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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Monday, February 8, 2016

Have Fun Today – Throw a Frisbee!

History
Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, January 23, 2016
7:56 am

On this day, way back in 1957, the first patch of Frisbees were produced by Wham-O toy company! Who can imagine life without Frisbees? Have fun!

Frisbee

 

 

My Awe in New Gismos

History, Technology
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
3:33 pm

Camera mini

It has been my privilege to experience astounding advances in electronics and computer technology during my lifetime.  I started poring over electronics magazines like Popular Electronics and mail order catalogs from Allied ElectronicsRadio ShackLafayette Radio Electronics, and Heathkit over 50 years ago.  I was amazed then with the neat things I saw and I am still amazed at new stuff I see in 2016!

I rarely click on the ads that appear on Facebook, but was intrigued today by this little ad. Just think of it!  A digital camera with lens, for ten bucks! And this wasn’t advertised in an obscure parts catalog – it was posted on Facebook!

I don’t know how well this gismo works. There are probably things that are even more impressive. But the convergence of digital electronics, optics, miniaturization and manufacturing techniques to produce something like this for so little money fills me with awe just like some new gismo I read about in my youth. Really cool!

 

What a Cute Baby!

Nature
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
3:12 pm

Momentous day when I was three years old!

On this day in 1956, a baby gorilla named Colo enters the world at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, becoming the first-ever gorilla born in captivity. Weighing in at approximately 4 pounds, Colo, a western lowland gorilla whose name was a combination of Columbus and Ohio, was the daughter of Millie and Mac, two gorillas captured in French Cameroon, Africa, who were brought to the Columbus Zoo in 1951.

  

 

A Stroll in Space

Space Travel
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
2:58 pm

What a way to celebrate Winter Solstice!  According to NASA:

Expedition 46 Flight Engineer Tim Kopra … and Commander Scott Kelly successfully moved the International Space Station’s mobile transporter rail car ahead of Wednesday’s docking of a Russian cargo supply spacecraft.

  

 

Digital Business – Do We Have the Right Buzzwords?

Business, Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, December 7, 2015
9:17 pm

Today at the Gartner IAM Summit today I heard the term “Digital Business” dozens of times.  Do you think we have the right collections of buzzwords to describe that trend?

Buzzwords

Thanks to the Marketoonist for the insightful drawing!

 

Chuck Yeager – Breaking the Sound Barrier

Aircraft, Technology
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
6:53 am

Question: Do you know how many transistors were in the radio Chuck Yeager used in the Glamorous Glennis X-1 rocket plane when he broke the sound barrier 68 years ago today, on October 14, 1947?

Answer: Zero.  His radio had to use vacuum tubes, because the first working transistor wasn’t demonstrated until November 1947, and the first transistor radio was not produced until 1954.

Yeager

Isn’t it amazing what was accomplished with technology that seems so rudimentary by today’s standards?

 

First Model T Introduced 107 years ago today

Automotive
Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, October 1, 2015
3:48 pm

One hundred and seven years ago today, on October 1, 1908, the first Model T Ford was introduced.  According to the Ford media center:

The car that established a mass market for automobiles, the Model T, was introduced on Oct. 1, 1908. The first Model T had a 20-horsepower, four-cylinder engine, reached a top speed of about 45 miles per hour, got about 13 to 21 miles per gallon of gasoline and weighed 1,200 pounds. It was the ninth of Henry Ford’s production cars.

More than 15,000,000 Model T’s were built and sold. The Model T was the first low-priced, mass- produced car with standard interchangeable parts. The Model T popularized the left-side steering column. The engine design, a single block with a removable cylinder head, became the industry standard.

The Model T’s agile planetary transmission enabled novices to operate the gears, and was a forerunner of modern automatic transmission designs. Vanadium steel, an alloy manufactured for the company at the direction of Henry Ford, gave the car great strength and durability without extra weight.

Here is a short video that discusses the history of the Model T and show some cool old photos and moving pictures!

 

What in the world is Digital Transformation?

Business, Technology
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, September 4, 2015
5:11 pm

Digital: “of, relating to, or using data in the form of numerical digits

Transformation: “change in form, appearance, nature, or character.”

BlindMenElephant 720

The more I read about and discuss the hot buzzword “Digital Transformation,” the more I think of the old “Blind Men and the Elephant” story.  Each blind man’s perception of reality was different, depending on which part of the elephant’s anatomy he examined. The meaning of Digital Transformation also seems to depend highly on who is thinking about the subject.

First, consider a few examples of how business leaders may think of Digital Transformation:

To the business leader who has the vision of leveraging a company’s vast data resources to open new revenue opportunities through selling access to that data to interested customers, Digital Transformation is all about rapidly delivering that digital asset (data) to customers in new, innovative ways.

To the leader who is primarily interested in customer acquisition and loyalty in a consumer goods market, Digital Transformation may include “store of the future” concepts and providing a omni-channel customer buying experience.

To the health care executive, Digital Transformation may include providing electronic health records for patients that span multiple care providers to provide a more seamless and effective experience for patients and more profitable revenue channels for the many enterprises involved.

I’m sure thou can think of many more business examples.

Now think about what you have heard technology vendors say about Digital Transformation:

“You must leverage the Cloud to enable Digital Transformation.”

“Exposing and consuming APIs are essential are essential to Digital Transformation.”

“Digital Transformation is removing or consolidating information system silos.”

