November 12, 2000
Welcome to the latest issue of the Enterprise-Wide
IT Architecture Newsletter!
Supporting the Enterprise-Wide IT Architecture (EWITA) web site at
This is our third bi-monthly newsletter.
We welcome comments on format and content as well as suggestions for
articles and sites to be explored. Please let us know by sending us a e-mail
Table of Contents
1. Hammering away in the garage
The Collaborative Project Work Space Part 1
2. Site Spotlight
The Physical Project Room Part 2
The Virtual Project Room
3. Vendor Spotlight
4. There he goes again!
5. EWITA web site changes
Hammering away in the garage
The following is the third of a series of three articles describing
the "ideal" project workspace.
The first article describes it from a general sense, the second describes
an actual project workspace (physical), and the third article describes
the virtual workspace as it should be.
The Collaborative Project Workspace
The Virtual Project
Room Part 3
Developing a technical architecture often requires constant collaboration
among geographically distributed and multi-domain teams, within a company,
among contractors, subcontractors and customers in both a synchronous and
asynchronous manner. Individuals and teams need to be dynamic and mobile,
being able to collaborate with one other and have access to data and their
flow, from an office desktop, home or hotel room.
One response to these requirements is the Virtual Project Room.
The Virtual Project Room (VPR)
The VPR is web-based, thus accessible from anywhere with access to
the organizational intranet, from any office, hotel room, meeting room
or home. It integrates synchronous and asynchronous capabilities, almost
for free, based on existing interface standards and reusing components
adopted by most organizations.
The VPR simulates a secure physical room, into which only team members
come, in which data change rapidly and are always available (news, latest
decisions, documents, designs, tools, actions, schedules), and people come
and go to work or to chat/collaborate with other full and part-time members
of the team. The VPR provides access to people and data from anywhere,
The VPR should include capabilities such as:
The agent capabilities clearly demonstrate how those active collaborative
spaces can help teams become more productive and help team collaboration
and coordination. For example, users are reminded of action due dates or
notified of important data or changes in documents, information can be
gathered and disseminated, and activities can be coordinated among distributed
Bulletin Board – on which any team member can add news appropriate to the
Members - virtual room membership plus capabilities to add new members
Team Calendar (Exchange) - to store all team events
Project Planning, tracking and monitoring (MSProject)
Team File Repository (Netscape Publisher) - a shared file repository.
Link Repository - a repository of links to the web
Action Items, Meeting - specialized data stores in support of ISO9000 requirements.
Team members can easily create, edit and access this data.
Mail archive (Exchange) - a repository of email messages deemed critical
to be shared with the rest of the team; very applicable to keep history.
Email attachments are also supported.
Discussion threads (FrontPage) - used for sharing questions, answers, and
issues with the rest of the team accessed from any standard newsreader
client (e.g. Netscape Communicator or Microsoft Outlook).
What’s new - a listing of the last 10 files added/modified in the file
repository as well as a short summary of other room contents (calendar
entries, action items, etc.)
Full-text search is provided on any data in the file repository, the mail
archive, the action items, the meeting minutes and the web links. An associated
"agent" regularly indexes new files in the room and makes them searchable.
Virtual Call (Netmeeting) - integrated 1-1 audio/video/data conferencing
capability between members currently in the room.
Textual chat capability.
Conference Center (Netmeeting) - a conference center for real-time document
conferencing or application sharing, a tool providing a web-based infrastructure
for administering and participating in these conferences.
Agent Notifiers - This gives users the ability to subscribe to email notifications
on an event-driven basis whenever a particular document or directory is
modified. A recommended use of this feature is for users to subscribe to
notifications whenever a new document is placed in a directory in which
they are particularly interested; this is useful to implement active problem
A collection of "active" capabilities, " agents"
An agent as autonomous pre-developed software which gets activated
as a result of events (e.g., timers, changes in data or email arrival)
and performs some action, like sending email, causing a web event, notifying
the user of some activity, or causing the execution of programs. Agent
development varies from a few hours to a few weeks.
Monitors. Examples are: a) the guard (ro)bot which alerts other present
members when someone enters the room; b) the action item due (ro)bot, which
daily checks which action items will be due the next day and alerts assignees
Agent Notifiers. The room allows members to set up individual notifiers
to either email or page people when specific directories/files change.
