Welcome!

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson, Daniel Kaar

Related Topics: SOA & WOA, Java, ColdFusion, Virtualization, AJAX & REA, Apache

SOA & WOA: Article

Hunting Down the “Herbies” In Your House

Applying the Theory of Constraints to the Management of IT

Recently some colleagues and I were discussing applications of the Theory of Constraints to various process and financial management scenarios.  In our current  economic environment in which organizations are constantly being pushed to new expectations of efficiency, the effective use of all available resources is absolutely critical to the success of an organization.  As we were considering some of the themes from Eli Goldratt’s classic business novel “The Goal” (right around the first anniversary of the author’s passing, coincidentally), I began to see the applicability of Goldratt’s work to the management of enterprise information technology much more clearly.  Although the focus of Goldratt’s seminal novel is primarily targeted at manufacturing, the discussion got me thinking about how well IT professionals embrace similar concepts to focus on eliminating bottlenecks in heterogenous systems and monitoring the various functional components of an application, solution, or environment.

For those unfamiliar with the book, it is the tale of a manufacturing manager who is assigned the dubious honor of fixing persistent production problems at his factory.  In a style that was very unique at the time of publication (1984), Goldratt provides instruction on the Theory of Constraints and methods for dealing with process problems by telling a story rather than rote or more traditional step by step instruction.  One of the core lessons of “The Goal” is provided via a boy in the protagonist’s scout troop named Herbie.  While out on a wilderness hike with the troop, our hero is constantly frustrated by the fact that the scouts seem to have a total and complete inability to stay together.  As the chaperone in charge of ensuring that these young men all come out of the woods safe and sound, he is understandably annoyed.  He eventually notices that Herbie, whose physical condition is less than optimal compared to his peers, is the bottleneck.  Herbie is always bringing up the rear and slowing down the entire troop.  Our hero attempts various methods such as lightening Herbie’s pack, but ultimately discovers that the optimal way to keep the troop together is to let Herbie be the leader leader of the hike.  This ensures that no one will ever hike faster than Herbie and that the group will stay together.  And therein lies one of the core tenets - the slowest activity in any process is the biggest determinant of the overall process cycle time.  Or, the total length of time required to execute any multi step process is most impacted by the length of time required to execute the longest-running task.  This observation is the spark that inspires our hero to analyze the activities in his manufacturing process flows, identify the bottlenecks, and work to optimize and eliminate them with the help of those who actually perform the work.  As the operations at his factory improve, he also fixes his marriage and becomes a better father, but such are the elements of drama (hence the “business novel”) and the side benefits of enjoying one’s vocation.

So what do out of shape scouts and manufacturing process flows have to do with the implementation of enterprise class information technology solutions?  I recall back in the 90s as the middleware market was being developed that there was a great deal of focus on speeds and feeds when comparing message oriented middleware (MOM) software solutions.  The competitive focus was on which solution provider could move message payloads from point A to point B (across networks and operating system platforms) the fastest.  As this technology was the foundation for many business process automation solutions upon which hybrid applications could be built by serializing cross platform components of executable business logic, the point seemed to be that the technology that delivered message payloads fastest would also enable the overall process to execute the fastest.  By extension, this speed of execution would provide a competitive advantage for one’s business.  Those implementing these sorts of solutions quickly realized that if the applications that were processing the messages were inefficiently written or being hosted on inadequate computing platforms, the speed at which the information was delivered to the participant applications made no difference.  This is because the overall process execution time was always determined by the business software applications that were providing actual business function at the endpoints rather than the speed at which the information could be delivered to those endpoint applications.  This is true with humans as well of course, because one cannot process information faster by simply DVRing their favorite news channel and watching it at 2x the speed.


Fast forward to the 21st century and we still see similar issues and impressions that have to be addressed.  According to Jake Gibson, VP of Customer Operations at LightEdge Solutions, “We often see situations in which there are requests for networking speeds that far surpass the performance of the business applications.  This enables us to have additional conversations about true performance requirements in the context of customers’ businesses and provide more appropriate solutions.”

 

Like any business process or heterogenous system, IT solutions have their share of potential bottlenecks and optimization opportunities.  When we take into account the complexity of our networks, storage systems, and computing hardware and combine it with the configuration and tuning options available in the operating systems, database management systems, application servers, and integration middleware, we can truly develop an appreciation for the depth of infrastructure skills required of the modern IT professional.  Add to that the specialized processors, business applications (both custom written and those supported by vendors), and other specialized capabilities such as business process management and analytics that are hosted by the  computing infrastructure and the many challenges that can arise with performance issues start to become apparent.  And don’t forget the need to securely deliver a great deal of functionality to customers and employees via mobile devices that are not located within the corporation’s facilities...

