Application Services provides a platform for IT Development and Maintenance professionals to discuss and gain insights into best practices, process innovations and emerging technologies that will shape the future of this profession.

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March 23, 2017

Computer Vision - The Next Frontier of Innovation

 

Imagine walking to an ATM kiosk pressing a button and getting your cash (Forget Cashless world for a moment), no cards, no pins, nothing it's just "YOU" that matter without the need of any surrogate that you must carry. Yes, sounds futuristic, but I believe we are at its doorstep. This and many more magic are possible with the advancement computing leveraging computer vision and breaking the barrier of traditional computer input mechanism that have been serving as their senses to react to its users needs till date.

Computing has evolved from its Stone Age era of reliance on punch cards for its input, to keyboards, mouse, touch and to recent innovations of voice enabled inputs such as Siri and Cortana. Computers are fundamentally designed to understand binaries, various input mechanism that's are being used are approaches that's more convenient for we humans and at the same time has the feasibility to be translated to binaries. For major part of computing history, text based input served as the best deal, with this approach there is always an explicit step to translate the Subject, its desire, its credential and privileges to alphanumeric representation that computers can work on, hence you have this cards or usernames that identifies the subject and pins or passwords that Authenticates the subject.  The input mechanism is just a means to translate the user's desire to the binary format that computers can understand. With Computer Vision this whole model changes the actual subjects are translated to binaries that machines can understand and act upon. Chui a doorbell with facial recognition capabilities is one such application of this smart technology that is changing how we interact with machines and realize its value. The engagement with machines are becoming more direct and implicit.

Computer Vision is convergence of Image Processing, Artificial Intelligence (Machine learning to be specific) and Big data which enable machines to perceive things just like how we humans do, in turn making machine one step closer to replicate human senses to process its surroundings. Technology today is quite matured in applying Computer Vision to specific domain like facial recognition or reading vehicle license plate, but it's challenging to apply it more generically in fields like self-driving car where there are too many variations that needs to be processed to present the optimal outcomes, additionally the field of self-driving cars has too many legal, compliance and ethical issues beyond technology that's needs to be addressed before they become mainstream consumer technologies. Until then its prime time for Computer Vision to change how we interact and extend the boundaries of computers.

In an era of smartphone where every phone is equipped with camera, its coincidentally ready for the game of computer vision. Computer Vision in collaboration with Augmented reality has immense potential, where computing can enrich our physical world with immense data that's available for us, but instead of we explicating searching this information, computer vision would help us overlay this important information that matter us the most in real-time, taking the whole experience to a new level, one where we are presented with valuable information rather than requesting it. This would be a typical example of technology enriching our senses as we develop senses for our technology. There are many apps that allows you to focus your camera on your surrounding and get your valuable information based on geolocation and subject in focus. Hyundai's Augmented Reality owner manual is another excellent example of this technology being applied innovatively.

With the capability, there and maturing, there is immense possibilities that's conceivable with Computer Vision. Financial Investors are using satellite imaginary to get real time inputs to economic metrics like traffic at ports, oil reserves and crop yields. The same method can be used in health care to check trends in flu and other seasonal diseases by analyzing parked cars at Hospital and Urgent Care centers. With eyes in sky, property and casualty insurers can have a better insight to their potential liabilities in certain areas by observing traffic and accidents in areas they cover. These are just the patterns that can be extended to different business areas to gain massively from Computer Vision. With today's world, all about images shot at megapixel there are trove of information waiting to be harvested, and time is ripe for innovative use cases that could be leveraged using Computer Vision.

All technologies comes with its own concerns, with Computer Vision where any visual is more than an image, there are huge concerns of privacy as simple camera has the capability of going behind its realm to provide and extract information that otherwise would only be possible through human intervention. All said its a beginning of a new Technological journey that has the potential to make our childhood days science fiction into reality. Computer Vision is well positioned to lead the revolution until we dawn into next penultimate era of computer telepathy where our thoughts are translated to binary to serve as computer commands J.

 

March 1, 2017

A Journey on the line of Architecture Assessment

Author: Gayathri Rajamanickam, Technology Architect, Infosys 

"Architecture starts when you carefully put two bricks together. There it begins." - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

According to the research firm Gartner Group, enterprises generally plan to upgrade 38% of their application portfolios, 24% of them will be replaced, 18% will be retired and 22% remain unchanged. Application portfolio upgrade or replacement can be targeted towards the need for the technology modernization, optimization of LOBs (Line of Business), improving sustainability of the system, etc.

