Archive for the ‘Books’ Category
While I have not yet embarked on writing another book, I have been published in a second book. The publisher of my book on SOA Governance, Packt Publishing, has released their first compendium title called, “Do more with SOA Integration: Best of Packt.” It features content from several of their SOA books and authors, including some from my book on SOA Governance. If you’re looking for a book that covers a more broader perspective on SOA, but has some great content on SOA Governance as a bonus, check it out.
On a related note, I’ve been toying with the idea of authoring another book, this time on Enterprise Architecture. There are certainly EA books on the market, so I’m interested in whether all of you think there are some gaps in the books available. If I did embark on this project, my goal would be similar to my goal on my SOA Governance book: keep it easily consumable, yet practical, pragmatic, and valuable. That’s part of the reason that I chose the management fable style for SOA Governance, as a story is easier to read than a reference manual. If I can find a suitable story around EA, I may choose the same approach. Please send me your thoughts either by commenting on this post, or via email or LinkedIn message. Thanks for your input.
I recently completed reading the book Troux Enterprise Architecture Solutions by Richard Reese. First, the disclosure: this book was provided to me by Packt Publishing for the explicit purpose of this review. In addition, Packt is also the publisher of my own book, SOA Governance. I have no relationship with Troux, however, I have had discussions with various sales staff from Troux over the course of my career. This post is a review of the book, not a review of Troux.
First off, the book is well-written. I never felt like I was slogging through inordinate amounts of text, the chapters were of an appropriate length, and the level of detail was consistent throughout the book. Not including the index, it’s just shy of 200 pages and was a very easy read.
As a book on Enterprise Architecture, I found chapters 1-5 and 11 to be the most valuable. These chapters focused on managing the IT portfolio, creating strategic alignment, optimizing the application portfolio, IT governance, managing the EA practice (roles & responsibilities), and generating value. If you are new to Enterprise Architecture and need some ideas on how an EA program can contribute value to your organization, read these chapters. Chapters 6-10 are more focused on describing aspects of the Troux platform, with lesser emphasis on the practice of Enterprise Architecture. These chapters discuss architecture modeling, transformation platform, metadata management, visualization, and TOGAF support. Finally, chapter 12 is a summary, but I have to call out that it had one odd section on EA and cloud computing. This seemed out of place, and frankly, unnecessary. It felt like someone said, “Cloud Computing is the hot topic today, you have to say something about it.”
In terms of covering the Troux platform, it is important to know that this is not a how-to book. It is an overview of the platform. The right audience for this book are people that are looking to establish or mature their EA program and people that are considering investing in EA or Strategic IT Planning technology. For a $40 investment, this book provides excellent insight into the Troux platform. When you consider the time and money spent in vendor selections, this book is a very small price to pay to give you a great idea of what Troux can do, without any sales pressure. Having participated in many different product evaluations over the course of my career, I’m surprised more companies have not taken the approach of writing a very easy to read book targeted at the people that are considering asking for budget dollars or performing evaluations. Getting back to the content of the chapters, from my perspective, I preferred the more EA practice focused chapters with mentions of how Troux fits in over the chapters that were more focused on the platform (6-11), but my area of interest is the practice of EA. For someone who has concerns about whether Troux itself will work with the architecture methodology or be able to share information with other systems, such as a CMS/CMDB, these chapters cover those topics. It is good that the author covered both areas, as not all readers will have the same objectives for the book.
Summing it up, would I recommend this book? Yes. While the target audience is a bit narrow, for that audience, I think the book is quite valuable. Its appeal is not limited to people solely interested in the the Troux platform or EA technologies, as I think it has value for people interested in either establishing or maturing their EA practice. Some of the other books I’ve read on EA tend to be very academic in nature, this book doesn’t fall into that category. Instead, the coverage on the practice of EA was very pragmatic, even if though it does portray a very mature, structured IT organization. If you’re trying to determine whether EA or strategic IT planning technology is right for your organization, I would definitely read this book before jumping into vendor discussions, evaluations, and POCs.
Full disclosure: I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher free of charge. From the back cover: “Cloud Computing as SOA Convergence in Your Enterprise offers a clear-eyed assessment of the challenges associated with this new world–and offers a step-by-step program for getting there with maximum return on investment and minimum risk.”
My review in a nutshell: This is a very well-written, easy-to-read book, targeted at IT managers, that provides a robust overview of Cloud Computing and its relationship to SOA, and the core basics of a game plan for leveraging it.
