Let me first say that I am glad this article refers to the bed rock of enterprise systems as technology architecture and not just infrastructure. Now days there is defiantly a difference between the two. Today’s technology architecture should now be concentrating on supporting of the business, and address the problems of the business, which in turn allows the business to concentrate more on strategies and planning to move the enterprise forward. Infrastructure is more about concentrating on SAN, networking, hardware and software, not what is important to the business. Infrastructure is the old school thought in IT.
Technology Architecture is more involved with strategy, future state, planning, capabilities, services, and all technical mechanisms. The architecture then brings to the table a holistic view of the IT landscape, and how it correlates to the business’s mission, for all involved within the enterprise. Technology Architecture does not have one focal point, that infrastructure has to share. In turn Technology Architecture becomes a problem solver and integrator for the business. Furthermore, focusing on SANs, software, and memory all day, will never play a large part closing business gaps, but it will play a part in falling behind the competition.
As the organization establishes technology architecture it will offer substantial benefits to all aspects of the business
• Alignment of enterprise technology standards and business goals
• Gaining greater proficiency in the application technologies
• Reducing costs by avoiding identical technology implementations
• Building a responsive and agile technology environment
• Managing and controlling maintenance and upgrades more effectively
• Enhancing customer service through more effective systems
• Forging stronger business relationships with stakeholders and vendors utilizing technology standards and vendor management
• Better planned future state
Building a Technology Architecture will support and cooperate with the business strategy and motivating the maturity of the organization. Fulfillment of the business strategy requires that the technology architecture program supports business change across multiple enterprise systems, business units and even the organization. In doing so, optimization of cross-functional processes across the organization.
There is a time for technology architecture and there is a time for understanding the business. In this day and age, it is important to have a holistic view of the business landscape. Too many times projects get scrapped, funding is lost, and hardware\software is purchased that doesn’t even fit the needs of the business all because time was not spent incorporating the true objectives and desired future state. It is time to get our preverbal ego’s out of technology and start playing nice with the business.
Gardner in this article hit it right on the nose by stating let’s build the architecture and figure out what goes on it at a later point. Is that not a little bit backwards thinking. As an IT guy I have witnessed this style of IT management first hand. The end results are never good. The first point Gardner focus on is to have EA leadership have more skills than just technical. Is this a new age idea? I believe so! Trivial as it may seem now a days, it was not always the case, IT dictating what was necessary for business to run effectively and efficiently was the norm, “I guess you could say father knows best”. Today’s world the business has grown to holding the purse strings not IT, IT cost are shrinking, and the completion is fierce. As the business has more choices, it is important more than ever for EA leaders to have the cross function grace, that can get dirty with the IT personal, and schmooze with executives and stakeholders. As I learn more about Enterprise Architecture I think you need to have some salesperson in you to get things accomplished. Gartner next point is Stakeholders concerns not defined. This is pretty self-explanatory. When I started out in my career, I believed that IT people would think for the world. I was a young cocky developer who let his ego get the best of him. I have grown in my career and see that this is the farthest thing from the truth. There is a need to incorporate all points of view, so the business strategy can align with technology architecture all the way up through business architecture. Bring the Stakeholders in at the beginning of the project not the end, shows the business their thoughts really do matter and IT is customer focus this will put the business ahead of the competition. EA Teams will now have a baseline for success. The next corner stone that Gartner points out is to have business buy-in. Gartner believes if you don’t have business buy-in don’t even consider building a EA program, let alone model a Common Requirements Vision (CRV), there is no way it will fly. Doing the leg work for a CRV would be like a football team having three a day practices when they have no games or league to participate in. This is where EA needs to be more Customer focused when developing an ETA. Developing a CRV and incorporate business strategies is how EA can drive the success of an EA program, and move toward a more maturity ETA.
At my organization we are not quite that mature, but we are moving in that direction. When I first started it was pretty much ciaos, the business didn’t talk to IT and IT didn’t talk to the business. When projects came in IT dictated to the business what they needed. Basically saying we will stand up whatever we fail like and you will take it. As times changed the business units starting build their own IT shops and becoming siloed doing their own thing. As we have begun to matured the silos are starting to disappear. IT and the business are starting to collaborate more on strategies, rather than bicker about who caused all the problems in the first place. We now have planning sessions around the strategies were IT has different meeting with each department, so that IT has an understanding of the business direction and needs, and the business can be involved with the ETA. By no means are we even close to the finish line but it is a much better state than where we use to be.
What is a virtual machine and why is it our current hardware solution craving them? A virtual machine (VM) is a separate and independent software instance that includes a full copy of an operating system and application software. A physical server prepared with a server virtualization hypervisor such as Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware, vSphere or Citrix can host multiple VMs while maintaining logical isolation between each machine. Each instance can then share the server’s computing resources — dramatically increasing physical server hardware usage.
As a DBA if found the VMs to be a blessing and a curse. Let first talk about cost. VMs allow organizations to consolidate server thus reducing cost. If you look at it in terms of utilization a non- virtualized server may be used by the business 10% of the time, eating up electricity, cooling cycles, and employees time to manage it that could be used else were more effectively. A SAN that host multiple servers can be utilized 60%-80% percent of the time. This then reduce cost across the board. As a DBA I see as usage increases so does the performance decrease. This is where the storage admin really earns the big money are they able to tune the virtual machines, so that the end user does not feel the bumps it the road. In my organization we are able to hot swap memory and CPU. This means adding memory and CPU in real time, not needing to take down the VM’s, avoiding the business to lose valuable work cycles. We use Solid State Drives which are basically (flash memory). Giving the end user the experience of riding in a Cadillac and not feeling the bumps in the road. Another benefit of VM’s is quick recovery time. Where I work we are able to work backup whole VM’s nightly allowing us to restore systems when needed or even just files from a host if a user has deleted something. Another nice tool that VM’s empower my organization to use is in regards to disaster recovery is a tool called Zerto. Zerto is a replication software that will mirror a whole VM to an organization of site location. This allows for security in case of a disaster, that you can’t get from a physical racked server. Another nice feature that we use with VM’s is Vmotion. VMware VMotion enables the live migration of running virtual machines from one physical server to another with zero downtime, continuous service availability, and complete transaction integrity. It is transparent to users. As the VM’s industry grow’s there are new demands on vendors to build better management tools, tools that integrate with third party applications such as SQL Server, Oracle and MySQL. Also, better monitoring tools because current monitoring tools can be kind of clunky.
Overall if a VM environment is manage correctly it is this DBA dream come true, but when you have Vm’s competing for resources, applications requesting to much CPU, and the database using too much memory and I\O all because the environment is not configured correctly, so remember VM’s are a living breathing organism and if not nurtured it can turn into everyone’s worst nightmare.