Application architecture assessment plays a vital role in both, green field application development or re-engineering (upgrade) of existing application. Architecture of a system need to be evaluated to rationalize the decisions behind the system design, to review the solution that meets both functional and non-functional requirements and also to ensure quality of the system.

Recently I was engaged in architecture assessment for one of the leading insurance brokers in USA that specializes in developing, marketing & administering customized insurance programs and specialty market solutions. The customer is utilizing a Policy Management System (PMS) which is evolving as a global product over the time that triggered the need for architecture assessment.

In this blog, I am going to share my experience on how the architecture assessment is conducted and processes involved in the assessment.

Architecture Assessment

Architecture assessment is an activity to validate the decisions taken in the existing architecture of the system. It is generally conducted in enterprises where complex software systems are connected to each other to perform their day-to-day business operations.



Plan & Gather

The Assessment starts with discovery phase where brainstorming sessions are conducted with the key stakeholders to explore and understand the existing system architecture, non-functional requirements, current business and technical challenges in the system. The existing knowledge artifacts are used to help in supporting some of decisions taken all through the chronicled changes to the system.

The knowledge captured during the brain storming sessions are also documented in the form of graphs and tabular structure to provide better clarity to the system in place.

  • A historic graph is plotted utilizing insights about the past releases and future releases with the essentials on technology and business parameters that drive the progressions to the system
  • Existing system architecture model is revamped to incorporate the critical business themes along with the appropriate mapping to the technology stack

Assess

Technology assessment mainly includes the activities like analyzing and reviewing the various layers and association to each other in the system. Estimation of each layer - in terms of number of services, number of forms/pages, number of business rules, number of tables and so forth., are computed and assessed in the perspectives of minimizing redundancy across different architecture tiers, separation of concerns, single responsibility principle, coupling and coherency across the layers. Technology stack used in each layer are reviewed and quick POCs are performed with the best alternatives available in the market. Static code analysis and detailed code reviews are performed manually as well as using tools and frameworks wherever possible to evaluate the design patterns that are used to meet the business needs of the system.

The best outcome of any technology improvement goes hand in hand with the underlying infrastructure in the complex enterprise applications. There comes a need of infrastructure assessment as well. Here the assessment is performed to appraise the system for its readiness towards cloud, load balancing, and optimization of application environment for different LOBs, inspection of underlying hardware of the systems to understand the performance factors behind the scenes. Size of existing data are measured and data growth rate is predicted based on the current data size to estimate the performance of the system for the future need of the business.

Each module that constitutes the part of the complex enterprise application is mapped to individual functional component. This activity is performed to isolate the redundant implementation of the similar business requirement across the enterprise.

Fitment-gap analysis is performed to evaluate current strategies and processes followed on the deployment model with latest process model like DevOps in order to provide the reliable and incremental process to improve the software delivery process.

Recommend

Following are the typical outcomes of the assessment

  • Assessment Report
  • PoA Architecture
  • RoadMap

Assessment Report

This report will include summarization and detailing out section for key observations and opportunities section. Every key observation will have a mapping on the business impact such as time-to-market, cost of maintenance, etc.

Below picture depicts sample summary section of the assessment report.

 

PoA Architecture

Point of Arrival (PoA) architecture will define the proposed architecture model based on finalized assessment. PoA will address the existing challenges that are present in the enterprise application along with the proposal to make the system better fit for the future needs of the business. The proposal can include technology upgrade, modernization of legacy system, modularization of the existing system, re-engineering of certain critical components, etc.

RoadMap

Recommended RoadMap is presented to the enterprise to leverage the best possible outcome of the assessment. As part of this roadmap, recommendations are categorized on the basis of short term, medium term and long term business benefit to prioritize the opportunities for implementation.

Conclusion

In this blog, we have seen methodologies and procedures involved in the life cycle of an architecture assessment. An assessment is not a strategy to solve a single problem. It is an approach towards the betterment of the system. I'm sure, a well-run assessment will definitely help the client in improving their business and accelerating their growth in the competitive market.

References

https://www.gartner.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_Architecture_Assessment_Framework

http://searchmicroservices.techtarget.com/feature/Mobile-computing-backlash-App-modernization-needs-on-the-rise


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