Welcome to the "Architect 2 Architect” blog, Mahi! Awesome first post as well! I am using an unconventional mechanism to reply to your intriguing blog post “http://architect2architect.blogspot.com/2011/05/innovation-incubator-for-rogue.html”.
I am in complete agreement with you on both your dilemma about introduction of “out of compliance’ business solutions into the main stream enterprise technology stack and with your observation that the architect community is in fact at odds with the business in terms of the value prop assigned to these so called "rogue" solutions.
First of, a quick comment on why architects approach these “rouge or disruptive technologies” with skepticism! Architects fear lack of interoperability standards in the new technology, the solutions’ inability to scale, or that there are security loop holes. Architects are also right in verbalizing the business concerns in the pre-production phase which are the very QoS concerns that would plague the business users once the “rogue” solution is in production!! What an irony! Your proposal of having access to these “isolated incubator environments” helps architects in vetting out these concerns without interfering or negatively impacting mission critical business systems. Also, as you propose if this team is made up of a “segment of the enterprise architecture team”, it insures that the architects stay open minded and in touch with both the new age technologies and the business needs!!
Some other benefits of having the architecture community engaged in these “technology incubators” would be that the solutions are created in somewhat of an extensible manner. In addition, architects can use scientific analysis to insure that the technology being introduced through the “rogue” solution is interoperable. If not, the architects can employ mitigation strategies and architecture principles such as loose coupling (i.e. of data and business logic) to insure that the solution is able to scale to meet business growth projections.
Key success criteria for investment in this type of a incubator test bed or an innovative technology SWAT team would be that these technologies/ innovative solutions are adopted as “standards” in time and brought into the main stream. This prevents the enterprise from becoming peppered with too many one off solutions and technology stacks which would end up eroding the initial benefits of speedy adoption. Furthermore, processes need to be put in place to identify when an incubator can be promoted to become a first class citizen of the enterprise.
Clearly, leading technology companies and technology solutions providers have recognized this need. Case in point is the high uptake of technologies that deliver situational apps and "mash ups". The innovative idea of Incubator environments can be used to offer disruptive technologies and solutions a “fast path” to production while offering predictability; demonstrating that speed to market and enterprise readiness need not always be competing goals but complementary ones indeed; which in turn put architects and the business on a common platform.
Fellow architects, please join in and tell Mahi and I if you have in fact implemented the concept discussed in these two related posts! Surekha -
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