Personally, 2016 has brought a lot of changes and adjustments in the way I approach my job as a Solution Architect. Venturing past the cocoon of a comfort zone and breaking new grounds, has really opened my perspective and led me to realize how fast things are moving and how much the world is changing in so many ways.
When it comes to IT, I've had to account for a lot of things lately to stay on track. One that is particularly challenging but also a lot of fun is working together with people from the millennial generation, as well as designing and developing solutions intended for them. Millennials have a different mindset and are always keen to learn, embrace and incorporate new technologies into the day to day work, so although trying to keep pace can be tough at times, it's also inspiring and will keep you on your toes which is always a good thing.
Another big adjustment has to do with customers becoming increasingly API-minded, especially when their focus shifts towards mobile-first strategies and cloud-integration. These requirements almost always go together with the need for RESTful architectures, automated provisioning, DevOps and continuous integration, so learning and working with API Management, infrastructure as code, containers, microservices and so on, is of the utmost importance, not just for the sake of jumping into a bandwagon but rather to gain a good understanding of the playing field, which is necessary to keep influencing our teams and clients in a positive way.
2016 has definitely brought some big changes for me. While until recently I could comfortably rely on my experience with on-premise SOA and BPM, the cloud offers a whole new range of things to learn and explore. On top of that, modern architectural styles, like microservices, have changed my perspective on SOA solutions. I even went to Australia this year to work with Oracle cloud products, so all in all it has been a highly interesting year for me.
However, looking at my client projects in The Netherlands, I barely see any difference between what I am doing now and what I did five years ago. It will take a long time before all these new things will be adopted by traditional Oracle clients, who have large applications and lack the agility for rapid changes. I'm not only seeing this in adoption of cloud computing and modern architecture, but also in the concept of DevOps. The one thing that is rolling really well is continuous integration, as I'm seeing major improvements in that area at my clients.
All in all, I would say that 2016 has been challenging, exciting and sometimes overwhelming. I will need to keep myself informed, find my place in a constantly changing world and slowly, but steadily, guide my clients into the modern age of digital transformation.
Advances in technology wait for no-one. Other than death and taxes, there is nothing so guaranteed in life that technology will continue to evolve at an amazing pace. 2016 has been no exception.
For me, as a technical architect, the two significant advances have been in the Cloud and Mobile technologies. Far from being nice-to-have a few years ago I am seeing current demand dictate that these two are now must-haves. From an Oracle perspective, as an Oracle ACE and partner, I am particularly looking forward to working with the Oracle Cloud, starting late 2016 and continuing in the coming years. The ability to have the Oracle database in the Cloud is very appealing, particularly from a security perspective. I am currently designing a Medical Insurance application and the capability to have HIPAA security taken care of within the Cloud removes a big headache.
For me as architect 2016 brought a lot of new design possibilities with all new cloud services and some “Old” technologies that I’m still trying to catch up like big data. The EPM market heat up in Brazil because the “Low” prices of cloud services and the possibility of have a top BI tool without the need of a huge infrastructure and a big pocket. The challenger in this cases was the integration. How to integrate the clients on premises infrastructure with his cloud services. All fun in the world for me. All kind of new and exciting environments and has been created to try seamless integrations between the tools.
But still the old and big clients didn’t change too much in 2016 (at least in my case). They are still preferring their own on premise environment and still using the same tools. They are still watching the new technology to be developed and waiting for the right time to jump in.
For a developer point of view I didn’t fill too much difference despite the case that the tools becomes cloud services. The way you work with them are very similar as the on premise tools, the only big difference, and I would say key difference, is the integration itself, what can be address with a good design architecture.
Getting ready to see what will came next…
It was less of a course correction for us than a executing on a plan that we've seen coming for several years now. Cloud Solutions have allowed smaller customers access to software that was previously too costly or sophisticated for their businesses. This paradigm shift to the cloud allows us to address the needs of those customers like never before. Knowing this from Oracle's stated direction several years ago, we invested early on in developing content, best practices, and training our people for this change in the marketplace. 2016 represents a tipping point in customer adoption, one which - thankfully, we were ready to adjust to.
From a purely architectural point of view, I have to focus more on the integration components as they represent a new challenge. On-Premise to On-Premise has it's challenges in it's own right - but Cloud to Cloud adds another layer of complexity that needs to be addressed right from the initial design. We knew these would be challenges several years ago, but are now to the point where we're getting our hands really dirty in the real world. Security is another area that we pay more attention to than with On-Premise solutions, and we've developed many best practices for dealing with Security in the Cloud to Cloud environment.
