Feeds

Learning from the past

David Norfolk has Proustian moment over IMS

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Of course, even though some of what I write today comes out of what I learned way back then, I take care not to mention COBOL, IMS DB/DC, MVS, data analysis and entity/relationship diagramming, because I want editors to take me seriously and pay me.

So, I talk UML, OO, XML, C#, RDBMS and Team System. However, I think that this is a symptom of what is wrong with IT. Today's technology is better than that of 25 years ago – but we shouldn't throw away the underlying principles of metadata abstraction, functional cohesion and so on just because they were also once useful for building COBOL Message Processing Programs – or rather, we shouldn't relearn these principles from scratch; we should build on what we already know.

IT is the only discipline that's important to business where we routinely throw away knowledge every time a new technology implementation appears. I remember watching OO encounter “for the first time” people and management issues that the OO gurus could have anticipated if they'd been prepared to abstract Structured Techniques experiences away from COBOL and databases and learn from them.

I watched RDBMS outdate my beloved IMS – and I really am a relational data model enthusiast (relational theory is not totally worthless in the design of hierarchical databases, by the way) - and I'm now seeing “post relational” databases replace the relational databases I'm used to. Yes, I know that the product names haven't changed but any database in which a column can contain rich XML documents isn't really a relational database, in my book.

As we move forward, however, are we at risk throwing away knowledge: the importance of abstraction; of analysing metadata structures; of distinguishing the semantics of data from its format; of trading off flexible access against raw performance in a managed way? Is the importance of providing database mentors to help application developers design good, maintainable database accesses that take advantage of the DBMS optimisers etc being recognised? This was a function of DBA in my day but these days I get the impression that DBA doesn't talk to developers much.

Many people use databases today, but how many of them know why they might choose Ingres or PostgreSQL instead of MySQL? We have better automated DBA tools today than I ever had (from the likes of BMC and Embarcadero), but are database maintenance and performance issues still biting developers on the heel?

I leave these questions to my readers – although I believe that many developers, those who still have a career path, have it because they can learn from the past as well as exploit the new - but please feel free to start a debate if you think that there are issues here. Or even if you think I'm finding issues where none exist....®

David Norfolk is the author of IT Governance, published by Thorogood. More details here.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Entity Framework goes 'code first' as Microsoft pulls visual design tool
Visual Studio database diagramming's out the window
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.