Monday, March 25, 2013

As Indiana Health Care Provider Goes Fully Virtualized, it Gains Head Start on BYOD and DR Benefits

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on how Associated Surgeons and Physicians, LLC went from a 100 percent physical to 100 percent virtual infrastructure.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: VMware.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you're listening to BriefingsDirect.

Today, we present part one of a two-part sponsored interview series on how a mid-market health services provider has rapidly adopted server and client virtualization. In doing so, they've gained significant new benefits, including the ability to move to mobile, bring your own device (BYOD), and ultimately advanced disaster recovery (DR).

Today we'll hear how Associated Surgeons and Physicians, LLC in Indiana went from 100 percent physical to 100 percent virtualized infrastructure, and how both compliance and efficiency goals have been met and exceeded as a result.

Stay with us now to learn more about creating the right prescription for allowing users to designate and benefit from their own device choices, while also gaining an ability to better manage sensitive data and to create a data-protection lifecycle approach.

Here to share his story on the best methods and technologies for better IT and business results in the health care services sector, we're joined by, and we welcome, Ray Todich, Systems Administrator at Associated Surgeons and Physicians. Welcome, Ray. [Disclosure: VMware is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Ray Todich: Hi. How are you?

Gardner: I'm good. Let’s take this first at a high level. A lot of organizations are looking to improve their IT and expand their business. They have various goals for compliance and making sure that their users are kept up-to-date on the latest and greatest in respective client technologies. Yet I'm curious what attracted you, at the beginning, to go to much higher total levels of server -- and then client -- virtualization.

Todich: When I first started here, the company was entirely physical. And as background, I came from a couple of companies that utilized virtualization at very high levels. So I'm very aware of the benefits, as far as administration, and the benefits of overall redundancy and activities -- the software and hardware used to allow high performance, high availability, access to people’s data, and still allow security be put in place.

When I came in, it looked like something you might have seen maybe 15 years ago. There were a lot of older technologies in place. The company had a lot of external drives hanging off the servers for backups, and so on.

My first thing to implement was server virtualization, which at the time, was the vSphere 4.1 package. I explained to them what it meant to have centralized storage, what it meant to have ESX host, and how creating virtual machines (VMs) would benefit them considerably over having physical servers in the infrastructure.

I gave them an idea on how nice it is to have alternate redundancy configured correctly, which is very important. When hardware drops out, RAID configuration goes south, or the entire server goes out, you've just lost an entire application -- or applications -- which in turn gives downtime.

I helped them to see the benefits of going virtualized, and at that time, it was solely for the servers.

Technology more important

Gardner: So over the past 10 or 15 years, as you pointed out, technology has just become so much more important to how a health provider operates, how they communicate to the rest of the world in terms of supplies, as well as insurance companies and payers, and so forth. Tell me a little bit about Associated Surgeons and Physicians. How big is the organization, what do you do, how have they been growing?

Todich: Pretty rapidly. Associated Surgeons and Physicians is a group of multi-specialty physicians and practices in Northeast Indiana and Northwest Ohio.

It began at the practice level, and then it really expanded. We're up to, I think, 14 additional locations and/or practices that have joined. We're also using an electronic medical record (EMR) application, given to us by Greenway, and that’s a big one that comes in.

We're growing exponentially. It went from one or two satellite practices that needed to piggyback Greenway, to probably 13 or 14 of them, and this is only the beginning. With that type of growth rate, you have to concern yourself with the amount of money it costs to serve everybody. If you have one physical server that goes out, you affect hundreds of users and thousands of patients, doctors, and whatnot. It’s a big problem, and that’s where virtualization came in strong.

Gardner: When I go to the physician’s office, and I just happened to be there yesterday, they've gotten so efficient at moving patients in and out, that the scheduling is amazing. It has to be tight. Every minute is accounted for. Downtime is just very detrimental and backs up everything. You can think about it, I suppose, like an airport. If one flight gets backed up, the whole rest of the country does. Is that the case with you all there too, that this critical notion of time management is so paramount?
The ability that virtualization gives us is the core or heart of the entire infrastructure of the business.

Todich: Oh, it’s absolutely massive. If we have a snag somewhere, or even if our systems are running slow, then everything else runs slow. The ability that virtualization gives us is the core or heart of the entire infrastructure of the business. Without an efficient heart, blood doesn’t move, and we have a bigger problem on our hands.

Gardner: How about this in terms of the size of the organization? How many seats are you accommodating in terms of client, and then what is it about an IT approach to an organization such as yours that also makes virtualization a good fit?

Todich: Right now, we have somewhere around 300 employees. As far as how many clients this overall organization has, it’s thousands. We have lots of people who utilize the organization. The reality is that the IT staff here is used in a minimalist approach, which is one thing that I saw as well when I was coming into this.

One or even two persons to manage that many servers can be a nightmare, and on top of that, you try to do your best to help all the users. If you have 300-plus people and their desktops, printers, and so forth, so the overall infrastructure can be pretty intimidating, when you don’t have a lot of people managing it.

Going virtual was a lifesaver. Everything is virtualized. You have a handful of physical ESX hosts that are managing anything, and everything is stored on centralized storage. It makes it considerably efficient as an IT administrator to utilize virtualization.

The right answer

That’s actually how we went into the adoption of VMware View, because of 300-plus users, and 300-plus desktops. At that point, it can be very hairy. At times, you have to try and divine what the right answer is. You have this important scenario going on, and you have this one and another one, and how do you manage them all. It becomes easier, when you virtualize everything, because you can get to everything very easily and cover everyone’s desktops.

Gardner: And you have a double whammy here, because you're a mid-market size company and don’t have a large, diversified IT staff to draw on. At the same time, you have branch offices and satellites, so you're distributed. To have people physically go to these places is just not practical. What is it about the distributed nature of your company that also makes virtualization and View 5.1 a good approach for a lean IT organization?

Todich: It helped us quite a bit, first and foremost, with the ability to give somebody a desktop, even if they were not physically connected to our network. That takes place a lot here.We have a lot of physicians who may be working inside of another hospital at the time.

Instead of them creating a VPN connection back into our organization, VMware View gave them the ability to have a client on their desktop, whether it be a PC, a MacBook, an iPod, an iPad, or whatever they have, even a phone, if they really want to go that route. They can connect anywhere, at anytime, as long as they have an Internet connection and they have the View client. So that was huge, absolutely huge.
It helped us quite a bit, first and foremost, with the ability to give somebody a desktop, even if they were not physically connected to our network.

They also have the ability to use PC-over-IP, versus RDP, That’s very big for us as well. It keeps the efficiency and the speed of the machines moving. If you're in somebody else’s hospital, you're bound to whatever network you are attached to there, so it really helps and it doesn’t bother their stuff as much. All you're doing is borrowing their Internet and not anything else.

Gardner: Of course, we get back to that all-important issue for these physicians, surgeons, and practitioners about their time management, scheduling, understanding where they are supposed to be an hour from now, and in what office. All of that is now getting much more efficient as a result.

