Software: It's Just a Tool
I’ve been reading the materials coming out of this year’s iGrid event and I can’t help but reflect on technology trends I’ve observed over the years. In college I learned Pascal, COBOL, LISP, and FORTRAN. Microcomputers (PCs) were considered toys and only good for teaching the graphics class. My first job out of school I worked on an 8086 using C and Assembler in MS-DOS. I cut my teeth on OS/2 and was the architect for the first OS/2 code generator KASE:VIP for PM. I’ve worked on several flavors of Unix but most recently my world has been a Microsoft world. Through all of this I’ve listened to people religiously committed to a language or operating system and I find the arguments just silly.
Is Java better then C++? Is C# better than Java? At that end of the day the decisions about what to start with: OS, language, and tools is usually only relevant at the beginning of a brand new product development cycle. The average developer does not work on brand spanking new products. She inherits systems already in place and any changes to the existing systems are limited by the business cases. Is Java better than C++? I don’t know and I don’t care. What I care about is the viability of the currently implemented system. Is there a business case (a money saving or making reason) to make a technology change? If there is then start migrating, if not don’t change anything. Software is a tool to solve problems and make money. Period.
When I look out on the grid computing market space I see a lot of different types of solutions. Grid computing is extremely cool stuff. Google is using it behind its search engine. Researchers are doing really neat stuff. There are open-source, Linux, HPC, Solaris, and Microsoft grid systems available right now. There are choices. With those choices will come people who passionately advocate one solution over all others. Poppycock! Before you commit to a grid solution you need to assess your business requirements, your financial position (remember open source doesn’t necessarily mean free), currently available assets (people, knowledge, hardware, and software) and decide on a grid solution(s) that best suit those needs.
Remember, technology is a tool. Alone it won’t feed your family. If you use it to build something and then sell it, you will generate revenue. Like the hammer you have stashed in your garage. Unless you build something...the hammer is just collecting dust.