Feeds

Learning from the past

David Norfolk has Proustian moment over IMS

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

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.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.