Monday, December 15, 2008

Consumer IT and Archimedes

The rise of consumer IT means, everyone now is acquinted with various hardware and software artifacts. Many people have network routers at home, can create a small home office network all by themsalves. Make various applications on different computer work together. They can make applications share resources like printer, fax and scanners. They share data like photos and music across their own network and indeed over internet. They collaborate with their friends and family using voice and non-voice channels.

Some of these people are decision makers in corporate world. When they compare the ease with which they themsalves can make this happen, to their experience with enterprise IT, they get a rude shock. Some of them then start suspecting enterprise IT organisation of ineptitude and incompetance.

But they are wrong. As was Archemedes. Archemedes had famously said "Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth!". We now know, how wrong he was. For according to the "golden rule" of mechanics, the mechanical advantage derived will always be accompanied by a loss in displacement, or, in other words, in time. Even if Archimedes had been able to push the lever with a speed of 0.34 km/sec the speed of sound, he would have lifted the earth by one centimeter only after 93,264,094,069,895.84265 years. [More details can be found here.]

The question is of 'scale' and complexity introduced because of scale. One cannot project consumer IT experience onto enterprise IT on a linear scale. The non-architected approach that works in consumer IT scenario will not give same results. Moreover home networks and applications never grow beyond a certain threshold, they are changed more often without any worries of backward compatibility, ground up rebuild of whole application set is possible and indeed practiced. The enterprise IT behaves differently on these counts on account of scale, complexity and requirements from users. 

Archemedes anecdote tells us follies of projecting experiences from small scale to large scale. So, please, don't ever say "I can do it myself, with stuff from 'PC World'." 

3 comments:

apoorv said...

Nice post Vilas. I've seen similar examples myself - the younger workforce has gotten used to Linkedin, facebook and Orkut and want similar kind of features for enterprise applications. Apart from scale and complexity, an organization culture also becomes important.

Syam said...

Vilas,
Intrested in knowing that if any one ever faced this sort of situation in their day to day job. Normally in any corporate environment for any complex or large scale projects, there will be morethan one decision maker and often decisions will be supported by certain rationale. I wonder how their personal thoughts on consumer IT will influence the decisions on large scale projects.

Vilas said...

This happens all the time as decision making bodies are normally diverse. Some of the decision makers don't have necessary depth of understanding (simply because its not their domain). They are forced to project their personal experiences to make sense of issues. As a consultant one needs to point out, if such projections are invalid.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Consumer IT and Archimedes

The rise of consumer IT means, everyone now is acquinted with various hardware and software artifacts. Many people have network routers at home, can create a small home office network all by themsalves. Make various applications on different computer work together. They can make applications share resources like printer, fax and scanners. They share data like photos and music across their own network and indeed over internet. They collaborate with their friends and family using voice and non-voice channels.

Some of these people are decision makers in corporate world. When they compare the ease with which they themsalves can make this happen, to their experience with enterprise IT, they get a rude shock. Some of them then start suspecting enterprise IT organisation of ineptitude and incompetance.

But they are wrong. As was Archemedes. Archemedes had famously said "Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth!". We now know, how wrong he was. For according to the "golden rule" of mechanics, the mechanical advantage derived will always be accompanied by a loss in displacement, or, in other words, in time. Even if Archimedes had been able to push the lever with a speed of 0.34 km/sec the speed of sound, he would have lifted the earth by one centimeter only after 93,264,094,069,895.84265 years. [More details can be found here.]

The question is of 'scale' and complexity introduced because of scale. One cannot project consumer IT experience onto enterprise IT on a linear scale. The non-architected approach that works in consumer IT scenario will not give same results. Moreover home networks and applications never grow beyond a certain threshold, they are changed more often without any worries of backward compatibility, ground up rebuild of whole application set is possible and indeed practiced. The enterprise IT behaves differently on these counts on account of scale, complexity and requirements from users. 

Archemedes anecdote tells us follies of projecting experiences from small scale to large scale. So, please, don't ever say "I can do it myself, with stuff from 'PC World'." 

3 comments:

apoorv said...

Nice post Vilas. I've seen similar examples myself - the younger workforce has gotten used to Linkedin, facebook and Orkut and want similar kind of features for enterprise applications. Apart from scale and complexity, an organization culture also becomes important.

Syam said...

Vilas,
Intrested in knowing that if any one ever faced this sort of situation in their day to day job. Normally in any corporate environment for any complex or large scale projects, there will be morethan one decision maker and often decisions will be supported by certain rationale. I wonder how their personal thoughts on consumer IT will influence the decisions on large scale projects.

Vilas said...

This happens all the time as decision making bodies are normally diverse. Some of the decision makers don't have necessary depth of understanding (simply because its not their domain). They are forced to project their personal experiences to make sense of issues. As a consultant one needs to point out, if such projections are invalid.