Information publishers. Example is the "what is new in the room" capability
which gathers and publishes summaries of data and latest changes in room
Integrators. Agents integrating synchronous and asynchronous technologies,
e.g., calendar and virtual conference scheduling, and synchronization of
changes to organizational mail directory.
Information gatherers/brokers. We allow users to select areas of interest
and web sources of interest for agents to create newsletters for the team.
The agents generate a daily newsletter, stored in the virtual room, for
those selected areas of interest.
Support Agents. Examples are the hourly indexing of all room data for subsequent
search and conversion of received email to html for room sharing purposes.
"Anytime, anywhere access to the VPR"
Virtual Project Room Principles
Utilize web-based content delivery wherever possible. Maintaining the thin
client architecture was important; firstly, by avoiding client installations,
new users are more quickly brought into the system and face a smaller learning
curve; and secondly, upgrading functionality requires changes to one machine
only and the user community instantly benefits from the new capabilities.
Use two types of user interface, a graphical one, to entice infrequent
users of the room, and a linear list of hot buttons for more experienced
Notify users "who is in the room" with an agent which notifies members
present whenever someone enters the room with a switch so users could turn
the notification off whenever they do not want to be disturbed.
Enable project leads to add or delete members.
Enable shared file repository, it is the key to maintaining latest versions
of documents, lists of problem reports, etc.
The organization of the file repository is still up to the team and careful
coordination is needed to avoid redundant branches.
Enable a mail archival, which provides a quick way to maintain relevant
information for the group, easily searchable via the room search engine.
Enable individual users to set their own notifiers. It allows different
roles to identify their own needs, like: a configuration manager can be
notified when a new problem report comes in; reviewers can be notified
when versions of the document change, etc.
Allow user-defined daily newsletters.
Allow a non-member area, in order to make documents available.
Encourage room use. The hardest roadblock appears to be to get people in
the habit of visiting the room frequently since they are typically too
busy to remember. Towards this goal, we have integrated room capabilities
with email, so users get messages when something is changed or something
is of interest; this message has a pointer to the room, thus providing
immediate access to it.
Provide standard features, for all operational rooms to minimize room administration
maintenance and for easy evolution. However, tailoring capabilities are
needed since different projects and teams have different needs.
Support security. Virtual rooms should be able to support a full complement
of security mechanisms (e.g. encryption, authentication). Have the capability
to have team members from outside the organization’s firewall.
HTTP (Web) and NNTP (Newsgroup discussion threads) provide that.
Design for the minimum expected browser.
Web browsers exhibit varying behavior across different platforms and version
numbers, design to the minimum capabilities allow wide-scale usage.
Be extensible. New technologies appear everyday: audio/video streaming,
push technology, agents, etc. A virtual room should be designed for extensibility.
A majority of the information on VPRs was extracted from a paper by
Maria H. Penedo of TRW.
The original paper is located at:
A collaborative workspace environment: experience of evaluation and
selection in the Agora project
by Tracy Gardner and Rosemary Russell
A Web-based Virtual Room for Small Team Collaboration by Maria H. Penedo
COLLABORATIVE GIS IN A DISTRIBUTED WORK ENVIRONMENT by Robert L. Boettcher
Collaborative Settings: Fostering Teamwork in the Workplace Herman
Reinventing the Sales Office arbee associates
This is the third of three articles describing a collaborative workspace.
A copy of this article, previous articles is located in the Tools part
of the Enterprise-Wide IT Architecture (EWITA) web site, located at http://www.ewita.com.
Commonwealth of Virginia http://www.sotech.state.va.us/cots/ea/
From the Site:
The Commonwealth of
Virginia Enterprise Architecture Initiative (VAEA) is a collaborative
endeavor across Virginia state and local government to assure that the
citizens of the Commonwealth will receive the greatest possible value from
investment in information technology. EA does not start with technology.
It starts with a strategic framework, the vision and the goals of our state
government. Just as a building must be designed to suit its function and
its site, information technology must do more than simply address specific
operational concerns. In fact, the effective use of information technology
must be an integral part of the "business of state government" and must
be deployed in ways that maximize the value to the citizens of the Commonwealth.
