Fast Track Framework: Technology

The aim of Fast Track Architecture (FTA) is to prioritise the time-to-market of IT projects in order to deliver working systems in days and weeks rather than months or years. An overview of the Fast Track approach can be found here. Fast Track solutions should be considered when Corporations are experiencing the following:

– IT consolidation following mergers & acquisitions (and selling off business units)
– Major business or IT change / transformation programmes
– Compliance / Governance / Regulatory changes

And for market trends and events such as:

– New competitors entering the market / globally
– Increasing the pace of product / service innovation
– IT innovation; companies using IT as a competitive weapon
– Changes in financial markets that affect the company

This blog presents articles on the People, Process and Technology aspects of Fast Track capabilities for a variety of audiences. This post focuses on the technologies that are used to create Fast Track solutions and is aimed at the IT architect and technical community.

The following diagram represents an overview of the technical components that may be used in a Fast Track solution. All of the components are aligned with the Fast Track principles of fast deployment and robust customisation in order to achieve the objective of implementation of solutions in days and weeks. Not all components are required for every Fast Track solution; an architect will be able to determine which components are required for each individual business scenario.

Fast Track Framework

In the table below is a description of each component in the diagram along with software vendors and service providers that meet the Fast Track criteria for that component (please note that this is not an exhaustive list, it is only the vendors that I have had experience with). I plan to build a portfolio of articles on this blog providing detailed descriptions of the vendors and potentially write reviews and comparisons of the vendors’ solutions if readers are interested in this (please let me know if you are).

ID Component Description Vendors
1 Rapid App-Builder Tools Fast Track projects that require a custom application to be built can take advantage of ‘Rapid Application Builder’ tools. These enable you to create complete business applications in a very short timeframe. Mendix, for example, has a benchmark demonstrating it is 4 times faster to build an app in their technology versus writing it in Java. Out Systems claim it is over 10 times faster to build apps with their tool versus traditional alternatives. Mendix
OutSystems
2 Cloud-based Apps Cloud-based apps that fulfil particular parts of the business process are often the fastest way to implement a solution. A simple example of this is to use an address validation API.
3 Integration Tools Scenarios that require integration to existing Internal IT systems can be a real challenge if the application doesn’t have an existing interface that you can use (called an Application Programming Interface or API). This is especially acute in large organisations where legacy systems are in place or there is already a significant backlog of changes. Tools such as Openspan enable you to integrate with applications without needing an API or needing to change the application. New Fast Track APIs can be created independently, providing a great deal of flexibility. Cast Iron provides the ability to rapidly integrate internal and external systems using established interfaces. OpenSpan
IBM CastIron
4 Infrastructure-as-a-service An Infrastructure-as-a-Service capability is a fast way to deploy infrastructure components. Those fortunate enough to have this in-house can use the existing capability; in many scenarios an externally hosted service will be required. Amazon EC2
Rackspace Cloud
5 Business Intelligence Tools Most Fast Track projects will require a reporting and Business Intelligence (BI) capability of some kind. As a minimum there will be a need to track the success of the business processes that have been implemented. Some Fast Track projects are primarily BI based, for example monitoring a business process that has hitherto been too costly or difficult to measure. A number of excellent Cloud-based BI solutions are now available. The complexity of the reporting/BI requirement will determine the solution required. Birst
6 Big Data Tools An architecture wouldn’t be complete with a mention of Big Data and Fast Track projects may generate large amounts of data that require Big Data tools. Furthermore, the analysis of a big data set, for example, may be an input to a Fast Track business process. Datameer
HPCC
Opera
7 Search Tools There may be a requirement for additional search tools to meet the requirements, in which case an appliance or hosted search capability may fulfil the need. Google Search Appliance
8 Security-as-a-Service Every Fast Track project is likely to have security requirements and improving security can be a driver for a Fast Track project. Security integration between Fast Track processes and existing ones is likely to be a key requirement. Symplified
Symantec O3
Intel Cloud SSO

Note that this article is the next iteration of a component toolkit for Fast Track Architecture that builds on this previous post on the subject.

I hope this is a useful post. If you’d like to offer feedback, share your experience or ask a question, please don’t hesitate to email me.

Kind regards,
Matthew Wood

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One thought on “Fast Track Framework: Technology

  1. This is the clearest guide I have yet to see to the main components in the FTA tool kit. Very helpful overview. Thanks Matthew.

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