Monday, November 24, 2008

Enterprises Can Leverage Cloud Computing Benefits While Managing Risks Through Services Governance, Say HP Executives

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on cloud adoption best practices with HP executives.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect. Today we present a sponsored podcast discussion on cloud computing, and how enterprises can best prepare to take advantage of this shift in IT resources use and acquisition -- but while also avoiding risks and uncertainty.

Much has been said about cloud computing in 2008, and still many knowledgeable IT people scratch their heads over what it really means. We’ll dig into the hype and opportunity for cloud computing with executives from Hewlett-Packard (HP) and EDS, an HP company. We'll discuss the pragmatic benefits -- and also the limits and areas of lingering immaturity for cloud-based delivery of mission-critical applications and data.

Here to provide the inside story on the current state of cloud computing we welcome our panel, Rebecca Lawson, Director of Service Management and Cloud Solutions at HP. Welcome to the show, Rebecca.

Rebecca Lawson: Thank you.

Gardner: Next, Scott McClellan, Vice President and Chief Technologist of Scalable Computing and Infrastructure in HP’s Technology Solutions Group (TSG). Welcome, Scott.

Scott McClellan: Thank you.

Gardner: And last, Norman Lindsey, Chief Architect for Flexible Computing Services at EDS, an HP company. Welcome, Norman.

Norman Lindsey: Thank you, sir.

Gardner: The trends and the talk around cloud have jumped around a fairly large landscape -- everything from social networking computing to Web services, video, and ... you name it. But what we are going to be talking about is primarily of interest to enterprises, and what we could continue to classify as utility or grid-type computing. First, I want to talk to Rebecca about what is changing around cloud computing, and why IT people should be taking this seriously at this time.

Lawson: Let me first say that at HP, we are really interested in just trying to articulate where we see cloud opportunities -- and how they differ from existing infrastructure, application and service environments. So the way that we define cloud at HP is that we consider it a means by which very particular types of highly scalable and elastic services can be consumed over the Internet through a low-touch, pay-per-use business model.

There is an implication with cloud that is different. It solves different problems than what we have been solving over the last few years, and it implicates both breakthroughs in technology architecture and the confluence of that with new business models.

That’s kind of a mouthful, but we basically think that the enterprise should be aware of what’s happening at the infrastructure level, at the platform level, and at the application level -- and understand what opportunities they have to further source from the cloud certain services that will directly relate to the business outcomes that their organizations are trying to achieve.

Gardner: Do you think the interest at this time is primarily an economic story, or is it convenience? What are the drivers behind all this interest in cloud computing?

Lawson: There is an overriding notion that the cloud provides a lower-cost option for computing, and that may be true in a very few limited use cases. Really, from an enterprise point of view, when they are running mission-critical applications that need security and reliability, and are operating with service-level agreements (SLAs), etc., the cloud isn’t quite ready for prime time yet. There are both technical and business reasons why that’s the case.

As far as the idea of the cost savings, it’s good to look at why that is the case in a few certain areas, and then to think about how you can reduce the cost in your own infrastructure by using automation and virtualization technologies that are available today, and that are also used in the “cloud.” But, that doesn’t mean you have to go out to the cloud to automate and virtualize to reduce some cost in your infrastructure.

Gardner: Let’s go to Norm Lindsey. There are a number of other similar overlapping trends afoot today. There’s virtualization at a number of different levels, application modernization, consolidation, next-generation data center architectures, services-oriented architecture (SOA), an emphasis on IT service management.

Does cloud intersect with these? Is cloud a result of some of these? What is, in a sense, the relationship between some of these technology trends and these economics-driven cloud initiatives?

Lindsey: A lot of these technologies are enablers for a cloud approach to services. The cloud is an evolution of other ideas that have come before it, grid, and before that Web services. All these things combine to enable people to start thinking of this as delivering service with a different business model, where we are paying for it by the unit, or in advance, or after the fact.

Virtualization and these other approaches enable the cloud, but they aren’t necessarily the cloud. What IT departments have to do is start to think about what is it they’re trying to accomplish, what business problem they’re trying to address, as they look at cloud providers or cloud technologies to try and help solve those problems.

Gardner: It also seems that we are hearing about private clouds or on-premises use of these architectural approaches, as well as public clouds or third-party sourcing for either applications or infrastructure resources. Does this boil down to a service orientation, regardless of the sourcing? Perhaps you could help people better understand the different between a private cloud and a public cloud?

Lindsey: Private cloud versus public cloud is part of this whole evolution that we’ve seen. We’ve seen people do their own private utilities versus public utilities such as flexible computing services provide. The idea of a private utility is that, within an organization, they agree to share resources and allow the boundaries to slide back and forth to hit the best utilization out of the fixed set of assets or maybe a growing set of assets.

Nevertheless, they agree to share it to try and approve the utilization. The same idea is in a public utility or a public cloud, except that now a third party is providing those assets and providing that as a service. It increases the concerns and considerations that you have to bring to the party. You have to think about problems that you didn’t have to think about when you had a private utility.

When you go to a public space, security is paramount. What do I do with my proprietary information and service levels? How certain can I get what I need when I need it. The promise with the cloud is great, but the uncertainty has caused people to come up short and decide maybe it’s better if I do it myself, versus utilizing an outside service.

Gardner: Now, I think it’s fair to say that, at this point, this is all still quite new and experimental -- with developers, small companies, and some departments -- using such resources as Amazon Web Services. Clearly this is still in the very early innings, but some of the analyst firms are predicting as much as 5 percent of IT might be devoted to this in several years. While that’s a fairly large number in total, it’s still quite small in regard to the whole pie.

Let’s go to Scott McClellan. Are there really serious positive business outcomes that should entice organizations to start looking at cloud computing now?

McClellan: I definitely think there are. Basically I see the conversation happening between business and IT in two different ways, and one of them was already touched on earlier, when you were talking to Rebecca.

That has to do with the cost factor. That’s your business asking your IT department to reduce cost; CEOs put pressure on CIOs to deliver more with less.

So there are aspects of automation and virtualization that allow you to get to a more utilitized approach to delivering the services within your IT department -- to allow you to increase flexibility, reduce cost, drive up utilization, and things like that to address the cost issue. So there are real business drivers behind that, and that’s especially heightened in today’s economic climate.

In the longer term, the more overarching impact of cloud comes when your IT department can deliver value back to the business, rather than just taking cost out. Some examples of that are using aspects of social networking and other aspects of cloud computing, and the fact that cloud is delivered over ubiquitous media, the Internet, to increase share of wallet, increase market share, maybe bring higher margin to a business, and build ecosystems, and drive user communities for a business. That’s where cloud brings value to a business and that’s obviously important.

Gardner: So we have, at one level, an opportunity to take advantage of these technologies for pure efficiency’s sake for our internal IT operations. There is also this additional opportunity to use the clouds as a gateway to new or existing customers and be able to service them perhaps better through this ubiquitous medium of the Internet and perhaps at lower cost. Is that right?

McClellan: Yeah, it’s absolutely true. The former, the taking cost out is the first way. The first wave of innovation from cloud computing is coming from making services consumable on a different model, on more of a utilitized model, and that drives up utilization, etc. To unlock some of the value requires innovating at the application tier, in many cases, but absolutely you can bring both benefits to a business.

Lawson: I’ll give a concrete example of this cost. Let’s choose an example, first of a service your business needs to have -- a credit check service. Obviously, when you are selling a product, you want to make sure that your customer has credit, which, of course, is all the rage today.

You could think of a credit-check service as having a very specific business outcome. It may be that your company has an internally developed service that maybe you built, and it’s tied into your SAP, Ariba, or what have you.

Or, it may be that your credit-check service is hosted by an external service provider, but still designed in a traditional architectural manner. Or, it may be that there are credit-check services available through the cloud, designed in a different application architectural style that suits your purpose.

Either way, what IT is going to need to do is really think through its service centric way of behaving and a way of operating IT -- so that what’s appropriate for that company can be arbitrated by IT, knowing that they have to take into consideration security, speed, and accuracy. So for some companies, doing a credit check through a cloud service might be perfectly fine. For other companies, it may be way too risky for them for whatever reason.

We need to think in terms of which services provide what level of value, based on the complexion of that particular company -- and it’s never going to be the same for all companies. Some companies can use Google Gmail as an email service. Other companies wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole, maybe for reasons of security, data integrity, access rights, regulations, or what have you. So weighing the value is going to become the critical thing for IT.

Gardner: It appears that the ability to take advantage of cloud computing comes from an increased services orientation, and understanding the technologies and how to take advantage of them and exploit them -- but that the larger business decisions really are around which services should or shouldn’t be sourced in a certain way, and what level of comfort and risk aversion are acceptable.

This is probably going to be something that needs to be judged and managed company-by-company, even department-by-department.

How do companies start to get a handle around that decision process which seems critical -- not just how to take advantage of the technology but in which fashion should these services be acquired and managed?

Let’s go to Norm. How do people start managing, at a local individual level, the decision process around which services might become cloud services?

Lindsey: Start by looking at the business problem that you are trying to solve, and IT has to start looking at the requirements and dealing with it as a requirements issue, as opposed to a technical issue. They need to make sure that the requirements are clear and all stakeholders understand what you are doing.

