Does Anyone Really Care?

February 26, 2007

Martin Slofstra at ITBusiness.ca has been asking if IT is losing its lustre as a profession. Does anyone care about IT as a profession anymore? This is all part of a discussion of the declining numbers of women in IT, declining enrollment in IT education, etc.

I think we are at a point where we must decide what is the future of IT in Canada.
Will it be like the auto industry where government, business and labour got together, promoted it and created a vibrant business.
Or will it be like consumer electronics, which was allowed to wither away with no one really doing anything about it. Does anyone remember when Electrohome was a major player, making TVs in Kitchener? Seems like another world now.

If we do nothing, today’s youth will make the decision for us. They aren’t going to believe anyone telling them about how great a career IT is, not even Bill Gates. They see jobs being shipped overseas and they decide to look elsewhere for a career. They aren’t going believe some marketing spin, they are way too used to seeing through it. To attract them we have to prove our commitment to the future of IT on the street with sustained real investments.

Otherwise, at some point outsourcing becomes self-fulfilling. If you scare off enough workers, there aren’t enough left to support a viable IT industry and then outsourcing is the only option. Fifteen years from now will Canadian business be complaining that it is beholden to its Indian IT providers? Bet that is what India has in mind.

So do we support the IT industry in the way that brought Toyota to Cambidge or saved the plants in Oakville and Oshawa? Or do we toss it in the dumpster along with that old Electrohome TV?

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“Google Databases”

February 17, 2007

Software as a Service databases wil also have a impact on DBAs.
I call these the “Google Databases”, picking on the most notorious supplier of SaaS.

Part of what makes SaaS databases attractive is the cost savings through automation. In a recent podcast, Jonathon Lewis talks about clients with 500+ databases and only a handful of DBAs. If those 500+ databases support 25 SaaS customers where there would have been 25 or 50 or even 75 DBAs, we can see a big impact.

This is also a side effect of grid computing. If database suppliers like Oracle make it easy to consolidate and manage large numbers of databases in grids, there has to be a way for smaller customers to consolidate their databases on those grids. A lot of customers don’t have hundreds of databases to take advantage of this economy of scale. Buying services from somebody else with hundreds of databases lets them tap into those savings.

This isn’t new a new idea really. Back in the mainframe days many customers could not afford or use an entre big IBM mainframe. The timesharing business sprang up to sell time on one mainframe to many customers. Sometimes companies sold their unused capacity, other times timesharing suppliers bought a mainframe for the purpose of sharing it out. Now we see the same effect with large grids shared out as SaaS.


The A Word

February 11, 2007

What does the A in DBA stand for, Administrator, Analyst or Architect?

Typically it is an Administrator meaning the person who manages database instances. In thefuture, it needs to be all three if the DBA role is to survive.

Today many DBAs barely have time to keep things running and the analyst and architect work often gets the short shrift or is handled by someone else, like the developers.

If the admin function is being automated or outsourced that should free up the tïme to focus on the analyst and architect work. If we don’t do that, the DBA role will shrink. Which is why again we hear predictions of the DBAs disppearing It is time to take the analyses and architecture work back to silence that talk.