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Re: [ontolog-forum] Sustainability

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: David Eddy <deddy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 18 Sep 2010 16:43:53 -0400
Message-id: <FFDE114A-E27A-4525-80C3-164991951C3B@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
John -    (01)

On Sep 18, 2010, at 12:31 PM, John F. Sowa wrote:    (02)

>> I get very nervous when I see discussions of distributed (obviously
>> heavily heterogeneous) Repositories.  If we haven't been able—or
>> willing—to automate necessary central repository activities
>> (including discovering & maintaining constantly evolving language),
>> how will we transparently automate a highly distributed repository
>> process?
> I wouldn't worry.    (03)

I worry.    (04)

I see various folks doing a lot of vigorous hand waving around "we'll  
throw it into a repository" (to a large extent the "metadata" prefix  
seems to have been dropped now & I wonder if repository & database  
are used as synonyms now) ASSUMING that metadata repositories are in  
fact available & present & people who know how to implement them are  
available.    (05)

When there were robust central metadata repositories, the success  
rate was miniscule.  And this was in big companies, with well funded  
projects and smart, motivated people.  This was in a non-desktop  
environment where in fact the central mainframe ruled.  That simple  
central model is now a distant memory.  Many have only known the  
desktop/Windows environment & honestly—if ignorantly—assume the  
mainframe no longer exists.    (06)

I have a friend who still writes COBOL & DB2 on a mainframe...  
working in a system that is built on Windows, Unix, AS400 &  
mainframe.  These technical cultures work in largely isolated mode.   
They, of course, speak totally incompatible languages.    (07)

Something I would like to know, but seriously doubt if I'll ever  
learn, is how these technical dispersed environments sync up their  
changes.  I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt if there's a  
software configuration management (SCM) tool that natively handles  
Windows/Unix/AS400/mainframe in one fell swoop.  Absent any direct  
experience I assume the SCM tools—they ARE using SCM tools, right?— 
are also stovepipes like the technologies they support.  So someone  
has to write code that notices a change & notifies the other  
environments.    (08)

One of the significant factoids that drove me into Y2K (a massive  
impact analysis project) was discovering in 1993 that no more than  
10% of IBM mainframe sites (about 15,000 at the time... easily  
findable & countable... something you cannot do with desktop boxes  
which estimates in the 500,000,000 range I think... but who's  
counting) had even purchased (not the same as implementing) an SCM  
tool.  Is anyone able to attest that in a mere 17 years companies  
have implemented SCM processes that automagically tie together  
everything from desktop to mainframe.  I seriously doubt it.    (09)

Now elevate this to "language control" in the OOR... someone in the  
field introduces a "new" term+definition.  How is this (allegedly...  
I largely subscribe to "nothing new under the sun" model) new thingy  
going to be discovered & vetted?    (010)

In the central mainframe data dictionary* (aka metadata repository)  
the only successful ones ensured they embedded JCL (and other)  
scanners into the SCM process.  Then SCM was largely on a "single"  
mainframe.  Now that mainframe is everyone's desktop.    (011)

If someone working at the desktop has to wait for approval for a  
"new" term, they're going to ignore the language collection/vetting  
process.    (012)

I worry.    (013)

* "data dictionary"... I use this extremely ambiguous term in the  
context of a complex, very powerful, specialized database engine that  
can track application artifacts (data elements, schema definitions,  
programs & relationships of artifacts) across a portfolio of software  
applications.  A 10,000 person organization that I track has some  
1.6M artifacts in their mainframe artifact inventory.  Non-mainframe  
artifacts are not monitored.)  There are other understandings for  
what a "data dictionary" is.    (014)

David Eddy
deddy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx    (015)

781-455-0949    (016)

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