Finally, getting back to “normal” blogging after my series on the CISR models.

By the way, Microsoft is a diversification model company… where enterprise canonical models don’t exist.  We are moving towards a coordination model, where specific elements of an enterprise model exist, but the majority of the model is not governed.  That move is being hindered by a lack of consistent governance.  No one is comfortable with the idea of governance. 

What is the impact on Enterprise SOA if we don’t have an enterprise canonical data model? 

Some folks have been busy trying to create an enterprise canonical data model for Microsoft IT.  They have gotten a good measure of success in the analysis effort, in some areas, and I applaud their as-yet-unfinished work.  It is well on the way to being ‘as complete as a coordination company needs it to be.’  However, no enforcable process exists to insure that (a) it is evangelized, and (b) governance is applied to make sure that projects in other teams align to it.  In other words, despite the best efforts of a few, our long-term success in this area is probably less than 10%.

Ah, this is where the life of an EA is as much ‘political’ as it is ‘technical.’ 

For want of clear direction on our Operating Model, we don’t have executive committment to share
For want of executive committment, we don’t have project-level cooperation
For want of project cooperation, we don’t have a workable data model that others can leverage
For want of a useful data model, we don’t have message consistency between systems
For want of message consistency, we don’t have the ability to substitute one service for another
For want of substitutability, we cannot lower costs or speed up innovation: our business drivers
For want of business effects, we cannot demonstrate results from SOA investments
For want of justification, our funding support could dwindle
For want of support, our funding for next year could be cut
For want of funding assurance, some SOA folks are hiding their work so that it doesn’t look ‘cuttable’
For want of openness, folks who want to use SOA services, cannot find them
For want of discoverability, SOA soldiers proceed merrily creating new services in a pall-mall fashion
For want of reuse, some IT leaders see little advantage in the newest fad, SOA

It goes on and on.  I don’t know if the folks who so oppose the idea of a canonical data model have any idea of the effect that they can have on an IT paradigm.  Mostly, they are doing it for measurable reasons: to make a short-term deliverable goal more successful by removing scope from the project.  There is no counter-measure: amount of cooperation with a data model initiative… yet.  The long term effect is corrosive.

Microsoft IT is without a CIO these days.  No major changes will occur in the interim.  No one wants to go and try to “sell” a program that may not be supported by the new CIO, when he or she arrives.  That would be an expensive mistake, from the standpoint of a career.  So, as funding approaches, I look around and wonder: just how much of Enterprise SOA will remain standing in Microsoft IT two years from now. 

Who knows?

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends.

By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

One thought on “Politically, Can I live without an enterprise canonical data model?”
  1. Ahhhh I feel your pain … it sounds like a much larger scale version of things I have had before, and often tried unsuccessfully to convey to you.

    Without buy-in at the most senior level, to the principles of SOA and not just the buzzword, it is damn hard to get anyone to do anything ‘real’ – and you end up with a lot of short term stop-gap solutions.

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