It is a reality that, particularly, this 2016 has been different in many ways regarding my role as an IT Architect. I can summarize those changes in this list:
- Customers understanding the value of the cloud. In my region (LATAM), our customers are already either working on a project regarding cloud or are starting to evaluate a solution in the cloud, either PaaS, SaaS or IaaS. That has created a need in my team to be very fluent in concepts and technology around the cloud, and to take care of this as part of our architectures
- Consulting firms have introduced new ways to architect solutions. A lot of new technology, paradigms are introduced in the mix of a solution and we need to understand them. For example, the usage of contaners (Docker), non-relational databases (Moong DB, for example), the switch to create and design APIs; all the notion of Microservices, As an Architect we need to be aware of those concepts, we need to be aware about the technology that surround them and complement a solution with the background we have.
- Consulting firms are creating new groups of people with a new profile, with a new chip in their heads. People looking to streamline projects. People with a fast pace rythm to deliver projects. People offering PoCs (Proof of COncepts) with new tools/technology such as raspberry pis, instead of multicore boxes. People provisioning environments in the cloud in hours, if not in minutes. People who is ready and willing to change the way we are used to to do our jobs.
I have also feel that in this 2016, because of the changes I just mentioned and that I've experienced, the role of an Architect is more crucial than ever. It is very relevant to count with the services of a true Architect, someone who can understand new concepts and mix them with the old ones. Someone who understand the technology, not only that thinks that can understand it.
I remember a meeting I had with a bunch of other partners and one of those was complaining about how hard it was to move -an on.premise database to the cloud. He was saying that the technology was not ready because to move 1TB of information was being very slow in their environment. Some of us that were present in that meeting, started to ask: "How fast is your network? How are you connecting your on.premise env to the cloud?" He just replied: I don't know. I think is a normal connection".
My reflection about it was: man, this guy is complaining and already blaming to the cloud, when the real issue is the connectivity speed. Why wasn't him not concern since the very beginning about it? Didn't he mention he was an architect? It seems he architected the project without taking care about a very key element: connectivity.
I feel the role of the Architect is more present than ever, but with more responsability. I think that more than ever is prohibited to design things without strong basis and experience.
I have seen in 2016 how Architects are talking about Cloud, APIs, Microservices without experience about it, Without having yet implemented them. Let's becareful with that, this role is no joke. What we design today (2016) will have a strong impact in the coming two-three years within our organization.
I have enjoyed this 2016, it has pushed me to study a lot, maybe more than ever. I have been in touch with innovative projects, with people willing to make things different. In my case I am an enthusiastic about SOA, API Management, Cloud, iPaaS, which are topics that most of the organizations have in their agendas; it's been quite a year, but with a lot of fun, with a lot of new challenges.
As I always say in my presentations, the role of the Integration Architect is here to stay for longtime. More than ever with Cloud, APIs, Microservices, Mobility the integration is present. It has some new faces, but that is great, let's continue improving our skills and making the difference.
For me too, the old and big clients didn’t change too much in 2016. They are still preferring their own on premise environment and still using the same tools. They are still watching the new technology to be developed and wondering how much is hype and how much they can use. Security is the biggest threat, and our systems are constantly under attack.
There have been moves to make use of some cloud based features, such as internal social networking, a Cloud based Intranet and some use of apps (mobile devices), but some of our operations cannot ever to the cloud (dont ask why )
The biggest change will come next year when an Internal Office 365 is rolled out.
For a developer point of view I have had to deal with the changes in Oracle BI in the 12c release. New installations on new servers, with changes in system management means re-tooling. The biggest challenge is to decide what integration tools we should now use, the tried and trusted market leaders or move to the new tools on the block.
I hope this helps
What we noticed in 2016 is that Cloud became reality for our clients. I remember my visit at OOW in 2011 when Larry Ellison announced the Oracle Public Cloud. That time cloud felt a bit far away for a SOA / BPM solution architect like me working in EMEA. I still had the same feeling at OOW 2013 when Oracle announced a bunch of new cloud services like Database Cloud, Java Cloud, Documents Cloud and some others. It looked promising but it still seemed to be far away for our clients in the European market. I remember that I said to a colleague: "It looks great but I think it takes another 5 - 10 years that our clients will start using it". Now I have to state, that I was completely wrong here. In 2016 we noticed a significant increase of customer requests asking for consulting in cloud strategy, cloud architecture and cloud development. There is a wide range of clients which are starting initiatives in these areas - global players, medium-sized companies, e-commerce clients and startups. For this reason our company decided to introduce a new Competence Center "Cloud" in order to consolidate skills across all of our locations, to optimize knowledge exchange and to to define aspects like architecture blueprints and best practices. I have the pleasure to lead the Competence Center Cloud at Opitz Consulting, so my course direction changed quite a lot. Things keep on changing – today even faster as in the past. Therefore it is important that we open our minds and leave our comfort zones.
