ITatlas is a Technology Portfolio Management
- Custom Models
includes a set of navigational models that combine visual graphics
with flexible, extensible category hierarchies. Users click on graphical
images to drill into hierarchical representations of product categories.
role-based, able to present information differently to different
groups of people. This is accomplished using views. Both end-user and administrative privileges can be assigned to individual users based on these views. Views are customer defined. Views can also be used to “slice and dice” the content within ITatlas. ITatlas supports
an unlimited number of views, each of which can be organized along
any dimension. For example, views can be defined by geographic location,
by business unit, by job function, by computing platform, etc. Different
views can also be created to represent different time periods.
models, such as organizational charts, data models, or enterprise
architecture diagrams, can easily be plugged into ITatlas to
extend its basic functionality with custom-defined category trees.
21st century IT organizations
have inherited an enormously complex portfolio of applications and
at "web speed" IT has spent huge sums of money for computer and
communications equipment. Over the years business investments in
information technology exceeded 45% of all capital expenditures.
Such high levels of spending have contributed to IT's reputation
as big, complex, expensive, and high risk.
than the rate of growth has been the haphazard way in which IT infrastructures
have expanded. This problem has been especially severe in organizations
that have experienced mergers and/or acquisitions. Today's typical
IT architectures are exceedingly complicated.
Over the past
two decades IT has withstood wave after wave of paradigm shifts.
There was relational, ethernet, client/server, object-oriented and
the Internet. Over the next several years communications will experience
dramatic drops in price accompanied by exponential increases in
For IT, major
technological breakthroughs invariably translate into significant
capital expenditures. Note, however, that product acquisition costs
represent only a fraction of the total cost of such investments.
Products need to be identified, evaluated, purchased, installed,
learned, used, supported, maintained, and eventually, retired, archived,
Every IT organization
must define its own technology architecture that models its technology
usage. Technology architecture is a complicated, complex, and expensive
process - one that is continuously changing and evolving - a process
that is never finished.
need a roadmap, or architecture, to model IT environments
architecture requires a model depicting IT assets. IT assets consist
of an enterprise's portfolio of products and applications. As IT
assets grow, so too does the need to manage, communicate, and control
corporate IT standards as well as keeping everyone throughout the
enterprise informed regarding new technology initiatives and product
The best way
to describe corporate IT standards is to identify selected products
from among lists of competing alternatives. To build a consensus
within the IT community, it helps to share the results of the standardization
evaluation process, such as explaining why selected products were chosen as
standards and describing the reasons why competitive offerings were
rejected. Sometimes non-standard products are appropriate for specific
types of tasks. It's imperative to provide information so that practitioners
scattered across an organization can effectively make those determinations.
issue nowadays, is that IT must often depend on outsiders like contractors,
system integrators, temp workers, and outsourcers. The quicker these
external people can be brought up to speed on how to use the enterprise
IT computing environment, the sooner they can contribute productively.
One of the reasons
it's difficult for organizations to enforce corporate IT standards
is because the computer industry has never adopted a universal taxonomy
for describing standard product categories. Nothing exists in IT
that's comparable to SIC codes used by manufacturing, or UPC codes
employed by retail businesses. The net result is an environment
where comparing apples to oranges is more the norm rather than the
truth among computer industry professionals is that no one likes
to admit what they don't understand. Pervasive ignorance commonly
leads to erroneous comparisons between products drawn from different
product categories. Comparing apples and oranges can lead to extremely
costly purchasing mistakes.
the problem is that knowledge in the IT industry has a half-life
of less than four years. That means for someone who graduated college
four years ago, half of what they learned there is already obsolete.
Many IT professionals graduated college much longer than four years
architects need ITatlas to communicate models and disseminate
knowledge regarding their organization's IT infrastructure and applications
have long suffered from an inability to effectively communicate
their technical architectures and IT strategies. Frequently, architectural
documents written to describe IT plans, analyses and strategies
are read only by their authors.
