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Yes – it’s true. From 1960 to 1990, IT simply got too smart for the public and private sector entities that were using it. Was this the fault of IT practitioners? Hardly. These practitioners had to work smart to overcome the technnological limitations constraining them: lack of CPU cycles, lack of core, and lack of cheap DASD (aux storage). And because these limitations forced them to multiplex diverse processes into single passes over large files (tables) with long (and sometimes variable) multi-purpose records (rows), the results they achieved have often come to be characterized as “spaghetti” by recently-minted business analysts, business re-engineers, and business process experts who simply don’t have the background to understand why old-timers did what they did. But in effect, what these smart old-timers did was to advance IT to the level of differential calculus while the rest of the folks in their businesses or organizations hadn’t yet learned arithmetic. So it’s not surprising that Enterprise SOA has just now arrived – at the very time when infrastructure advances have finally made it possible to put arithmetic into the hands of the masses. I mean – if you’ve got the horsepower to do it, why NOT break complex multi-threaded IT processes down into a multiplicity of trivial single-threaded processes that even your CEO and CFO can understand? And if it takes a LOT of horsepower to do it, all the better. We all own SOME stock in Oracle, IBM, Sun, Cisco, and Intel, don’t we? So although Enterprise SOA can and should be seen as big step forward in the simplification of IT to the point where it can be disseminated to the intellectual lumpenproletariats of democratic societies, it is nonetheless worthwhile to remember how long it really takes to really change minds. I don’t mean “change people’s minds” in the idiomatic sense. What I mean is – it’s almost a millenium since Eastern mathematics was introduced into Western royal courts, and here we are in the US having to require national testing to see if high-school freshmen can add, subtract, multiply, and divide with a minimal degree of confidence and accuracy. So I would strongly advise SAP’s Enterprise SOA strategic planners (and the rest of us along for the ride) to take the long view … the long-long-long-long … long view.

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  1. Jay Bodkin
    This is what it all comes down to. Consider how much you’d have to pay someone with even a minimal part of

        * the technical background to learn quickly about the products they’re supporting,
        * the troubleshooting skills required to diagnose and fix a problem over the telephone with an inexperienced user,
        * the communication and people skills to work well with users who themselves have a wide variety of communication skills.

    Now add in overhead and figure out how it costs per minute for decent technical support. 

    I believe the most cost-effective solution is to spend money on the products themselves so they need less support.

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    1. David Halitsky

      And here I thought we’d all progressed since Larry put out his dimwitted ads about how Oracle had saved the world from the “high-priests” of IT.  (Remember the white-robed staff in the glass machine rooms?) Tell me it ain’t true – that ES(O)A is about more than just Cause if you DON’T specialize it, you can’t cost it out like loaves of bread or boxes of soap powder.

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