Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The IT Toolbox #001 - Definitions

It is vital that IT people communicate with the same lexicon.  This helps to establish definition which provides the specificity necessary to discuss complex topics.

The marketing engine, not to mention the general media, does little to correct ambiguity.  It can be argued that ambiguity in the marketing engine suffers ignorance in the hopes of capturing the next big headline.

This isn’t new.  Key terms do matter.  They are refined over time.

What makes matters worse, we often don’t know ~exactly~ what these terms mean until they are ingrained in a pattern that everyone comes to accept.

One of the best examples is Cloud Computing, “The Cloud” or just simply ‘Cloud.’

The problem with ‘Cloud’ is it doesn’t fit the definition of what everyone believes it to be.

The various definitions I’ve come across include:

Cloud is hosting on the internet.  (True-ish, but not very meaningful.)
Cloud is Infrastructure as a Service.  (It’s not only, but that’s OK.)
Cloud is Platform as a Service.  (A better definition, but also incomplete.)
Cloud is Cloud Native applications.  (This is about as ill fitting as Infrastructure as a Service.)
Cloud is Serverless.  (No, it’s not.  Never was, never will be.)
Cloud is where I’m moving all of our Enterprise Applications.  (That’ll be fun)

If you’d like to read a thoughtful description of Cloud, have a look at this Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing  (16 pages and 125 references, 7 deployment models and 6 service models AND 23 disambiguation references)

What I’m getting at is that calling anything ‘Cloud’ lacks definition, its meaning has no precision what-so-ever.

Please make sure others know what you mean, when you say Cloud.

Monday, May 20, 2019

XXXX-as-a-Service aaS

The context of the utility to an as-a-Service capability in IT relies heavily on where the demarcation of use resolves.

It's much easier to see it in a graphical depiction.

In general, Infrastructure and a portion of the virtualization/abstraction are what will be acted upon by nearly all use cases (if we forgo the licensing issues with respect to those things more appropriately economical on bare metal).

On top of that you'd build out the as-a-Service for Infrastructure, which at the base level is virtualization/abstraction/operating system automation and management. 

Then you walk up the technology chain, including the management of constructs necessary for applications to be automated in build / test and delivery.

The last step on the technology chain is the delivery of what should be the most important element (though even today, we've people worried about HOW the underlying physical elements are doing), the Application delivery.

Delivery, SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, aaS
Tiers of 'as-a-Service' delivery

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Internet meme vs Cynefin

Stumbling across an interesting relationship can be interesting.  Was looking at a blog by Kees van der Ent on linked.in and realized that the header graphic could be related to Cynefin.

cynefin, meme, internet, strategy

Thanks to Dawn ONeil presentation on checkup.org.au, I was rapidly able to mock up the concept, meme to the Cynefin graphic, and it became apparent that there is a relationship.

In Cynefin, Complex Collaboration is all about "putting thoughts into words."  It has to be described to work with complexity.  Consider how absolutely wide the fields of Information Technology have become, things as simple as definitions and TLAs may not mean the same things to different technology backgrounds.

Without this specific step in the framework, it's is nearly impossible except through experimentation to achieve anything remotely close to education.

This lends itself heavily to cooperation, taking complex concepts and reducing them to something relatable.  Quite literally "what I say to other people."

Reducing disorder even further, is were understanding really takes hold.  Concepts are extracted, reduced and put in overlay or contrast in such at way that it becomes "what people actually understand."

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Declarative IT and Design for Operations

Was reading a very insightful and interesting blog from @TorstenVolt on Linked.in titled "Digital Transformation Requires Autonomic Computing 3.0" and started to see some commonality in the needed operations processes with a digital future.

This, by the way, is right after @AWS announces their AWS Outposts, a telling example of how coevolution in IT validates concepts and models (Yes, everyone, Hybrid is real, even Microsoft things so) and how terribly important it is to get to the data.

Torsten brings up some very important points about post transformational examples on what direction needs to take place.  It's very much like the conversation that @cpswan brings up almost every time we talk, how does the future solve the problems we see through Design for Operations.

The solution for Design for Operations revolves distinctly around Declarative IT plus a bit of truth and trust in the platform(s) associated with that same delivery.

I've done my best in capturing/mapping this in a Wardley Map as a way to illustrate the idea.

Declarative needs and Design for Operations of IT Infrastructure
Figure 1.  Wardley Map showing Declarative needs and Design for Operations of IT Infrastructure
In general, IT Infrastructure Design for Operations includes a Platform for management of Declarative states of underlying infrastructure.

With the abstraction of server virtualization and cloud computing, the declarations became very much least common denominator and not very permissible with respect the evolution of application development (the Dev part of DevOps).  It eased operations of the abstracted layer considerably, but it didn't really enhance the Ops side of the infrastructure model.