Then you can start to look around at your internal capabilities, versus external, and make some decisions as to how you want to solve that problem, whether buying an external service or creating a service internally and delivering it to your customers with your own internal utility.

Gardner: Rebecca, this raises the question, then, of … Who owns this decision-making process around cloud, utilization, and/or resource? This seems to be an abstraction above IT, but you certainly need to know what IT processes are involved here.

I know we are early in this, but is there any sense of how who owns the decision-making process around cloud is going to shake out?

Lawson: That’s a really great question, because a lot of people in the lines of business or business functions can go out to the Internet and make a decision. “Hey! We’re going to use Salesforce.com,” or what have you. Those decisions made without IT could have some really deep ripple effects that a line-of-business person might not realize.

People in the lines of business don’t think about data architecture and integrity, they don’t think about firewalls, they don’t think about disaster recovery, and they shouldn’t. That’s not their job.

So this will force IT to come closer to the people in the business and really understand what is the business objective, and then find the right service that maps to the value of that objective. Again, we can’t emphasize it enough. This should really change behavioral dynamics in IT and how they think about what their job is.

Lindsey: That’s a key point -- the IT guys become an enabler, as opposed to a gatekeeper. They know what the compliance issues are; they know what the regulatory rules are on their company to meet Sarbanes-Oxley, or whatever world they live in.

The line of business has the business problem and they need to focus on what their problem is and let IT answer the question in terms of, “These are some possible solutions. This is what they cost. Now tell me which one you do.” But these will all have to meet the myriad list of requirements that we have to live within.

Gardner: It appears to me that there are a couple of different levels of risk here. One risk would be that people start jumping into cloud and external-service consumption piecemeal, without it being governed or managed centrally, or with some level of oversight in a holistic sense.

The other risk might be that you are so clamped down, and you are so centralized and tightly managed, that no one takes advantage of efficiencies that become available through the cloud. You then have unfortunate costs and an inability to adapt quickly.

Let’s go to Scott McClellan. How are companies expected to manage these types of risks, that is to say, over-consumption or under-consumption of cloud services? How can companies become more rational in how they approach these issues?

McClellan: In the process of getting to a service-centric IT governance model, they’re going to have to deal with the governance model for deploying new services. Again, I think risk is partly a function of benefit. So when there is a marginal benefit or when the stakes are very high, you would want to be very conservative in terms of your risk profile.

Basically, within the spectrum of things that are cloud computing, you have everything from infrastructure as a service … all the way up through virtualized infrastructure, a platform on top of that, an application on top of that, or perhaps a completely re-architected true cloud-computing offering.

As you move up that spectrum, I think the benefits increase, but in not all cases are the application domains available in all of those environments.

There are several choice points here. What services are available through some cloud model, what model of availability, what are the characteristics of that model, what are the requirements for that particular service – and what are the security performance, continuity integration, and compliance requirements? Those all have to be taken in holistically and through a governance model to make the decision whether we are going to move from the traditional deployment model to a cloud-delivery model, and if so, which one.

Gardner: To me, this governance issue sounds an awful lot like what we’ve heard around SOA, and what you need to put in place to take advantage of that approach.

Rebecca, are we talking really about the same set of issues that, if you put in a good SOA infrastructure, management, governance, and capability set -- and if you organize your culture and your people to think about services – that that puts you in a good position to manage cloud? You can find were it’s appropriate, and then be able to find that balance between these risks?

Lawson: That’s a good observation, and there is a parallel between the notions of SOA, the loose coupling of services, and what we’re talking about here. The hard part is that services come in many different flavors and architectural styles. So in reality you might be managing a service that runs on a very old architectural style, but it really delivers value. You really want to maintain it, and it’s worth it. You might also want to adopt a Web-oriented architectural approach, vis-√†-vis using some cloud services in another part of the organization.

The parallel is there. People who’ve grown up through a SOA kind of model naturally gravitate to this. The service provider and consumer relationship is a big change with cloud because, all of a sudden, providers look different than they used to.

Companies that you didn’t think of as service providers are now a service provider. You never used to think of Amazon as a company you might go to to get compute from. You used to buy books there.

So what happened? All of a sudden, lots of people can become providers in startling ways, which is great. It’s a whole new burst of creativity and possibility in the area of technology-enabled services. Obviously, we have to tread carefully, because businesses have to grow, and you’ve got to choose wisely.

Gardner: I wonder if there are other precursors to organizations being better able to take advantage of cloud computing, but at low risk. I suppose one would be IT service management, treating IT as a bureau or service provider, the charge back type of system.

Any input, Norm, on some of these other precursors that organizations might think about as they start to wonder how they can best take advantage of cloud?

Lindsey: Actually, one of them is one you haven’t brought up, which is a lot of times they are out of space and out of time. They have some idea or they have some new business. They want to load it and they are out of room in their data center.

Or it’s something that just comes up really quickly, and they need to act quickly. The flexibility and the nimbleness of the cloud enable them to respond. So, as far as the drivers inside the business, that’s one of the big ones. The other one is just running out of power and space inside of their existing facility.

Gardner: I suppose that gives them the opportunity to ramp up, but without a whole lot of upfront capital expense. They can pay for this on a per-use basis, right?

Lindsey: Precisely. You rent instead of buying. The other obvious benefit is that you have minimized your risk and you can turn it off, if things don’t go the way you want them to.

Gardner: Let’s look at some of the things that cloud computing can’t do so well. Obviously, as they say, we are in the early innings here. Let’s go to Scott McClellan on this. Not all applications can be delivered by a cloud. There are design and data issues and application programming interface (API) issues. We’re not ready for database joins and two-phase commits, and needs around transactional integrity where you need to have correction of transactions, and so forth.

Maybe you can help our listeners understand, at least for the foreseeable future, what types of applications and services might be appropriate for cloud -- and which ones would not be?

McClellan: It’s partly a matter of how modern is the application architecture that enables the service. So, it is a bit of a continuum. To some extent, the question isn’t, “Can it be delivered as a service model?” but “Can it be delivered in as a service model at the necessary scale on a cost curve that allows the service to be delivered at an attractive price?”

So it’s not a simple black and white. Is it possible to do this particular service in the cloud? You might be able to take a legacy architected application, delivered it in, say, software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, assuming it’s basic underlying architecture is relatively modern, and it can be Web-enabled and it has appropriate user interfaces and so forth to be Web-enabled.

The immaturity of some of the data services and the truly scalable cloud computing infrastructure -- examples are things like Google’s BigTable or Hadoop data-services level -- do provide some relational data semantics, but they are nowhere near as rich as the full database semantics provided by the mature database management subsystems. As you mentioned there is no way to do a join.

Gardner: It seems an important hurdle to overcome in taking advantage of cloud would be the proper mixing, if you will, of data. There needs to be some kind of a sharing, where not the entire database, but perhaps a level of meta data might be shared between different organizations, private and public.

Do you have any thoughts, Rebecca, on how HP views that sharing, that data issue? Again, that’s something for an IT department, or may be even a marketing department, to tackle.

Lawson: Obviously, there will be data that you just don’t want to share with anyone, but there is a good use-case out in the cloud for a provider to offer up a ton of data that might be valuable to a whole bunch of different consumers. Let’s say it’s demographic data, and they may want to make a marketer’s ability to access that data through a number of services very agile and very scalable. That would be an example of a potential place where somebody could write some cloud-based services or applications and offer them through the cloud.

Intelligence in data varies widely, so it’s hard to generalize. On the other extreme, inside the firewall, you might have some extremely rigorous requirements for what data goes into your enterprise data warehouse, who gets to access it, how the tables are set up, or what the security provisions are. That would be another extreme where you have no interest whatsoever in sharing that with anyone, and it’s considered core to the company.

So that’s a great example of where you have to really consider the value of the service and the output. What’s the business outcome and how should we think about where we let our data live, how we access our data, how we mash it up with other information sources. Again, the bad news is there is no simple answer; the good news is there are lots of opportunities to get very clear in what you want as a result of that data, and lots of places to get it.

Gardner: All right, let's give the last word to Scott. Clearly, the technologies are there for a scalable and agile infrastructure. The economics are apparently quite compelling.

This comes back down then to the organization behavioral risk management issue. My last question to you is, in a period of economic downturn where economics and cost issues are paramount, is cloud computing something that will be accelerated by the tough economic times, or will people back off from something like what cloud offers until they have a better picture in terms of growth?

McClellan: My personal prediction would be that the tougher economic conditions would heighten the acceleration of cloud computing, and not just because of the opportunity to save cost. Reinforcing what we brought up earlier, there are some clear opportunities to bring value to your business.

Examples of that are things like being able to drive user communities, users and consumers of whatever it is your business produces, using techniques of social networking, and things like that.

There is the question of how to use the advantages you get from cloud computing to drive differentiation for your business versus your competitors, because they’re hesitating, or not using it, because they’re being risk-averse. In addition, that compliments the benefits you get from cost savings.

The other characteristic that the tough economic conditions could have on adoption of cloud computing is that it might cause customers to shy away from particularly painful places, where the risk is super-high, but it will kind of lower the barrier or the threshold that you have to clear for the opportunities that are less extremely risky, if that makes sense.

