Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pain points

So what keeps me busy ? While problems which start from IT blame usually are a combination of Business Operations and IT factors (people, process & technology), it is incumbent upon IT to take the lead in resolving these end-to-end. On the systems/software side, common themes emerge :

1> Performance
Probably the greatest area of weakness in the IT discipline which appears in direct conflict with our need / necessity to meet timelines. The art of performance testing an application requires the greatest skill level .. a thorough understanding of not only the software design but also of the business use of that software. A comprehensive black box test and simulating the real world is usually an impossible challenge for complex high transaction systems. So what constitutes a barely sufficient approach ? Does it boil down to having the right person do the job vs. a set formula ?

2> Software quality / engineering issues
Bugs Bugs Bugs !! When will we ever figure out the discipline of paying attention to detail and fully understanding the subtle behavioral side effects of the software we write. Cost, Quality & Speed seem to conflict, however, that isnt really so. Agile is a step towards really representing what developers feel, however, as usual, it is more a management buzzword than reality. More books on what it means written by people who have never written a line of code. This symptom however, represents something more fundamental. It is about engineering discipline .. instilling a sense of pride within teams about what we produce all the way to the individual contributing developer.

3> Solutions where complexity has overtaken team skills
This is a good one .. with lower cost sourcing strategies, we are not always sticking with the highest calibre talent. We are seduced too often by the promise of technology eliminating the critical dependence on the developer. An example, buying BEA doesnt mean you are relieved of the duty of understand middleware concepts and more importantly the proper use of BEA.

Milan Gupta

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