This book was an extremely easy read, which is to be expected of any book from Dave, based upon the easy to read style of his InfoWorld blog. He provides a taxonomy of cloud offerings, extending the typical three categories (Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, and Infrastructure-as-a-Service) to eleven. While some may think eleven is too many, the fact remains that a taxonomy is necessary as a core starting point, and Dave provides solid definitions for each category that an organization can choose to use. He goes on to provide a financial model to consider for making your cloud decisions, but correctly states that cost is only one factor in the decision making process. He provides the other dimensions that should be associated with your decision making process in equal detail. In chapters 5 through 10, he walks through steps associated with moving services, data, processes, governance, and testing into a cloud environment. Dave’s steps for these chapters are very straightforward. That being said, Dave does not sugarcoat the fact that these steps are not always easy to do, and your success (or lack of it) is highly dependent on how large of a domain you choose to attack.
For someone who has researched SOA and Cloud Computing in detail, this book may not provide a lot of new information, but what it does provide, is a straightforward process for organizing your effort and making progress. Often times, that can be the biggest challenge. For this reason, I do think the book is more geared toward the management side of IT, and less so toward the technical side (architects and developers), but as an architect, I did find the taxonomies presented valuable. The only area for improvement that I saw would have been a stronger emphasis on the role the service model must play in the selection process, and stronger emphasis on having service managers inside your IT organization. Dave discussed both of these topics, however, to make stronger ties between SOA and Cloud Computing (or even ITIL and Cloud Computing), these points could have been emphasized more strongly. Choosing the right cloud provider requires that you have solid requirements on what you need, which comes from your service model. Ensuring that your requirements continue to be met and don’t get transformed into what the service provider would prefer to offer requires solid service management on your side.
Any cloud computing initiative will require that everyone involved have a base level of understanding of the goals to be achieved and the process for doing it. This book can help your staff gain that base understanding.
I’m an unabashed Kindle fan, but I’ve come to realize that there is room for improvement. The Kindle needs an iTunes equivalent. Not the store, but the desktop companion application. Clearly, Amazon’s original intent for it was as a book reader. For me, however, the usage parallels that of my first iPod. When the iPod came out, there was no iTunes store, but there was iTunes. You took your existing CDs, ripped them into iTunes, and put the content onto your iPod. While there’s no way to “rip” a physical book onto the Kindle, there’s still plenty of electronic content that I deal with each and every day that I’d love to have on the Kindle. Unfortunately, there’s not a good solution for that. Yes, you can email these documents to Amazon and pay a fee for wireless delivery (not cost effective for as many documents as I’d convert), or you can use a program like MobiPocket Creator or Stanza to convert them yourselves, which frankly, is a pain. What I want to be able to do is just drop a Word document or a PDF into a library in this application, and then the next time I connect my Kindle via USB, have those files converted and placed onto the device.
Why would I want to do this? I receive new documents probably every single day, ranging from 2-3 pages to 20 pages or more. Keeping them on the laptop usually means they don’t get read, and printing them out is a waste of paper, and also likely that they don’t get read, as I don’t have them with me when I have time to read. Putting them on the Kindle would be a great solution for me. Plus, the Kindle allows annotations, so if I need to document something to discuss with others, it can do that for me. If this were possible, I think it would open up the Kindle for the corporate market. If there were ways to tie a Kindle to an analyst firm subscription, even better. Amazon would really need to improve the content management on the device, because one big long list quickly becomes problematic, but that can be solved through software. So, Amazon, when can we see the desktop content manager for the Kindle, or are you leaving this up to a third party to provide?
The publisher of my book, Packt Publishing, has announced a competition for Author of the Year. You can find out more about the award here, as well as cast your vote. I’ll be perfectly transparent and state that there is a cash award associated with this, although I’d be posting this even if there wasn’t. I’m proud of the book that I wrote and if others have received value from it, that makes me even happier. If you feel so inclined to recommend me to my publisher, I’d be honored, but know that I’m already honored by the fact that you’ve either read or just considered reading my book. Packt is also giving away some prizes to random voters, so there may be something in it for you, too. Thanks for your consideration, and hopefully, your vote!
Fellow Twitterer Leo de Sousa posted a review of my book, SOA Governance, on his blog. Leo is an Enterprise Architect at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and is leveraging the book on their journey in adopting SOA. Thanks for the review, Leo. I’m glad you posted it before the Stanley Cup playoffs begin as my St. Louis Blues will be taking on your Vancouver Canucks, and I wouldn’t have wanted the upcoming Blues victory to taint your review!
Those of you that follow me on Twitter know that my Kindle 1 recently suffered an untimely demise. I had the option of purchasing a refurbished Kindle 1, or getting the new Kindle 2, and I opted for the latter. I thought I’d highlight some of the differences that I’ve noticed for those of you that are considering upgrading and giving your Kindle 1 to another family member or friend.
