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Chris Greenslade

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Director & Principal Consutant, CLARS Limited

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This Open Group member spotlight focuses on Chris Greenslade, Director & Principal Consutant, CLARS Limited, and Chair, The Open Group Supplier Council. Chris has been involved with The Open Group in numerous roles since its inception.

Q: How long have you been involved with The Open Group?
A: I was there at the birth in 1996- not actually in the delivery room, but I was among the crowd in the waiting room eagerly awaiting the news. Since 1990, I had been working with the Open Software Foundation – one of The Open Group's parents – providing training and support to their standards and developments, such as DCE, Motif, OSF/1 and CDE. So I was eager to learn about the next generation of the consortium, as it would have an impact on my business.

Q: What spawned your personal involvement in the organization?
A: When I first came across The Open Group and its predecessors, I had great empathy for their mission, goals and objectives. The IT industry had rapidly advanced because commercial competition between suppliers had led to a great diversity of hardware and software solutions. However, that very diversity had lead to incompatibilities and lock-in that constrained my ability to produce cost-effective architectures to support my clients’ businesses. Then I came across these consortia. Normally competing suppliers and their customers were working together to develop common solutions to common problems. Naturally I wanted to become involved.

Q: Why did your company become a member of The Open Group?
A: Members of The Open Group range in size from the largest of multinationals down to the smallest of independent consultancies. For small organizations, like mine, the benefit is that we can participate in the development of solutions for our clients that we could never undertake within the scope of our company. The Open Group effectively becomes our R&D department. Every member can contribute their existing expertise to a development and every member benefits from the whole development – it makes financial sense for organizations of all size.

Q: What key initiatives are you personally involved with at The Open Group?
A: My involvement with The Open Group is in four main areas.

First. As an IT architect of many years standing, my main involvement has been with the Architecture Forum, which I have chaired for four years.. During that period we published TOGAF 7, TOGAF 8 and TOGAF 8.1 and launched The Open Group’s Architecture Practitioners Conferences, which have become quite a success. We also introduced TOGAF certification and started work on what eventually became the ITAC program. At that time, we were able to be more productive, because life was simpler. The number of architecture practices committed to TOGAF was still fairly small. Each year, as our knowledge increased, we were able to modify and enhance TOGAF without the fear of disrupting too many working practices.

Second. I was co-chair of the SOA Work Group when it was set up three years ago and I continue to participate as a member of its Steering Committee. I applaud the work it is doing in bringing order to a style of architecture which, in my opinion, has previously been confused by conflicting messages and marketing hype. This Work Group is collaborating with the SOA interest groups of other consortia to harmonize the messages going out to the user community. This should reduce confusion and allow organizations to use SOA where it is most beneficial.

Third. Five years ago, while on the Governing Board of The Open Group, I was invited to join the Specification Authority of the ITAC program. Since then we have developed the program and specified the Conformance Requirements that a candidate has to meet to justify certification. The program is now fully available at three levels of certification: Level 1 – Certified, Level 2 – Master and Level 3 – Distinguished. The IT architecture profession has at last gained a global standard against which the abilities of an IT Architect can be reliably measured. This is a great boon to small companies whose architects can now prove their capabilities on a level playing field against the architects of global consultancy organizations. At CLARS we use the Conformance Requirements as the basis for guiding the IT Architects of our clients on how to develop their careers until they are capable of achieving certification.

Fourth. My final area of involvement has been within the governance structure of The Open Group, initially as a member of the Governing Board and currently as chair of the Supplier Council. Within a consortium like The Open Group, governance is of paramount importance. The standards, recommendations, best practice guides, etc. published by such a consortium are only significant if they can be shown to have been produced by consensus of the whole membership. The Customer Council and the Supplier Council act as one of the main communication paths in the consortium. They provide communication between the Forums and Work Groups, so identifying potential areas of collaboration and avoiding areas of duplication. The Councils also provide a communication channel between the members and the Governing Board.

Q: How has membership in The Open Group benefited you, your organization and the industry at large?
A: For CLARS and for me personally, membership in The Open Group has had significant benefits. Every time I attend a meeting, or a teleconference, I contribute my current knowledge and expertise. Every time the meeting finishes I have gained more of each. What is more, because of the diverse backgrounds of the other people attending the meeting, I find that I have gained a greater understanding of where my knowledge fits into the total picture. Because these meetings are attended by both suppliers and customers, I also gain greater understanding of the current challenges being faced by customer organizations, which, after all, are the reason for the existence of the IT industry. As for benefits to the industry at large, I would hope that some of my contributions to the work of the various Forums and Work Groups will now be benefiting them in the way they align their IT to their business needs.

Q: Of what contributions to The Open Group are you most proud?
A: It may seem peculiar, but the contribution in which I take the greatest pride was not actually undertaken inside The Open Group. Six years ago, when the acceptance of TOGAF was very low, I had the confidence to be a co-founder of a company specializing in the support of TOGAF – a genuine case of betting the business. Two years of hard work and investment enabled us to establish a solid foundation for a very successful company. Why do I consider this to be a contribution to The Open Group? Well, Architecting-the-Enterprise was well ahead of the field in promoting the use of TOGAF and made a great contribution to gaining acceptance of the method in the early days. It started the upward trend in the use of TOGAF that continues with ever-increasing acceleration today.

Q: Why is it important for other organizations to join The Open Group?
A: We must not forget that The Open Group is much more than just IT architecture. Almost every aspect of IT is being considered in some Forum, or Work Group, within the consortium. At a time when financial prudence is something that organizations must consider, just cutting cost is not necessarily the answer if it constrains the performance of the organization. Maximizing the benefits from necessary expenditures is a more prudent solution. Sharing problems and sharing solutions within a consensus consortium makes sense. Very few problems are absolutely unique to a particular organization and many solutions are already under consideration.

Q: Any last thoughts?
A: My greatest satisfaction is with the success of TOGAF. Five years ago it was very difficult to get anyone to listen. That was frustrating. Now, when people know of my association with TOGAF, they grab me by the collar, drag me into their office and say, "Tell me about it." That is a great feeling.

About Chris Greenslade

Chris is Director and Principal Consultant of CLARS Limited. Chris is currently Chair of the Supplier Council atThe Open Group.

He is a member of The Open Group’s Specification Authority that specifies the policies, processes and conformance criteria of the ITAC program. He was also a member of the first ever ITAC Certification Review Board and many subsequent ones.