Metropolis Article on MSDN…


Sorry for the long quiet… family medical stuff… lots of travel… lots of excuses…  I’ll try to do better…


Looks like I got an MSDN front page for an article I wrote that was published in Journal a few weeks ago. 


I got asked to post the following ad for JOURNAL:



“The new homepage for JOURNAL – Microsoft’s Architects Journal is live on MSDN Architecture Center: http://msdn.microsoft.com/architecture/journal/. This page describes what JOURNAL is and has links to JOURNAL articles that are now in the MSDN library. Currently, we have all six articles from JOURNAL1 plus MY new Metropolis article from the hot-off-the-presses JOURNAL2. Over the next couple of months, we will be publishing the remainder of JOURNAL2 articles in MSDN. In the meantime, we are providing PDF versions of both issues (available in A4 format for convenient printing) to users who register.”


Today, the article ( http://msdn.microsoft.com/architecture/journal/default.aspx?pull=/library/en-us/dnmaj/html/aj2metrop.asp ) is on the front page of MSDN.  Cool!


I’ve seen some mail on this and I wanted to post a couple of comments that I had made in response to a couple of questions:



1) We have had major problems getting our customers to except standardized structures, processes, and products. It seems that most people believe, or at least want us to believe, that the way they do things is better than everyone else and we should conform to their requirements.  Also, they are reluctant to share technology with their competition.  This leads to very complex Software due to the numerous configuration switches required to meet our customers different beliefs. This seems very similar to the standardized clothing example.  To make matters worse, they all want it easy to implement, which it is not because of the numerous configuration switches. To make matters worse, “consultants” are used for implementation.  Once a consultant gets involved they usually generate more conflicting requirements, hence the problem proliferates and gets worse. Do you have any idea how this type of obstacle was overcome in your Metropolis Comparison?



2) Who plays the role of “City Government” in the IT world?



I am just starting on a very good book by David A Hounshell called “From the American System to Mass Production, 1800-1932” [John Hopkins, 1984].  In this, he outlines how challenging the transition to interchangeability was. Most people did not believe that it could work and, indeed, for many years it was more expensive as interchangeable parts could only be manually created and they needed to live by additional constraints of fitting to gauges that ensured their completely standard sizes.  It was a separate effort to create machines that could create many parts (and the first machines to create parts did not create interchangeable parts).  Only because there were some true believers in the war department who wanted battlefield interchangeability for repairs and funded expensive (and for many years unsuccessful) work, did interchangeability come about. This was after over 30 years of failures and the resistance of effectively ALL of the skilled artisans.  They resisted interchangeability as eliminating their artistic expression in creating the gun or sewing machine and they resisted the creation of machines to automate their work (for obvious reasons).  This transition to interchangeability is HARD!


It is my opinion that City Government maps to IT Departments… there is confusion in the industry about the role of IT and it varies from company to company.  Peter Weill of MIT CISR has some great articles and books on this.  It is my belief that we will evolve to a world where the business units will fund and drive the creation of applications and the IT shop will function like the city in imposing zoning and building codes.  This would include inspections for quality… the funding and drive to complete the project will come from the business unit but the constraints from the IT department.  Just my opinion…



I am working on lots more of this to publish and, eventually, create a book.  I am committed to having three presentations on this (each 75 minutes) at TechEd in San Diego.  The MSDN article represents half of the first presentation.   I hope to get a website set up soon to hold all this material (and much more stuff I have written through the years).  I already have the domain www.PatHelland.com but there is NO content out there… when something gets posted, the bloggers will hear immediately.


Love,
Pat


 

Comments (9)

  1. Aric Friesen says:

    You say:



    It is my opinion that City Government maps to IT Departments… there is confusion in the industry about the role of IT and it varies from company to company. Peter Weill of MIT CISR has some great articles and books on this. It is my belief that we will evolve to a world where the business units will fund and drive the creation of applications and the IT shop will function like the city in imposing zoning and building codes. This would include inspections for quality… the funding and drive to complete the project will come from the business unit but the constraints from the IT department



    Ok, that makes sense on some level (i.e. for internal development), but it probably doesn’t fully address the underlying concern which I believe included external integration. The IT departments (let’s keep referring to them as city governments) do not have control over other city’s choices. Each one is free to impose their own standards and laws. If that’s the case then standards bodies are like State, or Federal (country level) governments. They can impose standards that are mandatory (for example TCP/IP, no IT department has the freedom to deviate from TCP/IP) but it’s up to the cities to decide how to follow the rules, and which ones to follow.

    Why is this distinction important? Because the original question that was asked which resulted in your above comments was as follows:



    1) We have had major problems getting our customers to except standardized structures, processes, and products. It seems that most people believe, or at least want us to believe, that the way they do things is better than everyone else and we should conform to their requirements. Also, they are reluctant to share technology with their competition. This leads to very complex Software due to the numerous configuration switches required to meet our customers different beliefs. This seems very similar to the standardized clothing example. To make matters worse, they all want it easy to implement, which it is not because of the numerous configuration switches. To make matters worse, “consultants” are used for implementation. Once a consultant gets involved they usually generate more conflicting requirements, hence the problem proliferates and gets worse. Do you have any idea how this type of obstacle was overcome in your Metropolis Comparison?

    2) Who plays the role of “City Government” in the IT world?



    I believe the person asking the question was in the IT department (therefore the City Government level) yet was still having the issues they described, meaning while you see IT departments as City Government level, that apparently isn’t the level than can help with all of the issues raised. It’s up to the Federal Government level.

    Federal Government controls City Governments in different ways. Some things they hand down as laws that the city doesn’t have the right to overturn. Some they hand down as recommendations or guidelines that if the city follows they get extra funding (like enforcing speeding usually nets extra money for road development). The problems that the person described must be addressed by the Federal Government which I guess would map to the standards bodies, and the industry leaders as theirs are the only bodies who’s scope is above the IT departments.

    I don’t think it’s fair to ask a city to solve a country wide issue, nor is it reasonable to expect a single company’s IT department to solve all integration issues among all 3rd party participants by trying to enforce standards outside their domain.

  2. Scott Hand says:

    That was a great presentation you made at the conference in Rancho Mirage. I look forward to seeing more about this and reading your articles on it.

  3. JB says:

    I came across a vaguely similar line of reasoning to Metropolis which describes the actual reality of the current "state of the art" in the software development trenches to a shantytown: i.e. ad hoc development and maintenance over a period of time.(see http://www.laputan.org/mud/mud.html#BigBallOfMud).

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