Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Mike Kavis, Pat Romanski, Don MacVittie, VictorOps Blog, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

Java Developer's Journal: 'To Dwell in the Future and Forget About Today'

Some of the words I dread most in a meeting are: 'What if ?'

Some of the words I dread most in a meeting are: "What if ?" They're fine in the present tense of "What if a user tries this option?" or "What if the database read fails mid flight?", but as soon as the future tense is introduced I begin to worry. "What if the database and middleware changes?" or "What if sometime soon we don't just have to run on PCs but need to work on mobile phones?" There is also the future future tense such as "What happens to the UI if the operating system is ported to run on a wrist watch?" or "What if one day the company merges with another whose corporate standard is MAC and SNA?"

My first IT job was building computer systems for Insurance Syndicates to allow them to manage their policies, collect premiums, and pay out claims to the less fortunate of their clients. It's a difficult business arena, with companies either losing or making a ton of money; our job was to provide them with systems to help stack the odds in favor of the latter. As well as supporting an existing 10-year-old application, we were all busy working on the next one, which was an entire rewrite. It suffered from all of the second-system syndrome features that usually plague such projects, where every feature, bell, and whistle that didn't get put into the first one gets incorporated.

What ultimately plagued and doomed the project was the "what if" over-engineering that went into its design. The business analysts tried to soothsay every possible scenario that would occur in the future, including some that would have required wholesale deregulation of the market and acts of parliament before they could ever become reality. Such schemes were happily programmed in with the foresight that if they were needed, a soft-coded switch could be thrown and the application would adapt itself in flight. Database rows had unused columns that, at the throw of a switch, would be activated onto users' screens and reports. The reality, of course, was that none of the scenarios that the analysts predicted ever occurred, and the amount of additional soft coding and layers of abstraction meant the software was slow and bulky. We lost almost all our market share to the competition, which just built lean, focused software. Even when big changes did occur to the market, such as the introduction of the Euro as an accounting currency, this required huge changes to the application because it naturally wasn't one of the future scenarios that had been predicted.

It's not just analysts who suffer from "whatifitis" syndrome. Programmers are just as guilty of using this as the excuse to over-engineer designs and code. The first OO project I worked on had to talk to a relational database back end, and we set about tackling this by creating code that could read and write our business objects. After a while it became apparent that the same logic was being used over and over, so this was refactored into a common set of class libraries, and behold a persistence mapping framework was born. Management got very excited about this, believing we'd built some kind of IT Rosetta stone, and talked to our software vendor who brought in some consultants. They raised the possibility that the database tables beneath our objects might change shape and we had to code for that possibility, as well as the possibility that our company might merge with another with a totally different database vendor and schema, and we should cater for that. There was a lot of buzz at the time about OO databases that just stored objects right onto disk without messy rows and tables, so to be ahead of the game our persistence layer catered to this. More and more layers of indirection were built into the code that now sat between the top-level objects and the database reads and writes. This, by now, had become soft coded to look up in dictionaries and maps to figure out what it was actually supposed to be doing at each decision point. This was a cool idea that would allow a system administrator to merely tweak the soft-coded rules and introduce wholesale change to how and where the beautiful and pure OO system would get and put its data. The system never actually shipped, because after having spent about three years building it, when the company did actually merge with another they decided it was silly to spend so much on our project; they would rather spend time patching the existing system to deal with the challenges resulting from the merger.

I'm fortunate enough now to work for a major IT vendor, yet during a recent presentation was given a reminder that "whatifitis" is still alive and well. This occurred while showing a customer a product that lets them write their code once and have it run on several different clients: green screen, Java Swing, and HTML. The business scenario is for someone who has users of all three interfaces, and while the Web or Java interface we generate isn't going to win usability awards against bespoke AJAX or Swing code, it's a good solution for companies who have hundred of screens and just don't want the hassle of many expensive bespoke interfaces. Halfway through the demo, one of the customer's architects asked, "What about the X-Box?" He'd read an article that said how games consoles were the user interface of the future and wanted to know on which release were we going to support this feature. Meeting customers is always odd because I usually only get to be in a room full of managers and their high-level architects, rather than their coders who actually get the work done. Instead of replying, "What if you stopped worrying about the future and, instead of reading airport newsstand IT magazines full of FUD, you spent some time with your users, solving their day-to-day business problems"; I gave a wishy-washy answer that didn't break my company's business conduct guidelines. Pity, what if...?

