This year’s Smart Architect session, held every year at CA World, took practical collaboration to a whole new level. Smart Architect brings our clients’ top technology architects and CTOs together with CA Technologies top engineering talent in a closed door, invitation-only, intimate discussion of all that is happening with technology. It’s one of the hottest tickets at CA World.
Smart Architect provides this select group of lead architects with insight into the CA Technologies roadmap, and they, in turn, give us feedback on how they are using technology in their own organizations. The discussion is about advanced technology, but always grounded in practical results.
This year we did something new that I think worked especially well: Each session was developed collaboratively by a CA technologist and a client executive. The two would jointly present a user story, looking at the technology problem, the challenge to the industry, and the solution. Then they would discuss how we worked together to overcome the problem, specifically focusing on how the organizations, themselves, measured the success. This approach gave other attendees in the room a very balanced view of the technical concept and its outcome.
Talking to a lot of the technology executives who attended, most told me they found the greatest value in hearing from their peers on exactly how challenges were overcome and how they went about solving them. Half the time, the important thing wasn’t even the actual solution. They loved collaborating with their peers and having the opportunity to ask questions like:
“How did you identify this problem?”
“How did you gain support?”
“How did you build that business case?”
“How did you overcome the naysayers?”
“What other alternatives did you look at?”
“Why did you select that?”
There were also some really great technical discussions, such as the one on whether a company should federate its logins with visitors’ social media identities. Outside of the financial area, a lot of companies are very willing to simply lock in or federate accounts with their Facebook or other social media identities. The discussions showed that we had a great diversity in the attendees. We certainly had a strong representation of financial services, who remained skeptical of federating logins. We also had a lot of retailers and people from consumer products companies as well, and they were more open to federating identities.
My five top takeaways from the Smart Architect session at CA World:
- There’s an absolute consensus among the technologists that attended and our development staff that we, as a group, are focused on the right things
- The variety of perspectives that we had in the room, a great cross-section of industry verticals and organization sizes, brought significant value to the discussion
- The cloud is still not clear to a lot of business users, business analysts, and people who require or rely on IT to provide services
- Security remains an important discussion, specifically security for the cloud. Discussion had some very interesting takeaways; particularly around social media authentication and how identity is evolving into the new perimeter for most organizations
- There is unanimous support for the idea of DevOps as an important movement. It demands embracing new paradigms, and new approaches that include everything from new tools, new solutions, new organizational structures, and new processes -- up to a complete revamp of the ways we approach solving problems, in order to meet cycle times
This year, the participants in the Smart Architect program really came together in developing their presentations, their stories and their message. While the program has always been grounded in the practical, I think the audience got even more value out of it than ever before. It was interesting just to note the different positions, the different levels of experience and the different points of view on each of the technologies. There were certainly a lot of very good technology discussions especially around some of the innovations we’ve done in cloud security. Smart Architect has evolved into an incredibly exciting, very well-received program. I was pleased to have it be part of the tremendous buzz I was feeling at this year’s CA World.