/Tag: Agile development

Enterprise Architecture and Threat Modeling

By |2016-11-28T21:14:48+00:00August 29th, 2016|Enterprise Architecture|

What should an Enterprise Architect know about threat modeling?

I recently asked on a LinkedIn group about threat modeling and Enterprise Architecture. My first surprise came when the first set of responses were from folks who didn’t appear to understand what threat modeling was. So I guess the first order of business for anyone wishing to consider themselves an Enterprise Architect is to study up on what Threat modeling is.


Placing Architecture Properly into Scrum Processes

By |2016-09-28T22:44:52+00:00June 11th, 2013|Enterprise Architecture|

As I’m about to complete my share of a longer engagement on using Lean principles to improve the processes at an online services firm, it occurred to me that the efforts we undertook to properly embed Architecture practices into their Scrum process were novel.  I haven’t seen much written about how to do this in practice, and I imagine others may benefit from understanding the key connection points as well.  Hence this post.

First off, let me be clear: Agile software development practices are not at all averse to software architecture.  But let’s be clear about what I mean by software architecture.  In an agile team, most decisions are left to the team itself.  The team has a fairly short period of time to add a very narrow feature (described as a user story) to a working base of code and demonstrate that the story works.  The notion of taking a couple of months and detailing out a document full of diagrams that explains the architecture of the system: pretty silly.  (more…)

Unraveling the Developer Bias in Agile Development Practices

By |2016-09-28T22:44:07+00:00April 16th, 2013|Enterprise Architecture|

There is a contradiction that shows up in many books and articles on agile software development.  .  And I’m going to rant a little on one of them: the “developer” bias in Agile software practices.

Before I begin my rant, I’d like to tell you where it comes from.  I am an Enterprise Architect.  I am also an agilest.  I am a certified Scrummaster (for many years) and have been on many agile projects.  I’ve seen success, and I’ve seen failure.  I know that agile is good, but not good enough to overcome people who are determined to undermine change.  (more…)

AGILE architecture vs. agile ARCHITECTURE

By |2016-09-28T22:45:54+00:00April 5th, 2013|Enterprise Architecture|

As an architect involved in an agile implementation (my current gig), you can imagine how interested I was to see that there’s a new book on Agile Architecture, and perhaps how disappointed I was to see that it focused on SOA and Cloud.  That’s not to put down SOA or the cloud.  I’m a huge fan of both.  But it wasn’t the area of agility that I was hoping that a book, with that title, would address.  The misunderstanding was mine, not the authors.  I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m sure I will.

That moment of misunderstanding crystallized a thought: how even a two word phrase like “agile architecture” had two completely different meanings.  The opening scene of the movie “The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey,” puts a rather humorous twist on this idea, when Gandalf introduces himself to Bilbo Baggins (who has apparently forgotten having met him as a boy). (more…)

All Effective Enterprise Architects Are Agile

By |2016-09-28T22:43:18+00:00January 15th, 2013|Enterprise Architecture|

I explained to one of my clients recently that there is a perception of animosity between the Enterprise Architecture community and the Agile community.  Both sides make assumptions about the other, often assumptions that are simply unfair.  For example, many in the EA community think of “agile practices” as an opportunity to develop software without any architecture at all, while many in the agile software development community think of architecture as one of the “big design up front” guys who oppose their principles and practices.  Of course, it is not difficult to find people who fit those unfair descriptions, but I’d like to point out how these two viewpoints are similar.

I believe that effective Enterprise Architecture must be approached from an agile standpoint.

First off, what does it mean to be agile?  (more…)

On the road to a Business Architecture Manifesto

By |2016-09-28T22:42:34+00:00May 6th, 2012|Enterprise Architecture|

One very powerful metaphor that has reverberated throughout the technical community, in the past few years, was the Agile Manifesto.  Created by a group of folks who wanted to communicate the principles that drove their thinking, the Agile Manifesto has been a very useful tool for deciding if a particular practice is being done well.  I think it may be time to build one for the Business Architecture space.