More Stories By Joe Winchester

Joe Winchester, Editor-in-Chief of Java Developer's Journal, was formerly JDJ's longtime Desktop Technologies Editor and is a software developer working on development tools for IBM in Hursley, UK.

Comments (4) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
JDJ News Desk 05/22/06 09:02:34 AM EDT

Some of the words I dread most in a meeting are: 'What if ?' They're fine in the present tense of 'What if a user tries this option?' or 'What if the database read fails mid flight?', but as soon as the future tense is introduced I begin to worry. 'What if the database and middleware changes?' or 'What if sometime soon we don't just have to run on PCs but need to work on mobile phones?' There is also the future future tense such as 'What happens to the UI if the operating system is ported to run on a wrist watch?' or 'What if one day the company merges with another whose corporate standard is MAC and SNA?'

JDJ News Desk 05/22/06 08:22:55 AM EDT

Some of the words I dread most in a meeting are: 'What if ?' They're fine in the present tense of 'What if a user tries this option?' or 'What if the database read fails mid flight?', but as soon as the future tense is introduced I begin to worry. 'What if the database and middleware changes?' or 'What if sometime soon we don't just have to run on PCs but need to work on mobile phones?' There is also the future future tense such as 'What happens to the UI if the operating system is ported to run on a wrist watch?' or 'What if one day the company merges with another whose corporate standard is MAC and SNA?'

JDJ News Desk 05/21/06 06:08:06 PM EDT

Some of the words I dread most in a meeting are: 'What if ?' They're fine in the present tense of 'What if a user tries this option?' or 'What if the database read fails mid flight?', but as soon as the future tense is introduced I begin to worry. 'What if the database and middleware changes?' or 'What if sometime soon we don't just have to run on PCs but need to work on mobile phones?' There is also the future future tense such as 'What happens to the UI if the operating system is ported to run on a wrist watch?' or 'What if one day the company merges with another whose corporate standard is MAC and SNA?'

JDJ News Desk 05/21/06 05:28:20 PM EDT

Some of the words I dread most in a meeting are: 'What if ?' They're fine in the present tense of 'What if a user tries this option?' or 'What if the database read fails mid flight?', but as soon as the future tense is introduced I begin to worry. 'What if the database and middleware changes?' or 'What if sometime soon we don't just have to run on PCs but need to work on mobile phones?' There is also the future future tense such as 'What happens to the UI if the operating system is ported to run on a wrist watch?' or 'What if one day the company merges with another whose corporate standard is MAC and SNA?'

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with APIs within the next year.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect their organization.
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sectors.
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
Akana has released Envision, an enhanced API analytics platform that helps enterprises mine critical insights across their digital eco-systems, understand their customers and partners and offer value-added personalized services. “In today’s digital economy, data-driven insights are proving to be a key differentiator for businesses. Understanding the data that is being tunneled through their APIs and how it can be used to optimize their business and operations is of paramount importance,” said Alistair Farquharson, CTO of Akana.
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.
The enterprise market will drive IoT device adoption over the next five years. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Greenough, an analyst at BI Intelligence, division of Business Insider, analyzed how companies will adopt IoT products and the associated cost of adopting those products. John Greenough is the lead analyst covering the Internet of Things for BI Intelligence- Business Insider’s paid research service. Numerous IoT companies have cited his analysis of the IoT. Prior to joining BI Intelligence, he worked analyzing bank technology for Corporate Insight and The Clearing House Payment...
"Optimal Design is a technology integration and product development firm that specializes in connecting devices to the cloud," stated Joe Wascow, Co-Founder & CMO of Optimal Design, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CommVault has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A singular vision – a belief in a better way to address current and future data management needs – guides CommVault in the development of Singular Information Management® solutions for high-performance data protection, universal availability and simplified management of data on complex storage networks. CommVault's exclusive single-platform architecture gives companies unp...
Electric Cloud and Arynga have announced a product integration partnership that will bring Continuous Delivery solutions to the automotive Internet-of-Things (IoT) market. The joint solution will help automotive manufacturers, OEMs and system integrators adopt DevOps automation and Continuous Delivery practices that reduce software build and release cycle times within the complex and specific parameters of embedded and IoT software systems.
"ciqada is a combined platform of hardware modules and server products that lets people take their existing devices or new devices and lets them be accessible over the Internet for their users," noted Geoff Engelstein of ciqada, a division of Mars International, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.