Chuck and I - in conjunction with Object Consulting and the ACS - are working on catalysing a community architecture event for next year, which he blogged about last week here and here.  I wanted to chime in on some of the underlying thinking behind why we think this event will be important, and what you should expect from it.

The overall goal for the Australian Architecture Forum is to create a vendor and community neutral space in which architects - and budding architects - can engage in dialogue with subject matter experts from the community.  With that in mind, the top-level objectives for the forum are that it should be:

  • Inclusive.  The forum format and topics need to appeal to a broad range of solution architects.  While we intend that practicing architects from the community will find it desirable to come along, we also believe it's equally important to reach out to the 'next generation' of architects - i.e. those in lead developer roles - to get them to participate in the discussion and learn about how solution architecture is practiced in the industry.  Platform neutrality is essential.
  • Relevant. It's important that the forum incorporates topics that are relevant to the architecture challenges of today; in addition to technology topics, it'd be great to address the softer side of solution architecture.  This might include issues such as organisational politics, project funding and management, intellectual property law, pragmatic approaches to architecture, working with project teams - amongst many other possible topics.  ** see below for more on topics.
  • Interactive.  Rather than show-up-throw-up 1:many presentations, we are aiming to encourage discussion and idea sharing amongst attendees.  Our experience suggests that round-table discussion groups facilitate this well - and these types of interactions are seen by participants as much, much more valuable than traditional group presentation breakouts, and provide opportunities for networking.  I mean, anyone can sit in a room listening to a presentation, or download a web-cast, but how many opportunities to you get to have a structured conversation with a subject matter expert AND a room full of your industry peers?
  • Accessible.  In short, let's have as few barriers to participation as possible.  This means keeping registration costs affordable (we're aiming at around $250 per person), and limiting the duration of the event to a single day (to avoid participants from out of town having to set aside multiple days to attend, as well as potentially avoiding the need for them to book accommodation etc).
  • Ongoing.  This is really important.  Rather than simply conducting a point-in-time conference, it'd be great to capture ideas, thoughts and best-practices from each moderated round-table, and then publish these on a publically accessible WIKI.  The idea is that - over time, and over several of these events - the WIKI will gradually become a community resource of ideas and guidance on the pragmatic practice of architecture.  We're initially aiming at running this event in Sydney and Melbourne.  However, provided the recipe works well there's no reason why this same event can't be run in other places around Australia, giving everyone an opportunity to contribute to the community dialogue. 

The format of the day is going to look something like this:

 

08.30-09.45

Breakfast Keynote

10.00-10.50

Breakout A1

Breakout B1

10.50-11.10

Morning Tea

11.10-12.00

RT1,1

RT2,1

RT3,1

RT4,1

RT5,1

RT6,1

RT7,1

RT8,1

RT9,1

RT10,1

12.10-13.00

RT1,2

RT2,2

RT3,2

RT4,2

RT5,2

RT6,2

RT7,2

RT8,2

RT9,2

RT10,2

13.00-14.00

Working Lunch

14.10-15.00

RT1,3

RT2,3

RT3,3

RT4,3

RT5,3

RT6,3

RT7,3

RT8,3

RT9,3

RT10,3

15.10-16.00

RT1,4

RT2,4

RT3,4

RT4,4

RT5,4

RT6,4

RT7,4

RT8,4

RT9,4

RT10,4

16.10-17.00

RT1,5

RT2,5

RT3,5

RT4,5

RT5,5

RT6,5

RT7,5

RT8,5

RT9,5

RT10,5

17.05-17.30

Closing/Summary

Each of those slots marked RT is an individual round-table session.  We plan on allocating topics to slots, balancing the number of times a particular topic is run according to demand.  For example, let's say that we had a topic that 50% of attendees in Sydney were interested in participating in: assuming we had 200 or so people at the forum, and we're limiting to 20 the number of individuals in a round table, we'd need to run this topic in five of the slots.  Make sense?

Chuck has posted a list of possible topics for discussion.  There are probably many more sub-topics in each of these broad areas that we could drill down into.  If you have thoughts on what these might be, and what you'd be interested in seeing that's not in the list below - please drop either Chuck or myself a line via our blogs.

Here's the straw-person list:

  1. Architectural Strategies for Portals.
  2. Legal and Intellectual Property issues for Architects.
  3. Project Management/Team dynamics
  4. The Architecture of Middleware - SOA and ESB considerations.
  5. SaaS - what is it, and what does it mean for architecting software?
  6. Web vNext.  Business AND Technology considerations
  7. Business Intelligence Strategies
  8. Virtualisation/Physical consolidation.
  9. Data Architectures.
  10. Modelling tools, Model driven development, methodologies, tools, factories.
  11. ... what have we missed?

Interested to hear from you if you've got ideas on how we should run this, additional topics to consider, or if you want to be involved as a Subject Matter Expert (and your organisation is willing to become a stakeholder in the event).