 

IT professionals will find bottlenecks and performance issues such as these easier to address as the burgeoning market for workload optimized and expert integrated systems develops.  Pre-configured hardware and software solutions that have been tuned and optimized for specific business requirements, applications, and workload characteristics will eliminate much of the guesswork and troubleshooting required to squeeze additional performance out of solutions.  Some of these solutions are available today from leading enterprise-class solution providers and many more will be released in the near future.  Additionally, as more solution providers expand the capabilities that can be provided to enterprise customers via cloud computing technologies, some of the burden will be shifted to the providers themselves.

 

The vast majority of the time all of the components in today’s complex information systems function quite well together and the business gets value out of its investment in information technology.  But full optimization of the modern IT environment, or the “hunting of the Herbies” when performance issues do arise, requires coordinated and proactive monitoring of the environment and an in-depth understanding of the overall systems architecture.  And that requires investment in the IT professionals who bring it all together for the business.

More Stories By Douglas Allen

Douglas W. Allen is a husband and father from Des Moines, IA and the owner of the winningtechnicalsales.com blog, dedicated to the sales engineering profession. As a technical sales manager at IBM, his team is dedicated to helping customers design and deploy enterprise-class business technology solutions that enable those customers to make money, save money, or mitigate risk. He is currently on a campaign to convince the world that the past, present, and future of rock and roll recently came out of New Jersey in the form of The Gaslight Anthem. He can be reached at www.linkedin.com/in/douglaswallen.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, will discuss how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Spansion Inc. (NYSE: CODE), a global leader in embedded systems, today added 96 new products to the Spansion® FM4 Family of flexible microcontrollers (MCUs). Based on the ARM® Cortex®-M4F core, the new MCUs boast a 200 MHz operating frequency and support a diverse set of on-chip peripherals for enhanced human machine interfaces (HMIs) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. The rich set of periphera...

The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
Predicted by Gartner to add $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020, the Internet of Everything (IoE) is based on the idea that devices, systems and services will connect in simple, transparent ways, enabling seamless interactions among devices across brands and sectors. As this vision unfolds, it is clear that no single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the horizontal aspects of the IoE. The AllSeen Alliance, announced in December 2013, was formed with the goal to advance IoE adoption and innovation in the connected home, healthcare, education, aut...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...
Software AG helps organizations transform into Digital Enterprises, so they can differentiate from competitors and better engage customers, partners and employees. Using the Software AG Suite, companies can close the gap between business and IT to create digital systems of differentiation that drive front-line agility. We offer four on-ramps to the Digital Enterprise: alignment through collaborative process analysis; transformation through portfolio management; agility through process automation and integration; and visibility through intelligent business operations and big data.
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
Be Among the First 100 to Attend & Receive a Smart Beacon. The Physical Web is an open web project within the Chrome team at Google. Scott Jenson leads a team that is working to leverage the scalability and openness of the web to talk to smart devices. The Physical Web uses bluetooth low energy beacons to broadcast an URL wirelessly using an open protocol. Nearby devices can find all URLs in the room, rank them and let the user pick one from a list. Each device is, in effect, a gateway to a web page. This unlocks entirely new use cases so devices can offer tiny bits of information or simple i...
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, will address the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. How important are public, private, and hybrid cloud to the enterprise? How does one define Big Data? And how is the IoT tying all this together?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
TechCrunch reported that "Berlin-based relayr, maker of the WunderBar, an Internet of Things (IoT) hardware dev kit which resembles a chunky chocolate bar, has closed a $2.3 million seed round, from unnamed U.S. and Switzerland-based investors. The startup had previously raised a €250,000 friend and family round, and had been on track to close a €500,000 seed earlier this year — but received a higher funding offer from a different set of investors, which is the $2.3M round it’s reporting."
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. Over the summer Gartner released its much anticipated annual Hype Cycle report and the big news is that Internet of Things has now replaced Big Data as the most hyped technology. Indeed, we're hearing more and more about this fascinating new technological paradigm. Every other IT news item seems to be about IoT and its implications on the future of digital busines...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
The Internet of Things needs an entirely new security model, or does it? Can we save some old and tested controls for the latest emerging and different technology environments? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, will review hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal privacy options and a new risk balance you might not expect.
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, will discuss the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. The presentation will also discuss how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics to discuss are barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold.