Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Can you imagine Forrest Gump as President of the United States? "Too smart," you say!  I agree. Even Forrest Gump isn't stupider than George W. Bush.

The New Yorker published a transcript indicating that Bush received a cumulative score of 77 for his first three years at Yale and a roughly similar average under a non-numerical rating system during his senior year. Of course, John Kerry, who graduated two years before Bush, received a cumulative score on only 76 for his four years. Leave it to the Democrats to out-stupid the Republicans.

Under Bush's leadership, America has become the world's greatest debtor nation sucking up more than 80% of all global savings. What happens when that figure hits 100%?  This administration claims there's no scientific proof that global warming is happening and thus no need to legislate reductions in greenhouse emissions. This from a president who believes that 'Intelligent Design' ought to be taught in science classes. I don't even want to mention the stupidity that led us into Iraq or how that war is currently being waged. Let's just leave it that stupid is as stupid does.

So, how about Forrest Gump as CIO?  "Still way too smart," you say.

Just like Forrest Gump saying "Life is like a box of chocolates", it's even more true that "IT is like a box of chocolates". CIOs haven't a clue what's on the inside of their systems.

The majority of IT organizations do not possess a Technology Architecture. Nobody knows what the enterprise owns, let alone what products to use under what conditions. The communication of IT standards in most enterprise today is a non-existent process.

It seems as if architects are looking for some magic silver bullet solution. No one is willing to do any real work -- like trying to create a Technology Architecture that models and communicates what technology to use under what conditions and why. Instead, architects are looking for some simple solution to go off and scour the IT environment to discover what the enterprise already owns, as if that's the main problem.

Let's assume an automated process finds that an enterprise is using Oracle, SQL Server, and DB2. What good does that do? They just show up as three line items on an inventory report. How does someone intuively know that these three different products all deliver virtually identical functionality. This problem is greatly magnified by the scores of different product categories beyond relational DBMSs.

The federal government is investing billions in enterprise architecture. Yet, Technology Architecture is at the bottom of the FEAF (Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework), almost as an afterthought.

Technology Architecture is not the same as Asset Management. Rather, it's comparable to the difference between metadata and data. Technology Architecture needs to be a model that describes products in terms of functionality so that similar tools cluster together. This requires a taxonomy.


Anonymous Jack Krupansky said...

It sounds like you're asking too much of our feeble government. Better to simply lobby for them to get out of the database business as much as possible. Fewer databases mean less opportunity for mischief and less need for complex "architectures".

Somewhere along the line somebody got the misguided thought that government was like business and that the government should be run as if it were an "enterprise". I'm not sure how this happened, but it's not too late to reverse the trend and demand that government have a smaller footprint, and hence less of a need for whizbang "architectures".

-- Jack Krupansky

12:14 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Card said...

For better or worse, we can't keep the government "out" of databases. The government has a constitutional mandate to publish at least the congretional record and it's really nice (read necessary) to have its other documents. I've been trying to find simply the voting record of congress on the 19th Amendment, and I can't believe they don't have this information up by 2005.

11:06 PM  
Blogger ITscout said...

My problem is with the government's FEAF initiative. I'm upset that the Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework tackles Technology Architecture last (i.e., final step). This is nuts. The first thing a building architect does is study the terrain where a building is to be situated. Modeling an IT terrain ought to be the first step -- not the last.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Robert McIlree said...

As a previous commenter mentions, you're asking to much of the government. Just like the dying, starving, and dehydrated folks swimming in a mass of feces and dead bodies did last week in New Orleans.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Thanigai said...

I do understand where you're coming from.

But at the same time, all FEAF (and most EA frameworks) are saying is that IT has to align with business. And that will not happen unless the EA team understands the business and the goals it is aiming at. It is sort of the requirements that the IT has to meet. Now, IT has to determine its current state (the IT terrain as you are calling it - including data, technology, applications - ) and figure out the gaps / challenges in its ability to support the business achieve its goals, and come out with an endstate architecture (target EA, as the feds call it) and a plan that will effectively plug the gaps.

Now, the true measure of the success of your EA is in its ability to help business meet its goals. I like that accountability.

But I agree with you that somewhere the spirit is lost, and a lot of "EA experts" have sprung up who know how to fill in the templates where the technology is an after thought - sad, as it may be.

6:32 AM  

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