Todich: Yes, absolutely.

Gardner: Tell me a bit more about your footprint. We've spoken about vSphere 4.1 and adopting along the path of 5.1. You even mentioned View. What else are you running there to support this impressive capabilities set?

Todich: We moved from vSphere 4.1 to 5.1, and going to VMware View. We use 5.1 there as well. We decided to utilize the networking and security vCloud Networking package, which at the time was a package called vShield. When we bought it, everything changed, nomenclature wise, and some of the products were dispersed, which actually was more to our benefit. We're very excited about that.

As far as our VDI deployment, that gave us the ability to use vShield Endpoint, which takes your anti-virus and offloads it somewhere else on the network, so that your hosts are not burdened with virus scans and updates. That’s a huge.

The word huge doesn’t even represent how everybody feels about that going away. It's not going away physically, just going away to another workhorse on the network so that the physicians, medical assistants (MAs), and everybody else isn’t burdened with, "Oh, look, it's updating," or "Look, it's scanning something." It's very efficient.

Network and security

Gardner: You mentioned the networking part of this, which is crucial when you're going across boundaries and looking for those efficiencies. Tell me a bit more about how the vCloud networking and security issues have been impacted.

Todich: That was another big one for us. Along with that the networking and security package comes a portion of the package called the vShield Edge, which will ultimately give us the ability to create our own DMZ the way that we want to create it, something that we don’t have at this time. This is very important to us.

Utilizing the vShield Edge package was fantastic, and yet another layer of security as well. Not only do we have our physical hardware, our guardians at the gate, but we also have another layer, and the way that it works, wrapping itself around each individual ESX host, is absolutely beautiful. You manage it just like you manage firewalls. So it’s very, very important.

Plus, some of the tools that we were going to utilize we felt most comfortable in, as far as security servers for the VDI package, that you want them sitting in a DMZ. So, all around, it really gave us quite a bit to work with, which we're very thankful for.

Gardner: How long did it take you to go from being 100 percent physical to where you are now, basically 100 percent virtual?
VMware, in itself, has the ability to reach out as far and wide as you want it to. It’s really up to the people who are building it.

Todich: We've been going at it for about about a year-and-a-half. We had to build the infrastructure itself, but we had to migrate all our applications from physical to virtual (P2V). VMware does a wonderful job with its options for using P2V. It’s a time saver as well. For anybody who has to deal with the one that’s building the house itself, it can really be a help.

VMware, in itself, has the ability to reach out as far and wide as you want it to. It’s really up to the people who are building it. It was very rapid, and it’s so much quicker to build servers or desktops, once you get your infrastructure in place.

In the previous process of buying a server, in which you have to get it quoted out and make sure everything is good, do all the front-end sales stuff, and then you have to wait for the hardware to get here. Once it’s here, you have to make sure it’s all here, and then you have to put it altogether and configure everything, so forth. Any administrator out there who's done this understands exactly what that’s all about.

Then you have to configure and get it going, versus, "Oh, you need another server, here, right click, deploy from template," and within 10 minutes you have a new server. That, all by itself, is priceless.

Gardner: We've talked a lot about software, but tell me a bit about your partners. It sounds as if you went along a pretty comprehensive hardware upgrade path as well. Did you also go to things like solid-state drives? Did you look for storage efficiencies through modernization? Tell me a bit about the hardware infrastructure path.

Centralized storage

Todich: I'm a bit of a storage junky. I love storage and what it can do. I'm a firm believer that centralized storage, and even more the virtualized centralized storage, is the answer to many, many, many issues. So I did a lot of research on whose price was efficient and whose hardware and software packaging was efficient.

I came from an IBM storage background, but after doing a lot of research, I kept coming back to Compellent, which Dell had purchased. I really liked what Compellent was doing. Even more so, I started to do some research on EqualLogic, and that’s what we ended up going with. We ended up with Dell’s EqualLogic centralized storage, and I can't speak enough of how great that stuff is.

I believe they took some of the technologies of the Compellent storage and moved it down to EqualLogic. It’s highly intelligent storage. We're very happy with that. And we went with an entire Dell overall package. Our infrastructure in the data center is everything Dell, their simplicity and their efficiency.

They make great hosts. Right now for out hosts we use Dell R710 servers as our ESX host, and I believe we're going to move to 810 as well. They can expand a lot more.

As I said, we're using EqualLogic. We're even using Dell’s Force10 as our backbone iSCSI infrastructure. I'm a fibre guy by trade initially, and it just seemed more efficient to use iSCSI backbone, which has been priceless as well. It's cost efficient and the quality is just as good. I see no difference.
I'm a firm believer that centralized storage, and even more the virtualized centralized storage, is the answer to many, many, many issues.

Gardner: Okay. We've talked a lot about infrastructure and how you've set things up. Let's talk a bit more now about what you get for all that investment, work, and progress. One of the things, of course, that’s key in your field is compliance and there's a lot going on with things like HIPAA, documents, and making sure the electronic capabilities are there for payers and provided. Tell me a bit about compliance and what you've been able to achieve with these advancements in IT?

Todich: With compliance, we've really been able to up our security, which channels straight into HIPAA. Obviously, HIPAA is very concerned with people’s data and keeping it private. So it’s a lot easier to manage all our security in one location.

With VDI, it's been able to do the same. If we need to make any adjustments security wise, it’s simply changing a golden image for our virtual desktop and then resetting everybody's desktops. It’s absolutely beautiful, and the physicians are very excited about it. They seem to really get ahold of what we have done with the ability that we have now, versus the ability we had two years ago. It does wonders.

Gardner: Ray, are there any other aspects to compliance and being in alignment with what the market expects of you?

Todich: Upgrading to a virtual infrastructure has helped us considerably in maintaining and increasing meaningful use expectations, with the ability to be virtual and have the redundancy that gives, along with the fact that VMs seem to run a lot more efficiently virtually. We have better ways to collect data, a lot more uptime, and a lot more efficiency, so we can collect more data from our customers.

Exceeding expectations

The more people come through, the more data is collected, the more uptime is there, the more there are no problems, which in turn has considerably helped meeting and exceeding the expectations of what's expected with meaningful use, which was a big deal.

Gardner: I've heard that term "meaningful use" elsewhere. What does that really mean? Is that just the designation that some regulatory organization has, or is that more of a stock-in-trade description?

Todich: My understanding of it, as an IT administrator, is basically the proper collection of people's data and keeping it safe. I know that it has a lot in with our EMR application, and what is collected when our customers interact with us.

Gardner: I'm going to guess, Ray, that you have a variety of personality types, when it comes to IT adoption. I know people who are just dying to get the latest and greatest. And then I have folks who I know, where if it works, they don’t want to budge.

So given that you probably had a variety of cultural approaches to IT among your constituents, how have you been able to basically satisfy that diversity? How have you been able to keep everyone moving along toward some of these newer capabilities?
The more people come through, the more data is collected, the more uptime is there, the more there are no problems.

