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    Arctec Group Views
    June 5, 2003

    In this issue:

      * Welcome to Arctec Group Views 1.0!
      * What Enterprise Architects can learn from the Construction Industry
      * Enterprise Architecture News
      * Arctec Group News: Charles Belisle Joins Arctec Group


    Welcome to Arctec Group Newsletter 1.0!
    Arctec Group is an architectural services company, and this is our first newsletter. Our newsletter, like our firm, is focused on Enterprise Architecture issues. With this newsletter, we aim to serve our clients, partners, and colleagues by providing our view on current issues and best practices in Enterprise Architecture as well as aggregating interesting news from around the globe.

    We hope you find the newsletter useful and enlightening. We would like to hear your thoughts on current affairs and ways we can improve this offering. If you would like to unsubscribe to Arctec Views monthly newsletter, simply send an email to from the email account you would like to unsubscribe. Please include the word 'unsubscribe' in the subject or first line of the email.


    What Enterprise Architects can learn from the Construction Industry
    Software projects routinely fail to meet user expectation, are over budget, and often do not meet deadlines. This fact has been around since the dawn of computing in businesses. Over 25 years ago, Fred Brooks' book 'Mythical Man-Month' examined the reasons behind these failures, and the issues he described are still with us in 2003. Thanks to a healthy product and service market in IT, there is no shortage of ideas on how to ensure that *your* project succeeds. We are told by the market: simply use this tool, methodology or org structure and you are sure to succeed.

    The reality, as we know, is very different. In my opinion, given the relative maturity of the IT industry, its tools and technologies, and business expectations and timelines, it is remarkable that the failure rate is not higher. The tenaciously pioneering spirit of the people of the IT industry has allowed the industry to achieve some successes though the tools, technologies, and processes used to reach the goal may be flawed.

    As a technology professional, one thing that can enhance the chance of success of your systems construction project is to go beyond the computer field and learn from other industries. The construction industry has been around a few thousand years longer than computers and provides many useful models of what to do (and not to do) on a construction project.

    Like IT projects, commercial construction projects typically have a mix of specialists and generalists. These projects are driven by business goals, timelines, and budgets. A blueprint becomes necessary in order to unify the forces, constraints, and goals that the construction must deal with to deliver a building which meets the client's specifications.

    The architect's first goal is to use the blueprint to bridge the gap from the client's ideas, possibilities, timelines, aesthetics, and budget to the construction crew dependencies timeframes and expertise. In IT this is analogous to using design to bridge the gap between the strategic senior management vision and the tactical realities faced by the Business Analysts, Project Managers, Programmers, DBAs, and QA personnel who must pull together a tangible solution.

    Next the architect assumes the role of overseeing and advising the general contractor during the construction process, dealing with whatever design modifications arise; and assessing the optimal use and makeup of the construction team. In IT terms, the Enterprise Architect plays a very valuable role in the analysis and design portion of the project. One of the chief benefits to having the Enterprise Architect involved is that they are able to illuminate the enterprise context in which a given project is being built. For example, the horizontally-focused Enterprise Architect is able to identify integration issues with, lets say, a user repository which other teams have integrated with.

    By being able to perform as a conduit for the good, the bad, and the ugly (and what to do about it), the architect is able to increase the project's chance of success and mitigate cost of time spent searching for a solution which already exists. It is not possible to attain these benefits solely with vertically-focused teams.

    As the development process continues, the Enterprise Architect serves as a mentor and trusted advisor to the business and team management members. The Enterprise Architect identifies roles within the project team that enhance the chance for success. Since the architect has visibility on a detailed level on many projects, he or she is able to find and fix problems before they occur.

    In commercial construction, the General Contractor and Architect are joined at the hip. The Enterprise Architect must likewise be a confidant of project management. Specifically, the Enterprise Architect is able to abstract technical issues for both the business and project management to effectively manage the forces and dependencies on the project. The Enterprise Architect is able to define specialized roles on the project for technical team members. In today's IT industry, project roles are too frequently blended. This would be analogous to asking a carpenter to perform electrician and plumbing tasks. Ultimately, excessive blending of roles wastes time and money while delivering an inferior finished product.

    Too often the architect role is filled by a long serving technical staff member who are is promoted into the position simply because they do not want to 'take the management track.' In reality management skills and interacting with management are a huge component in the success of an Enterprise Architect. While a broad and deep technical background can be very useful, the Enterprise Architect must be absolutely in synch with the management team to both understand and communicate management concerns as well as to ensure that critical issues from the development team are well understood and prioritized appropriately by management.

    In disciplines within IT, one or two skills can ensure a very productive career. The architect role is fundamentally different. It is at its core a blend of design, process, and organizational skills combined with the ability to communicate up and down the enterprise hierarchy. The role is less about tasks 'done by' an individual and more about a set design and process activities 'done through' the architect ultimately unifying the enterprise around a solution within a strategic context.

    Lastly, here is a word of encouragement. There are many great stories out there about architects in traditional construction. Take some time to read through an account of a large building project, the problems they faced and how they were solved. The political and technical forces which come into play will be very familiar to any IT industry veteran.

    -Gunnar Peterson
    CTO, Arctec Group


    A Short List of Architecture Books and Links

    Classic: 'The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering' by Fred Brooks

    'Building Big' by David Macaulay

    'The Architecture Pack' by Ron Van Der Meer, Deyan Sudjic

    'The Timeless Way of Building' by Christopher Alexander


    Enterprise Architecture News

    The SCO/Linux lawsuit is turning uglier every day. As usual industry thrashing among vendors creates an unpredictable and potentially unhealthy atmosphere for customers. When will vendors learn that they have a responsibility to their customers to be good citizens in the technology space?

    What if SCO Wins?
    Thought provoking article on the SCO/Microsoft/Linux legal entanglements.

    Gartner's take on SCO lawsuit

    Lastly, Novell weighs in saying that it never transferred the Unix copyright to SCO

    In other news:

    New Enterprise Architecture Book
    'Beyond Software Architecture: Creating and Sustaining Winning Solutions,' by Luke Hohmann is now available. As its title implies this book goes beyond the technical aspects and addresses organizational and business issues in IT architecture.

    Digital Attacks in 2003 already exceed 2002

    Worth reprinting from 2002, this article proposes a process to define an elusive metric, Return On Security Investment


    Arctec Group News

    Arctec Group is pleased to announce that Charles Belisle is joining the team effective May 2003. Charles has extensive experience in data and application architectures as well as project management using a variety of methodologies. Charles has experience with large scale data warehousing architectures in addition to a variety of multi-tier application architectures within client-server, object-oriented, and web based environments that make him a very welcome addition to the firm.


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