Friday, June 13, 2014

don't blink during the database stand-off

A lot of us dream of the database. The one great database that will take all of the data from our tiny scrappy datastores, match fields, cross-validate and deduplicate and place our data into the rich promised land of absolute knowledge that drifts in front of our eyes like a mirage, perpetually two and half minutes into the future. That's my vision, I suppose; a single person-orientated record, that follows them from record creation, through time and eventually into the archive like an obedient electronic shadow, plus an information layer over the world, that provides administration points for that record, mapping and pinning and attaching them in the spaghetti junction tangle of their official environment.

Anyone looking at that thinking, that's Facebook and there's Google, that's fine as long as the world you live in is permitted to be partial, optional and mostly centred around relationships and buying things. Not that their data isn't often much better than ours. But I digress.

Across the room, there is a different vision. A series of people who share this vision are explaining it over to an assembled group of people who have suddenly been swept up into this vision. The vision includes a variety of things but one of them is a datastore. Would it not be better if all the datastores were just one? Think of the savings and the improvements to the service!

Across the room from the people with the vision sit the operational managers and asset holders. They have a variety of systems, all of which are in use and fulfilling a non-optional service. They may not be the best systems (all large systems have a tendency to stay jammed into first working configurations) but they work, within tolerance, and they do a variety of things. 

There is a brief moment of silence. Into it, a single sentence falls: I wonder if we're really talking about more than one system here.

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