Todich: Just by exposing them to the ultimate efficiency that we are creating was a big thing to them. It still is and it always will be, especially in their field. These people are here to help other people and they have to be able to get their data. At some point, they have to be able to get it whenever, wherever, immediately.

Whether they were IT savvy or not, the ability to explain to them, anywhere, anytime, 365, 24x7, really seals the deal right there. It's the simplicity of, "Doc, you could be sitting at a coffee shop in New Hampshire, and if you need, for whatever reason, to be able to get into your computer at work, you launch your View client and away you go, as long as you have Internet" I think that spoke to them.

Gardner: Are there any milestones or achievements you've been able to make in terms of this adoption, such as behaviors and then the protection of the documents and privacy data that has perhaps moved you into a different category and allows you to move forward on some of these regulatory designations?

Todich: It's given us the ability to centralize all our data. You have one location, when it comes to backing up and restoring, versus a bunch of individual physical servers. So data retention and protection has really increased quite a bit as far as that goes.

Gardner: How about DR?

Disaster recovery

Todich: With DR, I think there are a lot of businesses out there that hear that and don’t necessarily take it that seriously, until disaster hits. It’s probably the same thing with people and tornadoes. When they're not really around, you don’t really care. When all of a sudden, a tornado is on top of your house, I bet you care then.

VMware gives you the ability to do DR on a variety of different levels, whether it’s snapshotting, or using Site Recovery Manager, if you have a second data center location. It’s just endless.

One of the most important topics that can be covered in an IT solution is about our data. What happens if it stops or what happens if we lose it? What can we do to get it back, and how fast, because once data stops flowing, money stops flowing as well, and nobody wants that.

It’s important, especially if you're recording people’s private health information. If you lose certain data that’s very important, it’s very damaging across the board. So to be able to retain our data safely is of the highest concern, and VMware allows us to do that.

Also, it’s nice to have the ability to do snapshotting as well. Speaking of servers and whatnot, I'll have to lay it on that one, because in IT, everybody knows that software upgrades come. Sometimes, software upgrades don’t go the way that they're supposed to, whether it’s an EMR application, a time-saving application, or ultrasounds.
If it doesn’t work out in your favor, you have the ability to delete that snapshot and you're back to where you started from before the migratio.

If you take a snapshot before the upgrade and run your upgrade on that snapshot, if everything goes great and everybody is satisfied. You can just merge the snapshot with the primary image and you are good to go.

If it doesn’t work out in your favor, you have the ability to delete that snapshot and you're back to where you started from before the migration, which was hopefully a functioning state.

Gardner: Let’s look to the future a bit. It sounds as if with these capabilities and the way that you've been describing DR benefits, you can start to pick and choose data center locations, maybe even thinking about software-defined networking and data center. That then allows you to pick and choose a cloud provider or a hosting model. So are you thinking about being able to pick up and virtually move your entire infrastructure, based on what makes sense to your company over the next say 5 or 10 years.

Todich: That’s exactly right, and the way this is growing, something that's been surfacing a lot in our neck of the woods is the ability to do hosting and provide cloud-based solutions, and VMware is our primary site on that as well.

But, if need be, if we had to migrate our data center from one state to another, we'll have the option to do that, which is very important, and it helps with uptime as well. Stuff happens. I mean, you can be at a data center physically and something happens to a generator that has all the power. All of a sudden, everybody is feeling the pain.

So with the ability to have the Site Recovery, it’s priceless, because it just goes to location B and everybody is still up. You may see a blip or you may not, and nothing is lost. That leaves everybody to deal with the data-center issue and everything is still up and going, which is very nice.

Creating redundancy

Gardner: I imagine too, Ray, that it works both ways. On one hand, you have a burgeoning ecosystem of cloud and hosting, of providers and options, that you can pursue, do your cost benefit analysis, think about the right path, and create redundancy.

At the same time, you probably have physicians or individual, smaller physician practices, that might look to you and say, "Those guys are doing their IT really well. Why don’t we just subscribe to their services or piggyback on their infrastructure?" Do you have any thoughts about becoming, in a sense, an IT services provider within the healthcare field? It expands your role and even increases your efficiency and revenues.

Todich: Yes, our sights are there. As a matter of fact, our heads are being turned in that direction without even trying to, because a lot of people are doing that. It’s a lot easier for smaller practices, instead of buying all the infrastructure and putting it all in place to get everything up, and then maintaining it, we will house it for you. We'll do that.
Something that's been surfacing a lot in our neck of the woods is the ability to do hosting and provide cloud-based solutions, and VMware is our primary site on that as well.

Gardner: Great, we've had a wonderful discussion, part one of a two-part sponsored podcast series, on how a mid-market health services provider has rapidly adopted server and client virtualization. We’ve seen how Associated Surgeons and Physicians, LLC has gained significant benefits from virtualization by extending the benefits to mobile, embracing BYOD, and then moving into advanced DR.

We've seen how they used a VMware-centric infrastructure approach to go from a 100 percent physical to a 100 percent virtualized infrastructure in less than two years, and in doing so, gaining compliance and efficiency goals that have met and exceeded their initial goals.

So a big thank you to our guest, Ray Todich, Systems Administrator at Associated Surgeons and Physicians in Indiana. Thanks so much, Ray.

Todich: Thank you for having me. I greatly appreciate it.

Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks also to you, our audience, for listening, and don’t forget to come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: VMware.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on how Associated Surgeons and Physicians, LLC went from a 100 percent physical to a 100 percent virtual infrastructure. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2013. All rights reserved.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

ERP for IT Helps Dutch Insurance Giant Achmea to Reinvent IT Processes to Improve Business Performance Across the Board

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on how Achmea Holding has taken big strides to more successfully run their IT department like a business within the business.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the next edition of the HP Discover Performance Podcast Series. I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your moderator for this ongoing discussion of IT innovation and how it’s making an impact on people’s lives.

Once again, we're focusing on how IT leaders are improving performance of their services to deliver better experiences and payoffs for businesses and end-users alike.

I am now joined by our co-host for this sponsored podcast, Georg Bock, Director of the Customer Success Group at HP Software, and he's based in Germany. Welcome, Georg. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Georg Bock: Thanks a lot. Welcome, everybody, to this podcast.

Gardner: Our discussion today will take a deep look at Achmea Holding, one of the largest providers of financial services and insurance in the Netherlands, and we'll examine how they've taken large strides to run their IT operations more like an efficient business.

We'll learn how Achmea has rearchitected its IT operations to both be more responsive to users and more manageable by the business, based on clear metrics.

To learn more about how they've succeeded in making IT governed and agile -- even to attain enterprise resource planning (ERP) for IT benefits -- please join me now in welcoming our special guest, Richard Aarnink, leader in the IT Management Domain at Achmea in the Netherlands. Welcome, Richard.

Richard Aarnink: Thank you very much and welcome, all, to this podcast as well.

Gardner: Let me begin with asking you, as an IT architect, why is running IT more as a business important? Why does this make sense now?

