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Friday, March 26, 2010

What is Happening to the Computer Systems Industry

I've been remiss in posting to this blog and probably lost most of my followers, but in hope that someone is left I want to share some observations that I find sad and disheartening.

If you look at the year end results for most major software companies this past year you will see dismal results or at best lack luster results. If you look around the web you will find that the world has become static and we are not seeing break through technology that positively impacts businesses.

In fact we are seeing software companies as well as commercial business outsource their IT organization and software development to India, China, the former Soviet bloc countries, some south east Asian countries and other 3rd world low cost labor markets.

Many companies like IBM have given up on innovation and grow their software portfolios via acquisition instead of innovative development.

Emerging technologies are exactly that technologies. One of the biggest boon doggles is Cloud computing. The only cloud that truly exists are the those around the heads of the executives of the companies claiming to offer software solutions based on the cloud model.

Don't get me wrong, the concept of "cloud" computing, namely loading software into a virtually managed machine environment where the developer knows nothing of the underlying hardware is the direction I believe we should be going in and may someday achieve, but not today and not for a while. The key issue is security or the perception of privacy and data protection that does not exist today.

I grew up in IT during the 1970's, 80's, and 90's when the world was trying to figure out how to represent and implement maintainable business systems that addressed the problems and needs of business.

Today we should have graphical software that reflects our businesses and allows business users to define business rules that govern the systems in real time. Systems that analyze workflows and make changes that improve the word in real time.

Instead, we have moved from business languages like COBOL or RPG or the dozens of failed 4GL's to Java and C++ which are roughly akin to programming in Assembly language taking us back to the 1960's.

Where are the application development and management systems of today? Are the ERP vendors meeting corporate needs? Have business executives simply given up on IT?

Where is modern innovation in business systems? Do modern corporations no longer need computer systems beyond the 20 year old ERP systems that run their companies today?

I happen to believe that we need a new revolution in computer systems architecture and technology.

I believe we must break the backs of the handful of ERP vendors that are choking modern enterprise and holding back technology.

The very concept of SOA should be a model that allows corporate enterprises to buy the best possible components from the best provider for their needs. Corporate systems people should become integrators instead of programmers. Their role should be integrating software purchased or rented from many software vendors and using innovative software to build modern UI's and workflows that manage the modern corporation.

To achieve this we must get back to a focus on representing the enterprise and its operations in the modern computer system and not on some wiz bang technology.

Some please tell me, where is innovation today? I'm not seeing it. Not from IBM, not Microsoft, most certainly not from Oracle or HP. I don't even see it in the open source community.

We must begin to move forward.

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