Gardner: I think you are talking about the high upfront capital outlays to start something. If you build it, you hope they will come, that kind of thing?

McClellan: That's on the service-provider side. There could be some risk aversion on service providers building out giant infrastructures, with just the hope that someone will come and consume them. I agree with your point there.

What I really meant is that, if you are an IT shop and you are trying to decide what to move to a cloud paradigm or a cloud model, you’re likely to really focus on the places where either you can get that big win -- because moving this particular service to a cloud paradigm is going to bring you some positive differentiation, some value to your company.

Or, you are going to get that big cost savings from the places where it's the most mission-critical -- the place where you have the least tolerance for downtime, and you have the greatest continuity requirements, or where the performance SLA has been most stringent. The thinking may be, “Well, we’ll tackle that later. We’re not going to take a risk on something like that right now.”

In the places where the risk is not as great -- and the reward either in terms of cost or value looks good -- the current economic conditions are just going to accelerate the adoption of cloud computing in enterprises for those areas. And they definitely do exist.

Gardner: It gives companies a series of additional choices at a time when that might be exactly what they need.

McClellan: That's right. And in some cases, it's not super-expensive to move to this model, and you'll have a quick payback in terms of return on investment (ROI). If you are bringing value to your company and differentiation, this is a good time to do that. Strike while there is a sense of urgency. It creates a sense of urgency to strike. I guess I would say it that way.

Gardner: We’ve been discussing some of the advantages and potential pitfalls of cloud computing. It seems that the opportunities are there for those who examine it carefully and appropriately, and can balance the risks to get the rewards.

We’ve been chatting today with Rebecca Lawson, the Director of Service Management and Cloud Solutions at HP. Thanks, Rebecca.

Lawson: Thank you.

Gardner: Also, Scott McClellan, Vice President and Chief Technologist of Scalable Computing and Infrastructure at HP's Technology Solutions Group. Thanks so much, Scott.

McClellan: Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity.

Gardner: And also, Norman Lindsey, Chief Architect for Flexible Computing Services at EDS.

This is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. You have been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast. Thanks, and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

For more information on HP Adaptive Infrastructure, go to:
www.hp.com/go/ai./

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on cloud adoption best practices with HP and EDS executives. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2008. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Identity and Access Management Key to Security Best Practices in Changing Business Landscape

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on the role of identity and IT access management in the dynamic enterprise.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect. Today, a sponsored podcast discussion on the role of identity and access management (IAM), and its impact on security and risk reduction.

We live in an age when any of us, on a typical day, has access to hundreds of applications, and perhaps we have improper access to some of those applications or data inside of our companies. We may not even know it. What's worse, our IT department might not know it.

Managing who gets access to which resources for how long -- and under what circumstances -- has become a huge and thorny problem. The stakes are too high. Improper and overextended access to sensitive data and powerful applications can cause significant risk and even damage or loss.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Oracle have been teaming up to improve the solutions around IAM. Through products and services, a series of best practices and preventative measures has been established. To learn more about managing risk around IAM, we will be talking with executives from both HP and Oracle.

Here with us today, we are joined by Dan Rueckert. He is the worldwide practice director for security and risk management for HP’s Consulting and Integration (C&I) group. Welcome, Dan.

Dan Rueckert: Thanks, Dana, glad to be here.

Gardner: We are also joined by Archie Reed, distinguished technologist in HP’s security office in the Enterprise Storage and Server Group. Welcome, Archie.

Archie Reed: Hi, Dana.

Gardner: And we’re also joined by Mark Tice, vice president of identity management at Oracle. Thanks for joining, Mark.

Mark Tice: Hi, Dana, thank you very much.

Gardner: Now, let’s look at this historically -- and I guess I’ll take this to Dan Rueckert. How have things changed around IAM and general risk and security around access to assets and resources in the past couple of years? Is this another instance of data explosion, or are there other implications for organizations to consider?

Rueckert: Thanks, Dana. When we look at IAM, we are really saying that the speed of business is increasing, and with that the rate of change of organizations to support their business. You see it everyday in mergers and acquisitions that are going on right now. As a result of that, you see consolidation.

All these different factors are going on. We are also driving regulations and compliance to those regulations on an ongoing basis. When you start to go with these regulations, the ability to have people access their data, or have access to the tools, applications, and data that they need at the right time is key.

It’s the speed, and it’s continuing to go on as we see the convergence of both the traditional IT systems or applications, and then the merger with operational technology, as we know it, from real-time systems, or near real-time systems.

Gardner: Archie Reed, how do you see this impacting the business climate? How important is this for companies in terms of their exposure?

Reed: This is a critical area that folks have to look at. There's a difference that we’re seeing when we go out and talk to customers, and they’re saying that security is a big concern. It’s a big issue for them. It’s not simple and it’s often not cost-effective, or the return on investment (ROI) is difficult to define.

When you talk about security being a big concern, there is a disconnect between it being a priority, or a high priority, for a lot of companies. It’s dependent on the specific company to have security high on the priority list. It’s often placed low because of that ROI challenge.

The reality in the market is that many things impact that security posture, internally, every time a new system is installed, any product or service defined, or even when a new employee joins. Externally, we're impacted by new regulations, new partnerships, new business ventures, whatever form they may take. All those things can impact our ability, or our security posture.

Security is much like business. That is, it’s impacted by many, many factors, and the problem today is trying to manage that situation. When we get down to tools and requirements around such things as identity management, we are dealing with people who have access to systems. The criticality there is that there have been so many public breaches that we have become aware of recently that security again is a high concern.

People are not necessarily taking it into their priority list as being critical, but tools such as identity management and general system management can help you to mitigate the risks. If we start to talk about risk analysis, and ROI being one and the same discussions, then we may be able to help companies move forward and get to the right position.

Gardner: Clearly, this is not something that product alone can tackle, nor services alone either. So, it's certainly makes sense that Oracle and HP are teaming up with a solutions approach to this. What is the overall solution approach, is this 60 percent behavior, 40 percent product? Dan, give us a sense of how this gets solved, when it comes to products and/or services?

Rueckert: Dana, it's definitely people, process, and technology coming together. In some cases, it’s situational, as far as working with customers that have legacy systems, or more modern systems. That starts to dictate how much of that process, how much of that consulting they need, or how much technology?

When we talk about the HP-Oracle relationship, it’s about having that strong foundation as far as IAM, but also the ability to open up to the other areas that it's tied into, in this case enterprise architecture, the middleware pieces that we want for databases, and other applications that they have.

You start to put that thread with IAM, combined with an infrastructure and that opens this up as a whole, which is key. And, enablement, as far as depending on the size and complexity or localization or globalization, tends to play into those attributes, as far as people process and technology.

Gardner: And this also relates to the Secure Advantage Program, as well as the HP Adaptive Infrastructure, can you paint a picture for us as to how those relate? I guess we can go to Archie Reed on this.

Reed: The first thing would be to understand what Secure Advantage is. Fundamentally it’s an evolution of HP’s Security Strategy. One thing folks may not know is that HP has been in the security business for over 30 years across most industries and the geographies.

Secure Advantage is effectively the embodiment of all of HP security prowess or expertise, as services, products, and solutions, and as well as partners that we can offer organization to help them deal with security in business issues that we've been alluding to through this discussion.

The challenge that HP sees is that most folks worldwide may have developed a relationship with HP, perhaps for a server or a desktop businesses or a software and printing businesses. Many are unaware how wide and how deep HP's security expertise is, across the entire business spectrum.

HP has been developing this Secure Advantage Program over the last few years to essentially allow people to take a broader look at our security portfolio. I'll give you a specific example. I said we have been in the business for over 30 years now, and one thing that many folks aren't aware of is that HP has been engaged at the core of all the ATM networks around the world.

In fact, we’re directly involved in over 70 percent of ATM transactions. So, when you walk up to a bank, you put in your debit card or your credit card, you ask for $100 or 100 Euros, whatever it maybe anywhere around the world. Behind the scenes, HP technology, policies, and process have been worked on to ensure that the data is encrypted, that all of the banks and ATM network folks can talk to each other without necessarily knowing everything about them or who they are working with.

It’s secured through a set of processes. I am not going into the details obviously, but this is something that is an incredibly complex situation with a huge set of regulations on a worldwide basis about what can and can't be done, and what should be done. HP is right at the core of that, with encryption technology, with processes, with services and products that span the gamut. That is a really good example of where Secure Advantage comes into play.

We are engaged in the standards development behind the scenes. We have many patents and many processes that help these banks put together what they need to make it all work. That's the sort of expertise we bring, when we go talk to companies in situations where they need to implement tools such as identity management and access management tools. Does that make sense?

Gardner: Sure, it does. Mark Tice, tell us from Oracle's perspective, why is it important to have a complete solution approach to this? It seems like so many applications, so many different cracks, if you will, in the foundation. What’s the philosophy from Oracle in terms of getting a comprehensive control over identity and access management?

Tice: Well, one of the things that we really encourage, and this is where we get great alignment with the folks at HP.

One of the things that we really work hard to do is make sure that first off, before breaking ground on one of these projects, customers put in place a complete framework, or architecture for their security in identity management, so that they really have a complete design that addresses all of their needs. We then encourage them to take things on one piece at a time. We design for the big bang, but actually recommend implementing on a piece by piece basis.

