Apr 8 ’08
Pete Clark on z/VSE: Lost Sight of the Objective?
We in the z/VSE community are concerned that z/VSE is being relegated to legacy applications and is seldom considered for new development methodologies and new application hosting even when it may be the best and most cost-effective solution.
The concern is understood and duly noted, but it’s really the symptom or the effect. It’s not the problem.
The problem is that we’ve lost sight of the objective. The objective is never to build and implement a state-of-the art application on a development methodology or platform that’s a monument to technology. Nor is it to build a showcase application or platform for bragging rights.
The object is never to force-fit an application into “something,” especially just to prove that we can. The objective is never technology in and of itself. Yes, it’s a strange concept having a technologist espouse that technology isn’t the answer, and certainly isn’t the question.
No good will come from this failure of losing sight of the objective. It’s always a bad idea to force-fit an application into a development methodology. And it’s a worse idea to force-fit an application into a platform.
Certainly, both have been done, usually under the guise of “strategic direction.” Is it strategic direction to increase cost, elongate delivery time, or complicate an application? Certainly not, but when the wrong decision is made, unfortunately, those three things will happen. Make enough poor strategic decisions and someone will be looking for new employment.
That isn’t to say the person making the decisions will be moving, as often as not those folks who implement the decisions see and understand the train wreck coming and decide to be elsewhere when it happens. Generally, those are valuable personnel, and the loss of that resource is detrimental to the organization and is an excellent indication of where the organization is headed.
When considering a new application or a major enhancement to an existing application, the first (and perhaps the only) question that should be asked and answered is: How can we deliver a solution that fulfills the business need for the lowest overall cost?
While that’s a simple sentence, to arrive at the correct answer requires time, effort, and due consideration. No one ever said that making the right decision would be easy; it’s very complex, especially in today’s world with the many choices in the market place.
Failure to properly answer the question means we’ve abdicated our business responsibility by making a poor business decision. Additionally, we’ve increased our cost of product delivery and impacted our competitive position in the market place. Make enough poor decisions and two things will happen: First, heads will roll, and if that’s not sufficient, then a company will cease to be in business.
Most companies aren’t in the business of data processing; processing data is a means to an end, and that end is manufacturing and/or selling a product or service. Failure to remember that simple premise is simply personal and corporate suicide.
The objective must always be to deliver a solution that fulfills the need in a reasonable, understandable manner that results in the minimal amount of resource consumption. Why? Because the company wants to stay in business and make a profit, and you want to be employed. Poor platform, tool and application selection affects the bottom line from inception until demise.
Typically, data processing support isn’t a profit center for a company, so showcasing platforms and applications must not be the purpose and is almost always not the best business solution. Delivering what’s needed in a costeffective manner is the requirement, not enhancing a résumé.
It’s time to kick the technologist off the train and get back to the process of supporting efficient, cost-effective solutions regardless of the platform or technology they use.
Too often, someone selects the platform first, in conjunction with the toolset, and then proceeds to make it work. With a major investment in products and time, almost no one then has the courage to re-examine or question a decision even if it has gone over budget, time, or resources.
It’s time for a “tough love” radical approach; those folks force-fitting applications, tools, and platforms must be given an opportunity for career advancement in another field.
Thanks for reading this column. Here’s hoping you select the correct platform, application, and tool—no matter what it is—because then it will be the right choice. See you all in the next issue. Z