Nov 022010
 
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Sometimes I wonder if, as an industry, we ever learn. Two recent projects that I’ve worked on got me thinking about this. In both cases, the companies are replacing existing custom-built applications with new commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) applications. And while that in itself is not necessarily a bad strategy (in fact, I absolutely agree with that approach for one of these clients), problems arise when the expectations and promises are out of line with reality. Recently, I upgraded my 30-year-old television to a nice new flat screen and accompanying 7.1 Audio/Video System. It sounds and looks great and so, naturally, I want to be able to watch and hear Internet content over my fancy-pants new …

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It was a dark and stormy day when it dawned on the project manager. Many full moons ago a new project was planned and leaders established a firm deadline (how ironic!). Technical people slaved day after day and night after night in their cubicle-shaped dungeons, under the promise of succulent bonuses if they worked like zombies until they closely resembled the real ones. Unflinchingly they coded away not knowing if ’twas day or night or dusk or down, unaware of the many little creepy creatures their code was creating. But one night, right before down the bugs started coming out of nowhere and from everywhere. And leaders spoke: “Let the little creatures be, for what …

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Yesterday, I gave you a preview of Monday’s Summit 2010 program. Tuesday’s program is filled with just as many sparks! The first session is a case study. It will be led by Rogelio Oliva, who in addition to being a Cutter Senior Consultant, is Associate Professor of Information and Operation Management at the Mays Business School and previously, Assistant Professor in the Technology and Operations Management Unit at the Harvard Business School. So he really knows how to present a case! The case is on IT Cost and IT Value — a pretty important topic these days! First, everyone participating in the Summit will discuss the case in small breakout groups. Then we’ll all come …

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Here at Cutter HQ, as we fondly call it, we’re in full Summit mode: printing badges, packing boxes, tweaking the final menus – getting all the behind-the-scenes stuff done. But that’s certainly not the exciting stuff! What is exciting is the program. As always (this is the 14th Summit we’ve held here in the Boston area), there’s nothing theoretical about the program or sessions. It’s all about creating and discovering business-technology strategies that pave the way for success. And since there are no vendor sponsors, there are no pitches, subtle or otherwise, about silver bullet-type solutions. Here’s a peek at Monday’s sessions: We’re addressing cloud computing. Lou Mazzucchelli’s tackling this topic. If you’ve ever heard …

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Oct 192010
 
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It has been just over 50 years since preeminent IBM computer scientist Hans Peter Luhn coined the term “business intelligence.” And ever since then, BI has been viewed as getting information to the people who need it in a timely fashion and in a form that is easily consumed and acted upon (the right data to the right people at the right time). From those seemingly prehistoric days of data processing, when BI consisted primarily of monthly reports on green bar paper, to today’s splashy interactive graphics on wireless mobile devices, both the data that is available and the means with which to deliver it to the right people have changed dramatically. But have these …

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With large global firms depending on suppliers and business partners in many locations around the world, it is pretty likely that all organizations will at some point be disrupted by some sort of crisis. And it is also pretty likely in this event that some aspect of IT will come into play — either as a source of or in response to the crisis. What is IT’s role in both crisis prevention and crisis mitigation? What kinds of tools, applications, strategies, and infrastructures work best to facilitate crisis response? The January 2011 Cutter IT Journal seeks to shed some light on this pressing issue. Proposals of interest are due 22 October. To respond, please visit …

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There are no computer systems that are “too important to fail.” Failure, as any competent engineer will tell you, is always an option. Yet modern societies increasingly depend on systems to be foolproof. Electrical grids, air traffic control, automobile control, and medical equipment are all life-critical systems, and none of us wants to depend on life-critical systems with a high failure rate. Nobody wants to trust a large portion of his life savings to a financial trading system that is subject to unpredictable failure either. The same is true of the Internet itself. What we need to do is take a step back and study the design, architecture, and feedback control of these systems. Without …

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Jim Highsmith and I have finalized the content and the format for our forthcoming Cutter Summit seminar. The seminar is structured around a case study which includes four exercises. We expect the case study/exercises will take close to two-thirds of the allotted time (the morning of October 27). In the other third we will provide the theory and practices to be used in the seminar exercises and (hopefully) in many future technical debt engagements participants in the workshop will oversee. The seminar does not require deep technical knowledge. It targets participants who possess conceptual grasp of software development, software governance and IT operations/ITIL. If you feel like reading a little about technical debt prior to …

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Legacy modernization — seemed like a good idea at the time. So why do so many modernization projects end in failure? How can we properly measure the complexity of the task and plan the project accordingly? What are the best ways to modernize and extract value from a legacy application while at the same time preserving business knowledge? The upcoming issue of Cutter IT Journal seeks to tackle these tough questions and provide insight into the strategies and approaches that can lead to successful legacy modernization initiatives. Join the debate in the December 2010 Cutter IT Journal — with Guest Editor Don Estes. To share your perspective with us, send us a short article abstract …

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Early this year, fellow Cutter Consultants Mitch Ummel, Mike Rosen, and I wrote an Executive Report on the Smart Grid. In that report, we talked about all the potential that the Smart Grid offers, how it would be designed, and also about the serious problems that such an ambitious undertaking faces — especially problems related to reliability and security. We expressed fears that since the next generation of Smart Grid electrical utilities is based on current standards taken from the Internet and the current generation of operating systems, it would be subject to serious attacks by more and more sophisticated hackers which, in turn, could seriously jeopardize the reliability and security of our most critical …

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