Gardner: Let's get into a little more detail about how companies actually come to grips with this. You can't start solving the problem until you have a sense of what the problem is. How significant is this? How out of control are the access and identity solutions and safeguards in companies? Dan Rueckert, you want to take a step with that?

Rueckert: It depends, now that we start to think about each industry and those areas that have the regulations and compliance issues and standards of business. As Archie said, the financial services area is very sophisticated in a lot of things they do. Once again, it’s the speed of business and the changes from mergers and acquisitions that have started to occur.

When we get into more traditional business, maybe heavy process in certain aspects, you might see lesser controls. But now, as we start to get into access into certain areas of a process facility that tie together with the system, it starts to bring that together also. So, you have that different view.

Gardner: Let's look closely at the actual solutions. How do companies get started with this? Let's go to you, Archie. What are some of the first steps that you should take in order to gauge the problem and then start putting in the proper solution?

Reed: When we start thinking about security, one of the first things that people look at generally is some sort of risk analysis. As an example, HP has an analysis toolkit that we offer as a service to help folks decide what is critical to them. It takes all sorts of inputs, the regulations that are impacting your business, the internal drivers to ensure that your business not only is secured, but also moving in the right direction that you wanted to move.

Within this toolkit, called the Information Security Service Management (ISSM) reference model, is a set of tools where we can interview all of the participants, all of the stakeholders in that policy or process, and then look at the other inputs that are predefined, such as the regulations.

If you are in healthcare, you are looking at the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). If you are dealing with credit cards, then you are looking at things such as the Payment Card Industry (PCI) standard, about how you have to handle the data, and whether you have to encrypt.

By having these things that are predefined, not only in terms of being more prescriptive for companies, which helps them a lot, but also being more accessible in terms of how quickly they can decide what's important, allows them to move on and decide in which order they’re going to implement their security strategy? They may already have pieces in place, and that's another part of the ISSM reference model that asks, “Where do you grade yourself on this, and where do you want to be?”

There is also in this gap analysis between what is and what should be or what is wanted. That allows the company to decide how they’re going to implement these sorts of things. That becomes a great way to then determine how to cost things out, and that's also an important factor for organizations.

Generally, beyond that, folks are looking at a triumvirate of focal points which shows this governance risk management and compliance (GRC), which essentially says, “Here are the drivers. What's the analysis that we are going to do, and what are the approaches we are going to take to deal with that?” And, they essentially align or deal with the contentions between business and security requirements.

Those sorts of things allow a company to get up to speed quickly and analyze where they’re at. You may have a security review every year, but a lot of companies need to do it more often in more isolated ways. Having the right tools come out of these sorts of things allows them to do ongoing assessments of where they’re at, as well.

Hopefully that's the bulk of the question, and we can go into a little bit more detail with Dan about how services help you do that.

Gardner: How about some examples? Do you have either companies we can talk about directly, or use-case descriptions, where you have gone in. What are some of the pay backs? What are some of the savings or risk-avoidance benefits?

Rueckert: Let me start. When you truly get at the basics and you have the right access at the right time, you start to look at whether you have someone waiting to have something done from a system perspective.

It takes time, it wastes time, and somebody not doing what they were hired to do as far as their general responsibilities. So, there are labor efficiencies that can be gained by having that type of access, and then you get into the number of incidents or request to a help desk to enable someone who says “I am having a problem, help me”.

You start to look at these labor efficiencies from just a pure IT perspective. If you don't have the things that you need to do your job, you then hit the bottom-line tremendously in the line of business in that value chain. So it can cascade out tremendously as far as that.

The other is access, as far as your partners in conducting business. If they don't have what they need from an external point, they can hold up payments or shipments that you might need. All different sorts of people rely on this. I need to validate, I need to know who you are, so then I can conduct my business as I need to.

Reed: Another way to look at this is, when you consider how companies today are not only trying to be more efficient, provide cost savings, analyze, and do more with less -- whichever way you want to phrase it -- there is also an approach that says, “Let's consolidate our datacenters. Let's bring everything together and minimize the amount of stuff on the network. Let's do whatever we can to try and resolve the sort of cost issues.”

Again, when you start to think about who can do what, who has access to what and how much can they do, regardless of how you do those consolidation efforts, you need to consider security.

So, I would also raise the HP Adaptive Infrastructure as an example of how we help customers deal with those challenges of reconciling between the two. Adaptive Infrastructure is essentially a portfolio that help customers at all their data centers, from the high-cost silos where everybody has their Internet on their own servers, and they all have their own hardware in place to low-cost pooled assets.

That allows an IT department to move to that service provider model that a lot are trying to get to, while meeting needs. We help customers evolve to the next-generation data center, 24/7, lights-out computing, blades in place, virtualization. You get that lower cost. You get the high quality of service, but you also cannot ignore the security as being a critical component to that.

I’ll give an example of some customers we’re helping with virtualization right now. Even in the virtualization space, where everybody is trying to get more from the same hardware, you cannot ignore things such as access control. When you bring up who has access to that core system, when you bring up who has access to the operating system within the virtual environment, all of those things need to be considered and maintained with the right business and access controls in place.

The only way to do that is by having the right IAM processes and tools that allow an organization to define who gets access to these things, because important processing is happening on the one box. You are no longer just securing the box physically. You're securing the various applications that are stacked on top of all of that.

Gardner: Of course if you get it right, it can be of great value as you move into other types of activities. Whether it’s taking advantage of application, modernization or virtualization, building out those next generation data centers, having your IAM act together so to speak, certainly there’s a strong foundation for doing these other activities better and with less cost and risk.

Tice: Dana, I’d like to jump in on that one. What we see when we first go into companies, when they don’t have this in place, is that most of their identity management work is done in silos. It's done in a department, or an app-by-app basis. The fact of the matter is that each department or each group has to make up their own security policies, implement them, and manage them. From a company perspective, it means that your security is only as good as your weakest department.

So, you've hit it dead on. Having the right policies in place, and then tools to manage and implement those, is critical. It means that you can act, instead of having to stop, think, and then act -- time, and time, and time again.

Gardner: Moving into the future road map, what we expect, it seems, is that not only is access management important for today’s infrastructure. As we continue to automate, ramp up rules and policies, and start using events-based inference and business intelligence, this also is a foundation for creating a more robust and increasingly automated approach to IT, as well as provisioning of services and application. This is particularly true, as we move into what we call cloud computing nowadays, where we are going to get applications and services from the variety of different sources.

So who wants to take the approach to the future, and have us build on that opportunity?

Rueckert: I’ll comment on just some of the things that are happening right now, and you haven’t talked about the mobility of employees.

We talked more traditionally about datacenters and maybe desktops, but now we have hand-held devices that are mobile in nature and contain a lot of power, and we need to make sure we validate that they can have access.

You can take simple examples of BlackBerry devices and other entities that now tie back into applications and key data that they need in the field, and can use wireless networks. It’s a tremendous benefit overall, as far as where we are going, and it’s why this is so important as we start to work towards the future.

Reed: I’d back that up by saying that, when we start to consider IAM, one thing we really haven't touched on, but sort of alluded to so far in the conversation, has been all of this process and other stuff that happens on the identity management side of house. The provisioning, the decisions, the policy management happens over the longer term. Access management is more of a defined policy and enforced in real-time. There is a lot of more to this overall aspect that relates to one of HP's core areas of expertise, management tools in general.

So, when we define the policies, when we decide what the procedures are for following that, we need good tools that allow you effectively to implement and write out what they are, and automate those policies and procedures, so that they are enforceable.

More importantly, over the longer term, changes occur. For example, in the last year alone, in 2008, there is an estimate of an extra 9,000 to 10,000 regulations that small to medium businesses must follow -- and that's not including what big businesses have to follow in terms of changes for the regulations they're already engaged in.

Now, consider the impact that has on being able to rewrite change, manage the policies across all of your business units, and consider what Mark was talking about in terms of businesses that have siloed security approaches. There is no guarantee, unless you have a comprehensive view over all of your systems, services, and business policies, that you can guarantee to the outside world that you are complaint.

Once we've got all this defined, we now need to monitor, and report at least internally, sometimes externally, that we are being complaint. This is another area where management tools and IAM in particular, allow you to say and prove that you have done what is required by the regulations.

Regulations are generally thought of as being driven by government bodies. If you deal internationally, that can mean a lot of different things in lot of different regions. But, regulations can also be internally driven.

They can be internal policies that you have decided as an organization need to be enforced, because you believe that if you want better customer service, you do things this way. Ultimately, it all comes down to making sure that the process is defined, is easily either automated or followed, and finally, and ultimately, reported on an adequate way -- whether it has been circumvented, incorrectly used, or, more generally, that the right thing was done.

Ultimately, it comes back to this discussion we had earlier, which is that GRC and things like IAM play a critical role in that. That's why we have chosen to go with the strategy that we have as HP, as part of Secure Advantage.

Working with folks like Oracle, who have some of the best tools out there in order to support certainly middle sized businesses, but also large organizations with huge, siloed security problems, different businesses, and different geographies. It’s a huge issue that companies need to resolve with tools, because there's no way to do it manually.

