A-Z List Of Books + eBooks
Open Source Books + eBooks
Enterprise Books + eBooks
Latest Books + eBooks
Future Books + eBooks
eBooks under $10
All Books (2266)
Application Development (318)
Big Data and Business Intelligence (187)
Business Skills (13)
CMS and eCommerce (242)
Enterprise Products and Platforms (366)
Game Development (131)
Mobile Application Development (104)
Networking and Servers (167)
Virtualization and Cloud (85)
Web Development (418)
PacktLib is Packt’s online digital book library. PacktLib provides you with the opportunity to view and search across every single book Packt publishes, within seven days after publication.
Driving business value through strategic IT alignment with this Troux book and eBook
This article by Richard J. Reese, author of the book Troux Enterprise Architecture Solutions, introduces the concept of managing the assets of IT like an investment portfolio. Establishing a single-source-of-truth for all IT-related information provides a basis for planning and analysis. The article also introduces the Troux Transformation Platform as a market-leading EA repository tool.
(For more resources on Troux, see here.)
Almost every company today is totally dependent on IT for day-to-day operations. Large companies literally spend billions on IT-related personnel, software, equipment, and facilities. However, do business leaders really know what they get in return for these investments? Upper management knows that a successful business model depends on information technology. Whether the company is focused on delivery of services or development of products, management depends on its IT team to deliver solutions that meet or exceed customer expectations.
However, even though companies continue to invest heavily in various technologies, for most companies, knowing the return-on-investment in technology is difficult or impossible. When upper management asks where the revenues are for the huge investments in software, servers, networks, and databases, few IT professionals are able to answer. There are questions that are almost impossible to answer without guessing, such as:
Which IT projects in the portfolio of projects will actually generate revenue?
What are we getting for spending millions on vendor software?
When will our data center run out of capacity?
This article will explore how IT professionals can be prepared when management asks the difficult questions. By being prepared, IT professionals can turn conversations with management about IT costs into discussions about the value IT provides. Using consolidated information about the majority of the IT portfolio, IT professionals can work with business leaders to select revenue-generating projects, decrease IT expenses, and develop realistic IT plans. The following sections will describe what IT professionals can do to be ready with accurate information in response to the most challenging questions business leaders might ask.
IT has done a fine job of delivering solutions for years. However, pressure to deliver business projects quickly has created a mentality in most IT organizations of "just put it in and we will go back and do the clean up later." This has led to a layering effect where older "legacy" technology remains in place, while new technology is adopted. With this complex mix of legacy solutions and emerging technology, business leaders have a hard time understanding how everything fits together and what value is provided from IT investments. Gone are the days when the Chief Information Officer (CIO) could say "just trust me" when business people asked questions about IT spending.
In addition, new requirements for corporate compliance combined with the expanding use of web-based solutions makes managing technology more difficult than ever. With the advent of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or cloud computing, the technical footprint, or ecosystem, of IT has extended beyond the enterprise itself. Virtualization of platforms and service-orientation adds to the mind-numbing mix of technologies available to IT.
However, there are many systems available to help companies manage their technological portfolio. Unfortunately, multiple teams within the business and within IT see the problem of managing the IT portfolio differently. In many companies, there is no centralized effort to gather and store IT portfolio information. Teams with a need for IT asset information tend to purchase or build a repository specific to their area of responsibility. Some examples of these include:
While each of these repositories provides valuable information about IT portfolios, they are each optimized to meet a specific set of requirements. The following table shows the main types of information stored in each of these repositories along with a brief statement about its functional purpose:
Goal statements and assignments
Documents business goals and who is responsible
Change management database
Change request tickets, application owners
Captures change requests and who can authorize change
Configuration management database
Identifies actual hardware and software in use across the enterprise
Supports Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) processes
Business process management database
Business processes, information flows, and process owners
Used to develop applications and document business processes
Fixed assets database
Asset identifiers for hardware and software, asset life, purchase cost, and depreciation amounts
Documents cost and depreciable life of IT assets
Data about the company databases and files
Documents the names, definitions, data types, and locations of the company data
Project portfolio management database
Project names, classifications, assignments, business value and scope
Used to manage IT workload and assess value of IT projects to the business
Defines hardware and compatible software available for project use
Used to manage hardware and software implementations assigned to the IT department
Names and details of reusable software services
Used to manage, control, and report on reusable software
It is easy to see that while each of these repositories serves a specific purpose, none supports an overarching view across the others. For example, one might ask:
How many SQL Server databases do we have installed and what hardware do they run on?
To answer this question, IT managers would have to extract data from the metadata repository and combine it with data from the Configuration Management Database (CMDB). The question could be extended:
How much will it cost in early expense write-offs if we retire the SQL Server DB servers into a new virtual grid of servers?
