Feeds

Microsoft: a successful low-maturity company?

Like a fine wine

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

In the comments on my blog about the CMMI Made Practical conference here, I quote Microsoft as an example of a very successful low-maturity company. I make no secret of my partiality for CMMI-style process improvement (almost 30 years in IT has convinced me that it’s far from a process-free zone) but it’s not the only way to run software development (only, perhaps, the most effective way in the longer term).

So I was interested in the insight to Microsoft’s development philosophy provided by Tim Anderson, here. In particular, I thought Greenfield’s quoted remark about the OMG’s MDA - “...[it has] CIM [Computation Independent Model], PIM [Platform Independent Model] and PSM [Platform Specific Model]. The same viewpoints apply to everything, whether you're building eBay or a mobile device application. We don't buy that. They're different things” – was just plain silly.

As a fan of MDA, I think, more or less, that both eBay and a mobile phone have a business model that doesn't change when the technology does; a model that represents a subset of this corresponding to the automated system inside the man-machine boundary; and a model corresponding to the implementation on a specific computer/phone platform. That makes perfect sense to me.

When I put this point to Tim, he said that what Greenfield was really saying was that people were forced to extend the UML behind MDA and that this led to chaos. In a hitherto unpublished quote from Tim’s interview, Greenfield says: “What we say is this: look at what people do with it. To be useful, they'll take it, they'll hold their nose and use stereotypes and tags and mark it all up, because what they're really trying to do is to enable the capture of additional information, the tags allow you to add new properties, the stereotypes give you new metaclasses more or less, and in a good tool, you can actually add some additional constraints. What you end up with is this horribly marked up hotchpotch of stuff, which is really a domain-specific language [DSL]. It's a tailoring of the fundamental abstraction of state chart or activity graph or whatever, to solve some specific purpose. Then people will go write a code generator that rummages over that stuff, spews out the code, the SQL or whatever it might be”. Emotive language, but in other words, why not do DSLs properly from the start?

Well, that’s not so silly, it’s a valid approach. But my response would be, that UML 2.0 was designed to be extended, and that a mature organisation using MDA tools from, say, Compuware and with a high-maturity development process can cope with all this rather better than Greenfield envisages. The advantage of high-maturity MDA is that it helps to avoid tying your automated business process into a particular technology platform, and avoids the temptation to build tomorrow’s “legacy”, but very efficiently. I think that a DSL risks ending up as (in MDA terms) just a Platform Specific Viewpoint. Perhaps with a high-maturity process, however, the DSL approach will work as well as MDA.

Which sort-of brings me back to Microsoft as a successful low-maturity company (in the 1990’s at least). It is certainly aware of CMMI now (see here). But Tim also commented: “I respect [Greenfield’s] views but I did get a sense that Microsoft's strategy here is driven excessively by whichever faction happens to be in the ascendant internally. For example, apparently that is how the whole "Design for deployment" thing came about. But I guess this is not uncommon”. Not uncommon, certainly, but “faction-driven development process” is probably a feature of low-maturity organisations.

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.