Yesterday I was relaxing at lunch, watching CNBC’s power lunch. I like to hear what is going on in the business community at lunch time. I don’t know why I just do. I was thinking about the companies that they don’t talk about anymore, that used to be the only companies they talked about. Jim Collins author of the book “Good to Great” and his team wrote another book “How the mighty fail.” I wonder now if a 3rd book isn’t in the works “Companies that used to be great.”
I heard on the news last night about a Labrador that was blind; it had wandered off from its home near the woods. For eight days they looked in vain for the dog. On the 8th day, a friend of the family was out for a walk in the woods and spotted the dog, lying by a stream. I love stories like that. A blind lost and scared dog returning to its family. I wonder how many once great companies, like that blind dog are struggling and fighting to survive?
The reason I ask, consider and ponder this is the reality of the market. When I started out as an IT person, the concept of outsourcing was, well it frankly didn’t exist. You designed and built solutions because the software and other markets didn’t exist. When I started, it was not unusual for large companies to have 3, 4 or more different email systems. Each of the systems back then had unique capabilities. That meant you ran multiple systems. Softswitch was a company that built boxes that sat on your network and translated (LCD) mail between various mail systems.
All of this leading to a question. Well, more than one question but for now one question I am spending any time on. I have, in the past twenty years chased after migrations. They are painful, and yet people still act like they are easy, that they don’t fail and that we can just do this. Failure isn’t an option; it is a reality in migrations. Things don’t always work the way we think they should.
My question then is how do we get the reality of migrations to the people who are purists, in that a pure migration never fails? How do we get people to see that technology isn’t about perfection? Seriously the incompatibilities between systems are sometimes because of mistakes or errors not unjust or inequitable systems because human beings built them and we are not perfect. That failure isn’t just something we build huge risk documents for; it is something that will happen during that migration.
Do not go gentle into that good IT estate. Make sure you plan, plan against the failure of your migration! To borrow perhaps the most famous line from the Poem by Dylan Thomas. I don’t know why after all these years it is still this way. There are those in the IT world who predict perfect migrations every time. There are those who foresee no issue, no problem, no need to worry. Things are just, I promise you, going to work correctly.
They don’t and they won’t, work correctly. Something will go wrong. Murphy’s law talks about systems and failure. All systems reach failure points. Migration is a transitional system with the goal of taking you from one system to another system. It has inputs, business processes and outputs as part of the migration.
The funny thing is, I wrote this very blog ten years ago. I was driving towards what I thought was the solution to the problem (The Simple Architecture Movement) wherein reducing the complexity of documentation produced within organizations and by organizations we could increase the viability of migrations. I published an article on MSDN called difference architects. I published it in 2006 in fact. That article was my first attempt to simplify the concept and principles by which documentation of software architectures was created. I have argued, talked, presented and in the end sadly hung my head and realized that while this is still an issue, it is not what causes migration to struggle. Complexity is certainly the enemy of success, but it is one of many factors that cause problems in migrations. All I want now is for people to drop the word seamless!
still migrating after all these years…