A few weeks ago, a small crew of Relics attended the Gartner Catalyst Conference in San Diego, which addresses topics like cloud computing, apps, mobility, data and analytics, and security. Subtitled “Architecting the Digital Business,” Catalyst attracts technical professionals in such roles as application development, business intelligence, infrastructure and ops, and security and risk.
In a mix of presentations, roundtables, workshops, demos, and one-on-one conversations with analysts, Catalyst offered diverse insights into the key concerns of various technology roles, including enterprise architects, CIOs, and business intelligence professionals.
Enterprise Architects: In a session called “Cloud-First Strategies Are the Foundation for Your Digital Business,” Gartner analyst Kyle Hilgendorf recommended rethinking how enterprise architects build their systems to accommodate the dynamic nature and continuous deployments common to modern software environments. The goal now, Hilgendorf said, is to design flexible architecture so it’s not so hard to make changes. Back in the day, enterprise architects often built their systems around a predetermined set of requirements that were designed to have a 10-15 year lifecycle. But all that has changed.
Now they must build in resilience through a flexible architecture that can handle the constant changes to the software needed to support ever-changing competitive business goals. They also need to address the common communication disconnects between developers and architects. Instead of considering application development as a “detail” that doesn’t really impact the overall architecture, enterprise architects now need to maintain an open dialogue with app developers to make sure their architecture doesn’t crumble under the weight of constantly updated apps.
CIOs, VPs, and senior directors of custom software development methodologies: In a one-on-one conversation, Gartner analyst William Holz told me that he often finds himself reminding clients that the software must evolve, and therefore requires developers to be accountable for the code.
Sure, continuous delivery means quickly making many small changes to the software, but it also requires a continuous conversation among various stakeholders to assure quality in production during those deployments. (Hmmm, anyone seeing a pattern here?)
Business Intelligence technology professionals: In a session called “Serving up Self-Service Business Analytics,” Gartner analyst Carlie Idoine advised that business intelligence (BI) leaders increasingly should view “self-serve” business analytics as a complement to their BI platform—best suited for empowering their autonomous power users who want to “slice and dice” within their own custom data sets. Unfortunately, many existing BI technologies limit the ability to provide that capability to a broader internal population of business data consumers.
In fact, many BI professionals are most comfortable sending static BI reports to broad distributions on a weekly or even monthly basis. In an effort to achieve a complete platform solution, they are forced to cobble together BI solutions from multiple vendors, mixing data from one vendor with visualizations from another, for example, in attempts to achieve easily digestible, dynamic “business intelligence” answers. Finally, BI pros are also recognizing that they need to engage with app developers as “new nontraditional customers” who need business analytics.
These three points represent only a small portion of the ideas circulating at Catalyst. But they are more than enough to show how the cloud, Software-as-a-Service, big data, and related trends are dramatically affecting the roles of just about everyone in enterprise IT, from software architects and business information professionals to CIOs, vice presidents, and other corporate leaders.