To answer this question, IT managers need to determine not only how many servers host SQL Server, but how old they are, what they cost at purchase time, and how much depreciation is left on them. Now the query must span at least three systems (CMDB, fixed assets, and metadata repository). The accuracy of the answer will also depend on the relative validity of the data in each repository. There could be overlapping data in some, and outright errors in others.
When upper management asks difficult questions, they are usually interested in cost, risk management, or IT agility. Not knowing a great deal about IT, they are curious about why they need to spend millions on technology and what they get for their investments. The conversation ends up being primarily about cost and how to reduce expenses. This is not a good position to be in if you are running a support function like Enterprise Architecture. How can you explain IT investments in a way that management can understand? If you are not prepared with facts, management has no choice but to assume that costs are out of control and they can be reduced, usually by dramatic amounts.
As a good corporate citizen, it is your job to help reduce costs. Like everyone in management, getting the most out of the company's assets is your responsibility. However, as we in IT know, it's just as important to be ready for changes in technology and to be on top of technology trends. As technology leaders, it is our job to help the company stay current through investments that may pay off in the future rather than show an immediate return. The following diagram shows various management functions and technologies that are used to manage the business of IT:
The dimensions of these tools and processes span systems that run the business to change the business and from the ones using operational information to using strategic information. Various technologies that support data about IT assets are shown. These include:
The key to changing the conversation about IT is having the ability to bring the information of these disciplines into a single view. The single view provides the ability to actually discuss IT in a strategic way. Gathering data and reporting on the actual metrics of IT, in a way business leaders can understand, supports strategic planning. The strategic planning process combined with fact-based metrics establishes credibility with upper management and promotes improved decision making on a daily basis.
Solving the IT-business communication problem has been difficult until recently. Troux Technologies (www.troux.com) developed a new open-architected repository and software solution, called the Troux Transformation Platform, to help IT manage the vast array of technology deployed within the company.
Troux customers use the suite of applications and advanced integration platform within the product architecture to deliver bottom-line results. By locating where IT expenses are redundant, or out-of-step with business strategy, Troux customers experience significant cost savings. When used properly, the platform also supports improved IT efficiency, quicker response to business requirements, and IT risk reduction.
In today's globally-connected markets, where shocks and innovations happen at an unprecedented rate, antiquated approaches to Strategic IT Planning and Enterprise Architecture have become a major obstruction. The inability of IT to plan effectively has driven business leaders to seek solutions available outside the enterprise. Using SaaS or Application Service Providers (ASPs) to meet urgent business objectives can be an effective means to meet short-term goals. However, to be complete, even these solutions usually require integration with internal systems. IT finds itself dealing with unspecified service-level requirements, developing integration architectures, and cleaning up after poorly planned activities by business leaders who don't understand what capabilities exist within the software running inside the company.
A global leader in Strategic IT Planning and Enterprise Architecture software, Troux has created an Enterprise Architecture repository that IT can use to put itself at the center of strategic planning. Troux has been successful in implementing its repository at a number of companies. A partial list of Troux's customers can be found on the website. There are other enterprise-level repository vendors on the market. However, leading analysts, such as The Gartner Group and Forrester Research, have published recent studies ranking Troux as a leader in the IT strategy planning tools space.
Troux's sophisticated integration and collaboration capabilities support multiple business initiatives such as handling mergers, aligning business and IT plans, and consolidating IT assets. The business-driven platform provides new levels of visibility into the complex web of IT resources, programs, and business strategy so the business can see instantly where IT spending and programs are redundant or out-of-step with business strategy. The business suite of applications helps IT to plan and execute faster with data assimilated from various trusted sources within the company.
The platform provides information necessary to relevant stakeholders such as Business Analysts, Enterprise Architects, The Program Management Office, Solutions Architects, and executives within the business and IT.
The transformation platform is not only designed to address today's urgent cost-restructuring agendas, but it also introduces an ongoing IT management discipline, allowing EA and business users to drive strategic growth initiatives. The integration platform provides visibility and control to:
All of these capabilities are enabled through an open-architected platform that provides uncomplicated data integration tools. The platform provides Architecture-modeling capabilities for IT Architects, an extensible database schema (or meta-model), and integration interfaces that are simple to automate and bring online with minimal programming efforts.
The Troux Transformation Platform acts as the consolidation point across all the various IT management databases and even some management systems outside the control of IT. By collecting data from across various areas, new insights are possible, leading to reductions in operating costs and improvements in service levels to the business.
While it is possible to combine these using other products on the market or even develop a home-grown EA repository, Troux has created a very easy-to-use API for data collection purposes. In addition, Troux provides a database meta-model for the repository that is extensible. Meta-model extensibility makes the product adaptable to the other management systems across the company. Troux also supports a configurable user interface allowing for a customized view into the repository. This capability makes the catalog appear as if it were a part of the other control systems already in place at the company.
Additionally, Troux provides an optional set of applications that support a variety of roles, out of the box, with no meta-model extensions or user interface configurations required. These include:
Even these three applications that are available out-of-the-box from Troux can be customized by extending their underlying meta-models and customizing the user interface.
