Skip to main content
This year's e-Science All-Hands Meeting has had a really good buzz going on. The conference is the same size as last week's OGF/GridWorld meeting in Washington, in a friendlier venue and with lots going on. This year's talks & demos seem more about applications than technology, which suggests that e-Science is maturing and becoming viable for more widespread use.

I'm here mainly wearing my Grid Computing Now! hat. We have a booth in which we present the DTI-funded R&D projects alongside our industry case studies. We've had quite a good interest from the delegates. From my point of view it's been good to see what the R&D projects are doing now that they are up and running. We had excellent demos from BROADEN, DEWS and Healthcare@Home.

Healthcare@Home is developing a system whereby diabetes patients can monitor key indicators (such as glucose level in the blood) at home, with readings transmitted to a server via mobile phone. This enables clinicians to track their progress and risk analysis software to detect problems.

DEWS is linking weather forecast data with health data and coastguard services. One application is to give better assistance to search and rescure operations, allowing for the effect of wind and tide. Another is to forecast weather-related health problems. The key idea here is to make better use of available data - a theme I;ll return to in a later posting.

BROADEN is looking at the analysis of vibration data from aircraft engines in order to detect problems before they become critical. This is a development of the earlier DAME e-Science project. The same technology can be used for other types of data - there's another possible health link here as heartbeats are a possible application.

Far more happened than I can summarise in one blog entry. The hard thing has been finding time to follow up all the discussions I've had during the week - whenever I've sat down to make notes there's always been someone else interesting to talk to.


Popular posts from this blog

Presentation: Putting IT all together

This is a presentation I gave to an audience of University staff: 

In this seminar, I invite you to consider what the University’s online services would be like, if we worked together to design them from the perspective of the student or member of staff who will use them, instead of designing them around the organisational units that provide them. I’ll start with how the services might appear to that student or member of staff, then work back from there to show what this implies for how we work, how we manage our data, and how we integrate our IT systems. It might even lead to changes in our organisational structure.

Our online services make a vital and valued contribution to the work of our students and staff. I argue that with better integration, more consistent user interfaces, and shared data, this contribution could be significantly enhanced.

This practice is called “Enterprise Architecture”. I’ll describe how it consults multiple organisational units and defines a framework …

Service Excellence, Digital Transformation and Enterprise Architecture

Our University Secretary has sponsored a major review of the University’s administrative processes, coining the banner “Service Excellence”.  The aim is to look at the services we provide to staff and students with a fresh eye, making them more effective, more efficient, and focussed on the user rather than administrative convenience.

Our CIO is sponsoring a similar programme called “Digital Transformation”. This will replace old paper-based processes, starting with the question of what would processes look like if we designed them afresh for the modern connected world.  The aim is to make processes that are more focussed on the user and hence more effective and efficient.

Both of these ambitious programmes will need an effective enterprise architecture, if they are to succeed.  Digital Transformation is intrinsically about using opportunities provided by new technology to improve services and, as such, it requires effective technology services to make data available when needed, to pro…

Not so simple...

A common approach to explaining the benefits of Enterprise Architecture is to draw two diagrams: one that shows a complicated mess of interconnections, and one that shows a nicely layered set of blocks. Something like this one, which came from some consultants:

I've never felt entirely happy with this approach.  Yes, we do want to remove as much of the needless complexity and ad-hoc design that litters the existing architecture.  Yes, we do want to simplify the architecture and make it more consistent and intelligible.  But the simplicity of the block diagram shown here is unobtainable in the vast majority of real enterprises.  We have a mixture of in-house development and different third-party systems, some hosted in-house, some on cloud infrastructure and some accessed as software-as-a-service.  For all the talk of standards, vendors use different authentication systems, different integration systems, and different user interfaces.

So the simple block diagram is, basically, a l…