“Digital Transformation is all about enabling multi-channel customer experience.”

“Digital Transformation is all about harnessing Big Data.”

There are lots of body parts to the Digital Transformation elephant. Each of the viewpoints above is somewhat correct, but is lacking in completeness.  Digital Transformation is a big subject.

Perhaps the overall business perspective might be described in these ways:

Digital business models have become essential for companies across a range of industries. … going digital is now a prerequisite for surviving and thriving. (McKinsey)

Competing successfully in the digital industrial economy is rapidly becoming a leading strategic imperative for businesses all around the world. (Gartner)

Digital Transformation involves dramatically changing the enterprise to embrace and leverage digital technology to compete in new, innovative and disruptive ways.

From the technology viewpoint, we must remember that technology must enable business, not just exist for the sheer beauty of new stuff. Many technologies are converging to enable Digital Transformation – Mobile, Social, Cloud, Big Data, Internet of Things, APIs – I have probably missed a few. Any or all of these technologies can be leveraged in a Digital Transformation, depending on what is needed to support the business. No single technology is sufficient.  

We must remember that huge changes must be made in IT to enable dramatic changes in business. Gartner’s Peter Sondergaard recommends:

Digital startups sit inside your organization, in your marketing department, in HR, in logistics and in sales. As IT leaders, you must design, resource and deploy for a world that’s digital first. In this new model, every business unit is a technology startup. Now is your opportunity to create that team. Partner with the digital startups inside your organization and prove that you can move fast too. Embrace the outside change. 

Taking both business views and IT views into consideration, I rather like this definition of Digital Transformation from the Agile Elephant, a UK based consultancy:

Digital transformation is the process of shifting your organisation from a legacy approach to new ways of working and thinking using digital, social, mobile and emerging technologies.  It involves a change in leadership, different thinking, the encouragement of innovation and new business models, incorporating digitisation of assets and an increased use of technology to improve the experience of your organisation’s employees, customers, suppliers, partners and stakeholders.

This made me remember a statement made by Tom Peters in his book, Thriving on Chaos, which I first read in 1989:

Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change. That is, excellent firms of tomorrow will cherish impermanence and thrive on chaos!

A word of warning, however. Several years ago, when “Business Process Re-engineering” was a popular buzzword, a friend of mine was really excited when he was first assigned to a re-engineering team in his company.  He was not so happy a while later when he hold me his position in the company was re-engineered. He had been laid off!

We must be agile ourselves to survive and thrive!

 

 

Enabling Digital Transformation with REST API

Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, September 4, 2015
3:39 pm

I was recently introduced to a powerful new tool created by the folks at Persistent Systems, a long time Oracle development and systems integrator partner. The Oracle Identity and Access Management platform has a very rich set of Java APIs that enable developers to access nearly all of the functionality this platform from external applications.  The challenge is not completeness, but complexity.  To take advantage of this rich API set, external developers have to know much about the internal workings of the IAM products and the intricacies of writing the Java code to access the APIs.

The Persistent Systems engineers have developed a REST API on top of the Oracle Identity Governance Java API that exposes OIG capabilities in a much simpler, more “process friendly” way. For example, a few services available are:

  • User Access Request
  • Get User’s Provisioned Roles
  • Acting on Pending Authorizations
  • Authenticate User
  • Authorize User

… and the list goes on.

How would you like to translate those “business level” requests into Java API calls?

To demonstrate the capability of the REST API, a developer at Persistent Systems created the application shown in the image below, with a clean, easy-to use interface for OIG approvals and certifications – all without being an expert in Java or the detailed processes within OIG.  The iPhone and Apple watch images include screen shots from my phone and watch.  It really does work!

The most important thing to consider is not the neat user interface – although it has some cool features – it is how an intelligently constructed REST API can provide development agility, application flexibility and rapid deployment, all essential enablers for digital transformation.

Persistent Systems

 Leonardo Da Vinci has been credited with the wise statement, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  I think Leonardo would like this approach.

 

On this day in 1968: The First US ATM

Identity, Technology History
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
10:44 am

Atm

Sixty two years ago today, as I was commencing my junior year in high school, the first Automated Teller Machine, called the “Docuteller,” began dispensing cash at Chemical Bank in Rockville Centre, New York. According to a Wired article

It marked the first time reusable, magnetically coded cards were used to withdraw cash.

Nowadays, ATMs are ubiquitous. Mag stripe cards are widely used for identification at ATMs and in many other applications. EMV chip-and-PIN cards are becoming more broadly used in the US, although they have been used widely in Europe for many years.

Wide proliferation of ATMs dramatically changed the consumer banking industry. I suppose that mobile banking apps and mobile payments are now changing banking as dramatically as ATMs did over the past sixty years!

By the way, the Chemical Bank ATM was not the first ATM in the world.  The British beat the US by a couple of years, albeit without the mag stripe plastic ATM card. According to Wikipedia

It is widely accepted that the first ATM was put into use by Barclays Bank in its Enfield Town branch in north London, United Kingdom, on 27 June 1967. This machine was inaugurated by English comedy actor Reg Varney  This instance of the invention is credited to John Shepherd-Barron of printing firm De La Rue, who was awarded an OBE in the 2005 New Year Honours. This design used paper cheques issued by a teller or cashier, marked with carbon-14 for machine readability and security, which in a latter model were matched with a personal identification number (PIN).

Atm

We have come a long way!

 
 
 
 
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