At this point, we could argue that the Cloud Titans have already achieved a more horizontally evolved Declarative Platform, but now that everyone seems to be reaching back into the Enterprise Datacenter, permissible use and least common denominator may very well come into play again.

So, looking at the problem that now needs to be solved, truly Declarative Storage and Declarative Compute need to be pressed into evolution toward commodity to achieve the rewards of application integrated software definition of the hybrid datacenter.

This should go a long way toward solving the Design for Operations problems as well as matching up with @TorstonVolt's re-conceptualization of the Digital future state.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Wardley Mapping Technical Debt of a System

A friend of mine brought a question, can you map technical debt of a neglected system (edited) with Wardley Mapping.

I'm not sure it's possible in a single slide, mostly because the Wardley Map would require a time axis (or even a worker knowledge axis) to depict it in one slide.

To explain the entire idea, I'm going to use 8 slides such that the entire thought may be followed.  Please keep in mind, that this is entirely theoretical in nature.

For starters, Wardley Maps does have a couple of mechanisms that are useful for this depiction (See Figure 1 upper right).  The first one is inertia, represented as a solid bar and the second is a fat arrow indicating acceleration and deacceleration.

Figure 1 is a starting value chain map, with a system between the electricity anchored in the Commodity (+utility) area and a user need indicated in the most visible position.

Figure 1.  Wardley Map of system with Inertial marker identified

I'm placing the characteristic of Inertia in the middle of the system, with the supposition that there are no other forces acting on the system (like in physics).

Let's suppose then, that a deaccelertion is applied to the system by forgoing a technical upgrade in a part or all of the system.  See Figure 2.

Figure 2.  Stalling Update of System to N-1
This will impose an inertial movement from current position to the left.  See Figure 3.  Also note the "shadow" of Technical Debt in this drawing behind the system's inertial reference.
Figure 3.  System in N-1 State
The system is still within the Product (+rental) space and therefore there is no significant harm to how the system provides for the user need.

Imparting another deacceleration to the center mass of the system by forgoing the next generational needs of upgrading the system again shifts the center of mass of the system to the left.  See Figure 4.

Figure 4.  Forgoing update of system to N-2
See Figure 5, the system now sits on a precarious boundary between Product and Custom.  The possibility that the functions of support and management are greatly increased and the system itself may need some parts of its structure custom maintained.  The "shadow" of Technical Debt has grown with respect to the movement of the system.

Figure 5.  System in precarious boundary between Product and Custom

Forgoing another generational upgrade of the system imparts another deacceleration to the overall system.  See Figure 6.

Figure 6.  Further neglect of System to N-X

Continuous neglect of the system eventually leads to complete failure, where the massive "shadow" of Technical Debt of this neglect leads to system collapse through the technological inability to upgrade or loss of knowledge necessary to upgrade. See Figures 7 and 8.

Figure 7.  Continued neglect until system breaks
Figure 8.  Broken system (fully in Genesis) with Total of Technical Debt
Once the center of mass passes the Genesis boundary, the system is likely incapable of accurate function.  The user needs will no longer be met and that also may need to shift along with the center of system inertial movement or more likely be removed altogether.

As always, if you've any additional thoughts on this topic, I'm active in the twitter-verse @abusedbits


Friday, July 6, 2018

Evolving a Business Process with a Wardley Map, Part 2

Following on from Evolving a Business Process with a Wardley Map, we were discussing the Cost mechanism.

The question was, if we understand the BOM, "Can we get to ROM Cost quicker?"

@swardley, Business, Costing, Map, mapping, Maps, Pricing, Wardley, WardleyMaps,
5. Cost Calculator
This part of the evolution of the business process is actually more difficult.  It involves having ALL of the partner/vendors willing and able to work with you to create a Cost Calculator.

The good thing, if it is possible to create a BOM Calculator, most of the business logic is understood well enough to introduce the concept of Cost with the same (or similar) business logic.  The reverse is also true, we just needed a starting point.

In Figure 5, we're evolving a Cost Calculator as a product of the BOM Calculator output.  It is most assuredly in the Product category because it requires a product like update on a regular interval with the partner/vendor to maintain currency with their cost changes.

In Figure 6, we've created the new Cost method.

6. New Cost Method
The benefit of this change in process, we've shaved an additional 7-10 days off the Process.  We're also able to discuss pricing with a real BOM and a tolerance based Cost.

The problem, it is unlikely to be as exact as the Quotation step, but fine for ROM review. Providing we can live with small fluctuation between the Cost Calculator and the Quotation, everything should be fine.  Just make absolutely sure you understand completely the cost tolerance requirements.

7. Optimization Method
There's quite a good chance, especially with a mixed product-service opportunity, that there is potentially an unacceptable variation to the required tolerance without looking at Optimization of the BOM to ROM, Figure 7.

The Question for the Cost Calculator, "Is 1 large widget more cost effective than 2 medium widgets or even 4 small widgets?"

