Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Alignment Trap

Lots of good articles in the Fall Sloan Review of Management which I am just getting around to reading...

Avoiding the Alignment Trap in IT
One of the big ideas in IT Enterprise Architecture lately is Business / IT alignment. This is generally defined as the concept that the shape of the services offered by IT should reflect the offerings of the business. At the very least, it makes it easier for the CIO to justify why they are spending money on project X- because it is directly tied to a business need. To some degree it's a communication convenience.

In reality, the biggest benefits seem to come from simplifying the infrastructure and putting an emphasis on integration. A second article in the SMR by Cynthia Rettig really hits it on the head: The trouble with enterprise software:

...enterprise software may be just too complex to deliver on its promises. She also suggests that the next new thing — service-oriented architecture (SOA) — is not likely to fare much better, for many of the same reasons. There are no easy fixes, cautions Rettig, save a large dose of sobriety, clear-eyed analysis and emphasis on simplicity and efficiency.

If you want to read one of the best advocates for the odd beast known as SOA, I suggest following Bobby Woolf's blog or reading his new ebook. His old book is has had a solid slot on my shelf for a couple of years, but I still haven't felt the need to install an Enterprise Service Bus. (Despite the fact that I more or less use it as a design pattern for integration architectures, just without the overhead of actually having it be a running piece of software)

In any case, I am not writing myself out of a job here- the message is simple though: don't try to do everything at the expense of ending up with complexity. Keeping things simple and hitting the "Pareto important" requirements is the winning strategy.


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