Thank you for discussing the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) in the Postcard from America column in the 19 May issue.
I have spent what feels like a rather long time helping clients cope with introducing object technology into their organisations. So I would have loved to be able to say: "Just another hack trying to tell us how to do our job. What does he know?" Yet, it is not so long ago that a colleague commented: "Software Engineering Institute just introduced a level 0 to the CMM for us." The sad thing is that I had to agree. That level 0 would probably be the level called "denial". Knowing that you are at the initial level is a move in the right direction; if you deny that, you must be even further behind than you think.
I wish there had been more room in the article, though. Maybe Paul Tinnirello would have had a chance to say more about the role that those who are not management (that is, the developers themselves) play in this denial game.
Yes, I would love to blame the management with their unrealistic schedules and users with their unrealistic requirements. That would make us look pretty good, as a bunch of hard working people who are trying to do the best out of a bad start. But I'm afraid that the developers should take most of the blame for the technology mess that we find ourselves in.
It is the sad truth that we, the developers, have been forcing the industry down this route of less and less proven technology. And why should we do that? Who do you think benefits from having a "Whizbang Object Oriented Agent-based Transaction Server" on their C. rather than plain old Cobol?
I have worked with too many people who would rather fail with new technology (because it means fatter salaries or contract fees in their next job) than succeed with the old. I have met too many developers who, despite knowing that things were not working out right for their project, kept quiet and took their pay cheque home - because "it is not my job to ask questions, I do what I'm told." Let's face it; the longer projects drag on, the more IT jobs there are and the better we get paid. It is hard to make a case for trying to succeed. For too long, we have been taking the money and not saying what we think.
Maybe we should start looking at things from another angle (that is, not money) and first start asking ourselves a few silent questions. Like: "Am I a professional with the responsibilities of a professional, or am I just a resource?"
If the reply is the former, I would like to see a few more people starting to ask the awkward but valid questions when the work that they are given stops making commercial sense. If the reply is the latter, on the other hand, how long do we think we can remain a well-paid resource before we are automated out of our jobs?
Via the Net
Never in the history of computing has there been so much very effective hype about such a simple problem. The end of the world "as we know it" will occur in the Year 2000 because all the computer systems that we are totally dependant on will stop working.
I am amazed at the success of this Y2K campaign. It has resulted in the biggest deflection of resources ever. It's the best excuse any IT department can use to get more money and power. Well, if we don't get our Y2K project up and running now, even though it's already too late, then our systems will stop working and we'll go bust. How can the none-too-computer-literate company director argue against this?
Some companies probably will go bust as a result of Y2K. But if their IT systems are 20 years old and they haven't the resources to support them - then they probably would have gone bust any way.
I wouldn't dare say Y2K testing is unnecessary - if there are any problems we'll fix 'em on 2 Jan - but such a strategy could save a lot of companies an enormous amount of money.
Successful companies will already have implemented Y2K-compliant systems this decade - yet it is these same companies who are spending the money to prove they'll be OK. The same can't be said for some UK government systems, or equivalent systems in Eastern Europe and Asia.
In fact, I'm more concerned about an easterly wind on 1 Jan 2000 - will that reactor 100 miles north of Chernobyl go into meltdown?
Via the Net
I am not a complete Microsoft convert and am prone to the odd critical outburst against it.
I do however feel that though it is often criticised for things that it has done wrong or for products delivered late, it is not fair to criticise it for things that it does perfectly well. I refer to the review in the 26 May, page 27: "DHCP and DDNS make the leap to NT". The article refered to DHCP, DNS and WINS running under Windows NT 4.0.
The main thrust of the article reviews the capabilities of a third party DNS/-DHCP/NBNS product which I am sure has its own benefits and merits.
The article misleads, however, by implying that the native Microsoft products are unable to co-operate and allow DHCP address lookups from the DNS side of the name services. Correct configuration of Microsoft's DNS server, along with DHCP and WINS, will certainly allow DNS name lookups to take place via DNS through WINS and DHCP allowing client machines to report the IP addresses of machines only registered in WINS when the calling clients only have access to DNS services and not NBNS. It is also possible to construct DNS/DHCP/WINS installations with robust failover capabilities by judicious use of two or more NT servers running the various services.
I am a regular reader and enjoy PC Week immensely, but can we please keep inaccuracies in product descriptions to vapourware rather than live products which can be easily checked for functionality.
Corporate information systems manager
Martin Lynch, editor, responds: We took your comments on board and did a check. The article said: "The non-dynamic nature of (DNS services) prevents DNS from updating itself from DHCP records, as IPserver/NT can do." We put the question to Microsoft, which replied: "DNS does not dynamically update in NT 4.0, but this will be a feature of NT 5.0." The "inaccuracy", therefore, is not ours.
SIZE DOES MATTER
After reading Richard Sarson's article on "Small minds at Work" in the 26 May issue of PC Week, I was surprised that Sarson used the comparison of exhibition size to prove that people go for the narrow, vested interest (security) rather than the big picture (Ecommerce).
Renting exhibition space is very expensive; if companies are sure they will receive a return on their expenditure they will go for it.
It just so happens at this moment in time there are real problems that can only be solved with security products.
Sarson should understand that security is the key to enabling Ecommerce - maybe the Ecommerce exhibition should merge with the security exhibition, then everyone would be happy!
Via the Net
A 17in MONITOR WEEKLY
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