Ergonomics. Like many Kindle 1 owners, I frequently would pick the device up and hit the next page button, or have it in its case and open it up to find that I had pressed the menu button a few times. That same feature, however, was a plus when I was actually using it. You can hit those buttons just about anywhere and they will respond. In addition to those buttons, the power switch and wireless switch on the back of the device were simply inconvenient. Outside of the buttons, the device had a bit of a flimsy feel to it. While I never had any problems with it, durable would not be the word that would come to your mind. At the same time, the actual shape of the device and its weight was very book-like, which was appealing.
The Kindle 2 is very different. It is much thinner and feels much sturdier. At the same time, there’s a lot more “whitespace” around the screen, which is essentially wasted space. I would have preferred to add thickness rather than width. There’s no problems with accidentally hitting the next page buttons, and the power switch was moved to the top of the device, making it accessible when the device is in its case. The wireless switch was removed entirely and must now be controlled through a menu (I preferred having the physical switch). On the downside, the buttons aren’t as easy to press as on Kindle 1. I was accustomed to hitting the outside edge of the button, which works very well when on an elliptical trainer in the gym, and that won’t work with Kindle 2. You have to press the face of the button. Second, the changes in shape do make the device less book-like, especially when it’s not in its case. With the case on (the Amazon one, which must now be purchased separately), it was less of an issue. Finally, while it is an extra purchase, the latching mechanism for hooking it into the new case is much better. I have not had any issues with it falling out of the case.
Usability/Performance. I really didn’t have any issues with the performance of my Kindle 1. Yes, there’s the flash associated with page turns, but that’s an artifact on any e-reader that uses the eInk technology. Some people felt that there would be too much page flipping, but it didn’t bother me at all. The Kindle 2 performance is noticeably faster, but as I often tell people when discussing performance, the Kindle 1 was already good enough, so this wasn’t a big deal. The second improvement on the Kindle 2 is better grayscale support. If you’re using the Kindle to read technical documents, which I do, then I think this is something that you might find important. The Kindle 1 could only do 4 shades of gray, the Kindle 2 can do 16, and this does make a different. For reading fiction, this is less of an issue. Finally, the Kindle 1 had a mirrored scrollbar that ran parallel to the vertical axis of the screen. You used a scroll-wheel to position it, and clicked it to select. The Kindle 2 replaced the scroll-wheel with a joystick, and did away with the mirrored scrollbar. I assume it’s because the performance of the screen improved, so they felt the scrollbar wasn’t needed. Personally, I liked the scrollbar better. Again, it’s not a huge deal though.
Overall, the Kindle 2 verified my initial thoughts from the original announcement. It’s definitely an incremental improvement, but I don’t think the feature set associated with it is compelling enough for someone to ditch/sell their Kindle 1. There are still some things to work out, such as getting the ergonomics around those page buttons a bit better so they’re still very convenient, but not easily clicked by mistake. If you’re considering a Kindle 2 as your first e-reader, I absolutely recommend it. I love the reading experience on it, I love being able to manage my documents via Amazon, I like that it syncs up where you are within a book if you also have the iPhone Kindle app, and the convenience of the wireless modem for purchasing new content whenever and wherever (if you’re in the US) is great.
According to Google Analytics, here are the top read posts from my blog for 2008. This obviously doesn’t account for people who read exclusively through the RSS feed, but it’s interesting to know what posts people have stumbled upon via Google search, etc.
10. Governance Does Not Imply Command and Control. This was posted in August of 2008, and intended to change the negative opinion many people have about the term “governance.”
9. To ESB or not to ESB. This was posted in July of 2007, and gave a listing of five different types of ESBs that exist today and how they may (or may not) fit into your environment.
7. Dish DVR Upgrade. This was posted in November of 2007 and had little to do with SOA. It tells the story of how Dish Network pushed out an upgrade to the software on their DVRs that wiped out all of my existing timers, and I missed recording some shows as a result. The lesson for IT: even if you think there’s no chance that a change will impact someone, you still should make them aware that a change is occurring.
6. Most popular posts to date. This is rather humorous. This post from July of 2007 was much like this one. A list of posts that Google Analytics had shown as most viewed since January of 2006. Maybe this one will show up next year. It at least means someone enjoys these summary posts.
5. Dilbert’s Guide to Governance. In this post from June of 2007, I offered some commentary on governance in the context of a Dilbert cartoon that was published around the same timeframe.
