Once again there has been a conjunction of three events that when combined seem to create a firm direction or point of view. The first was the recent FutureGov event report published by the Australian Government, considered by many as a leader in their use of technology to transform their working practices. The second was the draft conclusions of the Open Group meeting on the impact of cloud technology on their core mission of providing architectures and standards for ‘boundaryless information flows’. And the third was the final go ahead to be able to publically talk about what Capgemini has done in a real client transformation in line with the first two points.
I am a fan of the Austrailian Government for the very real efforts and achievements that it has made to really use technology to ‘open’ up government and processes, and make point of following its activities. Ann Steward, their CIO, was a star performer at the Future Gov event down under at the end of July and asked the audience of civil servants for a show of hands in response to the question; ‘how many of you are working collaboratively in externally hosted environments’? The low level of response led her to suggest that ‘more activists to lead the way’ were needed.

It’s fair to say we all know that this is a user-driven change, but as I have argued in other blogs ‘shredding the edge’of an enterprise’s cohesive data and intelligence model to score local users of business groups can mean that optimisation goals will destroy its ability to recognise and repeat localised success as well as destroy its advantage to leverage its size and range of assets. There has to be something between the top down user-driven model and the too-slow-to-change-or-react enterprise model. That leads to the Open Group and my colleague Mark Skilton who co-chairs the Cloud Working Group sharing the draft notes from the last meeting.
The Open Group Architecture Framework, TOGAF, and the associated certification scheme for enterprise architects, gave not just the IT industry, but more importantly business use by enterprises a common way to describe enterprise architecture in order to understand how they could achieve ‘boundaryless information flows’. Not surprisingly clouds look like having a big impact on this mission, but refreshingly the working group didn’t try to make the existing IT oriented architecture work fit to a cloud environment. Indeed they specifically noted that the need was to develop a new methodology that recognises and describes the experience of cloud computing, as the current methods simply can’t do this!
The key statement read ‘the customer experience and the business user viewpoint of cloud is quite different from the discussions of design and run time choices for cloud services’.
The working party has started looking at existing studies on the subject and in addition to the well known NIST Cloud Computing Reference has also identified the Unified Ontology of Cloud Computing work by University of California, and a whitepaper using a Google hosted example of a cloud computing taxonomy. So all at once we move from choosing between the various proprietary stacks and points of view to seeing the beginnings of a real ‘neutral’ approach that would allow enterprises and enterprise users to do business by working and interacting in a truly different manner. That’s real tangible progress towards clouds creating a shared business environment in which users can do business whether as customers or workers!
It seems only right to end with a real example of what this can mean and the third event, somewhat fittingly after all myself and my colleagues have been saying about applying the new technologies, it’s the official news release of how Capgemini will be working with the UK Royal Mail, the country’s national postal service, to transform ….. well its all said in the opening statement; ‘a move which aims to transform its business and consumer online services, help reduce its annual website IT costs and support expansion and diversification into a wide range of new web-based business opportunities without the delays and expense of traditional IT’.
And the most interesting thing? There is no mention of clouds by name, instead it’s all built on the business deliverables that technology can provide! That’s right in line with the point of the other two events. The term cloud is just hype, but the delivery of real progress to change the game is now starting. How much of a game change could it be? Well, Computer Weekly, a leading UK IT industry magazine, called on the Government, the owners of Royal Mail, to think again about its whole policy with IT suppliers!