Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

Estonia is a small country bordering Russia, Latvia and Finland. It boasts of an advanced information management platform for government.

This platform is the X-Road platform which is an invisible but crucial backbone for data transactions between the various e-services databases in the public and private sectors. X-Road facilitates harmonious interoperability.

Estonia’s data stores are de-centralised meaning:

There is no single owner / controller Every government agency or business can choose the right products suitable for them Services are added one at a time, as they are ready

All Estonian services that use multiple data stores use X-Road as a central connection between these data stores. All outgoing data from X-Road is digitally signed and encrypted. All incoming data is authenticated and logged.

X-Road was a system built to facilitate multi-data store queries, but has evolved to also facilitate multi-data store writes, and transmit large datasets. It was also designed for growth and currently supports:

287 million queries (2013) Connects 170 database in Estonia Provides 2000 services in Estonia Connects 900 organisations daily Supports >50% of Estonians who use the government portal Eesti.ee

Services provided via X-Road include:

Electronic Registration of residency Updating personal data (like address, exam results, health insurance etc…) Declare taxes electronically Check driving license validity Check for registered vehicles Registering newborn children for health insurance

Estonia showcases its e-society here. To transform its society into a community of digital governance and tech-savvy individuals, children as young as 7 are taught the principles and basics of coding.

Estonians are driven, forward-thinking and entrepreneurial, and the same goes for the government. It takes only five minutes to register a company there and, according to The Economist, the country in 2013 held the world record for the number of startups per person. And it’s not quantity over quality: Many Estonian startups are now successful companies that you may recognize, such as Skype, Transferwise, Pipedrive, Cloutex, Click & Grow, GrabCAD, Erply, Fortumo, Lingvist and others.

If all this sounds enticing and you wish to become an entrepreneur there, you’re in luck; starting a business in Estonia is easy, and you can do it without packing your bags, thanks to its e-residency service, a transnational digital identity available to anyone. An e-resident can not only establish a company in Estonia through the Internet, but they can also have access to other online services that have been available to Estonians for over a decade. This includes e-banking and remote money transfers, declaring Estonian taxes online, digitally signing and verifying contracts and documents, and much more.

E-residents are issued a smart ID card, a legal equivalent to handwritten signatures and face-to-face identification in Estonia and worldwide. The cards themselves are protected by 2048-bit encryption, and the signature/ID functionality is provided by two security certificates stored on the card’s microchip.

But great innovations don’t stop there. Blockchain, the principle behind bitcoin that also secures the integrity of e-residency data, will be used to provide unparalleled safety to 1 million Estonian health records. The blockchain will be used to register any and all changes, illicit or otherwise, done to the health records, protecting their authenticity and effectively eliminating any abuse of the data therein.

There are many lessons we can learn from Estonia. To increases efficiency and maturity of services, a country needs to be willing to adapt and evolve infrastructure to the needs to the new economy. These include transparency, precise and equitable delivery of services to the community.

Meet CAPSICUM Business Architects, a company founded by CEO Terry Roach (Australia) and focused on understanding your business. The approach is to turn it into a digital model using semantics and a custom-built business modelling platform “Jalapeno” thus enabling, facilitating and quantifying change.

This is indeed revolutionary, and CAPSICUM leads where many have failed to map the evolving enterprise.

The Jalapeno tool is a semantic modelling tool leveraging tuples and RDF to describe an enterprise, and it stores this information in a database. It models the organisation from a top-down perspective, maybe a business-centric perspective, or from existing standards. Of course this tool is really as good as its modellers.

Why do I say this is revolutionary? The reason for this, is that the bulk of enterprise architects continually struggle to map the existing enterprise working from the ground up, and often are unable to plan the future state effectively.

Maybe the approach to enterprise architecture has been reactive for most of the time, and largely unable to meet the speed of changing business scenarios. Maybe Business Architecture has a better chance, but maybe Jalapeno has the design to be truely revolutionary.

It’s probably best to map an organisation at the strategic business level, where benefits of change are being considered, and mapping that through the organisation measuring CAPEX, OPEX, actors, structure and cost of change. Gap architecture really.

This all sounds very familiar as an idealistic state of well governed enterprise architecture or business architecture practices, and I’ll definitely be happy to see the Jalapeno platform make further progress.

 

The OSI Model has been around for several decades now. It remains especially relevant when extending the concepts of n-tiered application design. The application layer of the OSI model, can be expanded into:

The App Presentation Layer The App Web Services Layer The App Business Logic Layer The App Database Layer

As database systems have evolved rapidly over the last decade, we see database systems providing features like foreign key enforcement, indexing, view, triggers, data transformation, fulltext indexing, spatial capabilities, and more.

The problem here that databases start getting bloated, and they no longer focus on the key value that they provide. Data storage and retrieval.

So it stands to reason why Amazons Web Services have offered SimpleDB has its key database offering for Cloud services. Of course they also offer other relational database services.

So why does Amazons prefer SimpleDB? Scalability, and lower costs/GB of data stored.

 

 

Data Warehousing (DW) is a common term used business intelligence (BI) projects and systems. The data warehouse has traditionally been the overhead, a large storeroom which aggregated and staged data from multiple sources into at single point. Analytics could then be conducted on this, and provide valuable insights for management.

Now, the problem with the data warehouse is that its huge, and expensive. The processes to populate the data warehouse consume large computing resources, and the outcomes after a lengthy project might be inaccurate or off-focus.

Within modern applications, and data analytics, we should consider analytics as part of an application’s design, performing smaller analytics projects on smaller datasets before engaging in larger ones. We should also consider incremental processing of data by actively managing data state in a similar way in which we manage application states.

This fits well with the Agile methodology.

So just like abandoned warehouse along the rivers and docks of modern cities, data warehouses will be abandoned with JIT Analytics, Agile BI, and better application designs.

Moving data is a bit like moving people. In most organisation, people are frequently involved in the generation, the transformation, the curation, the classification, and analysis of data. And if any of these facets of data management fail, there will be trouble.

The most reliable aspect of such Herculean efforts is the truck, or platform. That is why many organisation prefer to depend on a platform instead of the myriad of parts to make a data project work.

However, most platforms do look like this truck. Rigid, low on flexibilty, and probably not customised for your organisations needs.