No one ever got fired for...

In my previous entry about enterprise architecture and complexity I forgot to touch on one thread that occurred to me.

My recent experiences, and Dare's quote, bring me to mind of the old adage: "No one ever got fired for buying IBM". Why is there no sign of a corresponding "No one ever got fired for designing like Google"? To be sure, IBM was on top a lot longer than Google before it became subject of the proverb, but hey, the Web age is a faster age, right? Where's my accelerated fulfilment when it comes to enterprise applications architecture?

I get the impression that instead, among the C-level cloisters of many run-of-the-mill companies, the reality is more "no one ever got fired for ordering a titanic Oracle or ERP license and thereupon building an unmaintainable application superstructure". It seems a lot harder to explain to the board that you are introducing revolutionary efficiency in your organization's information systems by learning the lessons of the Web (the most successful distributed information system ever). That sounds dangerously generic to the eyes of analysts trained to receive all truths from Chicago-cluster consultants. It does not sound like a roll-up of synergies to cross the chasm and monetize emergence of elastic markets. Paying the toffs gigabucks and then bending over for the inevitable business process re-engineering is just how it's done, lads.

So no one gets fired for Google-like systems architecture. No. Outside the crescendoing Web 2.0 bubble, no one gets hired in the first place if there's the slightest sniff they'd contemplate such a thing. Shame. Web 2.0 is not a bubble (square-one-dot-com) because it's based on near-trivial technology. It's a bubble because there are very few opportunities for arbitrage in a marketplace whose point is to provide customers unprecedented transparency and choice. The very place where such an approach can more consistently provide value is within the enterprise whose information systems have so long been bantustans of baroque and isolated systems. The enterprise is where there is a real chance of information systems revolution from Google-like technology. And it's the one place where no one is looking to build and deploy technology the way Google does.

[Uche Ogbuji]

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