So what is Surface 2?

At CES in January Microsoft launched Surface 2.  While it did receive a lot of attention from the press and bloggers, I don’t think the attention was anywhere near the attention that was deserved for such a game changing and revolutionary product.

Make no mistake – Surface 2 is just as innovative and even more game-changing than the original.  It isn’t just a minor update – it is a complete, deep rethink of the concept.  More importantly, this rethink has addressed all of the ‘issues’ with V1 that we see great potential for the product.  This means that as a Strategic Surface Partner we have big plans!  More about that in another post though.

Surface 1 was a radical product.  It was innovative and completely different.  It wasn’t just different in being a table computer, it was different because it provided a radically different and enormously natural way to interact with a computer.

Surface 2 is radical.  The Surface Team has managed to develop PixelSense™, which allows Surface 2 to see fingers, tags and objects, but without using cameras.  This is revolutionary and is what allows Surface 2 to be the table top at 4” thin, rather than being the whole table as was the case with Surface 1.  What this means is that Microsoft and Samsung are able to produce the Samsung SUR40 – a 40” high definition LCD that is able to see and support vastly more points of touch than has been possible before.  This is a game changing device.

Other changes that Microsoft has engineered are similarly exciting – not in ‘gee whizz’ terms, but in meaningful terms that make it much more attractive for customers to deploy.  Firstly, and importantly, the price has dropped considerably.  Secondly, a lot has been added to the devices from both a hardware and a software perspective that makes them more easily deployed and managed.

Surface 2 is clearly moving from a niche product that is deployed in ones or twos to much larger deployments.  From our perspective too it has moved from ‘that’s cool – maybe we should dip our toe in’ to ‘Oh we have to deploy that!’.

Exciting times!

Enterprise Futures Forum

I’m talking at the Enterprise Futures Forum on Tuesday 17th on strategies for adopting SOA and the Cloud.  Here’s some information on the conference and a 2 for 1 offer that the organisers have running at the moment:

We are addressing the latest issues:


·                     1. With the flurry of recent acquisitions (eg BEA, Peoplesoft, SUN, (SeeBeyond & MySQL), Stellent, Siebel, iflex) Oracle has become a major software supplier for most local enterprises.  As a local enterprise professional, it makes sense to stay up to date with their software capabilities and strategy – come along and see what Matt Wright, Bill Hicks and Cameron McPhee have to say.


·                     2. National broadband will open up new possibilities.  Things which were not possible or practical before suddenly become possible.
Find out when, where and how much bandwidth is planned to come on line.


·                     3. Australia will attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in early December. The resulting global agreement on emission reductions will most likely require businesses to monitor and curb their carbon emissions, and we in IT will be required to provide and modify systems for this. How are we going to do it?


·                     4. SOA has been through the hype curve – find out where it really applies and how to go about it.


·                     5. Hear all about how Google address the challenges of user apps, how you can take advantage of Google’s technology when building your own. Did I mention the Wave demo and the surprise give-away to all attendees?…


Come for the whole day or half day – decide what is of most interest to you, and customise your day accordingly (


Keynotes topics:           Broadband initiative, Green IT, SOA, Google Wave

Stream Sessions:          Business & Technical streams – 5 experts in each stream to take you into the future

Panel Discussions:        Business & Technical sessions – 7 experts on each panel to answer your questions

Discussion Threads:      Casual interactive afternoon sessions – Startups, Real SOA, Real Green IT and more – to get up close and personal with your preferred topics

Book by midday Friday and take advantage of the 2 for 1 offer!

 Click here to register now!


Selecting a Wiki

In the presentation on “Challenging the Role of the Architect” I talked about the need for a team Wiki where the lower-level details of the system documentation should be published.  Some people have asked for more information about this – what wiki do I recommend.  This is a very intersting question because it is a little like asking ‘what source code repository should I use?’ in that the answer is quite clearly ‘it depends’.  Let me take a stab at a piece of logic though and we’ll see if that helps:

If you are working with resonably recent version of .NET then the answer is actually pretty simple.  In this case you will, of course, be using Visual Studio Team System for development and will be using the features and facilities to manage your project in Team Foundation Server.  I’m hoping that you are anyway, because as I have said a few times there is no better tool for managing software projects than Team Foundation Server to the point where I recommend that even teams that are building using Java (or a derivative) use Team Foundation Server through a plug-in into Eclipse.  But I digress and I can talk more about that another day.

Anyway, assuming that you are using TFS you’ll note that TFS integrates nicely into SharePoint 2007 to provide a project portal.  Given that this is the case the best option then in to include the Wiki as a part of that portal.  Personally, I find the built-in Wiki functionality in SharePoint to be sufficient for this kind of documentation and it provides the easiest, and best integrated, solution.  You could consider using a thrird party Wiki tool like Confluence from Atlassian to edit the Wiki and then surface it through SharePoint using the available plug-in from Atlassian . 

If (heaven forbid) you aren’t using TFS then you could just use Confluence.  There are, of course, many open source options available but I must confess that I don’t know them all that well.  Check out what is available through CodePlex or your favourite reputable open source repository/community and review what other people have said before making a selection.  I’d recommend that you consider the ability to export content to be an important part of the decision in case you outgrow your solution and need to move to another.