That said, I am by myself, sitting in my living room.  I am in no position to speak for the community of business architects.  So, this submission is a suggestion for content that could be useful when the conversation begins.  It is my personal opinion about the principles of business architecture.  I would hope to bring this material to a group of other BA practitioners, as my contribution, to develop a full consensus on business architecture manifesto.   (more…)

A Modern Update to The Blind Men and The Elephant

By |2012-01-11T02:38:01+00:00January 11th, 2012|Enterprise Architecture|

My humble apologies to John Godfrey Saxe, whose poem I have modified to add a seventh man, and to make a point…


‘twas seven men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach’d the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -"Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he,
"’Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

Silent was the Seventh man
Who heard the heated fray
Not touching the amazing beast
Upon that fateful day
Chose wisely to collect his clues
From what each had to say

Concluding from the evidence
That no man clearly knew
The seventh man did not attempt
To posit what was true
Instead he sought to ascertain
what the beast could do

Tried and failed, and tried again
This man did ply his art
Invented he, a harness great
And cried out from his heart
“I cannot see the shape of it
but it sure can pull a cart!”


So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

The wise, instead, do not delay
to overcome their lack of vision
They absorbs, from fellow men, their
thoughts and intuition
And then they act to journey forth
accomplishing their mission

Building less than you know you’ll need

By |2016-09-28T22:47:06+00:00April 9th, 2010|Enterprise Architecture|

In the past, I’ve been guilty of this sin: gold-plating.  Back when I was a solution architect, I would (often) think about the things that the business is going to need, but never asked for.  I would occasionally include elements in the design to support those needs, even though the business didn’t ask for them.  Here’s the sad thing: I considered it to be a good practice.

I was wrong.

Let’s pick a situation that most folks understand: e-commerce.  If you visit an e-commerce site and you buy something, you (the customer) will want to be able to track and cancel that order.  One common additional feature is the ability to track the shipment itself (through UPS, Fedex, or DHL).

You are building a brand new e-commerce system.  Let’s say that the business requirements ask for a set of pages for a shopper to view and cancel their orders.  But there is no requirement for tracking the shipment.

Still, you know that someone will ask for it someday, so you build in some features to allow the shipment to be tracked.  Perhaps you hold on to the tracking company id, the tracking number, a URL for tracking, and some logic to pull it all together.  You even build a generalized “tracking API” so that a REST client can track the shipment in a mashup.  How cool is that!

That would be gold plating.

Is it a sin?  Is this good or bad?  (more…)

Architecture makes Agile Processes Scalable

By |2016-09-28T22:41:37+00:00May 19th, 2009|Enterprise Architecture|

As many of you may know, Microsoft has a vocal and thriving Agile Software Development community.  Recently, on our community forum, a question appeared about the ability of Agile development to “scale” to a large team.  In other words, if we can make agile development practices work in a dev group with hundreds of people, can we make it work in a dev group with thousands of people?

There was a lot of discussion on the alias.  Much focused on process improvements.  E.g. how to create scrum of scrums, and how to automate test and build processes so that large systems can be integrated continuously.  That is part of the answer.

However one quote, from a seasoned and experienced engineering leader, Nathan McCoy, who joined Microsoft as part of our acquisition of aQuantive , provides a real clue to the rest of the answer.

The answer is yes, agile can scale to larger systems…  Here’s the quote: (more…)

Why Agile Development Requires Agile Architecture

By |2016-09-28T22:40:35+00:00April 27th, 2009|Enterprise Architecture|

The dark cloud of the economic downturn has produced a silver lining within Microsoft IT: an increased emphasis on Agile development techniques.  This does not mean that MS IT is new to using Agile.  Far from it.  Agile development practices have been used in various IT groups here for nearly a decade.

What is new is the desire to address the basic development and governance processes themselves to remove the “Bias towards Waterfall” that exists in many of them.  That bias can create a situation where someone can choose to be Agile or choose to comply with corporate policy.  That’s a devil’s choice.