An XX is How Platforms and APIs Enable Businesses to Participate in the Digital Ecosystems of the Future, a TMF Live 2016 presentation by George Glass, Chief Systems Architect at BT.
The BT presentation offers a very powerful recipe for developing and applying a Platform Architecture, a real-world implementation of Platforms, APIs and Digital Ecosystems, documenting the benefits and how they were realized, via their ‘Matrix Platform Architecture’. Digital Business Architecture encompasses the goals of achieving a ‘Platform Business Model’, providing blueprints that stipulate how to achieve this specific scenario and including maturity elements such as an API Maturity Model.
Naming this as ‘Architecture Enabled Business Transformation‘ on Slide 16, BT explains how a central, very specific Enterprise Architecture governs all new software implementations on to the core BT systems, and how this is primarily achieved through an ‘ACF’ – Architecture Conformance Framework.’
API Maturity Model
Each new software project is ranked against the ACF, assessing it for conformance with software design principles and system behaviours that yield the desired results, with only those meeting the required maturity level passing through development stage gates.
For example projects are compared against assets such as an API Maturity Model, ranking them higher for features like documented UML models, encouraging developers to produce well documented, standardized interfaces. Each is ranked across Levels 1-3 to reflect this increasing maturity, linked to a central EDM – Enterprise Data Model.
Slides 7-9 and 11-13 describe their SDK system – Reusable process blocks and APIs, designed around a principle of utilizing the SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) to enable a COA – “Customer Oriented Architecture”.
Legacy Migration and Consolidation
This assessment stage-gating forms the work pipeline for their Roadmaps, and thus links new product innovation to the central architecture, establishing Architecture Driven Transformation.
It’s an especially compelling presentation when the results achieved from this approach include the consolidation and closure of thousands of applications, where functionality and processes were duplicated across the huge array of legacy IT apps that a large enterprise like BT accumulates over the decades.
Through the API Maturity Model and other central assets, ongoing consolidation of the OSS environment into a ‘Platform’ design has been successfully underway for 10+ years, eliminating over 3,000 redundant applications.
Slide 6 describes “Data driven product launches”, referring to a classification system for new product ideas, and a ‘Product Change Complexity’ assessment framework for tiers 0-6 for new product ideas, categorizing them in terms of software engineering and business transformation complexity.
Architecture Driven Transformation
They describe a problem statement shared by other large IT organizations The complexities of enterprise systems comprised 4,500 systems with 3,000+ APIs, causing very long development cycles = poor innovation rates.
Recognizing that their new market role demands they function as a ‘software driven enterprise’ they begun a platform journey that has seen them close over 3,300 redundant enterprise applications across a ten year perior, over 600 in one year alone, describing this approach as ‘Architecture Driven Business Transformation’.
Through an ‘ACF’, an Architecture Conformance Framework, BT’s approach reversed the core dynamic that new technologies must increase complexity – Instead through a recurring theme of application consolidation as part of the innovation process, they instead decrease complexity.
This dual benefit is achieved through each new software project being ranked against the ‘ACF’, the Architectural Conformance Framework, a stage-gating quality control procedure centred around the adherence of software plans against a central architecture model.
Assessing each project for conformance with software design principles and system behaviours that yield the desired results enables what they describe as an architecture-centric approach to IT organization. Skills and processes naturally coalesce around the practices required to advance their project.
This central architecture model includes an API maturity guide, rating not just software but the interfaces they expose and for quality practices like UML documentation, and linked to a central EDM – Enterprise Data Model.
Doing so facilitates the standardization required to identify and eliminate duplications, and to plan for new apps that better leverage existing assets.
Slides 7-9 and 11-13 describe their SDK system – Reusable process blocks and APIs, designed around a “Customer Oriented Architecture”, a reuse of common Web services approach, such as a ‘Line Checker’ web service, reused across multiple business processes.
Slides 5, 14 and 15 describe how they apply this system across their business process modelling, to yield efficiencies from shared reuse of common components.
Slide 6 describes “Data driven product launches”, referring to a classification system for new product ideas. A ‘ P r o d u c t C h a n g e C o m ple xit y ‘ assessment framework for tiers 0-6 for new product ideas, categorizing them in terms of software engineering and business transformation complexity.
With the goal of addressing an enterprise scenario than an immediate question to ask is about the relationship between Business Architecture and Enterprise Architecture.
Creating new products from scratch via these tools is a relatively straight forward process, however as per this article the additional factor of complexity for large organization is that their new services will in some form call upon and integrate with legacy IT and workflows.
Based on BT’s best practices ADT – Architecture Driven Transformation is an enterprise systems design method that approaches the challenge by establishing a central architecture reference as a governance framework for software project management, called an ‘ACF’ – Architecture Conformance Framework and based around a core API maturity model, a standard for assessing new software projects on a scale of complexity.
The primary benefit of this approach is reversing the logic that new software deployments increase overall system complexity – Instead the opposite trend is achieved, new deployments reduce complexity through an increasingly standardized and simplified environment. In BT’s case they have closed over 3,300 redundant legacy applications, while introducing more new Digital services.
On slide 21 they show how a process of Value Stream Mapping defines the new service models, such as a Field Service Request, and how they would identify the new and amended features that would be required.