There are two truths in today's technological environment – a smaller truth and a larger truth. The smaller truth is that newer technologies offer capabilities not found in older technologies. The larger truth is that certain principles of technology remain inviolate regardless of the age of the technology. When we throw away older technology, we discard the lessons learned with the older technologies. The new technologies then have to continually reinvent the wheel.

What are some of the truths that every generation of technologists must learn?

  • Components of technology naturally fit into a larger framework. That framework is called the corporate information factory. The corporate information factory specifies how functionally different architectural components are to interact. A new technology can be built in complete ignorance of the corporate information factory and eventually find its positioning in the corporate information factory.
  • Performance is achieved by walking down the following path. First a larger machine is acquired, then multiple machines doing separate functions are acquired, then multiple machines doing separate parts of the same task are acquired, then the application is tuned and then the activity of the applications is broken down into small uniform units of work. This pattern has been repeated over and over and applies to all technologies desiring maximum performance.
  • Systems that operate one way under one load of processing operate entirely differently under a different load of processing.
  • Systems that operate one way under one volume of data operate entirely differently under a different volume of data.
  • Integration of systems and data after the systems are built is a difficult and imprecise task.
  • Given enough data, a certain portion of the data becomes dormant, resulting in a drag on system performance and system economics.
  • Detailed data is more important to operations. Summarized data is more important to management.
  • The secret to flexibility is granular data that can be shaped and reshaped to meet the needs of different organizations and still maintain reconcilability of data.
  • Transaction processing systems are fundamentally different than any other form of processing.
  • As a designer, one can optimize the performance of a system on exactly one function and no more.
  • Exploration processing and data mining are fundamentally different than any other form of processing.

This is a short list of many of the truths learned by one generation of technicians that must be passed down or relearned by the next generation of technicians. Unfortunately the learning curve is full of pain.
It is obvious that it would benefit everyone if there were some learning from one generation of technology to the next. However, as long as there is an attitude of the old being bad and the new being good, such a transfer of knowledge is unlikely to occur.

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