The EA repository provides output that is viewable online. Standard reports are provided or custom reports can be developed as per the specific needs of the user community. Departments within or even outside of IT can use the customized views, standard reports, and custom reports to perform analyses.
For example, the Enterprise Program Management Office (EPMO) can produce reports that link projects with business goals. The EPMO can review the project portfolio of the company to identify projects that do not support company goals. Decisions can be made about these projects, thereby stopping them, slowing them down, or completing them faster. Resources can be moved from the stopped or completed low-value projects to the higher-value projects, leading to increased revenue or reduced costs for the company.
In a similar fashion, the Internal Audit department can check on the level of compliance to company IT standards or use the list of applications stored within the catalog to determine the best audit schedule to follow. Less time can be spent auditing applications with minimal impact on company operations or on applications and projects targeted as low value.
Application development can use data from the catalog to understand the current capabilities of the existing applications of the company. As staff changes or "off-shore" resources are applied to projects, knowing what existing systems do in advance of a new project can save many hours of work. Information can be extracted from the EA repository directly into requirements documentation, which is always the starting point for new applications, as well as maintenance projects on existing applications. One study performed at a major financial services company showed that over 40% of project development time was spent in the upfront work of documenting and explaining current application capabilities to business sponsors of projects. By supplying development teams with lists of application capabilities early in the project life cycle, time to gather and document requirements can be reduced significantly.
Of course, one of the biggest benefactors of the repository is the EA group. In most companies, EA's main charter is to be the steward of information about applications, databases, hardware, software, and network architecture. EA can perform analyses using the data from the repository leading to recommendations for changes by middle and upper management. In addition, EA is responsible for collecting, setting, and managing the IT standards for the company. The repository supports a single source for IT standards, whether they are internal or external standards. The standards portion of the repository can be used as the centerpiece of IT governance. The function of the Architecture Review Board (ARB) is fully supported by Troux Standards.
Capacity Planning and IT Engineering functions will also gain substantially through the use of an EA repository. The useful life of IT assets can be analyzed to create a master plan for technical refresh or reengineering efforts. The annual spend on IT expenses can be reduced dramatically through increased levels of virtualization of IT assets, consolidation of platforms, and even consolidation of whole data centers. IT Engineering can review what is currently running across the company and recommend changes to reduce software maintenance costs, eliminate underutilized hardware, and consolidate federated databases.
Lastly, IT Operations can benefit from a consolidated view into the technical footprint running at any point in time. Even when system availability service levels call for near-real-time error correction, it may take hours for IT Operations personnel to diagnose problems. They tend not to have a full understanding of what applications run on what servers, which firewalls support which networks, and which databases support which applications. Problem determination time can be reduced by providing accurate technical architecture information to those focused on keeping systems running and meeting business service-level requirements.
This article identified the problem IT has with understanding what technologies it has under management. While many solutions are in place in many companies to gain a better view into the IT portfolio, none are designed to show the impact of IT assets in the aggregate. Without the capabilities provided by an EA repository, IT management has a difficult time answering tough questions asked by business leaders. Troux Technologies offers a solution to this problem using the Troux Transformation Platform. The platform acts as a master metadata repository and becomes the focus of many efforts that IT may run to reduce significant costs and improve business service levels.
Further resources on this subject:
Richard has 30 years experience working as an Enterprise Systems Architect for some of the largest companies in the world including, Discover Financial Services, IBM (Certified I/T Architect), United Airlines and W.W. Grainger, Inc. Richard led these organizations in major technology transformations resulting in long term improvements in business process flexibility. Richard developed a number of technology strategies and led conversion in the use of massively scalable transaction processing, distributed databases, web-based processing, Service Oriented Architecture, Mobile Banking and large volume decision support. Richard published a book about EA in 2008 (I/T Architecture in Action) and is an experienced speaker. Richard has a Masters of Business Administration degree from Loyola University of Chicago and a Bachelor’s Degree in Quantitative Information Science from Western Illinois University.e-mail: email@example.com
Service Oriented Architecture: An Integration Blueprint
BPEL PM and OSB operational management with Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Grid Control
Catalyst 5.8: the Perl MVC Framework
MySQL 5.1 Plugin Development
Oracle SOA Suite 11g R1 Developer's Guide
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 Application Design
IBM Cognos 8 Report Studio Cookbook
Amazon SimpleDB Developer Guide
Share this page:
Click here to tell us your idea for a new book, and you may see it published
Click here to tell us your idea for a new book, and you may see it published
Want to know more about Packt's Article Network? Interested in contributing your article ideas?
Please visit our FAQ for more information.
All Books (2292)
Application Development (321)
Big Data and Business Intelligence (190)
CMS and eCommerce (244)
Enterprise Products and Platforms (372)
Game Development (139)
Networking and Servers (172)
Web Development (422)