Gardner: Alright. Looking toward the next rev, if you will, of these tools, Mark Tice at Oracle, maybe you could outline what the plan for the future is for HP and Oracle working together and where the access management capabilities will come from? I surely don't expect their pre-announcements on products, but just a sense of where the technology is headed?

Tice: Sure. It runs down a couple of different threads. In your last question you touched on the cloud computing issue, and one of the things you will hear us talking about more and more in the future, is the emergence of identity management as a service.

That is, make it real easy for applications to leverage identity management services for access control, permissions, and such. Make it easy for them to access those. One, so that you can support a cloud environment seamlessly and easily. And two, you don't have to replicate a lot of security in identity management code in applications. You can have applications what do or they do best, which is support application logic and leave a lot of security infrastructure to tools like ours.

The second piece is in the area of quickly adapting to change. We see identity management right now as a 1.0 in a 2.0 piece, the very basics, like user provisioning, access control, single sign on, federation -- that is the ability to allow other entities from outside of your firewall and give seamless access for trusted sources.

We see this as kind of 1.0, the very basics that you put in place. Even in the 2.0 space, that's really where we see things like strong authentication -- that is making sure that people are who they say they are -- and tie this into real-time risk detection. So, if we are detecting fraud, we make sure that we challenge people to a fairly extreme degree, if we perceive there to be risk.

Also, in the area of real management, we see deriving a lot of access based on business function, as opposed to complex IT rules. As people move around in the organization, they do different things. As Dan pointed out, as they merge and such, access is controlled automatically, based on where people sit in the organization, and what they are working on, as opposed to IT rules. Those are a couple of the trends that we see on the technology side.

Reed: I just want to expand on those comments, as well as something that Dan mentioned earlier, which was the mobility aspect. If we’re truly looking at what's coming up, what companies need to deal with, and why this ability to be able to deal with change quickly and effectively is important, we have to look at the new employees that are coming into the market. We have to look at the new business situations or paradigms that organizations are dealing with.

The new employees are coming out of the universities these days. They've got all the Facebook and MySpace -- and all such things.

They’re also used to using their own kit. They're used to plopping down wherever they are, being able to work on what they want, using whatever equipment they want, and consider themselves masters of their own identity.

When they walk into a company, they would like nothing more than to be able to bring a hardware that they can use at home, can move around with, and still be able to access the resources they need to do the work that they have been asked to do.

We'd love for those to be HP bits of hardware, but the reality is, if you take a broader sense, you need to be able to deal with that situation. If you think about the companies and the way in which the things have been moving, that is to deal with more partners, they've got to deal with more outsourcing too, all of these situations where they are no longer in control of the identity of who is using their kit. They are responsible for it, but they may not be in control of it.

This is happening worldwide. The contractor market has been around for a long time, but is evolving in this respect. They expect to run their own equipment, but use your organizational resources to do their job. There are outsourced organizations that expect to get access to your blue prints to produce things for your company.

But you have all these regulatory issues that you have got to deal with, which require encryption, monitoring, and access controls to be in place. And again, these regulations are changing over and over. If we think more about the business sense than the technology sense, you've got to have available to the business users the tools that allow them to do those things in a secure manner, and allow them to adjust to the processes, as Mark was saying, in a rapid fashion, without compromising the security of the organization as a whole.

Gardner: So, in the future we'll have a number of different scenarios where the end point hardware might be any number of different options, only to extend that access and management to that individual, based on their role, their business process context, and so forth. Sounds like a very interesting time.

Reed: Absolutely. We've heard about the borders to the company not being anywhere, the castle metaphor thing -- being broken down. The network is no longer Secure in and of itself. There is no perimeter.

I fully expect that within the next five to ten years we will be carrying around all of our data and all of our essential knowledge on memory sticks or in the cloud, and that will be all it needs to sometimes get to work. There will be devices everywhere that we should be able to use -- be it a mobile phone, a mobile device, right through to a huge, honking desktop that just happens to be there.

Gardner: And IAM is really the key to unlocking that sort of a flexible future.

Reed: Yes. Fundamentally, IAM is about managing those relationships between who is coming into the network, who is getting access to things, why are they getting access, how, and when are they allowed to do that.

Gardner: And, when done right, there are many different benefits, not only risk reduction, but as we had been discussing, now we look into the future with a lot more flexibility in terms of how IT can be distributed and used.

Great. We have been talking about identity and access management, it's impact on security and risk, some of the new opportunities for using this in different scenarios, including cloud computing and distribution of a variety of devices, sometimes not even the organizations or the enterprises devices.

Helping us weed through some of these topics, we have been joined by Dan Rueckert, a worldwide practice director for security and risk management, at HP, C&I. Thank you, Dan.

Rueckert: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: I have also been joined by Archie Reed, distinguished technologist in HP security office also in C&I. Thank you, Archie.

Reed: Thank you.

Gardner: And, Mark Tice, vice president of identity management at Oracle. Thank you, Mark.

Tice: Thanks, Dana, Archie, and Dan. Thanks for inviting me to attend.

Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. You have been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast. Come back next time for more insights on IT strategies. Bye for now.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

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Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast the role of identity and access management in the changing enterprise. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2008. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

BriefingsDirect Analysts Review New SOA Governance Book, Propose Scope for U.S. Tech Czar

Edited transcript of BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcast, Vol. 33, on the role of governance in SOA adoption and the outlook for IT initiatives in the Obama administration, recorded November 7, 2008.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Charter Sponsor: Active Endpoints.

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Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the latest BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition Podcast, Volume 33. This periodic discussion and dissection of IT infrastructure related news and events, with a panel of IT analysts and guests, comes to you with the help of our charter sponsor, Active Endpoints, maker of the ActiveVOS visual orchestration system. I'm your host and moderator, Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Our topics this week, the week of November 3, 2008 are services-oriented-architecture (SOA) governance, how to do it right, its scope, its future, and impact. We'll be talking with Todd Biske, author of the new Packet Publishing book SOA Governance. Todd is also an enterprise architect at Monsanto. We'll also be looking at this historic election week. The presidential election results are now in, and we're going to view the impact through an IT lens.

Our panel will focus on the IT policies that an Obama administration should pursue, as well as ruminate about what a cabinet-level IT director appointee might do and might accomplish. To help us dig into SOA governance and think about what a new national IT policy might be, we're joined by this weeks panel. Please welcome Jim Kobielus, senior analyst at Forrester Research. Howdy, Jim?

Jim Kobielus: Hi Dana, hi everybody. Good morning and afternoon, wherever you are.

Gardner: And also Tony Baer, senior analyst at Ovum.

Tony Baer: Hey, Dana, good to be with you here again.

Gardner: Let's also welcome our guest. This is not his first appearance. He's been on several times before -- Todd Biske. Welcome back, Todd.

Todd Biske: Hi Dana. Thanks for having me back.

Gardner: Let's just dig right into your book, Todd. Tell us why you decided to write a book on SOA governance. This is not something that people bring up around the dinner table at night.

Biske: It certainly isn't. It's funny that I actually got to speak at the young authors' program at my kid's school, and thought that they probably don't care when they're in kindergarten or fourth grade about SOA governance, but it was a good time.

The reason that I decided to write a book on this is actually two-fold. First, in my work, both as a consultant, and now as a corporate practitioner, I'm trying to see SOA adoption be successful. The one key thing I always kept coming back to, which would influence the success of the effort the most, was governance. So, I definitely felt that this was a key part of adopting SOA, and if you don't do it right, your chances of success were greatly diminished.

The second part of it was when the publisher actually contacted me about it. I went out and looked and I was shocked to find that there weren't any books on SOA governance. For as long as the SOA trend has been going on now, you would have thought someone would have already written a book on it. I said, "Well, here's an opportunity, and given that it's not really a technology book, it's more of a technology process book, it actually might have some shelf life behind it." So I decided why not, give a try.

Gardner: I've heard this several times in many different places that SOA governance should not be linear in relationship to SOA, but at the beginning, the middle, really simultaneous to any SOA infrastructure activities. Is that a basic content of your book?

Key governance message

Biske: Yes it is. The way I wrote the book was to actually use a management-fable style. There's a fictional story that goes throughout the book. It starts from step one, when there is some grassroots effort of someone interested in applying Web services technology, or REST, or whatever it is, and trying to broaden to scope of that, and how it expands into an enterprise initiative.

The key message in this is that the reason companies should be adopting SOA is that something has to change. There is something about the way IT is working with the rest of the business that isn't operating as efficiently and as productively as it could. And, if there is a change that has to go on, how do you manage that change and how do you make sure it happens? It's not just buying a tool, or applying some new technology. There has to be a more systematic process for how we manage that change, and to me that's all about governance.

Gardner: Now, risk avoidance is a top of mind for a lot of IT folks, as they embark on SOA activities. I suppose the risk on one side is that if you don't do it enough, it doesn't take off, doesn't get traction, there is not an adoption, and so your efforts and your investments are not well paid back.

The other risk is that you go too far too quickly and you have too much success with SOA. Perhaps it spins out of control, and complexity, lack of monitoring and enforcement become issues. The important thing here with risk is to find that balance. Governance, I suppose, is sort of a knob, if you will, on how to get and maintain that balance.