Aarnink: Over the last year, whenever a customer asked us questions, we delivered what he asked. We came to the conclusion that delivery of every request that we got was an intensive process for which we created projects.

It was very difficult to make sure that it was not a one-time hero effect, but that we could deliver to the customer what he asked every time, on scope, on specs, on budget, and on time. We looked at it and said, "Well, it is actually like running a normal business, and therefore why should we be different? We should be predictive as well."

Gardner: Georg Bock, this notion of running IT with the customer most in mind is different than say 10 or 15 years ago. Is this something you are seeing more and more of in the field?

Trend in the market

Bock: Yes, we definitely see this as a trend in the market, specifically with the customers that are a little more mature in their top-down strategic thinking. Let’s face it, running IT like a business is an end-to-end process that requires quite a bit of change across the organization -- not only technology, but also process and organization. Everyone has to work hand in hand to be, at the end of the day, predictable and repeatable in what they're doing, as Richard just explained.

That’s a huge change for most organizations. However, when it’s being done and when it has lived in the organization, there's a huge payback. It is not an easy thing to undertake but it’s inevitable, specifically when we look at the new trends around cloud multi-sourcing, mobility, etc., which brings new complexity to IT.

You'd better have your bread and butter business under control before moving into those areas. That’s why also the timing right now is very important and top of people’s minds.

Gardner: Before we learn more about what you have done with your IT operations, Richard, tell us a bit about Achmea, the size of your organization, what you do, and why IT is so fundamentally important to you?

Aarnink: As you already stated, Achmea is a large insurance provider in the Netherlands. We have around eight million customers in the Netherlands with 17,000 employees. We're a very old and cooperative organization, and we have had lots and lots of mergers and acquisitions in the last 20 years. So we had various sets of IT departments from all the other companies that we centralized over the past years.

If you look at insurance, it's actually having the trust that whenever something happens to a customer, he can rely on the insurer to help him out, and usually this means providing money. IT is necessary to ensure that we can deliver on those promises that we made to our customers. So it’s a tangible service that we deliver, it’s more like money, and it’s all about IT.

Gardner: Tell us a bit more about the scope of your IT department and how you're able to bring together a variety of different IT departments, given your mergers and acquisitions activity, just a bit more detail on your IT organization itself.

Aarnink: Of the 17,000 employees that we have in the Netherlands, about 1,800-2,000 employees work in the centralized IT department. Over the last year, we changed our target operating model to centralize the technologies in competence centers, as we call them, in the department that we call solution development.

We created a new department, IT Operations, and we created business-relationship departments that were merged with the business units that were asking or demanding functionality from our IT department. We changed our entire operating model to cope with that, but we still have a lot of homegrown applications that we have to deliver on a daily basis.

Changing the department and the organizational structure is one thing, and now we need to change the content and the applications we deliver.

Gardner: You are leading in the IT management domain area and you also have a strategy and governance department. How has that briefly allowed you to better manage all of the aspects of IT and make it align with the business? What organizational structure have you been able to benefit from here?

Strategy and governance

Aarnink: To answer that question I need to elaborate a little bit on the strategy and governance department, which is actually within the IT department. What we centralized there were project portfolio and project steering, and also the architectural capabilities.

We make sure that whatever solution we deliver is architectured from a single model that we manage centrally. That's a real benefit that we gained in centralizing this and making sure that we can, from both the architecture and project perspectives, govern the projects that we're going to deliver to our business units.

Gardner: Georg, this notion of a strategy and governance department that helps to standardize these processes, align for automation, and make visible what’s actually going on in IT in a common way, I suppose gets at that systems-of-record approach and even ERP for IT approach. Is this something Achmea is in a leadership position on? Do you see this as a model for others, or is this something that’s happening more generally in the market?

Bock: Absolutely, Achmea is a leader in that, and the structure that Richard described is inevitable to be successful. ERP for IT, or running IT as a business, the fundamental IT processes, is all about standardization, repeatability, and predictability, especially in situations where you have mergers and acquisitions. It’s always a disruption if you have to bring different IT departments together. If you have a standard that’s easy to replicate, that’s a no-brainer and winner from a business bottom-line perspective.

In order to achieve that, you have to have a team that has a horizontal unit and that can drive the standardization of the company. Richard and Achmea are not alone in that. Richard and I have quite a number of discussions with other companies from other industries, and we very much see that everyone has the same problem, and given those horizontal teams, primary enterprise architecture, chief technology officer (CTO) office, or whatever you like to call those departments, is definitely a trend in the industry and for those mature customers that want to take that perspective and drive it forward that way.
It’s not rocket science from an intellectual perspective, but we have to cut through the political difficulties.

But as I said, it’s all about standardization. It’s not rocket science from an intellectual perspective, but we have to cut through the political difficulties of driving the adoptions across the different organizations in the company.

Gardner: Let’s look a bit more deeply, or in a detailed way, at the journey that Achmea has taken. Richard, what sort of problems or issues did you need to resolve, what were some of the big early goals that you had in terms of changing things for the better?

Aarnink: We looked at the entire scope of implementing ERP for IT and first we looked at the IT projects and the portfolio. We looked at that and found out that we still had several departments running their own solutions in managing IT projects and also budgets. In the past, we had a mechanism of only controlling the budget for the different business units, but no centralized view on the IT portfolio, as a whole, for Achmea.

We started in that area, looking at one system of record for IT projects and portfolio management, so we could steer what we wanted to develop and what we wanted to sunset.

Next, we looked at application portfolio management and tried to look at the set of applications that we want to currently use and want to use in the future and the set of applications that we want to sunset in the next year and how that related to the IT project. So that was one big step that we made in the last two years. There's still a lot of work to be done in that area, but it was a big topic.

Service management

The second big topic was looking at service management. Due to all the mergers, we still had lots of variations on IT process. Incident management was covered in a whole different way, when you looked at several departments from the past.

We adopted service desks to cater to all those kind of deviations from the standard ITIL process. We looked at that and said that we had to centralize again and we had to make sure that we become more prescriptive in how these process will look and how we make sure that it's standardized.

That was the second area that we looked at. The third area was more on the application quality. How could we make sure that we got a better first-time-right score in delivering IT projects? How could we make sure that there is one system of record for requirements and one system of record for test results and defects. That’s three areas that we invested in in the first phase.

Gardner: One of the things I hear from organizations, Richard, is that some people fear that by going to standardized processes and rationalizing their portfolio, they will lose control over applications or they won’t be able to customize or change applications. I think, however, that that might be a false premise.

Is there something that you found in moving towards more standardized processes that allows you to be more responsive and agile with your applications? Has the ability to change applications been effective?

Aarnink: It’s still a little bit early to say, and your thoughts are right. There's always a discussion with the business units that in the past owned their own set of applications. They want to control that for being agile, but they also see that the cost of having all those applications is running up and up. We become less agile, because we have to solve many problems in all kinds of applications that they are currently running.
Something had to change, and the financial crisis that we've had from 2008 on emphasized that we need to lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) on IT.

