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Tuesday, April 02, 2002

 

News, Reviews and Miscellaneous Notes. I'll be writing the next entry about the Tarrani-Zarate Model, which will address process and organization elements of the foundation layer. Much of this information deals with infrastructure, and I want to provide background material as a prelude while I'm writing my entry. One important book (among many) is one that I recently read titled, Enriching the Value Chain: Infrastructure Strategies Beyond the Enterprise. This book is an extensive rework of the authors' The Adaptive Enterprise, and in my opinion supersedes that earlier book.

Like the first book this one borrows heavily from the software engineering community to employ proven techniques, such as layered design, patterns and a component-based approach to infrastructure. Where this book extends and builds upon the earlier work is the emphasis on extending the corporate infrastructure into a meta infrastructure that is characterized by B2B and supply chains. As such it lives up to the title because the goal of the extended infrastructure is to enrich the value chain - or at least support the underlying business goals.

What I like about this book is what the authors propose is not only attainable, but makes good business sense. It starts with a 22-page introduction that clearly defines what is and is not infrastructure, and the concept of an adaptivity. These are important to understanding the approach that follows. Chapter 2, Laying the Foundation, quickly gives the basics for a layered infrastructure, develops a model for associated services that are needed to make the infrastructure adaptable, and drills down into service-related issues. I am not in complete agreement with the impact that this approach has on IT organizational structures; however, I am not willing to write it off as unfeasible until I have a chance to carefully think it through. The ideas do have merit (on paper) and are better developed in the first book.

Much of the rest of the book is a rehash of The Adaptive Enterprise, but the material is slanted towards the extended infrastructure. What is important is the emphasis on patterns and components as frameworks and building blocks. Where the first book brought infrastructure management to a new level, this book extends it in a manner that reflects the realities of connected enterprises defined by supply chain management and business partners. Please see my review of "The Adaptive Enterprise" below for specifics that apply to this book, and if you're deciding between the two books, this is the one to get.

The Adaptive Enterprise: IT Infrastructure Strategies to Manage Change and Enable Growth. The infrastructure management approach that the authors give in this book incorporates practices from systems (and software) engineering, and is a blueprint for success. The objectives are:

  1. End-to-end management with no gaps in ownership.
  2. Cost efficiencies through reuse and component-based strategies.
  3. Holistic view that looks at business, operational and technology (instead of the common 'technology only' view)
  4. Adaptability (an infrastructure that is managed to long range goals, but can be quickly adapted to emerging and immediate business needs).
How the authors meet these objectives is by identifying physical, functional and interface components that make up the infrastructure and integrating them into a service-oriented framework. This is consistent with component-based software engineering, and it is a remarkably good fit to infrastructure management. Moreover, the authors introduce patterns, also borrowed from software and systems engineering disciplines, to map business requirements to design in an efficient manner that promotes reuse. Another advantage of patterns is this approach captures knowledge (something not directly pointed out in the book). If you're not familiar with process patterns the book I recommend for infrastructure professionals is More Process Patterns by Scott Ambler. This is the second of a two book set and it directly addresses patterns that are related to infrastructure (the first book, Process Patterns, is more focused on software engineering).

The two chapters I liked the most are 4, Developing Adaptive Services, and 5, Services Starter Kit. These chapters tie services to infrastructure and go into fine detail about how to integrate services and the underlying technology. I especially like the way the authors use multiple life cycle management for each layer in the infrastructure. Chapters 6 (Processes and Methods) and 7 (Packaging and People) neatly pull together the preceding chapters into a coherent, process-oriented strategy. The single appendix is also valuable because it gives a comprehensive component catalog. This catalog can be used as the basis of the infrastructure blueprint as well as the foundation of an encompassing asset management initiative.

Miscellaneous Notes. I found a collection of papers that are related to infrastructure management that are worth reading. Until I resurface with my entry on the process and organization elements of the Tarrani-Zarate Model foundation layer you have my best regards from Azusa, California.