4. Service Taxonomy. Based upon an analysis of search keywords people use that result in them visiting my pages, I’m not surprised to see this one here. This was posted in December of 2006, and while it doesn’t provide a taxonomy, it provides two reasons for having taxonomies: determining service ownership and choosing the technical implementation platform. I don’t think you should have taxonomies just to have taxonomies. If the classification isn’t serving a purpose, it’s just clutter.
3. Horizontal and Vertical Thinking. This was posted in May of 2007 and is still one of my favorite posts. I think it really captures the change in thinking that is required for more strategic solutions, however, I also now realize that the challenge is in determining when horizontal thinking is needed and when it is not. It’s not an easy question and requires a broad understanding of the business to answer correctly.
2. SOA Governance Book. This was posted in September of 2008 and is when I announced that I had been working on a book. Originally, this had a link to the pre-order page from the publisher, later updated to include direct links there and to the page on Amazon. You can also get it from Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, and other online bookstores.
1. ITIL and SOA. Seeing this post come in at number one was a surprise to me. I’m glad to see it up there, however, as it is something I’m currently involved with, and also an area in need of better information. There are so many parallels between these two efforts, and it’s important to eliminate the barriers between the developer/architecture world of SOA and the infrastructure/operations world of ITIL/ITSM. Look for more posts on this subject in 2009.
Reading this book felt like taking a hot shower. As professional architects, we all understand what Todd has written (or don’t we?). But owning one handy book of hardly 200 pages with all those thoughts structured and combined at an appropriate level of understanding feels like possessing a jewel.
Thanks for the review, Jack. You can read his full review here.
Packt Publishing sent me a complimentary copy of “Building Website with Joomla! 1.5” by Hagen Graf to review. I specifically was interested in this book as I was researching the use of Joomla! as part of redoing an elementary school website.
First off, the book was well organized. It begins with an introduction to web content management systems and the role they play today in web sites, covers a brief history of Joomla!, and then focuses the rest of the book on the installation and configuration options. As a first time Joomla! user, I can definitely say that the book helped me out quite a bit in understanding the way things were configured. Chapters 4 through 12 focus on different areas of Joomla!, including menus, extensions, components, and content in sufficient detail to make a useful reference but in a way that a first time user can get through the configuration. As a reference, this is the book’s strong point.
Where I was a bit disappointed was that I was look more for a tutorial, rather than a pure reference book. Given that I was setting up a new site using Joomla! for the first time, I was hoping for an extended step by step approach that would take me through a complete site development. While there is a chapter in the book called “A Website with Joomla!,” it was only 12 pages long and was presented more in the context of a demonstration than a tutorial.
Overall, I was pleased with the book. I think it will be a useful reference as I develop the site, but I also think I’ve still got more work ahead of me to get the site out the door.
Another review of my book has been posted here at the Exforsys, Inc. (Execution for System) site. I’m not familiar with Exforsys, but they seem to be an aggregator/news provider of IT training resources and news. Anyway, the author of the review gave a very thorough review of the book, so if you’re on the fence of whether or not my book is a good resource for your SOA Governance efforts, this review may aid you in your decision making process.
Loraine Lawson of IT Business Edge asked the question, “Is there a right time for SOA Governance?” and offered her thoughts on the answer. In it, she quoted her interview with me, when she asked me about starting with buying a tool. But the meat of the article was a discussion around a recent Aberdeen report on SOA Governance. Key points she calls out:
“Truly effective SOA governance infects itself into the organizations’ DNA…”
This is absolutely true. My view on governance is that it is about guiding an organization to a desired behavior. If the organization is behaving that way, no one even realizes that governance is there, simply because the desired behavior has become second nature. Interestingly, at least one group I’ve spoken with that is closer to that path had to go through a heavy-handded phase first. I’m interested to know whether that is typically the case or not.
The real thing that I want to call out were her conclusions at the end though, which I feel are very consistent with the approach I espouse in my book. She states:
This suggests to me that there are more important questions to consider with SOA governance than when you should start. For instance, ask who’s driving SOA governance (you or the technology tool)? Where should you begin (the report provides a hint that it should be with securing executive business support)? And what steps should you take now to support long-term success?
My definition of SOA governance is the people, policies, and processes that an organization leverages to achieve the desired behavior associated with SOA adoption. Who is driving SOA governance? That’s the people involved. Where should you begin? The Aberdeen report suggests securing executive business support. I suggest that it begins with articulating the desired behavior. Who does that? The stakeholders of the effort which very well may be your key business sponsors. How do you achieve long-term success? By having your “governors” establish the policies that will lead to the desired behavior, and by not forgetting the fourth process of governance (see my four processes of governance post), measurement and feedback. If you just establish policies and then focus on enforcement, but never stop to look and see if complying with the policies actually results in the desired behavior, you may not achieve the intended success.