A view on WebSphere

The BBC interviews Donald Ferguson, now of CA Technologies:

What’s the biggest technology mistake you ever made – either at work or in your own life?

When I was at IBM, I started a product called Websphere [which helps companies to operate and integrate business applications across multiple computing platforms].

Because I had come from working on big mission-critical systems, I thought it needs to be scalable, reliable, have a single point of control … I tried to build something like a mainframe, a system that was capable of doing anything, that would be able to do what might be needed in five years.

I call it the endgame fallacy. It was too complex for people to master. I overdesigned it.

Because we were IBM, we survived it, but if we’d been a start-up, we’d have gone to the wall.

Ouch! Now, I’m sure that Mr. Ferguson probably has an axe to grind given his current position, but the article does have some good things to say:

But the biggest problem is the complexity of IT. If you look at any IT in business, it is so complex it hinders the ability to be agile and efficient. Throughout the history of IT we all have said that we will make it simpler by adding more things to it, but that makes it more and more complex.

IT departments spend 75% to 85% of their budgets just to keep existing IT environments running; that leaves little capacity for innovation.

So we have to simplify IT, but that’s really hard. I have actually brought in people who have experience designing user interfaces for consumer software, to get this knowledge into the design of our new products.

Worth a read…

[Just seen that Ben Poole posted this last week…]

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!