Careers: Interviews
Dave Remmer, Architect Advisor Developer/Platform Group Microsoft, Top Architecture Authority

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., DF/NPA, MVP, CNP has an exclusive interview with Dave Remmer.

Dave RemmerAn industry veteran, Dave Remmer has architected solutions in the financial, multi-media, security, manufacturing, services and health care industries. He specializes in leveraging SOA, security, and standards development to realize ongoing business value within organizations. Dave focuses on current issues in architecting enterprise solutions and how to leverage the Microsoft platform to support project's architectural success. He has achieved certifications in the Java architecture and development environment as well as the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer designation.

Dave is an Architect Advisor with the Developer and Platform Group in Microsoft Canada and works with some of the largest organizations in Canada.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:44: How would you best define yourself and your work?
"....I think my title, Architect Advisor, in many ways is the best way of describing what I do and what my mission statement is...."

:01:49: What is the meaning of an IT architect?
" architects, we primarily help develop plans and models for the successful delivery of IT projects ....but that encompasses a lot of activities and one of the most important is looking at the process of how we build projects and successful solutions...."

:03:13: What would you classify as the different categories of architects? For example, what is meant by Enterprise architect, Solutions architect, Infrastructure architect?
"....Traditionally what we've seen is that software developers as they mature in their career get very good at the process of building software and some of the challenges we experience in our projects. We often call those Solution architects....On the other side, we have Infrastructure architects who typically have filled the role of IT managers or IT professionals who help operate the systems and infrastructure we have in an organization. Then there is this concept of an Enterprise architect and that role is a lot less about building a software solution or maintaining a data center and more about looking at how the enterprise itself is architected...and then looking at how you want to align all the various resources inside an organization to best align with that particular strategic goal...."

:05:17: What sort of attributes should one have to be an architect (i.e. Enterprise, Solutions, Infrastructure)?
"....Clearly in the IT industry you need to have IT skills, you need to understand technology, but to really evolve your career and get into the architecture game, you really need to start concentrating on the people dynamics, the ability to communicate and collaborate with your peers as well as with your fellow organizations...."

:07:34:  Dave profiles how he got to his present position in his career.

:11:12: What do you hope to achieve professionally in the next five years?
"....One of the things that I'm hoping to do in the next five years is to help my peers really achieve their potential in their own careers, as well as, to make their own organization's strategies successful...One of the things that really excites me about that role is that it's not one of those things that is ever "done". You are constantly learning new things, you are constantly finding the priorities changing on you which are both challenging and therefore exciting...."

:14:01: You organized the 2008 Strategic Architecture Forum. Can you first overview the forum and its intent and then share key architecture lessons of high value from the forum?
"....In Redmond, we hold a Global Strategic Architect Forum at Microsoft every year....We feel very strongly that the Canadian architecture industry needs to be supported and to have events such as the Architecture Forum closer to home so that we can invite a larger set of architects to join us. So in April we held our 4th annual Strategic Architects Forum in Vancouver BC....The number one theme that came out of the conference is this over-powering requirement in the IT industry to become better aligned with the businesses we are working in...."

:17:00: Dave shares his views of the cloud, SAAS, Software Plus Services, and SOA.
"....We in the IT industry have had in the past, much more of the luxury of time of being able to say, 'Oh that's interesting, we'll see if we can build a project to meet that need and when we are done we will give you a call'. That's no longer possible; we are really getting ourselves to a place where we have to be able to keep up with the amazing rates of change that our business customers are experiencing and in fact, in many respects, try to get ahead of those rates of change so that we can help lead the change in positive ways...."

:24:00: What are the major interoperability challenges and their solutions?
"....I think that interoperability is a hard problem to solve and I think that it's going to remain a hard problem to solve throughout the lifetime of our industry. But I do think that there are some tools and techniques that really are starting to help us solve some of those deep problems. One of these is the idea of having standardized vocabularies and standardized processes...."

:26:44:  From your current work, what IT insights can you give that would be of greatest value to the audience?
"....We are seeing the information technology world becoming more and more commoditized and I think that we as IT professionals need to be prepared for that...."

:29:39: What are your recommended IT best practices?
"....I have one overarching best practice....that is to remain extremely pragmatic...My best practice is the 80 - 20 rule. To look at the 20% of the things that we do that creates the 80% of the value to our organizations...."

:30:52: What are five little known but essential tips in IT?
"....Not necessarily little known.....Communication is key....Organizations have very ambiguous strategy....Less is more....The complexity is the greatest challenge we have in IT....Agility is becoming the key driver for our success in IT...."

:34:18: What are the most important current roadmap-level tips involving architecture?
"....the idea of using service oriented architecture combining a variety of services as well as technologies that we purchase, and building around that rather than proprietary systems really gives the roadmap for architecture moving forward....."

:36:18: Take the prior question and apply it to the next 3 to 5 years.
"....I think that is one of the things we are going to see more and more over the next five years. Higher level patterns describing how business patterns have been solved and our ability to adapt those patterns for the needs of our own organizations...."

:37:21: What is the most important broader IT and business challenge and solution in 2008?
"....having to do more with less...."

:40:38: The industry is changing. What advice would you give to IT professionals to stay on top of what is happening in the industry in order to position themselves (from a career standpoint) and their organizations to benefit from these trends?
"....We as an industry have been forced to evolve because the industry itself is so immature and I think we have to make sure that we get on top of that and continue to lead change...."

:43:26: In your current role, what are the biggest challenges, and their solutions? How does this relate to business?
"....I think that change is in fact one of my biggest challenges....Working with architects trying to understand the complexity in their systems and look for strategies and avenues to reduce that complexity....Helping individuals and teams build maintainable systems really concentrating on this idea of solutions....We as IT professionals really need to start stepping up to the plate and become full partners with the business in helping to develop strategy and helping to organize structure...."

:46:45: Dave shares some thoughts about his work.

:48:42: Provide your predictions of future IT/Business trends and their implications/opportunities?
"....We are going to find that this idea of mega projects is really becoming much less sustainable....We are going to find ourselves much more entwined in the cycles of the business....The idea of communication and coordination will be the norm. We are going to see the tools around collaboration will be very tightly woven into pretty much everything we do in IT....We are going to start using models a lot more than we have in the past....Computing is going to become increasingly important in an integrated platform as opposed to a propriety platform...."

:55:26: Which are your top recommended resources and why?
"....Almost everybody does research on the web....but the one thing the web lacks is really strong editing. I think that is its strength and it weakness....Another is the Economist magazine....Also the Harvard Business Review and the Sloan Management Review....There are some fantastic technology books as well less technology focused....'Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution' (by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David C. Robertson)..."

:59:15: If you were doing this interview, what questions would you ask and what would be your answers?
"....What kind of problems have you been seeing at your customer's organizations and how can they been solved?...."


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