Architect Knowledge

I’ve recieved a few questions from people along the lines of “I’m a Developer and I’m about to work as an Architect” or “I just got put in an Architect role and I’d like to know what I need to know to be a good Architect”.  This is obviously a big and complex question, and so I am writing a big and complex set of answers.  Trouble is that this is taking me ages though and I know that everyone is waiting for something to start on, so I have pulled out a few things that I suggest that you start with and I’ll add more detail along the way.

Firstly, there are a couple of books that I think capture the essence of Architecture as a part of the engineering disipline of software development:

  • Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction by Steve McConnell
  • Professional Software Development by Steve McConnell
  • Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software by Erich Gamma
  • The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering by Frederick P. Brooks

Surprisingly I don’t have a lot of other books on Architecture that I really, really, like.  There are other books in related displines that I would recommend that any Architect should read and understand though, and if you have seen my talks in the area you’ll know that I have a firm belief that Architecture is about much more than putting code or components together.  So, I would also recommend the following as required reading:

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  • 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management by Hyrum W. Smith
  • The Power of Positive Confrontation: The Skills You Need to Know to Handle Conflicts at Work, at Home and in Life by Barbara Pachter

That will do for now.  I’ll post more information soon on this subject but the above pile of books should keep you busy for a while. [:)]

Virtualisation Maturity Model

Here’s an interesting article by Peter Koen that refers extensively to the Virtualisation Maturity Model that Peter Richardson and I invented for Edition 18 of The Architecture Journal.  Lots of fun to see that we are being quoted, even if I wasn’t aware that the article existed until today:  It is quite a good read though, so I recommend you go and have a look.

Waxing Lyrical About Cloud

At Tech.Ed is this year I spent most of the time talking about challenging the role of the Architect, but I did get some time to sit down with Darryl Chantry from Object and talk about another area that I’ve been spending a fair bit of time analysing of late – clould computing.  In a wide ranging discussion we talked about a comparrision of the different cloud platforms, the issues for organisations chosing a platform and moving to the cloud and the role of the Architect in cloud.  The video of the discussion is available from the Tech.Ed site here.

Slides from Tech.Ed 2009 Now Available…

The talk for this year’s Tech.Ed was ‘Challenging the Role of Architect’.  The talk is about the fundamental gap that exists between the approach and skills that Architect’s commonly display and what is needed from them to effectively deliver projects.  To do this I discuss the outcome of the late 10 years of CHAOS reports produced by the Standish Group and use this to point out just how badly we are doing as an industry.  From here, and with a clear understanding of what a project actually is and how pure Agile is not a suitable approach for the development of projects in a way that meets the need of the business, unless the project is running in Fairyland (where cost and time don’t matter).  With a solid definition then of what is needed to deliver projects effectively it is then possible to proceed on and examine how an Architect can assist to ensure that projects are delivered successfully.

The talk was, interestingly, met by two types of feedback, which was expected – those that understood the big picture need for Architects to be jointly responsible for overall project delivery and those that saw that the role of the Architect as a senior developer and the project management and process aspects of the role as therefore not belonging.  You know what camp I am in.

The deck is available from my SlideShare account here.

I’ve recieved a number of questions about the talk, and I’ll attempt to answer these questions here so that everyone can see the answers.

Tech.Ed 2009

I’m presenting in the Architecture Track at Tech.Ed Australia again, and maybe also Tech.Ed New Zealand for the first time.  Here’s what I was thinking of talking about:

Challenging the Role of the Architect
There are as many definitions of the role of the Architect as there are organisations, and current shifts in approaches like Agile are further pushing the boundaries.  Do we even need Architects?  Many would suggest not.  In this talk, long-time Architect and Solutions Architect MVP Kevin Francis from Object Consulting will challenge the audience with his views on Architecture and Architects, covering areas such as:

  • The role of the Architect in a project context.
  • The relationship between Architects and other roles in a project and professional context.
  • The skills and knowledge required by an Architect.

In addressing the above Kevin will consider both iterative and agile types of projects, thereby addressing the role of the Architect in agile projects.

So, tell me what you think of the above.  What else do you think I should talk about?  Is it interesting?

BA World Slides Available

I have made the slides from the BA World presentation on ‘Business Analysts v Architects’ available on Slideshare.  Please let me know what you think, and if you would like me to come at present it in person at your organisation or user group please let me know.  I’m always happy to come and present this topic or any of the other topics that are listed here.

Office 2010 – The Movie – LoL!! [:)]

Clippy?  Is clippy going to make a return?  I would seem so.

I love this idea.  I was (apparently) one of the few people that liked the Office Assistants (although Clippy wasn’t the best).  I thought they did an excellent job of ‘humanising’ what is a fairly bland set of software products (sorry Office Dev team – it does look nice, but only as cool as a productivity suite can be). 

It got me thinking though about the whole concept, and while I don’t know what the team is planning, and I can see a nightmare for system admins, Clippy as a portal to social networking for Office users would be a killer.  Clippy delivering Twitter and Facebook messages?  Clippy playing music files?  Either way, I’m thinking that we are moving into a new phase of UI development where things start getting sexy and fun again.  Windows 7 is certainly an advance on that front already.

I’ll blog more as soon as I can lay my hands on a beta of Office 2010.