Biske: I would agree with that approach to it. The very first step that helps to manage that risk is defining the target state you want to get to. What's the desired behavior for your organization? I think the two scenarios you described both come about by not having an end state in mind.

If I just blindly say, "We're going to adopt SOA," and I tell all the masses, "Go adopt SOA," and everybody starts building services, I still haven't answered the question, "Why I am doing this, and what do I hope to achieve out of it."

If I don't make that clear, I could easily wind up with a whole bunch of services and building a whole bunch of solutions. I'll have far more moving parts, which are far more difficult to maintain. As a result, I actually go in the opposite direction from where I needed to go. If you don't clearly articulate, "This is the desired behavior. This is why we're adopting SOA," and then let all of the policy decisions start to push that forward, you really are taking a big risk. It's an unknown risk. You're not managing it appropriately if you don't have an end state in mind.

Gardner: Before we go to our other panelists, maybe you could tell us about your fictional insurance company, which you call Advasco, I believe. Tell us the story inside this book.

Biske: Sure. It's a large financial conglomerate, starting out in the insurance industry, but they also expand through acquisition into other financial product areas.

Gardner: It's probably not as large as it was when you started writing the book, right?

Biske: Probably not, although I don't think I made any mention of mortgage-backed securities anywhere in the book. So, it's probably one of the institutions that have survived.

Biske: It starts out with an emphasis from the business leaders that they need to improve their position with their customers. They're continually getting dinged. They've got different sales staff coming at them with no idea about the different financial products that they hold. Sales people are competing with each other.

So, there's this initiative to say, "We need to improve our customer image," and that begins the path toward SOA by saying, "Let's focus on the customer, customer-related services, and build that up." But, it's only within their insurance line, not quite enterprise wide.

I use that example that when it tries to broaden beyond that, other people in the story come along and say, "Well, that's not my initiative. I am not going to participate in that," and it covers some of the political battle that you can get into in an organization, when everybody has a different set of priorities.

Over the course of the book, they begin to see the benefits of adopting this -- how it impacts their development efforts, and how that actually winds up delivering business value as a result. Along the way, they make a series of missteps that cover the aspects of traditional project governance, such as building services the right way. Then, branching out into, "How do we expand this beyond the initial set of customer services. We can't just build on services blindly."

So, there's a discussion around how to determine the right services to build. It gets into that pre-project governance area, which goes beyond IT and to the business side of the company.

The last piece of it talks about the runtime aspects. They go from internal services that are just used within the company, to exposing services outside the company. They have a situation where their systems start to fail and, because they didn't have effective runtime governance, they go through al large exercise to try to figure out the source of the problem and correct it. They uncover as result of that the need to have policies and governance around how the external parties that use their services are able to access them and how to manage that piece of it.

We cover the whole project lifecycle, as well as aspects outside of the project lifecycle, more of the portfolio planning, project decisioning, and getting into the more traditional areas of IT governance.

Different types of governance

Gardner: You've mentioned a couple of different types of governance. There's IT governance, runtime governance, and SOA governance. Is it right to look at it this way, that there are different types of governance that need to be federated? Or, should we think about it more like we need to get one umbrella governance, perhaps call it SOA governance, but have it take on more and more aspects of these other flavors?

Biske: There's kind of a federated or hierarchical approach to it, and there are two different ways of looking at federated governance. I want to come back to that. If you look at traditional IT governance, it is more about what projects we execute, how do we fund them, and structuring them appropriately, and that has a relationship to SOA governance. It doesn't go into the deep levels of decisions that are made within those projects.

If you were to try to set up a relationship, I would put IT governance, and even corporate governance, over the SOA governance aspects, at least, the technical side of it. The other piece of that is, when we talk about runtime governance, IT governance probably is focused on the runtime aspects of it. That's really a key part of this, making sure that our systems stay operational and that the operational behavior of the organization is the way we want it to be. So there is a relationship between them.

With the notion of federated governance, in addition to the hierarchical nature, we also have to look at the structure of the organization. If it's a very large organization with multiple lines of business -- and this is something that Jeanne Ross covered in her IT governance book -- you may have one line of business that is interested in growing very rapidly and another line of business that is in a cost-containment mode. We have to factor those two governance models into the decisions you make in how you leverage IT.

If you try to choose some standard technologies that you are going to use across the entire enterprise, you are going to run into problems, where you have competing priorities of the one line of business, which is trying to move as quickly as possible and really energize that growth, being forced to use some standard technologies to where the processes may not have been matured yet. That could slow them down. At the same time, the group that needs to have cost containment is probably all for those. So we have to balance that federation as well.

Gardner: It's a fascinating subject, and I do think it is part and parcel with SOA. It even goes beyond that, and we can get into that a little. I'd like to remind our listeners, that your book is now currently available on amazon.com, is that right?

Biske: That's right, Amazon.

Gardner: So, if I were to go to Amazon, I just do a search on SOA Governance, or "Todd Biske," or both and I might just easily find it. Is that right?

Biske: Yes, that is correct.

Gardner: Well, let's go to my panel. Tony Baer, do you agree that SOA governance is really so important from soup to nuts, start to finish, lifecycle for SOA to be successful?

Baer: In the grand scheme of things, the answer would be yes, but you also have to look at what the scope of your SOA effort is going to be. Just this morning, I was reading a piece from one of our panelists, Dave Linthicum. He was saying, based on Gartner figures, that, from an enterprise-wide standpoint, interest in beginning or continuing SOA projects was going to drop pretty markedly this year. So, you need to look at it in terms of, "Are we are looking at enterprise-wide transformation, something more tactical?"

My sense is that, given the current economic environment, you're going to see a lot more in the way of tactical projects. From that standpoint, this hooks into an issue that we were discussing in an internal meeting yesterday as to what level you take governance. I want to take a closer look at this. I don't have any fully formed conclusions on this yet, but I think that most organizations are still looking at SOA in the coming year, but looking at it in a much more restricted scope, as opposed to a an enterprise-wide transformation.

We need to look at some jump-starts in a sensible, sort of "lite," like, L-I-T-E governance. That's governance that basically federates, or is compatible with, the software-delivery lifecycle. And, when we get to runtime, it's compatible with whatever governance we have at runtime. That's an area that's very complicated, because you start dealing with different organizations that own different pieces of it.

The software-developing organization owns the architectural implementation of SOA. You have the business that owns the service, and you have the IT operations group that owns the data center runtime.

So, it's not a simple answer. Also, given the level of likely interest in SOA in the coming years, I think we're going to have to be a lot more tactical, and we are going to have to be a lot more light-footed to start off with.

Differing views of SOA's future


Gardner: I'd like to point out that the interpretation that SOA is going to ratcheted at back is not the only one out there. I was just on a webinar a few days back with Sandy Rogers from IDC. Some of her research shows that, in fact, SOA is ramping up and moving into that enterprise-wide phase. There might be economic impacts on certain vertical industries, but there is more than one way to look at SOA in terms of its adoption.

With that said, Jim Kobielus, what's your position on SOA governance, and do you think there is a need for an SOA Governance Lite at this time?

Kobielus: "SOA Governance Lite." I was rolling that phrase around in my head, as it came out of Tony's mouth. Yeah, what exactly would SOA Governance Lite constitute? Tony, I want to hear from you first. Do you have a definition?

Baer: Well, you're looking at potential for reuse, but you are not using it as a major criterion, because, at this point, you're not at any level of certainty, as to whether you will be achieving reuse. This touches on an area that we have also discussed in this venue many, many times. The objective of SOA is to achieve reuse, but it's really to achieve business agility. Therefore, whether we shoot for reuse, initially or not, it will not necessarily be the ultimate measure of success for a SOA initiative. SOA Governance Lite would not emphasize very heavily the reuse angle to start off with. You may get to that at Stage 2 in your maturity cycle.

Kobielus: That's a good working definition of SOA Governance Lite, and I agree with that. Well, I agree with that from the point of view of just looking at the times that were in right now, some pretty nasty times. The economy looks like it's going to go deeper down the tubes, before it gets any better.

At Forrester, we like to pitch most of our research in terms of tying it to what we call our customers' success imperatives. That's a very optimistic way of looking at things, like, "You should invest in business intelligence (BI), data warehousing, and so forth, because it will help you succeed, be innovative and agile, and transform the organization." You can look at SOA as a success-oriented architecture.

The flip side right now is that you can look at it as a survivor-oriented architecture. You have a survival imperative in tough times. Do you know if your company is going to be around in a year's time? The issue right now in terms of SOA is, "You want to hold on and you want to batten down the hatches. You want to be as efficient as possible. You want to consolidate what you can consolidate in terms of hardware, software, licenses, competency centers, and so forth. And, you're probably going to hold the line on investment, further applications, and so forth."

For SOA, in this survival oriented climate that we're in right now, the issue is not so much reusing what you already have, but holding on to it, so that you are well positioned for the next growth spurt for your business and for the economy, assuming that you will survive long enough. Essentially, SOA Governance Lite uses governance as a throttle, throttling down investments right now to only those that are critical to survive, so that you can throttle up those investments in the future.

Gardner: What do you think Todd Biske? Do we need a "lite" version of SOA governance? Is it also a way to scale up as well as scale down, so it's insurance, regardless of the business environment?

