NEW YORK—To Lawrence Weinbach, building an agile IT infrastructure is not unlike building a house: Without a well-modeled game plan, things can quickly go awry.
That is the thinking behind Unisys Corp.s new Business Blueprinting initiative, a services and software strategy that the company rolled out during an event here Tuesday.
At the core of the initiative is aligning what technology can provide with what business needs, said Weinbach, chairman, president and CEO of the Blue Bell, Pa., company.
“What were really talking about here is, how do we get IT to support business strategy [and] business vision?” Weinbach asked more than 300 people. “How do we develop something and see how it … all fits together?”
Businesses have been hobbled by a number of things over the past few years, he said, including the massive technology purchases fueled by Y2K, the rise of the Internet and the bursting of the dot-com bubble, and expensive implementations of enterprise resource management software. George Colony, chairman and CEO of research firm Forrester Inc., estimated that businesses overpaid by $60 billion on technology during that time.
The result is IT infrastructures that arent working as they should or have very little relation to the business goals of a company. The over-arching goal of the Business Blueprinting idea is to enable companies to create environments where their IT infrastructure can adapt quickly to business needs and market shifts and where new technology can be brought in while still protecting legacy investments.
The idea of more tightly tying business process and IT is one that is gaining momentum in the industry. It was a message that Hewlett-Packard Co., of Palo Alto, Calif., officials drove home last month during their launch of their Adaptive Enterprise initiative, where they spoke of making the IT infrastructure more flexible to meet the changing demands of business.
It also is why officials from Microsoft Corp. and IBM took the stage with Unisys to support the companys Business Blueprinting initiative.
On the services side, Unisys will help businesses model their business process needs and create an IT infrastructure that can meet those needs, according to Joseph McGrath, president of Unisys Enterprise Transformation Services unit. Much of that modeling is based on such industry-standard tools as the Unified Modeling Language and the Business Process Execution Language. Models can be built regardless of the tools used to build them.
At the same time, Unisys rolled out more than a dozen applications aimed at the verticals in which the company has focused for years, including financial services, government, transportation, and communications and the media. The applications cover everything from banking and mortgage processing, airline reservations, and justice and public safety to cargo security, publishing and revenue management.
McGrath said that two years of testing the Business Blueprint strategy have shown that it can save businesses money while increasing their productivity. He said early implementations have resulted in 75 percent to 100 percent productivity improvements, 30 percent to 50 percent reductions in application redundancy, and 25 percent to 60 percent in cost savings.
IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., and Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., are signing on to support Unisys initiative. IBMs Rational Enterprise Suite will be a key tool set used by Unisys, which also is adding to the Rational Unified Process to help with business modeling and predictive cost estimation. Business Blueprinting also is using IBMs WebSphere as an implementation platform for deploying applications on the J2EE environment. John Swainson, general manager of application and integration middleware at IBM, said the blueprinting strategy fits in with Big Blues On Demand computing push.
Unisys also will incorporate Microsofts .Net development tools, BizTalk Server and Windows Servers environment into the modeling strategy. Part of the collaboration will include the Team Jupiter Lab, a joint development and integration site in Redmond that will enable developers to create and deploy software using BizTalk Server 2004 and based on the next generation of Microsofts e-business software, code-named Jupiter, said Sanjay Parthasarathy, corporate vice president of Microsofts platform strategy and partner group.
Parthasarathy said the blueprinting initiative will be a key way of bringing together business and IT people, who too often dont collaborate as they should, which led to the integration problems many companies are now facing.
“The problem arose because they dont speak the same language, business and IT,” he said. “Theyre not modeled the same way.”
Standards, particularly XML, are the way to bridge those differences, he said.