Something had to change, and the financial crisis that we've had from 2008 on emphasized that we need to lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) on IT and we had to do something about it. So it was also a top-down statement that we had to do something about it. We changed the governance to enable us to control that and to make sure that we got the right mandate to enable us to drive application virtualization.

The other thing is that if you standardize your IT components and your IT applications, you also enable yourself to deliver faster. It was the first time that we succeeded in delivering a new policy, a new product, into the marketplace in six weeks, instead of having it in six months or so.

That's is the aim or the goal that we're after, but it’s still too early in the process to look at benefits in that area and to see the cultural change that this embraced, instead of rejected, from the business perspective.

Gardner: Well it certainly sounds like the progress that you’ve made so far has allowed you to increase the time to value, that is to say, make the ability to deliver apps and services to your end-users, to your customers, happen more rapidly. Is that something that we can attribute to the changes you’ve made or is it still too soon for that?

Change going on

Bock: If you ask our customers, they'll say it's still too soon, but we see that the changes in our internal IT organization are already going on. I expect that in 2013, we'll gain the first benefits from this.

Gardner: Georg. I’ve heard this notion of ERP for IT for some time, and I've also heard people be a bit cynical -- it’s a vision, it’s esoteric, or it maybe science fiction. What is it that you're hearing from Achmea and what have you have seen in the market that leads you to believe that ERP for IT is not a vision, but is, in fact, happening and that we're starting to see tangible benefit.

Bock: That’s a very good question. I hear that very, very often and across various distinct contingencies, but Richard very much nicely described real, practical results, rather than coming up with a dogmatic, philosophical process in the first place. I think it’s all about practical results and practical results need to be predictable and repeatable, otherwise it’s always the one-time hero effort that Richard brought up in the beginning, and that’s not scalable at all.

At some point you need process, but you shouldn’t try that dogmatically. I also hear about the Agile versus the waterfall, whatever is applicable to the problem is the right thing to do. Does that rule out process? No, not at all. You have to live the process in a little different way.
Technology always came first and now we look for the nail that you can use that hammer for. That’s not the right thing to do.

Everyone has to get-away from their dogmatic position and look at it in a little more relaxed way. We shouldn’t take our thoughts too seriously, but when we drive ERP for IT to apply some standard ways of doing things, we just make our life easier. It has nothing to do with esoteric vision, but it's something that is very achievable. It’s about getting a couple of people to agree on practical ways of getting it done.

Then, we can draw the technological consequences from it, rather than the other way around. That's been the problem in IT from my perspective for years. Technology always came first and now we look for the nail that you can use that hammer for. That’s not the right thing to do.

Gardner: Just to be clear, this isn’t something that’s specific to Achmea or a certain vertical industry. This is really across all industries in all regions. This is moving towards a more scientific and practical way of doing IT.

Bock: Absolutely. From my perspective, standardization is simply a necessary conclusion from some of the trial-and-error mistakes that have been made over the last 10-15 years, where people tried to customize the hell out of everything just to be in line with the specificity of how things are being done in their particular company. But nobody asked why it was that way.

If you ask that question, you very quickly get to the revelation. It’s not that different. Richard, if you recap some of the discussions we had with your architect colleagues in other companies, I think you might want to comment on that.

Aarnink: I completely agree. We had several discussions about how the incident process is being carried out, and it’s the same in every other company as well. Of course there are slight differences, but the fact is that an incident needs to be so resolved, and that’s the same within every company.

Best practice

You can easily create a best practice for that, adopt it within your own company, and unburden yourself from thinking about how you should go for this process, reinvent it, creating your own tool sets, interfaces with external companies. That can all be centralized, it can all be standardized.

It’s not our business to create our own IT tools. It’s the business of delivering policy management systems for our core industry, which is insurance. We don’t want all the IT that we need in order to just to keep the IT running. We want that standardized, so we can concentrate on delivering business value.

Gardner: Now that we've been calling this ERP for IT, I think it’s important to look back on where ERP as a concept came from and the fact that getting more data, more insight, repeatability, analyzing processes, determining best processes and methods and then instantiating them, is at the core of ERP. But when we try to do that with IT, how do we measure, what is the data, and what do we analyze?

Richard, at Achmea, are you looking at key performance indicators (KPIs) and are using project portfolio management maturity models? How is it that you're measuring this so that you can, in fact, do what ERP does best, make it repeatable, make it standardized?
The IT project is a vehicle helping you deliver the value that you need, and the processes underneath that actually do the work for you.

Aarnink: If you look from the budget perspective, we look at the budgets, the timeframes, and the scope of what we need to deliver and whether we deliver on time, on budget, and on specs, as I already said. So those are basically the KPIs that we're looking for when we deliver projects.

But also, if you look at the processes involved when you deliver a project, then you talk about requirements management. How quickly can you create a set of requirements and what is the reuse of requirements from the past. Those are the KPIs we're looking for in the specific processes when you deliver an IT project.

So the IT project is a vehicle helping you deliver the value that you need, and the processes underneath that actually do the work for you. At that level we try to standardize and we try to make KPIs in order to make sure that we use as much as possible, that we deliver quality, and we have the resources in place that we actually need to deliver those functionalities.

Gardner: I'm afraid that we're almost out of time but I wonder, Richard, if you wouldn’t mind putting yourself in the position of a master here and relating some of your experience for an organizations that may not have started down this path towards ERP for IT to the same degree. Now that you’ve done it and now that you’ve been involved with it, do you have any 20-20 hindsight or recommendations that you could provide from your position of experience to someone who’s just beginning?

Aarnink: It’s a difficult question. You need to look at small steps that can be taken in a couple of months’ time. So draw up a roadmap and enable yourself to deliver value every, let’s say 100 days. Make sure that every time you deliver functionality that’s actually used, and you can look at your roadmap and adjust it, so you enable yourself to be agile in that way as well.

The biggest thing that you need to do is take small steps. The other thing is to look at your maturity. We did a CMMi test review. We didn't do the entire CMMi accreditation, but only looked at the areas that we needed to invest in.

Getting advice

We looked at where we had standardized already and the areas that we needed to look at first. That can help you prioritize. Then, of course, look at companies in your network that actually did some steps in this and make sure that you get advice from them as well.

Gardner: Georg, just quickly, any thoughts on either affirming what Richard said or other ideas for organizations that are just beginning down the ERP for IT path?

Bock: I absolutely agree with what Richard said. If we're looking for some recipe for successes, you have to have a good balance of strategic goals and tactical steps towards that strategic goal. Those tactical step need to have a clear measure and a clear success criteria associated with them. Then you're on a good track.

I just want to come back to the notion of ERP for IT that you alluded to earlier, because that term can actually hurt the discussion quite a bit. If you think about ERP 20 years ago, it was a big animal. And we shouldn’t look at IT nowadays in the same manner as ERP was looked at 20 years ago. We don’t want to reinvent a big animal right now, but we have to have a strategic goal where we look at IT from an end-to-end perspective, and that’s the analogy that we want to draw.
If we're looking for some recipe for successes, you have to have a good balance of strategic goals and tactical steps towards that strategic goal.

