The Mantra of Donald Ferguson: Simplify

Very interesting article about how corporate IT is far too complex, leading to a fragile, difficult to change hairball. My favourite bit is:

What's the biggest technology mistake you ever made - either at work or in your own life?

When I was at IBM, I started a product called Websphere [which helps companies to operate and integrate business applications across multiple computing platforms].

Because I had come from working on big mission-critical systems, I thought it needs to be scalable, reliable, have a single point of control ... I tried to build something like a mainframe, a system that was capable of doing anything, that would be able to do what might be needed in five years.

I call it the endgame fallacy. It was too complex for people to master. I overdesigned it.

Why does IBM like complex systems? Its often been said that IBM solves big problems for big companies. And some of of their products - such as Websphere - needs teams of dedicated people, technology, and generate huge amounts of consulting hours. Websphere gets marketing budget, because a supertanker needs to be pushed.

In the same way a camel is a horse designed by committee, Websphere is Tomcat designed by IBM. 

Lotus Domino - far less complicated, far easier to install, and of course a huge ROI - no marketing budget. Less consulting hours, you see. In fact IBM Global Services is one of Microsofts' largest Exchange partners and makes a very nice living from migrating folks from Domino to Exchange. They get no credit for renewal, so they push for consulting dollars. Joined up thinking. 

IBM is not a consumer company. IBM is a portfolio company. It has a portfolio of supertankers, and where we Domino guys - more akin to drug smugglers on speedboats - dont fit in.

Make your plans accordingly.