Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This sucks! Well, maybe it does and maybe it doesn't...

Imagine that Microsoft and Apple got into a big fight for the market some 15 years ago and that Apple lost. Big time. Apple went down completely and there was nothing left. And as an IT expert, you were called in to look at what remained, what could be salvaged and what was just a waste of everyones time and money.

If you had seen the iPhone back then what would you have said? (I'm not so sure myself, chances are I would have been terribly negative). Note that there would have been no AppStore, no HTML5 sites, none of that neat stuff.

Or to make a different analogy: Was VHS better than BetaMax? Well, that depends on who you ask: The end consumer wanting to rent a movie or the techie looking at the specifications of the technology in question.

Just after the second world war, in a Germany in shambles, the allies went in and had that look at Germany, and with them they brought some smart dudes, to look at what was useful, what was not and what was rubbish. Reginald Rootes, who together with his brother Billy ran the Rootes Group, one of the big 5 producers of cars i Britain at the time, came along to, among other places, Wolfsburg to have a look at the VW plant. Despite being adviced that the VW was a viable product and seeing it himself, Reggie wasn't interested. Now, some 60+ years later, all the remaining Rootes brands and factories are long gone (the last one, producing Peugeots, closed in 2007). And VW is fighting with Toyota for the title of the world largest car maker.

All in all, stuff that might have serious issues, might be just because of development issues, and you need to look further down the road to see the potential. And don't make the mistake of thinking that the good or bad implementation of an idea says much about the real potential of that idea.

Take Virtualization. Running a database in a virtualized environment was a big no-no just a few years ago. Now things have developed, performance is much better and many of us can use a virtualized environment for many, if not most, of our database needs. Be it Oracle, MySQL or Postgres or whatever.

Go back 20 years and ask yourself how you would have reacted if someone told you that in 20 years, many large enterprises would have large parts of their infrastructure run on a operating system developed by a Finnish student in his spare time in an outsourced environment run by an Internet bookstore company? Nah, don't think so.

So what is the next big thing then? I try to spend some time on it, and when I get to test or try something, I really try to separate the implementation of the idea, be it a new operating system, a new type of access method or whatever, from the actual implementation. The latter says less about the former than you think.

Also, technology isn't everything. Far from it. The best technology doesn't always win. And as for the new technologies you look at, the usefulness and applicability of those isn't always what you think. Did the web turn out to do what we were expecting? What did you expect to be able to do with a cellphone some 15 years ago, besides making phone calls and sending text messages? I believe there is a synergy between the potential of a technology and the applications for it that is the drive forward. And don't be so fast to click that "This sucks" button.

Sorry for this post not being that MySQL focused, but I think it is still applicable. Even if the implementation sucks.


Unknown said...

Slight correction:
VW is the third largest worldwide auto manufacturer after Toyota and General Motors.

wlad said...

Microsoft and Apple did got into a fight over market share some 15 years ago, and Apple lost. There is is no reason to *imagine* it, it happened so.

wlad said...

And, there was nothing salvaged from the old Apple, except an even earlier CEO,and to some extent the logo, when Apple was reborn in this century. In reality, there was not anything useful from the last century to save.

Anders Karlsson said...


Yeah, yeah, you are right, this might not have been a perfect analogy. (Remember Newton?).

And yes, I forgot about GM. But I'm probably not alone in doing that :-) The GM cars we see over here either comes from companies close to bancryptcy (i.e. Opel, SAAB is already dead) or are Chevy badged cars built with the complete disregard for quality. But then I am a mopar person and that might not be much better these days,