It was a wake-up call. When I first moved from a software firm to the information technology (IT) department of a Fortune 100 company, I was in for a big surprise. The IT group's mission was to create a massive software application ­– it was actually a data warehouse (DW) before the term became mainstream. I had no reason to predict that developing this application would be so different from developing a software product. As it turned out, there were radical differences in the approaches.

As I write this column, I am faced with the choice of being politically correct and glossing over the issues I encountered, or being honest and potentially implying that IT people are not as good as software engineers. The latter is not the case –­ there were simply fundamental differences in the way they applied standards to their projects. In hindsight, I realize that the reason for the differences was the vastly different business purpose for the code.

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