Biske: I'm not a believer in the term "lite" governance. I'm of the opinion that you have governance, whether you admit it or not. An alternative view of governance is that it is a decision-rights structure. Someone is always making decision on projects.

The notion of Governance Lite is that we're saying, "Okay, keep those decisions local to the project as much as possible. Don't bubble them up to the big government up there and have all the decisions made in a more centralized fashion." But, no matter what, you always have governance on projects. Whether it's done more at the grassroots level on projects, or by some centralized organization through a more rigid process, it still comes back to having an understanding of what's the desired behavior that we are trying to achieve.

Where you run into problems is when you don't have agreement on what that desired behavior is. If you have that clearly stated, you can have an approach where the project teams are fully enabled to make those decisions on their own, because they put the emphasis on educating them on, "This is what we are trying to achieve, both from a project perspective, as well as from an enterprise perspective, and we expect you to meet both of those goals. And if you run into a problem where you are unsure on priorities, bubble that decision up, but we have given you all the power, all the information you need. So, you're empowered to make those decisions locally, and keep things executing quickly."

Gardner: Todd, I want to just pick up quickly on one thing you mentioned, which is that you are doing governance, whether you recognize it or not. Are there certain telltale signs that an organization is at the point where its governance is happening in stealth mode, that they need to start getting more methodological and concrete about how they address it? Are there any telltale signs from either your fictional company or ones you have dealt with that are harbingers of governance that needs to happen, and in a better way?

Biske: Telltale signs are when you are having meeting after meeting with people disagreeing and saying, "Well, my management told me this is my priority," and somebody else is saying, "My management is telling me this priority."

That can be at the project level, where you have the project manager telling the developers, "I don't care what the enterprise architects have told you, we've got to get this solution delivered by this date. Whatever you have to do to make that happen, go do it." Versus two more-senior managers in the organization debating who is going to fund this service or have their team manage the service once it's written.

I have both of those scenarios in the book, where there are meetings and we have people debating this. And, we have to have mediation that says, "Hey, this is our priority. This is the direction that's been given from the CIO or center of excellence. This is the priority behind it." And there are cases where you will have competing priorities, and you have to have a structure on how to resolve those situations, and who are the right people to get involved to say, "This priority takes precedence in this case."

Kobielus: What Todd said is exactly correct. If you're going to define SOA Governance Lite, it really has to be in more of a federated, decentralized, negotiated environment, where CTOs, CIOs, and lower-level IT people get together and collectively build coalitions around best practices.

Maybe one competency center takes the lead in a particular area of SOA, and another competency center from another business unit takes a lead in another area. And, collectively among themselves, laterally, they put together best practices that drive everybody, as opposed to the hierarchical, top-down, command-and-control SOA governance that we should regard as SOA governance "heavy," as the alternative.

Gardner: Todd, when you mentioned these meetings as harbingers of potential problems, it reminded me of Agile Development, Scrum, and the role of a ScrumMaster. Are there any parallels between, on the development level, what people hope to accomplish through Agile and the use of Scrum, and what SOA governance can offer at a higher abstraction at the services level, and in helping businesses to accomplish their business goals.

Biske: Yeah, there are some parallels. The ScrumMaster is the ideal methodology, where they emphasize the need for the team to come together often, but in a small group, to keep everybody on the same page with what the targeted goals are. They empower them then to go off and do the work and not spend all their time in meetings. The same holds true here. If you don't have that common vision and common understanding across all parties involved, people start to drift away and have their own opinions on the right thing to do. That's where you run into problems.

Gardner: Is there anyone else who want to offer any comment, before we move on to the next subject?

Baer: I'd definitely agree with that. This is coming from someone who initially was very much a skeptic about Agile and all those very localized methodologies. Ultimately if you take a look at our what SOA is architecturally, it is loosely coupled, and it's supposed to foster business agility. That's very compatible with the ideals of Agile software development, which essentially looks at software development as very loosely coupled, but compatible, activities. So, I would agree there 1,000 percent with Todd.

Biske: Another parallel we can draw to this is the current economic crisis. The risk you have in becoming too federated, and getting too many decisions made locally, is that you lose sight of the bigger picture. You can look at all of these financial institutions that got into the mortgage-backed securities and argue that their main focus was not the stability of the banking system, it was their bottom line and their stock price.

They lost sight of, "We have to keep the financial system stable." There was a risk in pushing too much down to the individual groups without keeping that higher vision and that balance between them. You can get yourself in a lot of trouble. The same thing holds true in Agile development. There are people who may be more critical of it saying, "What if we go too far and let everybody do their own thing? We may struggle as an enterprise in bringing that all back together. "

You have to have the right balance of some centralized viewpoint -- this is the direction we need to go - but still empower the local teams that can execute efficiently.

Baer: Todd, I have a question for you there. There's a great example there with the current crisis. We need to have acceptable risk management and risk mitigation standards on an enterprise-wide level, while still providing empowerment to local teams to accomplish that goal in whichever way they see as compatible with the larger objective. How detailed and comprehensive should the vision, goal, or mission be defined from above, versus what's defined from below?

Biske: The key aspect is that you have to have something that's measurable at both levels. In one chapters in the book, I have an example, where the CIO talks, but keeps it at this vague "we want to adopt SOA" type vision. That's is a rallying cry that people can jump behind, but it lacked the ability to specify where we want it to go. I do think it needs to trickle down to a high level measurement, saying, "We want to reduce the average time it takes to get a solution out by 10 percent," or, "We want to reduce the time it takes us to identify the cause of a production problem by 25 percent."

That's a measurable goal that at a high level that we can continue to monitor. If we're not achieving it, we can start asking, "Why are we not getting there?" But, that needs to drill further down into much more fine-grained policy that applies at those local levels. We can then come back and say, "You know what, this is our goal. We don't have a goal to improve the accuracy of our initial budget or initial schedule estimate on these projects."

You can use that when you're in the situation of project manager saying, "I've got to meet this date," versus the technical team saying, "But, if we don't do it this way, we may be inhibiting our agility down the road." So, having those measurable stated goals, if we're not achieving them, we can go back and adjust things. That's the key to it.

Gardner: Todd, we've talked a little bit about scaling governance down to a more tactical level. Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about cloud computing and sourcing services from different providers, through on-premises or private grid or utility or cloud-type of provisioning and infrastructure. It seems that there's not only a need for Governance Lite types of adjustment and flexibility, but perhaps governance maximum, where you might be starting to get services through hybrid environments. We've also heard recently people who are saying that SOA capabilities and competencies are a precursor to be able to do cloud properly.

What's your position? If you do SOA Governance Lite, does that actually put you in an advantageous position to take advantage of cloud across a variety of internal or external sources?

Biske: I think I fall into the later category. You have to have SOA in place to be able to make the right decisions around cloud computing. It's too bad that Joe McKendrick couldn't be on the line on this one, because he and I had a blog exchange, probably about three years ago. He made the statement that the adoption of SOA was going to increase the amount of outsourcing that went on, and this was before the cloud computing term really got hot.

My counter to that was, I don't know that it's going to actually create any more or less outsourcing. What it should do, if we do it right, is have more successful use of cloud computing, or outsourcing of particular services within there.

If I know that I've got a particular service and I've got measurable goals on what I hope to achieve through those services, I can make the right decision on whether the best way to handle this service is to source it internally or to go to an outside source, and what the cost implications of that are.

Where we get ourselves into trouble is in hoping that going to cloud computing or to software as a service (SaaS) is going to make things better. But, wbut we don't have any way of both measuring where we are today, and what the factors are that are causing us to think negatively about it, as well as, measure it when we switch to a different sourcing model with it, and make sure that we are seeing the improvement that we wanted to get out of that.

Having the right policies in place is what we have to achieve and is key, whether you host those services internally or externally.

Gardner: Now, this book is designed for practitioners. It's hands on. It's to help people actually get going and use governance properly. Is that right?

Biske: Yes.

Gardner: The name of the book is SOA Governance, it's by Todd Biske and the publisher is Packet Publishing. Thanks for sharing your insights. I look forward to reading it.

Biske: Thank you, Dana.

National IT director?

Gardner: Well, let's move along to another governance issue. It's the government, and how would governance help its own IT apparatus. Billions of dollars are spent, perhaps not all of them most productively, on IT across many, many different government agencies. There's lots of redundancy, lots of overlap, not much reuse, siloed individual budgets, individual hierarchies of authority, and responsibility across these government agencies.

Now, we have a new administration, very much with a message of hope, a transformation. It's also stated along the way that it plans to have a higher profile for IT, perhaps with a more holistic or horizontal take across the multiple dimensions of the government. We're faced with this situation of what would a cabinet-level IT director do -- and what should they be focused on in terms of priorities?

Let's go first to Tony Baer. Tony, let's say you get a call in two weeks, and it's Barack Obama on the phone. He says, I'm going to pay you your regular rates, but I want you to help me figure out what I am going to do with this IT director guy. What advice would you give him?

Baer: I would tell him to go out and speak to Todd Biske first. Obviously, you need somebody who is going to -- and for want of something good, I am going to give you a cliché here -- just think outside the box. Basically, the government has long been a series of lots of boxes or silos, where you have these various fiefdoms. Previous attempts to unify architectures at the agency levels have not always been terribly successful.

