The Real Problem with Enterprise Software

Only the gifted analytic minds of IT management and know it all programmers have the intelligence work ethic and superb taste required to select enterprise software.  Speaking as an ITite, (one who works in IT), I can report that we are so gifted, so far-seeing, so utterly and totally awesome in our views that only ignorant tuggles, (non technical types), would dare challenge our recommendations.   Even better, the same plodding sleep deprived determination that we use to code computers into submission can be applied to human adversaries.  We can wear you down with one technical objection after another until you finally give in and make the correct selection.

awesomeevil And what is the correct selection?  ITites assert that the correct solution is the one that always puts them in absolute control of clueless tuggles that seem determined to have their own way when we know their way is wrong wrong and wrong!  To paraphrase the leading reptilian philosopher of our age: control is key when talking about IT.

Because control is key enterprise software must extend and consolidate ITite empires or it will be rejected.  Rejections will take the form of complaints about, cost, performance, scalability, standards compliance, or my current favorite uncloudable: software that cannot run in the cloud.  Some of these arguments may have merits but usually the selection boils down to human prejudice and personal comfort zones.

There is one poisonous consequence of this madness that really pisses me off.  To kowtow to IT control freaks enterprise software vendors have made heroic efforts to prevent people from using and mastering their software.  We are used to downloading software and giving it a try. I challenge you to try this with Cognos/IBMMicrosoft BI, Oracle/Hyperion or, the worst of the lot, SAP software.  Not only will you not be able to download useful free trial versions but in many cases you won’t even be able to get your hands on manuals!  How lovely: a complex suite of software that you have to pay to read about!

Enterprise software vendors are rightly horrified by the prospect of their wares turning into commodities.  A commodity, in business speak, is something that you cannot mark way the fuck up!  Of course all this stuff is grossly overpriced with inane gouging support contracts piled on.  Do not despair enterprise software vendors are piling wood on their own funeral pyres. They are creating perfect conditions for low-cost, or open source providers, to knock them off and party on their graves.

To help set the cremation fires ablaze I abide by following sacred consulting principle.  Don’t waste your time on systems that you cannot take with you.  This is the real problem with enterprise software; you cannot take it anywhere!

Fake Programming

I have been a fake programmer for a long time.  A fake programmer is someone who writes software to crush personal irritants.   Fake programmers are not hackers; they don’t enjoy the process of software creation; they don’t work for the man and they make piss poor cubicle dwellers.  Fake programmers detest industry standards and will wage silent, passive aggressive, war on anyone foolish enough to insist on them.  The typical fake programmer is boiling with rage, “what do you mean there’s nothing out there that solves my problem!” When confronted with nasty problems fake programmers:

  1. Look for ways to ignore them
  2. Try to pass the buck
  3. Live with suboptimal crap
  4. Whine
  5. Complain about lesbians on welfare
  6. Yell at morons on TV
  7. Write snarky blog posts

and if all else fails: write some damn software.

By the time the fake programmer has decided to code he is looking for the quickest and least painful solution to his problem.  Remember the fake programmer doesn’t care about your problems and won’t live by your rules.  He only wants to kill his problem and get his blood pressure back to normal.

Fake programmers will use industry standard languages and tools if they provide the quickest fix.  Of course this is rarely the case.  At this point fake and real programmers diverge.  Real programmers will stick to their standard software guns and plod along.  The fake programmer says screw that; let’s stake out this vampire!

I recently drove a stake through the  — “no decent IBM/Cognos Planning model diagram tool”  —  vampire.  In my day job I wrestle with financial planning software.  Corporate planning software is an irritant rich environment.   My biggest complaint was the lack of an automatic way to quickly and accurately outline the contents of a Cognos model.  Without such a guide you will be at the mercy of “documentation”,  (don’t make me laugh) , or worse, Cognos Planning’s ultra-sucky user interface.  Either way you can kiss your weekends good bye.

Fortunately,  I am an excellent fake J programmer.  J is my favorite programming language.   What’s J you ask?  You have never heard of it and that’s to bad for you!  You have deprived your brain of a tool of thought and my human side feels for you:  of course the outer fake programmer doesn’t give a rat’s ass.  Using J’s excellent graphviz addon I can generate two Cognos Planning *.csv files containing model metadata and then apply my analystgraphs script to generate accurate, blood pressure reducing,  diagrams like:

Cognos Planning Model Diagram

If  you are interested in these diagrams feel free to download and use my J scripts.  Of course you will have to learn enough J to run them.