ERP is something that has always been looked as an end-to-end process, and having a clear, common context associated from an end-to-end perspective, which is not the case in IT today. We should learn from those analogies that we shouldn’t try to implement ERP literally for IT, because that would take the whole thing in one step, where as Richard just said very nicely, you have to take it in digestible pieces, because we have to deal with a lot of technology there. You can't take that in one shot.

Gardner: Okay, very good. I am afraid we will have to leave it there. I want to thank our co-host, Georg Bock, Director of the Customer Success Group at HP Software. Thank you so much, Georg.

Bock: My pleasure. Thank you.

Gardner: And I'd also like to thank our supporter for this series, that is HP Software, and remind our audience to carry on the dialogue through Discover Performance Group on LinkedIn. You can also gain more insights and information on the best of IT Performance Management at

And you can always access this and other episodes in our HP Discover Performance Podcast Series on iTunes under BriefingsDirect.

And now, I'd like to thank our special guest, Richard Aarnink. He is the leader of the IT Management Domain at Achmea in the Netherlands. Thank you so much, Richard. Very insightful.

Aarnink: Thank you, and you're very welcome.

Gardner: And lastly, a thank you to our audience for joining us for this special HP Discover Performance Podcast discussion. I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host for this ongoing series. We appreciate your attention, and please come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on how Achmea Holding has taken big strides to more successfully run their IT department like a business within the business. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2013. All rights reserved.

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Friday, March 01, 2013

The Open Group Panel Explains How the ArchiMate Modeling Language and The Open Group Architecture Framework Impact Such Trends as Big Data and Cloud

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on the role of enterprise and business architecture in helping enterprises exploit and manage technology and business transformation.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunesDownload the transcript. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to a special BriefingsDirect thought leadership interview series coming to you in conjunction with The Open Group Conference recently held in Newport Beach, California.

I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and I'll be your host and moderator throughout these business transformation discussions. The conference itself is focused on "big data -- the transformation we need to embrace today."

We recently assembled a panel of experts to explore new trends and developments in enterprise architecture (EA) as businesses grapple with such issues as big data, cloud computing, security, and overall IT transformation. We'll learn more on how EA is evolving and specifically how the TOGAF® framework and the ArchiMate® modeling language are playing increased roles worldwide.

With that, please join me in welcoming our panel: Chris Forde, General Manager for Asia-Pacific and Vice President of Enterprise Architecture at The Open Group; Iver Band, Vice Chair of The Open Group ArchiMate Forum and Enterprise Architect at The Standard, a diversified financial services company; Mike Walker, Senior Enterprise Architecture Adviser and Strategist at HP and former Director of Enterprise Architecture at Dell; Henry Franken, the Chairman of The Open Group ArchiMate Forum and Managing Director at BIZZdesign, and Dave Hornford, Chairman of the Architecture Forum at The Open Group and Managing Partner at Conexiam. [Disclosure: The Open Group and HP are sponsors of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Gardner: Chris, at the conference you me with a lot of folks, and there is a lot of activity in socializing and whatnot. Is there something about the role of the enterprise architect that you sense is shifting, or are people, maybe even trying to project their roles differently in their organizations?

Consistent theme

Forde: At these conferences, generally there is a fairly consistent theme. It goes from "We're having difficulty defining our role in the context that makes it relevant and useful to the business," to "We're having a great opportunity with our business partners to drive business transformation." It really goes across the spectrum.

What I'm hearing in the conference, not just based on the themes, is a lot of discussion about that transformation topic and the role of the enterprise architect in moving the organization along. That's a very, very typical conversation to hear in the hallways.

Gardner: When it's a dynamic environment, lots of change, lots of movement, the enterprise architects' value can go up. If things were slow, constant and predictable, perhaps their value wouldn't be as high. Any thoughts about that?

Franken: Well sure. What you see is that the challenge within large organizations on business transformation is increasing and the number of good enterprise architects is small, so their value increases. It's simple mathematics.

Gardner: Mike Walker, how do you see EA and the role of the architect changing, vis-à-vis your experiences?

Walker: I’ll provide the perspective of the an EA leader and practitioner in the trenches of not only my company but also talking with colleagues in other companies as well. I see a lot of what was referred to from Henry and Chris. To add to that, there is more and more focus on reinvigorating the EA practices. There is less of a focus on the traditional things we come to think of EA such as standards, governance and policies, but rather into emerging areas such as the soft skills, business architecture, and strategy.

To this end I see a lot in the realm of working directly with the executive chain to understand the key value drivers for the company and rationalize where they want to go with their business. So we're moving into a business-transformation role in this practice.

At the same time, we've got to be mindful of the disruptive external technology forces coming in as well. EA can’t just divorce from the other aspects of architecture as well. So the role that enterprise architects play becomes more and more important and elevated in the organization.

Two examples of this disruptive technology that are being focused on at the conference are big data and cloud computing. Both are providing impacts to our businesses not because of some new business idea but because technology is available to enhance or provide new capabilities to our business. The EA’s still do have to understand these new technology innovations and determine how they will apply to the business.

To Henry's point around the need to get really good enterprise architects, it’s difficult to find good ones. There is a shortage right now especially given that a lot of focus is being put on the EA department to really deliver sound architectures.

Not standalone

Gardner: We've been talking a lot here about big data, but usually that's not just a standalone topic. It's big data and cloud, cloud, mobile and security.

So with these overlapping and complex relationships among multiple trends, why is EA and things like the TOGAF framework and the ArchiMate modeling language especially useful? Iver?

Band: One of the things that has been clear for a while now is that people outside of IT don't necessarily have to go through the technology function to avail themselves of these technologies any more. Whether they ever had to is really a question as well.

One of things that EA is doing, and especially in the practice that I work in, is using approaches like the ArchiMate modeling language to effect clear communication between the business, IT, partners and other stakeholders. That's what I do in my daily work, overseeing our major systems modernization efforts. I work with major partners, some of which are offshore.

I'm increasingly called upon to make sure that we have clear processes for making decisions and clear ways of visualizing the different choices in front of us. We can't always unilaterally dictate the choice, but we can make the conversation clearer by using frameworks like the TOGAF standard and the ArchiMate modeling language, which I use virtually every day in my work.

Gardner: And so the more moving parts and the more complexity, the less likely that you can wing this or use traditional, linear tools. You need something that's a bit more up to the task. Dave, help us understand how these tools can grapple better with these multiple levels of complexity and then also bridge some of these communication gaps among different constituencies in these large organizations.

Hornford: The fundamental benefit of the tools is the organization realizing its capability and strategy. I just came from a session where a fellow quoted a Harvard study, which said that around a third of executives thought their company was good at executing on its strategy. He highlighted that this means that two-thirds are not good at executing on their strategy.