As far back as the '80s, the Defense Department's continuous acquisition and lifecycle support (CALS) initiative was just so vague. It was almost impossible to answer the question, "What is a CAL?" This gets back to what Todd points out in his book. You need to have a clearly stated, measurable objective. So, the chief priority for anybody who is a CIO, or who is going to step into some sort of CIO-type of role at the cabinet level, above the agency level, is someone who is going to look for getting more out of less.

That's essential, because there are going to be so many competing needs for so many limited resources. We have to look for someone who can formulate strategic goals -- and I'm going to have to use the term reuse -- to reuse what is there now, and federate what is there now, and federate with as light a touch as possible.

Gardner: It seems that the priorities that we're hearing out of the Democratic Party have to do with dealing with the economy, the financial crisis, energy, and also climate change. A lot of these really strike me as issues that have a great amount of technology as part of their solution. Jim Kobielus, when technology is better deloyed and used, and perhaps modernized around SOA principles, how much of an impact can it have on these government problems?

Kobielus: If you look back at Obama's positions from about a year ago, All Things Tech, it was a fairly comprehensive, and deep set of positions on a broad range of tech topics. SOA, of course, figures into any of this positioning. I doubt that Obama, Biden, or anybody high-level in this coming administration, knows or cares what SOA is, but really it comes down to the fact that they're driving at many of the same overall objectives that also drive SOA initiatives.

One initiative is to breakdown silos in terms of information sharing between the government and the citizenship, but also silos internally within the government, between the various agencies to help them better exchange information, share expertise, and so forth. In fact, if we look at their position statement called "Bring government into the 21st century," it really seems that it's part of the overall modernization push for IT and the government. They're talking really about a federated SOA governance infrastructure or a set of best practices.

Such things as the fact that the national CTO that Obama has been calling for at least a year or so, wasn't a huge issue on the campaign trial. This National CTO, it seems to me from the the sketchy description, would essentially broker discussions between agency-level CTOs to get them to share best practices, and provide each other with a forum, within which they can maximize reuse of key government IT infrastructure for multi-agency, or nationwide initiatives.

Getting to your question, tech modernization in the government is absolutely essential. Reuse and breaking down silos between agencies is critically important. Brokering best practices across the agencies, specific silo IT and CTO organizations, is critically important. It sounds to me as if Obama will be an SOA President, although he doesn't realize it yet, if he puts in place the approach that he laid out about a year ago, considering that the IT infrastructure in the government is probably right now the least of his concerns.

Gardner: Well, he certainly seems to get the Internet. He's really mastered that better than any politician at that level before. So, I expect we'll see a lot of emphasis on how the government reaches out to its constituents, and also interacts among between its various elements and building blocks using the Internet that's loosely coupled in a SOA sort of mentality.

Let's go again to Todd Biske. Todd, do you think that SOA is the right balm for this itch, the government's integration mess?

Biske: SOA definitely has a role in it. You could probably pick just about any technology and say that there is a potential for it to make it better. It's interesting that I definitely agree with the use of technology. I just brought up the Obama app on my iPhone, and I actually have all of his statements on the technology issues right here at my disposal, which is a great use of the technology.

But, he definitely has a challenge, and I am thinking from a governance perspective. He has taken step one, in that the paragraph that Jim just mentioned, of bringing government into the 21st Century. He has articulated that this is the way that he wants our systems to interact and share information with the constituents.

The next step is the policies that are going to get us there, and obviously he's time-boxed by the terms of his presidency. He's got a big challenge ahead of him, or at least the CTO that gets appointed has a huge challenge. Somehow, you have to break it down into what goals are going to be achievable in that timeframe.

As an example, I was at a recent SOA consortium meeting. I don't remember which branch of the government was actually presenting at the time, but they talked about the effort that they went through to get everybody on the same page for the goals of an SOA-related initiative, and they spent about 18 months in meetings trying to do that.

In terms of the fiefdoms that exist out there, there are some big challenges, and this may be a situation where we do need to have a bigger stick and a little bit heavier governance to get some of these things moving at a quicker pace. Certainly, the agencies all are trying to adopt SOA. It's just that the scope of their problem is something that's hard to fathom. So we'll just take it a step at a time.

Baer: I think his initial priorities will be not so much internal as external. I was just reading here that he just appointed a member to his transition team, someone who came from Interactive Corporation, which is of course very heavily invested in various online commerce sites and social sites.

But, I think his initial priorities are going to be more on areas such as net neutrality, and on extension of broadband. The internal transformation to promote more federated and more transparent information sharing is going to become more of a Phase 2. He can't do everything at once, when he takes the office.

Biske: You know I am going to jump in now, one way to look at a president's style is whether they they govern in the same way they campaigned? One of the flaps against George W. Bush is that, once he took office he continued to govern sort of like he campaigned. I heard similar criticism against Bill Clinton early on as well.

If the campaign that just concluded is any prelude, then Obama is going to rely heavily on the Internet, on the Web, on new media, on social networks, on spam, robocalls and so forth, to reach out to, franchise, inform, alert, and possibly irritate and annoy the citizen, as a way of breaking down the silo between the government and the citizens. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Gardner: It's certainly shows that Obama seems to view technology as the solution, rather than technology as the problem. Lets get back to this CTO of the United States. Now whether they have an internal focus, which is on how to get the government to behave better in terms of its IT use and productivity, or an external focus, which is how could we make America more competitive in terms of our broadband, standards, use scenarios, freeing up airwaves, and ensuring there's net neutrality, those sort of things.

It seems to me that they are not incompatible. They should probably go hand in hand. But what kind of person should this be? If you were to look at the resume and try to come up with the right mix, is this someone a politician? Is this someone who is very good administrator, or who understands tech? All of the above? What would you look for in such a person? Should we go to private industry, the head of the larger vendors, for example, and try to recruit them? Any thoughts?

Baer: Two words: Al Gore, because first of all, obviously he knows tech. Secondly, he invented the Internet -- ha, ha! But, he knows tech and he's passionately concerned with it. Certainly, he's a politician. You have to be a politician in this world. He can't be the administrator. He's going to be a policy maker or broker.

Gardner: Al Gore, also on the board of directors of Apple Computer, is at the top of your list?

Baer: If we were to have a national CTO, which I am not entirely sure we should, under a Democratic president, I think that Gore would probably be on Obama's short list.

Gardner: How about you Todd Biske? Do you have any, if not names, at least job descriptions that you think they need?

Biske: Well, I don't have any names, but I do think Al Gore is an intriguing one, and I like the reasoning behind that. I got some exposure to this with the last SOA consortium meeting. In the world of IT in the federal government, and the world of IT in the typical corporation, which is more of my background, there are just huge differences between the two.

You need to have somebody who has some experience dealing with technology in the federal government. As far as bringing somebody in that's a complete outsider to that world, I don't know how effective they would be, unless somebody gave them a really big stick. The political background is critical. Knowing that a lot of these changes, and some other things that we want to see happen come back to governance, the better you are at politics, the more that you can bridge the gap between the competing priorities. That's an important aspect of it as well.

Gardner: It's another feather in Al Gore's cap that he was deeply involved with the reinventing of government initiatives under the Clinton administration.

Baer: I couldn't agree with Todd more, in terms of the fact you're going to need somebody with political savvy. In most ways, it's not like corporate environments, which have different forms of accountability. The fact is that at the end of the day, you're dealing with government employees who are civil servants and are there primarily for the benefits. They are not there for trying to earn huge amounts of money, and take the greater levels of risk in the private sector.

I'm thinking of a project that a colleague of mine is involved with right now with one of the big agencies in New York state government, a requirements management project. This is something that has been very heavily pushed by somebody, if not the CIO, somebody very close to his level. The business analysts are stonewalling it like crazy, and even though this has been directed from above, the permanent bureaucracy has just been very resistant to it. There's lots of inertia.

Not that he has voiced any interest in it, but you're not going to have somebody like Eric Smith from Goggle parachuting in. Someone like an Al Gore, or maybe someone a little less well known, but equally experienced in the public arena, is going to be a much more suitable choice.

Gardner: I guess we can be assured that it won't be Carly Fiorina. All right, I would like to thank our panelists. We are out of time. We really enjoyed the discussion about SOA governance, and I think we will be coming back to this issue of national policy around IT quite a bit over the next couple of years on BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights. I want to thank our panelists, Jim Kobielus, senior analyst at Forrester Research. I appreciate your input.

Kobielus: Oh, no problem. I enjoyed it.

Gardner: Tony Baer, senior analyst at Ovum. Thanks again, Tony.

Baer: A great post-election session.

Gardner: I also want to thank our guest Todd Biske, an enterprise architect at Monsanto and the author of the new book, "SOA Governance." Thanks, and I hope you come back again, Todd.

Todd Baer: Thanks, Dana. I really enjoyed the conversation.

Gardner: I also want to thank our charter sponsor for BriefingsDirect Analyst Insight Edition Podcast series, Active Endpoints, maker of the ActiveVOS, Visual Orchestration System.

This is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks for listening and come back next time.

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Transcript of BriefingsDirect podcast on the role of governance in SOA adoption and the outlook for IT initiatives in the Obama administration, Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2008. All rights reserved.