Apart from the different technologies the role of the (enterprise) architect becomes more and more important. Here I am not only thinking about the technical aspect of our daily work. In the last year I concentrated much more on surrounding topics. From my point of view an architect can (and should) be the translator for:
- the Requirements Engineer and the Domain Expert to clarify requirements and restrictions
- the Project Managers to support in risk management, design decisions, setup of the team, budget and escalations
- the Operator to align with infrastructure / hardware restrictions
- the QA and Tester to measure the quality
Of course these aspects are nothing completely new but they become even more important in today's heterogeneous (cloud) environments. From the experience in many different SOA / BPM projects these are the topics that decide if your project is successful or not.
The year 2016 was and of course still is very exciting, because digitalization is omni-present and that needs changes our mindset as developers and architects. For me as an architect the challenge is to keep the overview of new architectural concepts, which are especially caused by the progression of cloud, and technologies. This is very important to guide customers towards digital adoption, to successfully manage the associated challenges and even more important the chances caused by new digital trends.
The main topics that are arising from the digitalization topic and that I've seen in 2016 are:
- Increased demand for enterprise mobility
- Need for API Management
- First use cases for IoT adoptions
- Demand for Cloud adoption, architectural blueprints and patterns
Digitalizing the enterprise means that new business models are evolving. From the customers perspective this means that established business process and existing architectures need to be adjusted. A key factor for success is to keep the time-to-market as short as possible. The basis for allowing that is a flexible, easy-to-change and easy-to-extend architecture, which is not easy with respect to quickly changing requirements and the rapid evolvement of new technologies and concepts.
From my point of view, these challenges will further evolve in the future and makes our lifes quite interresting as well as challenging. I really looking forward for those challenges and will prepare myself.
Thanks, everyone for your excellent responses! You've insight will be invaluable in writing my article - which I have to do this week.
My only regret is that these articles are quite short, which make it difficult to include all of your responses. But I will do my best!
In the data integration world in 2016, I need to think more about two main areas from an architecture perspective - sources and targets. Each can be any number of technologies, types (database, files, XML, API, etc), locations (on-premises, internal cloud, external cloud), and have different levels of security (SSL, encryption, etc). The same goes for the targets, though often I'm more concerned about a single data warehouse target, which may be cloud based or housed locally. Lucky for me, I'm typically working with Oracle Data Integrator and Oracle GoldenGate, both of which have the flexibility to connect to nearly any type of source or target.
Best of luck with the article, I look forward to reading it!
Lately Microservice has been a part of most of the Architectural discussions. Breaking the monolithic machines into small modularized components which are highly fault tolerant and self-healing have been the talk of the enterprise.
Also as we dived into some of the newer areas like Criminal Justice Integration System, Data Security has been the topic of many meetings as well.
Lastly not to forget, thanks to millions of devices out there, ready to be connected, the Internet of things has been a major discussion topic too.
Well 2016 has been all about learning to deal with data warehousing in the cloud. Primarily I have had to try to get my head around how you load data in the cloud - that means:
1. Getting your traditional on-prem data (from ERPs and other databases in your data center) into the cloud so you can load it into a cloud-based data warehouse
2. Getting cloud-sourced data (think SaaS like Salesforce) and cloud native data (like JSON web logs) into a data warehouse
This has led me to learn about new tools and technologies, both open source and vendor provided, that move data around in the cloud, as well as how to understand just how real cloud technologies work (not quite the same as a database on a server for sure!).
And all this of course brings up the questions about the need (or not) for data modeling and how to integrate data modeling best practices into this new cloud-driven architecture. (short answer - yes we still should be modeling but need to take an agile approach).
Hi Bob,The profile of our customers have become more analytical, the need for rapid response is a feasible demand for our market and see that the Cloud solutions has emerged to address precisely this lack of availability and high latency applications and big data processing.
Something that caught my attention as BI architect was the fact that we are encouraged to leave our areas of comfort, we are led to think not only in infrastructure solutions but also look at the business of our clients as a whole, providing technological solution with scalability but also with a simple usability that the day to day needs.
I see the Oracle Business Intelligence Cloud came to fill a gap and unite two areas that have always had difficulties in understanding among themselves: Technology and Business.