If you're not good at executing on your strategy and you've got big data, mobile, consumerization of IT and cloud, where are you going? What's the correct approach? How does this fit into what you were trying to accomplish as an enterprise?

An enterprise architect that is doing their job is bringing together the strategy, goals and objectives of the organization. Also, its capabilities with the techniques that are available, whether it's offshoring, onshoring, cloud, or big data, so that the organization is able to move forward to where it needs to be, as opposed to where it's going to randomly walk to.

Forde: One of the things that has come out in several of the presentations is this kind of capability-based planning, a technique in EA to get their arms around this thing from a business-driver perspective. Just to polish what Dave said a little bit, it's connecting all of those things. We see enterprises talking about a capability-based view of things on that basis.

Gardner: Because we're here with a couple of the chairpeople from these forums, where a lot of the development and direction for these tools comes about, let's get a quick update. The TOGAF framework, where are we and what have been the highlights from this particular event?

Minor upgrade

Hornford: In the last year, we've published a minor upgrade for TOGAF version 9.1 which was based upon cleaning up consistency in the language in the TOGAF documentation. What we're working on right now is a significant new release, the next release of the TOGAF standard, which is dividing the TOGAF documentation to make it more consumable, more consistent and more useful for someone.

Today, the TOGAF standard has guidance on how to do something mixed into the framework of what you should be doing. We're peeling those apart. So with that peeled apart, we won't have guidance that is tied to classic application architecture in a world of cloud.

What we find when we have done work with the Banking Industry Architecture Network (BIAN) for banking architecture, Sherwood Applied Business Security Architecture (SABSA) for security architecture, and the TeleManagement Forum, is that the concepts in the TOGAF framework work across industries and across trends. We need to move the guidance into a place so that we can be far nimbler on how to tie cloud with my current strategy, how to tie consumerization of IT with on-shoring?

Franken: The ArchiMate modeling language turned two last year, and the ArchiMate 1.0 standard is the language to model out the core of your EA. The ArchiMate 2.0 standard added two specifics to it to make it better aligned also to the process of EA.

According to the TOGAF standard, this is being able to model out the motivation, why you're doing EA, stakeholders and the goals that drive us. The second extension to the ArchiMate standard is being able to model out its planning and migration.

So with the core EA and these two extensions, together with the TOGAF standard process working, you have a good basis on getting EA to work in your organization.

Gardner: Let’s also go back to the big data concepts that are driving this conference. I've been interested in this notion of the information architecture, data architecture and how that relates to the TOGAF framework. Mike, you've been doing some interesting writing on this subject. Fill us in on some of your thoughts about the role of information architecture vis-à-vis the larger business architect and enterprise architect roles.

Walker: Information architecture is an interesting topic in that it hasn’t been getting a whole lot of attention until recently.

Information architecture is an aspect of enterprise architecture that enables an information strategy or business solution through the definition of the company's business information assets, their sources, structure, classification and associations that will prescribe the required application architecture and technical capabilities.

Information architecture is the bridge between the business architecture world and the application and technology architecture activities.

The reason I say that is because information architecture is a business-driven discipline that details the information strategy of the company. As we know, and from what we’ve heard at the conference keynotes like in the case of NASA, big data, and security presentations, the preservation and classification of that information is vital to understanding what your architecture should be.

Least matured

From an industry perspective, this is one of the least matured, as far as being incorporated into a formal discipline. The TOGAF standard actually has a phase dedicated to it in data architecture. Again, there are still lots of opportunities to grow and incorporate additional methods, models and tools by the enterprise information management discipline.

Enterprise information management not only it captures traditional topic areas like master data management (MDM), metadata and unstructured types of information architecture but also focusing on the information governance, and the architecture patterns and styles implemented in MDM, big data, etc. There is a great deal of opportunity there.

From the role of information architects, I’m seeing more and more traction in the industry as a whole. I've dealt with an entire group that’s focused on information architecture and building up an enterprise information management practice, so that we can take our top line business strategies and understand what architectures we need to put there.

This is a critical enabler for global companies, because oftentimes they're restricted by regulation, typically handled at a government or regional area. This means we have to understand that we build our architecture. So it's not about the application, but rather the data that it processes, moves, or transforms.
We didn’t have to treat information as a first-class citizen. Times have changed, though.

Gardner: Up until not too long ago, the conventional thinking was that applications generate data. Then you treat the data in some way so that it can be used, perhaps by other applications, but that the data was secondary to the application.

But there's some shift in that thinking now more toward the idea that the data is the application and that new applications are designed to actually expand on the data’s value and deliver it out to mobile tiers perhaps. Does that follow in your thinking that the data is actually more prominent as a resource perhaps on par with applications?

Walker: You're spot on, Dana. Before the commoditization of these technologies that resided on premises, we could get away with starting at the application layer and work our way back because we had access to the source code or hardware behind our firewalls. We could throw servers out, and we used to put the firewalls in front of the data to solve the problem with infrastructure. So we didn’t have to treat information as a first-class citizen. Times have changed, though.

Information access and processing is now democratized and it’s being pushed as the first point of presentment. A lot of times this is on a mobile device and even then it’s not the corporate’s mobile device, but your personal device. So how do you handle that data?

It's the same way with cloud, and I’ll give you a great example of this. I was working as an adviser for a company, and they were looking at their cloud strategy. They had made a big bet on one of the big infrastructures and cloud-service providers. They looked first at what the features and functions that that cloud provider could provide, and not necessarily the information requirements. There were two major issues that they ran into, and that was essentially a showstopper. They had to pull off that infrastructure.

The first one was that in that specific cloud provider’s terms of service around intellectual property (IP) ownership. Essentially, that company was forced to cut off their IP rights.

Big business

As you know, IP is a big business these days, and so that was a showstopper. It actually broke the core regulatory laws around being able to discover information.

So focusing on the applications to make sure it meets your functional needs is important. However, we should take a step back and look at the information first and make sure that for the people in your organization who can’t say no, their requirements are satisfied.

Gardner: Data architecture is it different from EA and business architecture, or is it a subset? What’s the relationship, Dave?

Hornford: Data architecture is part of an EA. I won’t use the word subset, because a subset starts to imply that it is a distinct thing that you can look at on its own. You cannot look at your business architecture without understanding your information architecture. When you think about big data, cool. We've got this pile of data in the corner. Where did it come from? Can we use it? Do we actually have legitimate rights, as Mike highlighted, to use this information? Are we allowed to mix it and who mixes it?

When we look at how our business is optimized, they normally optimize around work product, what the organization is delivering. That’s very easy. You can see who consumes your work product. With information, you often have no idea who consumes your information. So now we have provenance, we have source and as we move for global companies, we have the trends around consumerization, cloud and simply tightening cycle time.
If we look at data in isolation, I have to understand how the system works and how the enterprise’s architecture fits together.

