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Friday, May 20, 2011

Enterprise Architecture

Are you familiar with the term "Enterprise Architecture"?  It is a name for an enterprise analysis methodology that first cropped up in 1987 in an article written by J. A. Zachman for the IBM Systems Journal entitled: "A Framework for Information Systems Architecture".

Today there are four major Enterprise Architecture "Frameworks" or methodologies:

While all of these are called "Frameworks" they are not actually a framework by modern definition, but rather methodologies for collecting and analyzing meta data about an organization, its processes, organization, and infrastructure.  The overall objective is to provide a means or framework for analyzing a large enterprise to make it more efficient, insure that computer systems and technology are meeting its business objectives and that the organization is meeting market pressures and demand as efficiently as possible.

I was unaware of this body of work as were most of my contemporaries while I was pursuing a parallel initiative that I had never labelled, but follows the same general line of thought presented in these frameworks.

Over my 40 year career, I have had the amazing good fortune to have the privilege of being able to lead the architecture and development of not one, but four separate enterprise level systems development projects three for for fortune 100 insurance companies and one for an insurance software house.

In the upcoming weeks, I will publish a series of articles on my view of Enterprise Architecture and will follow up with a book on the subject.

While none of the afore mentioned works are true frameworks, it is my contention that an enterprise framework can be (and SHOULD be) built as an open source initiative to form the basis of all enterprise systems for the future.

IMHO the major ERP vendors have outlived their usefulness and need to be replaced by a new modern collection of entrepreneurs producing small specialized software components and a new open market place to help consumers of systems acquire exactly what they need.

The framework defines the enterprise, its functions, processes, workflows, and organization.  There are specific points where process oriented computer programs or even interfaces to machines or manual tasks can integrate into the framework.  This means that if an enterprise were to utilize the framework and define themselves to the framework then they could buy or build components and plug them into the framework.

This means that enterprises would pay a fair market price for specific functionality that they may require instead of artificially inflated prices for 25 year old ERP packages.

Much more detail very soon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Open Source -- MySQL & MySQL Workbench

I have no idea what the future of MySQL might be under Oracle's ownership, but as long as it lasts this is the most incredible development tool and for that matter a pretty good low volume production database.

Even more impressive than the MySQL database itself is the MySQL Workbench which can also be freely downloaded from MySQL.Org.   I have been using data modeling tools since 1980.  Many of these tools cost as much as $20,000 per workstation.  Others were in the $1500 to $2000 range.  ADW from Knowledgeware was the most expensive and consisted of four separate components priced at $20k per workstation each.

MySQL Workbench does all of the data modeling that these old expensive tools did and includes both forward and reverse engineering tools.  You can quite simply point the MySQL Workbench at an existing MySQL database and it will reverse engineer the database into an ER Diagram.  You can modify the model and forward engineer it back to your physical environment.

It took me about 5 minutes to download XAMPP (for my MAC) which isa complete MySQL test environment, then MySQL Workbench, install them and have a complete database development environment running on my MacBook with PHP.

This is absolutely amazing and provides all of the benefits of much more expensive modeling tools.

Just one more example of Open Source providing leadership in todays world.