Technology for technology’s sake

December 1, 2009
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I have been knocking around the IT industry in Australia for a while now and it started to occur to me that maybe we are becoming a bit of a self-perpetuating industry. Are we creating more problems than we are solving? Are we solving problems that are only there because of our ‘dumb’ information technology in the first place? Is there a weird conspiracy acting out some sort of big brother role looking after us all?

  • DR – If there’s a disaster just deal with it at the time – huh? Maybe you need some contingency but do we need to get hung up on it? Shape DR to fit practicalities.
  • IT Security – boring!! I know we need it but has it gone too far?
  • Clustering – why bother? Doesn’t that just create more things to manage to get to the same outcome?
  • Operating System emulators – why do we have multiple operating systems anyway?

I was recently doing some work at a customer of ours who used a competing (cheaper) database technology to Teradata to implement a data mart/BI solution they used four database servers and two file/application servers to store different information for different parts of the single application. One of the servers stored the raw data for odd



I have been knocking around the IT industry in Australia for a while now and it started to occur to me that maybe we are becoming a bit of a self-perpetuating industry. Are we creating more problems than we are solving? Are we solving problems that are only there because of our ‘dumb’ information technology in the first place? Is there a weird conspiracy acting out some sort of big brother role looking after us all?

  • DR – If there’s a disaster just deal with it at the time – huh? Maybe you need some contingency but do we need to get hung up on it? Shape DR to fit practicalities.
  • IT Security – boring!! I know we need it but has it gone too far?
  • Clustering – why bother? Doesn’t that just create more things to manage to get to the same outcome?
  • Operating System emulators – why do we have multiple operating systems anyway?

I was recently doing some work at a customer of ours who used a competing (cheaper) database technology to Teradata to implement a data mart/BI solution they used four database servers and two file/application servers to store different information for different parts of the single application. One of the servers stored the raw data for odd calendar days and one of the servers stored it for even calendar days – how convoluted!!

If you take a look at the wider community, technology is taking up our mind-space and time where maybe we could avoid it:

  • Laptop raisers – why don’t laptops have raisers in them? Why do I have to carry a separate one around?
  • Annoying SMS security messages from your Internet Banking System? Wasn’t Internet Banking meant to make banking more convenient?
  • Windows 7 – enough said.
  • Chafing powder – lose the undies or bra – there’s a better solution. Only in New Zealand would you see an ad for this stuff.
  • Thousands of different electronic plugs and cables – why can’t we have one type of cable and one type of plug? USB is faster than FireWire – woooooohhh!

What am I trying to get at? Just a bit of advice: think twice about technology decisions. Is the solution adding value or is it solving a short-term problem for long-term pain? Is it just a toy that will create a legacy you can’t get rid of? Make the decision wisely and analytically.

In the Data Warehouse solution space, think about self-management, seamless integration and simplicity of architecture. Think carefully about the future because Data Warehouses grow and change more rapidly than any other IT application – if they don’t then there might be something wrong. Be careful to create a simple asset that can grow and roll with the punches – many will touch it and value it if you set it up right. Try not to create a monster if you can avoid it.

Try and think of a few examples of technology gone wrong. You’ll probably find, like me, that it’s not hard to find them – what are we doing about fixing them?

Greg Taranto