There was a very interesting thing that came out of a PricewaterhouseCoopers CEO summary, which said there has historically been cycles where the CEOs were focusing on innovation or cost. What they have observed over the last few surveys is much tightening of those cycles. We used to be a bit worried about cost for a few years. Then, we would worry about innovation for a few years. Now, it’s worrying about it for a year. What came out in the last survey? Both are rated number one.

How do we in global, tightly connected, information-rich environment manage? Do we have access to the information? Our competitors may, our customers do and our suppliers probably do. How do we fit into that? If we look at data in isolation, I have to understand how the system works and how the enterprise’s architecture fits together.

Gardner: Of course, the end game for a lot of the practitioners here is to create that feedback loop of a lifecycle approach, rapid information injection and rapid analysis that could be applied. So what are some of the ways that these disciplines and tools can help foster that complete lifecycle? Let’s go to Iver.

Band: The disciplines and tools can facilitate the right conversations among different stakeholders. One of the things that we're doing at The Standard is building cadres equally balanced between people in business and IT.

We're training them in information management, going through a particular curriculum, and having them study for an information management certification that introduces a lot of these different frameworks and standard concepts.

Creating cadres

We want to create these cadres to be able to solve tough and persistent information management problems that affect all companies in financial services, because information is a shared asset. The purpose of the frameworks is to ensure proper stewardship of that asset across disciplines and across organizations within an enterprise.

Gardner: If they add to the fostering of that nirvana of a full lifecycle that it cuts across different disciplines in the organization.

Hornford: The core is from the two standards that we have, The ArchiMate standard and the TOGAF standard. The TOGAF standard has, from its early roots, focused on the components of EA and how to build a consistent method of understanding of what I'm trying to accomplish, understanding where I am, and where I need to be to reach my goal.

When we bring in the ArchiMate standard, I have a language, a descriptor, a visual descriptor that allows me to cross all of those domains in a consistent description, so that I can do that traceability. When I pull in this lever or I have this regulatory impact, what does it hit me with, or if I have this constraint, what does it hit me with?

If I don’t do this, if I don’t use the framework of the TOGAF standard, or I don’t use the discipline of formal modeling in the ArchiMate standard, we're going to do it anecdotally. We're going to trip. We're going to fall. We're going to have a non-ending series of surprises, as Mike highlighted.
The businesses value of TOGAF is that they get a repeatable and a predictable process for building out our architectures that properly manage risks and reliably produces value.

"Oh, terms of service. I am violating the regulations. Beautiful. Let’s take that to our executive and tell him right as we are about to go live that we have to stop, because we can't get where we want to go, because we didn't think about what it took to get there." And that’s the core of EA in the frameworks.

Walker: To build on what Dave has just talked about and going back to your first question Dana, the value statement on TOGAF from a business perspective. The businesses value of TOGAF is that they get a repeatable and a predictable process for building out our architectures that properly manage risks and reliably produces value.

The TOGAF framework provides a methodology to ask what problems you're trying to solve and where you are trying to go with your business opportunities or challenges. That leads to business architecture, which is really a rationalization in technical or architectural terms the distillation of the corporate strategy.

From there, what you want to understand is information -- how does that translate, what information architecture do we need to put in place? You get into all sorts of things around risk management, etc., and then it goes on from there, until what we were talking about earlier about information architecture.

If the TOGAF standard is applied properly you can achieve the same result every time, That is what interests business stakeholders in my opinion. And the ArchiMate modeling language is great because, as we talked about, it provides very rich visualizations so that people cannot only show a picture, but tie information together. Different from other aspects of architecture, information architecture is less about the boxes and more about the lines.

Gardner: All right, thank you Mike. Chris, anything to add?

Quality of the individuals

Forde: Building on what Dave was saying earlier and also what Iver was saying is that while the process and the methodology and the tools are of interest, it’s the discipline and the quality of the individuals doing the work.

Iver talked about how the conversation is shifting and the practice is improving to build communications groups that have a discipline to operate around. What I am hearing is implied, but actually I know what specifically occurs, is that we end up with assets that are well described and reusable.

And there is a point at which you reach a critical mass that these assets become an accelerator for decision making. So the ability of the enterprise and the decision makers in the enterprise at the right level to respond is improved, because they have a well disciplined foundation beneath them.

A set of assets that are reasonably well-known at the right level of granularity for them to absorb the information and the conversation is being structured so that the technical people and the business people are in the right room together to talk about the problems.

This is actually a fairly sophisticated set of operations that I am discussing and doesn't happen overnight, but is definitely one of the things that we see occurring with our members in certain cases.
There is a point at which you reach a critical mass that these assets become an accelerator for decision making.

Hornford: I want to build on that what Chris said. It’s actually the word "asset." While he was talking, I was thinking about how people have talked about information as an asset. Most of us don’t know what information we have, how it’s collected, where it is, but we know we have got a valuable asset.

I'll use an analogy. I have a factory some place in the world that makes stuff. Is that an asset? If I know that my factory is able to produce a particular set of goods and it’s hooked into my supply chain here, I've got an asset. Before that, I just owned a thing.

I was very encouraged listening to what Iver talked about. We're building cadres. We're building out this approach and I have seen this. I'm not using that word, but now I'm stealing that word. It's how people build effective teams, which is not to take a couple of specialists and put them in an ivory tower, but it’s to provide the method and the discipline of how we converse about it, so that we can have a consistent conversation.

When I tie it with some of the tools from the Architecture Forum and the ArchiMate Forum, I'm able to consistently describe it, so that I now have an asset I can identify, consume and produce value from.

Business context

Forde: And this is very different from data modeling. We are not talking about entity relationship, junk at the technical detail, or third normal form and that kind of stuff. We're talking about a conversation that’s occurring around the business context of what needs to go on supported by the right level of technical detail when you need to go there in order to clarify.

Gardner: Thank you Chris. I believe we'll have to leave it there. We're about out of time. We've been talking about the enterprise architect’s role, how it's evolving, and how TOGAF and ArchiMate are playing increased roles worldwide.

We've seen how EA is being creatively employed as businesses grapple with such issues as cloud computing, security, big data, and overall IT transformation.
We're talking about a conversation that’s occurring around the business context of what needs to go on.

This special BriefingsDirect discussion comes to you in conjunction with The Open Group Conference in Newport Beach, California.

I want to extend a big thank you to our panel: Chris Forde, the General Manager Asia-Pacific and Vice President of Enterprise Architecture at The Open Group; Iver Band, Vice Chair of The Open Group ArchiMate Forum and Enterprise Architect at The Standard; Mike Walker, Senior Enterprise Architecture Adviser and Strategist at HP and former Director of Enterprise Architecture at Dell; Henry Franken, Chairman of The Open Group ArchiMate Forum and Managing Director at BIZZdesign, and Dave Hornford, Chairman of the Architecture Forum at The Open Group and a Managing Partner at Conexiam. Thanks to you all.

This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator through these thought leadership interviews. Thanks again for listening, and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunesDownload the transcript. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on the role of enterprise and business architecture in helping enterprises exploit and manage technology and business transformation. Copyright The Open Group and Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2013. All rights reserved.

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