Skill Level Intermediate
- Allow me to introduce you to your fictional friendly local hardware store, Brick & Mortar. Brick & Mortar sells all your usual home improvement needs: tools, building materials, paint, everything the handyman or woman needs to make a happy home. This is a completely fictional company, however, we're going to breathe life into it, with a complete history and set of facts. Then, we'll explore different topics, based on the company's attributes. Brick & Mortar was founded by Phineas J. Mortar in 1975. The first store occupied a few hundred square feet in Baltimore, Maryland. As the years passed, Phineas made good decisions and his business grew into several hardware stores in every major city along the U.S. Eastern seaboard. Things got even better, as a new opportunity arose in 1990, when a struggling competitor went looking for a buyer. Phineas gathered the necessary capital and purchased the competitor, adding stores throughout the Midwest. Today, Brick & Mortar is a national hardware chain, with 10,000 employees and more than 1500 stores. Here's the thing, as Brick & Mortar grew, it's need for technology grew with it. The headquarters in Baltimore used mainframe computers in the early 80's, then began to add distributive systems about a decade later. Phineas and his executive team understand the need for technology, but they'll be the first to admit that they are not technologists. The I.T. systems that support Brick & Mortar have grown organically over time. Most of the work done on these systems has been done by contractors and consultants. The back office systems are housed in a leased data center in Baltimore. Each store has a connection to the back office network, which supports systems, such as point of sale, time keeping and security. Maintaining these systems, and controlling the cost of operations has been a constant bother for Phineas and his executive team. Each new upgrade is a complex, expensive effort that seems to never end. They can never get a straight answer to the question, "When will you be finished?" Phineas needs to modernize his operations, not by adding new servers or software, but by bringing on talent that knows how to manage technology. He's in luck! His daughter, Emma Mortar, has a degree in Computer Science, with a minor in Business. She has a successful 10 year career in I.T. She and Phineas have talked about his technology troubles for awhile, and Emma believes she can help. So, she has joined Brick & Mortar as Vice President of Engineering and Chief Architect. Her remit: assess the technology and use by the company, then formulate and execute a plan to modernize. She has her work cut out for her. The systems are not in good shape. They're unreliable, difficult and expensive to support. What's more, is that turnover in the IT department is high. And to make matters even worse, documentation of the existing systems is sparse. We'll be joining Emma as she embarks upon her first executive role in IT, using her work as examples of the challenges and responsibilities faced by enterprise architects.