Inside Architecture

Notes on Enterprise Architecture, Business Alignment, Interesting Trends, and anything else that interests me this week...

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  • Blog Post: Should Business Architects use the Business Model Canvas at the Program level?

    In the Open Group conference at Newport Beach, I listened to a series of presentations on business architecture.  In one of them, the presenter described his practice of using Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas to create a model of his program’s environment after a business program (aka business...
  • Blog Post: The bizarre assumption of functional decomposition

    I ran into a friend today and, as friends often do, we let our conversation wander over the different "broken things" in IT in general (and a few in Microsoft in specific).  One thing that I'd like to share from that conversation: a truly bizarre assumption that we teach, over and over...
  • Blog Post: As-Is versus To-Be... what to model first

    I have always taken the advice at face value: the "to be" model matters much more than the "as is" model does.  Implicit in that: spend as little time on the "as is" model as you can.  Perhaps, even, do the "to be" model first. Of course, I wouldn't be...
  • Blog Post: Killing the Command message: should we use Events or Documents?

    If we want to decouple a SOA system, we must get away from the notion of the remote procedure call. In other words, our services need to have as few "command" messages as we can get away with. This is a design philosophy but it is easier said than done. According to Hohpe and Wolfe, there are three...
  • Blog Post: Microsoft, BPEL and Open Standards

    We are frequently criticized for not supporting enough open standards. Honestly, I think it's negative hype. MS supports a long list of open standards, some of which we created, some of which we didn't. This one is cool: BPEL. When business analysts write down business processes, they use diagram...
  • Blog Post: Perhaps it is time to declare victory in the battle of Rules Engines vs. Dependency Injection

    I watched on the sidelines, not long ago, as a team of architects carefully inspected and examined different technologies for managing a rules engine. I found it interesting, but not terribly pertinent, because...well... to be honest... rules engines tend to create more problems than they solve. So...
  • Blog Post: Managing the bindings from systems to EAI infrastructure

    Every system is responsible for publishing its own events. I hold that as a core requirement of participating in an Enterprise Application Integration Infrastructure (EAI-I). What does that mean: The system, as part of it's ownership, it's code, it's configuration, is responsible for describing how...
  • Blog Post: Is there value in consistency?

    Do all of your project managers deliver the same information to their team and management? Do all of your developers use common tools and techniques? Do all of your testers follow the same patterns for creating test cases? Process improvement is an interesting, and sometimes overwrought term. We can...
  • Blog Post: What SHOULD a sequence diagram show?

    For most folks, a UML sequence diagram is something that is either (a) unnecessary, (b) clearly required and essential. There is rarely a middle ground. So when you create a diagram (whether by force or by choice) I'd like you to consider the audience, first and foremost. What do you want to say to them...
  • Blog Post: Why a workflow model is not code

    It is no secret that I am not fond of using EAI systems like Biztalk for Human Collaborative Workflow. I believe, instinctively, that it is a bad idea. However, I have to be more than instinctive in this analytical world (and company). I need to be prescriptive at best, and constructive at worst. So...
  • Blog Post: If we improve a process in a forest, and no one hears it... did it happen?

    In Six Sigma, from what little I know about Six Sigma, you identify the outputs of your process that are 'critical to quality.' You then look to see if you can find the measures that can move those outputs. You work to drive these measures in a positive direction, quality goes up, and the requisite business...
  • Blog Post: Do we have the courage to take ourselves out of the loop?

    Workflow tools only fulfill their real promise if the business users can not only see the workflow, but can modify it without calling a software developer on the phone. It has to be simple, easy to learn, and something that is difficult to add bugs. (Think Excel Spreadsheet). Of course, the tools...
  • Blog Post: No one will read it

    I've thought about writing a book on workflow. I have a lot to say (more below). The problem is, no one wants to read a blinkin' book on workflow. So, I'm thinking about a business novel (like Goldratt's The Goal or Who Moved My Cheese by Johnson and Blanchard). Problem is: I've never published fiction...
  • Blog Post: Workflow visibility: driving levels of abstraction into functional requirements

    I'm sitting in a meeting typing a blog. Shoot me. However, there is a discussion going on about how a process may flow differently depending on the level of information that may be made available. Earlier I described different levels of abstraction in workflow. Recap: Business Unit View is high level...
  • Blog Post: Maintaining the ACID test in long running transactions

    I was reminded recently of the fact that long running transactions, especially those involving multiple databases, cannot be made to follow the ACID rules of database transactions. On its face, this is completely true. However, I'm thinking that there are mechanisms that could be used to allow the positive...
  • Blog Post: Feedback Requested: Are groups responsible for business processes?

    I'm specifically looking for feedback on a workflow component I am working on. We have implemented a workflow engine that maintains a distinction between ResponsibleFor and AssignmentTo. We have ambiguity around the combination of this concept with group assignment. I'd like to know what you think...
  • Blog Post: On Security in Workflow

    It's been ages sinces I've blogged on workflow. I've been wildly busy implementing a workflow engine in C# that will ride under any .Net app while providing a truly light and easy to understand modeling language for the business user. One business modeler is now able to go from inception to full document...
  • Blog Post: How is workflow different from a Finite State Automata?

    After showing a workflow diagram to a co-worker, he asked me if I could tell him how this is any different from basic Finite State Automata (FSA). To be honest, I had to think about it for a few minutes to get my thoughts around this, but there is a fairly big difference. For those of you who aren't...
  • Blog Post: On XML Models of Process

    XML is an interesting language, but is it a useful one for describing a process? We have multiple competing standards for workflow and collaboration. We have BPEL, XPDL, SWFL, XRL, XScufl, and custom XML workflow models developed for the XFlow, AntFlow, Agile, YAWL, and OpenWFE tools. (If anyone is looking...
  • Blog Post: Three levels of abstraction in BPM - Part 1: Business Unit Level

    I identified, in an earlier post, that I believe that there are three levels of abstraction in business process modelling. The highest level (what is often called the 30,000 foot view), is the Business Unit Level. This blog entry will discuss some of the attributes of models at the Business Unit level...
  • Blog Post: Workflow patterns - so much more left undone

    I have been following the progress of Dr. Wil van der Aalst in his efforts to create a patterns language for workflow processes, as you know if you've read my posts. First, the workflow patterns were described, then a comprehensive comparison of different workflow systems with respect to the patterns...
  • Blog Post: The infancy of workflow diagramming standards

    I did something foolish recently... I criticized someone for an analysis diagram that, I felt, didn't use "standard" workflow notations. Granted, the diagram looked very different from the kinds of diagrams that have been coming out of workflow tools, and it definitely wasn't compliant with UML Activity...
  • Blog Post: Document Management as a foundational technology for Workflow

    I like the term "foundational technology". It sounds so much cooler than it is. I have no idea if there is one and only one definition for it. My definition, in this post, is this: A foundational technology is a technology that provides infrastructure for another technology. In this context, we would...
  • Blog Post: YAWL -- must see TV for Workflow practitioners

    YAWL - Yet Another Workflow Language I suppose the name would be funny, if the idea for the name wasn't so ingrained in Unix culture, with such landmark tools as YACC (Yet Another Compiler-Compiler - a BNF language tool available in some of the earliest releases of Unix from Bell Labs). Aside from the...
  • Blog Post: Is workflow best represented by something other than a graph?

    A few days ago, I blogged about the three layers of abstraction for workflow items. Now, I'm going to think aloud about a theoretical problem... is workflow best represented by a single graph? Is the analysis of the problem leading to another problem? Most workflow processes are described using one of...
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