Complexity of IT systems will be our undoing

By John Dix, Network World |  Networking, Complexity

This patent also uses partitioning to build an SOA, but not with highly arbitrary decompositional design. Instead we drive the partitioning with equivalence relations. Unlike decompositional design, with its effectively random results, equivalence relation analysis is a highly directed process. It leads you to one and only one solution. And we can show mathematically that this solution is the simplest possible solution. It will also be the cheapest solution and the solution that will most likely line up with the business needs.

How does this work in practice? Do companies that have a big project call you in to help them figure out the best way to tackle it?

Exactly. That's our specialty. An example of which would be even a small system for a state government. Let's say you've got a motor vehicles department that wants to replace just that part of the system that tracks drivers' licenses and makes sure people have done the right thing to get a license. Though that's only a small part of the functionality that's in motor vehicles, that's easily going to be a $3 million or $4 million system.

Once you realize it's a $3 million or $4 million system you realize you've got less than a 25% chance of success unless you do something different. You can use decompositional design to carve the system up into four small systems, but the chances are that you're going to end up with a worse situation. So instead, we come in and do the pre-planning, which is before the system architecture is created. We figure out the optimal way to take the large collection of functionality and carve it into smaller projects, so that each one of those projects is as simple as it can possibly be. It may be four subprojects. It may be eight. It will be whatever the mathematical analysis tells us is the best way to do it.

There are a lot of benefits to doing this. First you've greatly increased the chances of success, because each one of those projects is small enough so it has probably an 80% chance of success. You've also reduced the cost of the project, because cost is directly proportional to overall complexity. And you've made it much easier to determine what functionality needs to be in each one of the pieces. 

It is a multi-stage process. First we identify the business functions. Then we do synergistic analysis, which tells us which functions need to live in which subsets. And those subsets eventually turn into independent projects. So it's not a short process, but relative to the cost of doing the entire project it's very fast and it's more than paid back by the fact that you reduce the complexity of the overall system and therefore reduce the cost and the failure rate.

Do you mostly work in SOA environments? 


Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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