Consider the scenario where the product is a combination of labor, hardware and software licensing.  Optimization of the Calculators (a Calculator of Calculators, if you will) provides the means to create a deeper awareness of the product as well as a mechanism for Sizing appropriately for the need with cost in mind.

8. New ROM and BOM tool
We then shift our attention to Customer Pricing.

The Question, "Can we get to Customer Price quicker with better awareness?"

In the mapping exercise, we could very well have started with this question as it would be the most customer centric pursuit.  I'm not entirely sure it would have changed the path we followed, but I'm relatively certain it would have been a more daunting starting point.

9. New Costing and Pricing Method

It's obvious that a Calculator for pricing solves this problem the most expediently.

At this point, we've achieved the knowledge necessary to create calculators for the change in process steps.  We can also use those calculators to feed the Quotation requirements, potentially shortening that process step in Final Pricing.

The big win, we've moved the Sales Agent's view of the process from Custom Build to Product and improved his time to respond to the customer.

The overall process, from start to finish goes like this:

Customer Input -> ROM and BOM Calculator (as many times as Customer Input changes) -> Feed the Sizing from the ROM and BOM Calculator to Quotation -> Run the Quotation(s) through the Pricing Tool -> Sales Agent happiness

This Wardley Mapping exercise ended up being mostly about convenience, a bit about standardization.  How do you execute an On-Demand set of actions that would normally take between 22 and 44 days, in the shortest time possible?

As always, I'm interested in your feedback.  Find me on Twitter @abusedbits

Friday, June 29, 2018

Evolving a Business Process with a Wardley Map

Wardley Mapping (Value Chain Mapping) can be a great asset in describing the evolution of a business process.  In this case, I'm going to illustrate the changes of the Costing and Pricing action to show how improvements may be identified once the current or base activity is mapped.

In this scenario, Costing and Pricing, a sales agent needs to arrive at a Price for the customer.

The process includes engagement of a high skill technical person to create a Bill of Materials (BOM) for the customer.

It requires a Quotation that includes all of the BOM items, this is then used to create a Cost.

The Costs are then all rolled up, margin/cost-of-money and services/labor are included to create Customer Price in such a way that the Sales Agent may have a Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) conversation with the Customer.

Here's what that map looks like.

@swardley, WardleyMaps, Wardley, Maps, Map, mapping, Business, Costing, Pricing
1.  Costing and Pricing Activity
Keeping in mind that Wardley Map placement is relative, BOM activity is in the Genesis category primarily because "we know very little" about the customer desire until a BOM is generated to discuss and modify to the customer requirements.

Quotation is in Custom Build, because it is generated uniquely based on the BOM for the customer.  It is subject to change, also based on customer requirements.

The same can be said for Cost and Customer Price.  Without a customer qualified BOM, the entire process flow is subject to correction and reset until that action is completed.

The Question to ask, "Can we move this process to Product or Utility?"

2.  Optimize the BOM activity
Any one of the items in the process flow could be looked at for possible improvement.  In determining where to start, sometimes it is just picking a point and mapping out possible evolution steps and see what happens to the map.

In this case, we're looking at the BOM, if for no other reason than it feeds the more visible aspects of the value chain.

The Question for BOM, "Can we improve the BOM by creating a calculator for the BOM?"

There are some implications to this question, the principle one, can we create a standard method.  The standard method would be an idealization of the Bill of Materials in such a way that changes to it became mathematical multiples of or well understood relationships between the elements.  This implies a standard and baseline awareness of a design or architecture that at the very smallest level that consists of units that can be both measured and used as incremental building blocks.

3. New BOM Method
  In the case where that is true, the Bill of Materials Calculator (figure 3) can potentially replace the BOM action in Genesis.  Utilizing well understood units of measure, the calculator makes it possible to manipulate the BOM output to the customer desired goals/end-state much more rapidly.  The output of this tooling is arguably a utility in nature, but because it continues to rely on manual understanding/input, we'll put it squarely on the product/utility line.

The benefit of this change in process, we've shaved 7-14 days off the Process.

The Question for BOM Calculator, "How important is the Quotation?"

As it turns out, the Quotation with the source suppliers is only required when finalizing a deal with the customer.  So, as figure 4 indicates, we're going to skip over Quotation and start to consider the Cost analysis.  Because supply chain / purchasing requires the Quotation, we cannot remove it from the process, but it doesn't have to be done until we're in a position to make a purchase.

4.  Quotation
With Quotation removed (for the moment), and a good awareness of the BOM sizing activity we'll tie the BOM directly to the Costing activity.

The benefit of this change in process, we don't have to Quote each an every time we need to understand a Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) cost.

The Question for the BOM Calculator mechanism then becomes, "Can we get to ROM cost quicker if we understand the BOM?"

In the next installment, I'll review how Costing evolves to improve the process.