Friday, December 01, 2006

SAF06 - The Architectural Last Mile

These are my notes from Norm Judah's keynote this Thursday morning at SAF06. Norm is CTO of Microsoft Worldwide Services and IT. These notes are taken during the talk and published straight away - wifi is great.

Norm firstly asks what is architecture?... the art of simplicity.

Norm highlights a number of recent architectural changes:

  • The power at the edge of the network
    • Traditionally big in the middle, dumb on the outside
  • Boundary changes
    • Boundaries between companies
    • Management impacts

Success of failure occurs in the last mile

  • People
  • Human processes are not often re-engineered

Build systems not for the people of today - but the people of tomorrow. Look at how your teenage kids behave: instant messenging, youtube - living online behaviours in a manner that does not make sense to those of us that are in midlife or older. So don't automatically assume that because you can't imagine using this system, that your views will apply for the future.

Processes and human behaviour is important. IT spend does not automatically increase productivity. MIT study by Erik Brynjolfsson ( that process is more important, but also that process + IT investment achieves much greater productivity.

Demonstrated Community Campus - Microsoft only site. Remarked that it's easy to create the site but hard to get people to use it which highlights the importance of managing human behaviour, of process.

A lesson from this is that you need to measure in detail. People will register but not use a system. So a count of registrations has no value. Look instead for how parts of the site are being used.

They prepared an adoption maturity model based on CMMi. Don't build an immaturity model

  • Negligent
  • Obstructive
  • Contemptuous
  • Underming

Refer to Capt. Tom Schorsch,, and the original notes on CMM from Finkelstein, "A Software Process Immaturity Model," ACM SIGSOFT, Software Engineering Notes, Vol. 17, No. 4, October 1992, pp. 22-23.

Make heros! Publish and market the subject matter experts. Give awards for most posts, most effort. Create individual importance.

Another lesson: operational architecture crucial to project success. Since most things go wrong due to operational errors you need to explicitly design for the operation. You can not manage it if you don't measure it.

Norm gave a great example of using the Business Scorecard Manager to report on Exchange availability in Microsoft. This forms the mail SLA reporting. The report showed 33,000 connection attempts blocked for the day - hacking attempts!

The scorecard contained a section called Major Problem Reviews (MPR). These were categorisations of the types of problems.

Desired Configuration Management

  • Reduce configuration changes
  • Proactively manage upcoming change

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