Comments from newsletter editor:
This is a site that is just beginning to put Virginia's architecture
on-line. It apparently follows the EAS concepts espoused by MetaGroup.
Listing 25 Technical Trends, 14 Business Strategies, and has underdevelopment
Business Information Requirements and Requirements for Technical Architecture,
the site is obviously in it's initial stages.
The site does list the domains (Infrastructure and Application Integration)
and the nine (9) separate architectures that it is expecting to develop
with 4 additional example architectures.
Especially of interest to me is a architecture for Cost Allocation
The Cost Allocation Architecture defines the policies, procedures,
standards and systems required to allocate the cost for the infrastructure
components and support. Emphasis is on facilitating rapid deployment of
shared resources while maximizing the benefit of multiple funding sources
This is the first time I have seen the Cost Allocation raised to the
status of a architecture and I am interested to see the results of the
There are some graphics on the site that explain their model pretty
well, I would suggest looking at them carefully.
I have been told that the site is about to be revised with added information
in the near future.
This site should be of interest to those in the primary stages of defining
their own architectures, or those about to start.
This is the second of a series of spotlights about vendors to the EA
community, it is not meant as an endorsement, simply information.
If you know of a vendor that provides service to the EA community,
send me a brief write-up.
We will run one spotlight per issue on a first come, first published
There are no compensations associated with this spotlight!
There were no sites suggested this time. Any sites out there that should
be checked out, let me know.
There he goes again
Sorry I was late in getting the last newsletter out, I had expected
to get it sent via email from New Orleans, however, I was unable to get
to my mail because of a glitch that I should have tested before I left
Sacramento. Guess that will teach me to purge all that unnecessary "stuff"
Well not being busy enough, I have accepted a position with one of
the larger consulting firms as a technical manager. Hopefully I will have
sufficient time to keep this newsletter going.
We have added a new feature to the site, it is called "Reading Files"
you can find them in the Tools menu. These reading files are simply a compilation
of "things" I think would be of interest to you. Generally they are just
pointers to other sites and are intended to give you a chance to read in
detail what I have found while doing research on the web.
Check out the discussion group at Solution Central - www.solutioncentral.com
- It describes it's self as "…emarketplace for IT professionals and vendors.
…" This is a free membership site.
Their discussion groups are called InfoCenters, and my group (InfoCenter)
is "Enterprise Architecture: Reconciling Business Requirements With IT"
You can locate it via a search. Questions to date are :
? From the top down--is alignment the key? Thom Gross 11/11/00
? Change management in state government Mike Abbiatti 11/8/00
? strategy and reality Darby Raskin 11/1/00
? change management Maria Sahagun 10/20/00
? What is the most common overlooked area ? Timothy Ingersoll 10/17/00
EWITA Website Changes
Please go to the EWITA website at
http://www.ewita.com and select the
"New" icon on the banner, the welcome or the admin page
I received the following comment from Clive Finklestein editor of the
TEN newsletter regarding formatting the newsletter.
----- Original Message -----
From: Clive Finkelstein
Sent: Thursday, November 02, 2000 3:32 AM
Subject: Re: [EWIT_Architecture] Re: EA/EWITA October 29, 2000 Newsletter
Collaboration Workspace, Melissa Cook, Kentucky EA,, What's new
The email that you sent below overlaid all text on top of each other
in a few lines only. Clearly, it was prepared with Word and emailed in
HTML. I use Word all the time, but use Netscape Messenger 4.7 for email.
Your email was TOTALLY unreadable with Netscape Messenger 4.7.
Please provide an email option that is text only, so people can choose
that option for reading if relevant.
Reply - Thanks, when you returned it, it read out okay, but
from now on, I will use a more bland text editor to prepare the message.
Appreciate the feed back! Using the tools I do, I am not sure that
I can have the two alternatives, so I will go with the simple one.
----- Original Message -----
From: Pimblett, John
Sent: Friday, November 03, 2000 10:14 AM
Subject: Glossary error
> Thanks for maintaining such a great site! I just "found" it today
> a recommendation from Gabriel Tanase on the dm-discuss mailing list).
> I noticed that in the glossary the term "database" is incorrectly
> Perhaps the definition belongs to the term "databus."
Reply: I have made the correction, appreciate the feed back!