While the feedback for yesterday's forum was in the good average range for all architect forums (typically the architects are more critical than others;)), I really started thinking about the future of the platform and the way we are driving this platform.

But, why did I start to think about it?

Well, yesterday was the first forum after a very long time where I selected the topic really based on the feedback I've got from several architects and customers in the past 8-10 months - Enterprise Service Bus, which is a very concrete and not very strategic and visionary topic.

But I really got that feedback from several architects, so I thought it makes sense discussing about this topic - although I knew up-front, that Microsoft's ESB Guidance from the patterns & practices team addresses just some of the requirements to an enterprise service bus (location transparency, intelligent routing, integration and adaption and autonomous processing with configurable interaction models are the primary concerns addressed by our ESB guidance).

To not just stay with a concrete, non-visionary topic I decided to add Enterprise 2.0 into the discussion to have a rather visionary topic in it, as well - and as Enterprise 2.0 is a primary driver for enterprise mash-ups (= composite applications at the boundary layer) I thought it fits very well into the theme.

But what happened (independently from the fact that the average feedback wasn't bad;)):

  • some of you gave me the feedback that you don't want to have these types of concrete topics in the forum and...
  • ...others told me that they like the open and honest discussion about concrete topics, usage of technology and honest discussion on strengths and especially weaknesses of Microsoft's technologies in that area.

That actually made me start thinking about how we could deal with these different opinions in the future. And I think I definitely need your feedback and help as members of the architect forum community on dealing with these different points-of-view... because I understand both ways of thinking:)

There are a few ideas I cut put into the race to start thinking about the future of the architect forum:

  • Way 1:
    Start an architect council
    The responsibility of the council would be to decide on the contents and structure for upcoming architect forums, together instead of just having me to decide on contents, alone;) Here I would see a few core members (max. 15) of the forum which are willing to participate in "creating" the architect forum. We could meet on a half-a-year basis or a quarterly basis to decide together about the contents of the future architect forum events and discuss, what we think is important and interesting for our community. But while I think I will be able to deliver parts of the forum myself and find interesting speakers that will help us in delivering presentations and discussions for the forum, I also think when we run the forum this way that it can't be a one-man-show, anymore - so in that case that also means that I would also rely on the know-how and contacts of the council's and forum's members to deliver contents or to put me in contact with people that might be interesting for delivering contents. Actually that would be something I would find extremely interesting as it would put our strong community to the next level!!
  • Way 2:
    Split into Focus Groups
    In the Innovation Center we will have the opportunity to re-structure the architect forum. One possible solution of that would be to come together and start with a strategy update from Microsoft as I established it in the past 1,5 years. Then we split up into two groups - one group for the rather "concrete" and non-visionary topics on solving today's real-world problem, a second group for the rather "high-level" strategic and visionary topics. At the end of the forum we come together again for the joint-socializing part as usual.

For me these are first thoughts on thinking about "the Architect Forum NEW" after having 25 forums structured in a very similar way within the past 5 years.

But - as we are a community - I don't want to decide on this change alone. I really want to start a discussion around this topic with you, get your opinions and thoughts. If we change something then it should be really useful for US AS A COMMUNITY and we SHOULD DECIDE TOGETHER HOW WE WANT TO CONTINUE WITH OUR COMMUNTIY!!!

Having that said I would be more than happy about a comment on this blog entry, an email in my inbox or a discussion on our XING architect forum group;)

Thank you again for being part of this really great community - I really think that together we should starting thinking about the next level of this already great community - and I think now it's a good time to start with the first thoughts on it...

Cheers
Mario