COBOL @ 50

September 30, 2009

Seems I missed a significant event earlier this month or year. The first major COBOL development environment turned 50 years old on Sept 18. And earlier in May was the 50th anniversary of the US DOD meeting that got COBOL started, so that could have been the birthday too.

From CIO Magazine:

“The statistics that surround COBOL attest to its huge influence upon the business world. There are over 220 billion lines of COBOL in existence, a figure which equates to around 80% of the world’s actively used code. There are estimated to be over a million COBOL programmers in the world today. Most impressive perhaps, is that 200 times as many COBOL transactions take place each day than Google searches – a figure which puts the influence of Web 2.0 into stark perspective.”

One metric says it costs about $25 to re-write a line of COBOL. With 220 billion lines, think of the staggering cost to replace it.

Yet I’ve only met one COBOL programmer in my whole career. I’ve never written a line of it, not even in school 25 years ago.

The language that is everywhere and nowhere at once, to borrow another line from CIO magazine.

Surprising isn’t it.

Now, I did write a LOT of Pascal in school, back then we thought Pascal and its ilk would be the next big thing. Instead it has largely disappeared.


Who is an Enterprise Architect?

September 28, 2009

There is much discussion in enterprise architecture circles about IT co-opting title Enterprise Architect meaning a person who does IT architecture
While it is unfortunate that the term EA has been co-opted by IT, it is easy to see why it happens.

It starts with many businesses having no enterprise architects or no idea of enterprise or business architecture really. Of course the business does have an ad-hoc or accidental architecture but no one thinks about it, they are content in not knowing what they don’t know.

If the business is simple enough, IT can take that ad-hoc architecture and codify it into something that works, or works mostly. But at some point there is too much complexity and someone has to codify the architecture before IT can make sense of it.. At this point the business usually starts complaining that IT doesn’t understand the business. In fact, without a defined architecture, the business doesn’t really understand the business either but they just don’t notice.

So someone in IT is going to get the job to define enough of the business architecture that IT can work with. If that person does it formally with something like TOGAF, s/he will end up being called the enterprise architect, as the first person to reveal at least some of the enterprise architecture. Of course it will be IT-centric too, since it is only being written for IT in the first place.

It is a misnomer of course. Revealing a part of the business architecture is not really an enterprise architect’s work but what should we call this person? The “Person who writes down enough architecture so IT can build something useful” isn’t a great job title either.


Enterprise Architecture

September 28, 2009

I stumbled into enterprise architecture this summer while attending CloudCamp which was hosted by the TOGAF Toronto 2009 conference. The Open Group was kind enough to let me attend a couple of the introductory sessions at TOGAF 2009.

I like TOGAF. The ADM and the cyclic process nature of it make sense to me. An architecture should be a dynamic thing, not something static. There are some holes still but look how far it has come from V7 and I think it is well on its way to becoming the standard for EA in the next release or two. The fact that it is an open standard helps too.

My current interest in EA is largely focused on data architecture, probably closer to what is called Master Data Management (MDM). A natural lead from being a DBA I expect. I see a lot of overlap between the data architecture part of EA and MDM, like different views onto the same thing.

Watch for more about about EA and MDM here going forward.


Oracle Exadata 2

September 22, 2009

Yikes it been a long time since my last post. Let’s get started catching up

Just watched Larry Himself unveil the new Exadata 2 database machine.

Clearly this will put an end to the idea that Oracle wants to sell off Sun’s hardware business. Creating a fully integrated stack from hardware to OS to database to middle tier to applciation is the Oracle mission now and IBM is the target. Now we see why IBM made that desperate and hopeless bid for Sun back in the winter.

Oracle stacks up pretty well against IBM all through the stack and owns the Java technology they both rely on, so IBM has some need to be worried.

And the Exadata 2 is definitely a beast, big enough that Larry can at least claim it as the world’s fastest database machine. Now has Larry ever exaggerated before?

Sun Sparc/Solaris customers probably aren’t feeling so rosy though as the giant database machine runs Intel/Linux. Hopefully Oracle will quickly offer them a nice upgrade path from Sparc/Solaris before they all bail out onto IBM and HP.

I don’t see where MySQL fits in all this. Already the MySQL community is splintering and reforming around some of the old core, I don’t see that Oracle is going to have any claim to having more than a leftover piece of the “real” MySQL. Time to score some open source points and donate what’s left to some foundation. Larry though is having none of that so far reportedly.