales & Distribution. Essential is that the TEC is an affiliate of the famous IBM Academy of Technology. The TEC provides deep expertise to clients and business partners, drives the progress and development of the technical community, and increases the mindshare and visibility of IBM with publications, presence in the academic world and presentations at user groups and conferences.
IBM Fit For Purpose Methodology
Many IT organizations today have to deal with the complex challenge that consists of deploying a set of business applications and their associated middleware to the most optimal combination of runtime platforms.
With “runtime platform” we mean the combination of the hardware components, the virtualization layers and the operating systems that host the middleware and software applications. “Middleware” can be defined as the software that provides services to the software applications beyond those from the operating system, allowing the application developers to focus on the specific business logic of their applications.
The runtime platform choices are very extended. Not only do they range from Public Cloud over Private Cloud, over Hybrid Cloud to traditional on-premise servers. When diving deeper we need to consider also the selection of processor types, memory sizes, caching levels, virtualization technologies, and operating system versions.
When making the mapping decision between the set of the diverse applications, named in one word “workload”, to the right runtime platforms, it makes sense to consider different alternatives and evaluate each of them across a number of prioritized criteria.
As IBM BeNeLux Technical Expert Council we have seen many clients, consultants and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) struggling with these workload deployment challenges. Fortunately, IBM can propose to all interested parties the Fit For Purpose Methodology, which increase the chance to make the right deployment decision considerably.
The Fit For Purpose (F4P) Methodology allows to make the most optimal runtime platform choices for a given workload, taking into consideration all relevant stakeholders and decision criteria. It is based on best practices from not only IBM but also external analysts and proven paradigms. In the figure you can see the different types of factors that are taken into consideration when analyzing the different options.
To illustrate the process of applying this F4P methodology, let us take an example. A bank has acquired a new banking software package, which will provide a business critical function. The bank already has some platforms in house today, got some deployment advice from the ISV provider, but is also open to alternatives.
F4P will start from a to-the-point data collection step, based on a survey and potentially some interviews with the relevant parties (LOB end-users, infrastructure experts, package experts). The collected data will contain a number of non-functional and operational requirements, as well as the current and new IT standards. The Fit-For-Purpose team will study this input, and come back with a first set of potential high-level deployment alternatives.
During a first workshop, the evaluation criteria are defined by the client and already applied roughly on the alternatives, leading to a short list of deployment scenarios.
The F4P team elaborates and studies in detail the selected deployment scenario(s). During a second workshop, the F4P team presents the best deployment candidates, together with their holistic evaluation across the highest priority decision criteria. The evaluations are scored, using criterium weights and points per criterium.
Finally, the F4P team creates a report, including clear visualizations that guide the ultimate runtime environment choice. These intuitive visualizations are a combination of scoring tables, spider charts and bar charts.
Important to tell is also that F4P introduces a nice piece of education to its participants: technologies and paradigms are explained and justified in detail when appropriate, allowing the project members to “learn on the job”.
Last but not least, we need to tell that IBM does not charge any involved party. Of course, an investment in time is expected, but its ROI is not to be neglected!