A Practical Example of Architectural Alignment
Posted by Doug Walters on 9th April 2014
I was in London this week for a series of meetings. Unfortunately, my meetings on Tuesday afternoon were cancelled, so I had an afternoon to occupy – not a problem I thought, as I had a mountain of emails on which to catch up, and a number of overdue tasks on my todo list.

So I returned to my hotel room, changed into “civvies” and started to take advantage of the free wi-fi. After about 30 minutes, I lost my train of thought and suddenly thought “what the hell am I doing? It's a sunny (if a little chilly) spring day in London; rarely, I have no commitments; and I'm sitting in a dim and poky hotel room doing emails.” With an out-of-character display of impulsive spirit, I grabbed my jacket and walked into the sunshine. I walked through Hyde Park and into Knightsbridge, eventually walking past the Brompton Oratory, a magnificent building well worth a visit to London on its own, and decided to dive into the V&A Museum to pass a couple of hours.

The mission statement for the V&A is “To be the world's leading museum of art and design. To enrich people's lives and inspire individuals and everyone in the creative industries, through the promotion of knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the designed world.” Its strategic objectives are:

1. To provide diverse audiences with the best quality experience and optimum access to our collections, physically and digitally
2. To be acknowledged and respected internationally as the world's leading museum of art and design
3. To promote, develop and contribute to the UK creative economy by leading the field in debate, inspiring designers and makers, commissioning excellent design and stimulating enjoyment and appreciation of art, design and performance
4. To operate with financial and organisational initiative and efficiency

I spent a couple of hours mooching around the museum generally, and the William Kent exhibition in particular – which certainly seemed to prove that the V&A is succeeding in strategic objectives 1 & 2. However, other aspects of the of the museums’ operation seem to focus on strategic objective 4 to the exclusion of the others. Let me explain…

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Consider the Dimensions of Cloud Deployment to Achieve Secure Collaboration
Posted by Doug Walters on 8th April 2014
In an attempt to simplify the picture to aid business-leaders' understanding, consultants often present a two-dimensional picture of cloud topologies (Private -> Public; IaaS -> SaaS.) It's my opinion that by doing so, they do their clients a disservice - failing to grasp that there are FOUR dimensions to the cloud-scape only causes confused conversations and leads to inappropriate decisions.

There are several “cloud formations” - or forms of cloud computing. Each offers different characteristics, varying degrees of flexibility, different collaborative opportunities, and different risks. Thus a key challenge when considering cloud computing as an option is to determine how to choose the cloud formation best suited to our various types of business operations.

The objective is to enable secure collaboration in the appropriate cloud formations best suited to the business needs.

The aim of this paper is to:

• Explain that not everything is best implemented in clouds; it may be best to operate some business functions using a traditional non-cloud approach
• Explain the different cloud formations
• Describe key characteristics, benefits and risks of each cloud formation
• Provide a framework for exploring in more detail the nature of different cloud formations and the issues that need answering to make them safe and secure places to work in.

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We are giving away our freedom - when will we wake up?
Posted by Doug Walters on 15th February 2014
We are swimming in an ocean of data, much of it personal in nature; most of this personal data has been provided freely, but this has often been unwitting, and we remain decidedly, even determinedly ignorant of the dangers that lurk beneath. The potential is enormous for use of this personal data for purposes other than those for which it was volunteered, particularly if the information is left in the hands of people who are able to act above, or beyond existing law...

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Sustainability - a couple of Nuances
Posted by Doug Walters on 26th January 2014
I'm from a generation that instinctively thinks that separating out the household waste for re-cycling is a pain; on other hand my head understands the need to act to preserve the planet for my grandchildren and their children to enjoy. However, 2 relatively minor incidents just recently illustrated a couple of aspects of sustainability that people seem to be neglecting.

Each day, I visit my local gym for (what I laughingly call) a work-out. The owners recently modified the shower system, installing buttons to limit the amount of water used; you press the button and get a spray for 15 seconds before the supply cuts off. You press again to repeat - yes, we've all used them, they're commonplace and a really good idea; they have probably prevented the waste of billions of litres of water a year, and I wholeheartedly applaud the initiative to install them. However, when the flow starts, it is cold, and it just starts to get to a nice temperature when the flow cuts out. When restarted it is cold. Suffering cold showers every day since Xmas is taking the whole thing too far and it was time I did something about it. I filled out a long feedback form, explaining the problem. Much to my surprise, the following day (and so far, every day subsequently) the temperature has been increased and the water flows at a constant and pleasant temperature. What this shows is that, while we need to act responsibly and think about sustainability, we have to balance that against the need to provide customer service and satisfaction

My second story relates to a visit to my local convenience store on a very wet and miserable morning, to buy my Sunday newspaper. To prevent my paper getting sodden as I walked back home, I asked for a plastic carrier bag. The sales assistant apologetically informed me that the small and flimsy bag she produced from under the counter would cost me 5p. I was astonished and a tad annoyed - she agreed with me that the profit margin in that transaction was ridiculous, and she was embarrassed to charge this fee. What this illustrates is something I have seen in countless businesses over the last few years - many simply see the sustainability issue as another way to increase profitability, rather than a bona fide contribution to preserve our legacy

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The real spirit of Christmas?
Posted by Doug Walters on 5th January 2014
  • My son is 32 and stills draws up a list of Christmas presents he wants, and sends it around his family and friends just like a wedding gift list.

  • I struggled to think of something to get my 15 year old grandson for Christmas - he has an iPad, a laptop, this year's "must-have" PS4, a TV bed in his bedroom, an iPhone

  • my wife's 8 year-old grandson got so much for Christmas that even now (2 weeks after Christmas Day) he still has not got around to playing with / using all of his presents

  • I got some seriously major presents (an iPad, a laptop, a kindle) mainly because people couldn't think of anything I needed

  • On reflection, we agreed that this was all ridiculous, and had nothing to do with the real spirit of Christmas, so my wife has come up with what I think is a brilliant idea: next Christmas she is going to take the money that she would have spent on each of us, and donate it to a charity; she will also encourage us all to consider doing the same with the money that we would have otherwise spent on her.

    She also feels somewhat aggrieved about the amount we get hassled by charities to which we have contributed - it seems that once you contribute to a charity, they latch on to you and keep coming back for more. She intends to find a single and very identifiable charitable case (such as a specific child, or a wild animal) and concentrate her help on that cause. The benefit should be that she can more easily check that the full amount reaches the destination for which she intended.

    I think that this is a brilliant idea; I will follow her lead. What do you think?

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