Thursday, April 11, 2002

More on Metrics, Processes and Systems Integration. This entry will cover a range of topics, with an emphasis on metrics. One of the most important books on IT metrics was just published: IT Measurement: Practical Advice from the Experts. This book is a panoramic view of metrics across the enterprise. Although the book is written by members of the International Function Point Users Group it goes well beyond software estimating. It encompasses measurement techniques that are consistent with function points, but are also useful when applied to other methods.

As expected, the book starts with a discussion of function points, its evolution as a methodology, and how it has evolved as a means of measuring a full spectrum of attributes, such as quality, productivity, time and effort. In addition to generic attribute metrics this book shows how function points can be applied to earned value project management, developing a balanced scorecard that views the enterprise holisitcally, business and e-commerce metrics and evaluations and benchmarking.

Parts that I especially like include:

I've only highlighted the parts of the book in which I have personal and professional interests. The book contains much more material that covers the entire spectrum of enterprise metrics, including case studies and reflecting the views of each individual author who contributed chapter(s). In my opinion this book is, and will remain for years to come, one of the most important texts on IT measurement. Time will tell, of course, but I can assure you that it's the best book on the subject that is currently available.

Traffic Engineering. Network traffic engineering is a science that can be applied to not only circuit capacity, but any activity or process where queuing is involved. This includes help desk staffing and similar uses. The basics are explained in Traffic Engineering, which is an outstanding 29-page overview that starts gently and goes into the details. If you are currently struggling with capacity planning for Voice over IP, the VOIP calculator, which is an Excel application, will help you arrive at capacity plans that are traced to quantitative analysis instead of the usual method (throwing money at the problem). You'll also want to read our previous entries that cover capacity planning, as well as the PowerPoint presentation about measurement capability.

Processes. Much of what I cover in this weblog is about software engineering. The MS Word document titled Integrating Iterative Processes examines life cycle approaches and is something every architect, project management and software engineer will find interesting.

Systems Integration. If you are faced with an enterprise integration project you'll undoubtably be using XML (if not now, you can be sure that you will be in the future). Connecting E-Commerce to XML is a good starting point for understanding the issues.

An excellent book on the topic is XML, Web Services, and the Data Revolution. In many respects this book extends David Linthicum's B2B Application Integration by focusing solely on the data aspects, and explaining the web services approach that has matured after Mr. Linthicum's book was published.

This book defines the tools, cuts through the hype and sorts out the pieces needed to design and deploy enterprise-wide solutions. What makes it particularly valuable is that it doesn't side with the two major factions espousing web services - the Microsoft .NET and Sun-sponsored J2EE approaches are presented without bias (refreshing in itself considering the hype and industry posturing). The same objective treatment of approaches by IBM, BEA, HP Oracle is given, which ensures that you have ample insights into the available approaches to developing web services. Of course, SOAP, the XML-family of protocols, and UDDI are also covered in depth using clear writing and excellent illustrations.

What I particularly like about this book are:

You won't find specific development information in this book, and that makes it more valuable in my opinion. If that is what you're seeking there are other books that address that topic. I do believe that Linthicum's B2B Application Integration and William L. Oellermann's Architecting Web Services will complement this book - Linthicum's for the big picture (especially for legacy system integration) and Oellermann's for the process-oriented approach. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is involved in architecture, specifications or development.

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