The pace of
change in the IT industry, marked by innovative technological breakthroughs,
is rapidly accelerating. A new paradigm shifting shockwave about
to hit IT is the switch to the assembly of dynamic web services
cobbled together at execution-time based on parametrically declared
business process specifications. This is the approach Microsoft
is taking with its .Net initiative. Sun has a similar offering called
ONE - Open Network Environment. IBM, HP, Oracle, and others are
also offering Web Services based around XML standards like UDDI,
WSDL, SOAP, etc. It's difficult to imagine how this next transition
can succeed without technology architecture models already in place.
are the glue that holds IT communities together
The models created
by Flashmap Systems are implemented using a repository for capturing
sharable product-centric knowledge. The models, organized and classified
based on hierarchical product category trees, help establish the
formation of user group communities.
individual investment a firm makes in technology architecture, is
also its most poorly managed. Namely, the technical skills and product
know-how that's locked up inside the heads of those people who use
information technology products and applications everyday as a part
of performing their jobs. IT organizations need to improve how they
collect and share internal knowledge.
How is knowledge
about how to use a product shared among members of the IT community?
How does an organization describe its IT infrastructure to external
consultants, contractors, outsourcers, new hires? How are users
guided through the tool selection process? How do companies avoid
the expense of supporting multiple products that offer equivalent
functionality? How many times are products purchased that don't
conform to corporate standards? How often are products purchased
but never used?
Given the unrelenting
pace of change, IT must adopt a strategic top-level management commitment
to continuously re-educate and re-skill IT professionals. ITatlas
can help by providing a mechanism to answer questions like those
above and by facilitating the sharing of knowledge among communities
of IT users.
describe point products. Point products refer to the list
of currently in-use tools along with the full set of products currently
being evaluated, piloted, considered, rejected, retired, etc.
Collection models or reference models represent groupings of point products. Collections
can be used to describe certified, pre-tested configurations (groups
of tools) that specify sets of products designed to work together
in order to implement a particular application design pattern. An
IT developer responsible for creating a new application can lookup
the application domain corresponding to the class of system being
built and immediately determine the full toolkit of required products,
including specific version information.
of collections is for describing application bill-of-materials.
BOMs define the comprehensive list of tools comprising an application
system. This information is particularly helpful when analyzing
the impact associated with upgrading to a new version of a product,
or migrating from one vendor's tool to a competitor's offering. ITatlas can show inter-relationships among any models incorporated into the product, including those that represent business processes, applications, services and products.
Custom-defined models can easily be
added to ITatlas. These extended models include their own graphic
illustration and corresponding hierarchical category tree. Users
can navigate and access information in custom models exactly
the same way as ITatlas' bundled Flashmap Systems' models.
ITatlas also supports multiple views within models. Views are used to identify key characteristics of an organization’s enterprise architecture. A common use of views is to depict the lifecycle status of products (e.g. Current Standard, Being Evaluated, Rejected, etc.). ITatlas can support an unlimited set of views which can be targeted at specific users or groups of users allowing companies to distinguish multiple different time frames, product life cycle by different business units, etc. Each view can have its own set of customized product descriptions or legends.
ITatlas is a highly visual, interactive, easily navigable web-based environment that allows people to navigate and drill down into their own IT architecture framework. It's designed to enable industry and government organizations to manage, communicate and control organizational IT standards and strategies. The models integrated into ITatlas provide quick, easy, and effective navigation for sharing information about IT product usage. ITatlas provides views that allow different standards and different product life cycles to be specified for different business units, geographical regions, job functions, computing platforms, time periods, etc. by allowing for different views. ITatlas supports collections that can be used to describe certified pre-tested configurations that specify lists of products which work together to implement application design patterns. Another use of collections is for describing application bill-of-materials. ITatlas is fully extensible. Both custom Flashmap Systems’ models and 3rd-party models can easily be added.
(www.ITscout.org) provides a publicly accessible
view of the four taxonomies that can come bundled within ITatlas and ITguide.
Inside ITscout are models that correspond to the wall posters
published by and available through Flashmap Systems.
to providing a product category taxonomy, ITscout classifies vendor
product offerings and industry standards according to Flashmap Systems' categorization
hierarchies. ITscout also includes web content personally
selected by Jeff Tash, president and CEO of Flashmap Systems.
Links are organized by products and product categories.