Opinion: Across-the-board technical improvements outpace rickety business processes.
With todays release of the beta
code of SQL Anywhere 10
, Sybases iAnywhere subsidiary doesnt send
one message. It sends fourand with the sun soon to set on tax
season 2005, Id like to add one of my own.
Message 1: Progress is parallel. Version 10 acknowledges the
multi-CPU power thats now found in laptops
as well as in desktop
and server machines, and takes advantage of multiple processor cores.
Both query and database maintenance tasks should exploit
, which represents the most cost-effective
growth path for system price/performance
: I look forward to finding
out how well thats being done here.
Message 2: Accessibility, yes; vulnerability, no. Database lookups are
no longer like trips to the library, something that you do when you
have a specific piece of research to performand that you could
probably do a few minutes later if needed. Databases are increasingly
involved in short-term tasks: Theyre becoming more like the piece of
your brain that remembers the layout of a room where the lights have
just gone out, helping the enterprise find the best path through the
space of immediate options instead of just providing long-range
hindsight. Without a prefrontal
, your head would have a decidedly Neanderthal shape: Your
data center likewise looks better with a more intellectual profile.
This means that databases must be built for high availabilitybut
at the same time for robust security that goes all the way down to the
stored bits. For too long, database security has been like the security
that your skull gives your brain: a hard shell of firewalls and other
perimeter defenses surrounding a soft mushy lump that readily yields
its secrets to anyone who can reach it. Database security needs to defend
in more depth
than Nature does.
Message 3: What developers cant exploit might just as well not be
there. The number of people who use databases directly, composing SQL
queries on the fly at an interactive prompt, may actually be shrinking
even as the number of indirect database users explodes. Developer
productivity is the key to reconciling those opposing trends, requiring
transparent connections from the interactive and analytic parts of an
application to the database foundations. Im mildly disappointed that
iAnywhere chose to place its bets entirely on Microsofts
as the high-level development environment to be
enhanced with Version 10 capabilities, but Im confident that the Eclipse
and perhaps also the NetBeans
will make their interests known.
Message 4: There is no hub. No database should be envisioned today
as the single center of all related things. Any given database must be
able to take part in the give and take of many data sources and
collections, updated in different ways at different times, needing to
keep each other informed
of relevant state.
Im pleased to see the emphasis thats being placed on all four of
these areas of improvement by iAnywhere, but ...
Message 5: No one should expect that even the complete fulfillment
of these promises will make business processes work as well as they
Tax season is a perfect time to get an annual update of how much
progress has been made in one ubiquitous business processs improvement,
and also to shed a harsh spotlight on where progress is still sorely
needed. As my familys tax preparer, with returns to file every year
for five entities in several states as well as for federal taxes, I can
tell you that the
federal agency gets better every year
in making its online
offerings work smoothly and making its overall data flows and
instructions more understandable. Some state agencies are likewise
progressing, although typically lagging about a year behind their
federal counterparts, but some states are simply not working hard
enough to make their processes clear instead of just accumulating a
thickening tangle of complexity.
With the frustration of your own tax filings perhaps in your own
prefrontal cortex at this moment, this would be a good time to ask
yourself if people who deal with your companyas customers trying to
place orders, or as suppliers trying to be good partnersare finding
that process as irritating as a tax day
five days a week.
Tell me what youre finding taxing at firstname.lastname@example.org
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