Historic week in IT

So the mainframe has made the naughty forties celebrating its big four-0 birthday last week. Here's a toast to IBM's S/360, which may be getting old but still managed to generate $4 billion for Big Blue last year. If only I could generate so much cash at that age!

IBM spent a mammoth $5 billion back then developing the system which translates to about $30 billion today.

But that wasn't the only history-making event that took place in IT last week.

If you could get past the sordid headlines detailing David Beckham's romantic liaisons, you would have found the really, really big news.

It doesn't get much bigger than the peace pact between bitter rivals Sun Microsystems and Microsoft (story on page 14).

What an astonishing, fantabulous event!

At last there is an end in sight to incompatible standards and technologies that made life hell for end users.

The only big losers in that never-ending litigious war between Sun and Microsoft were enterprise IT managers who were left struggling to make products interoperate.

When the initial surprise wears off, both parties will have a lot to prove to demonstrate that this new era of cooperation isn't just mere rhetoric.

In the flush of this new-found partnership both companies are making plenty of well- meaning promises. However, don't expect results overnight.

The truth is that these two arch enemies have been feuding for years so there will inevitably be a period of adjustment.

Both sides come from two very different cultures and coming together will most certainly be a bumpy ride.

As we all know, vendorland is a very strange planet with a language all of its own.

Just take 'customised' software as an example.

In the real world when people think customised they think luxury, you know custom-fitted suits and hand-made shoes.

But in the world of software customised means 'necesssary'. As we all know off-the-shelf packaged software doesn't exist in the enterprise.

We get one size that doesn't fit anybody and 'necessary' steps must be taken for it to simply work.

In the real world we wouldn't dare expect clothing manufacturers to create only size 12 T-shirts forcing everyone to do a bit of 'customisation' to make them fit.

Can you imagine? And just to add insult to injury what if the costs to make those 'necessary' adjustments were more than the purchase price of the t-shirt?

In vendorland we call this integration. Yes siree, welcome to the world of software, which is one hell of an ugly place where everyone is forced to wear ill-fitting T-shirts. But do not despair, the future is certainly looking much brighter now that two vendorland giants have finally put an end to their constant bickering. Just maybe it was a week in history from whence peace could prevail. Is integration peaceful at your place? E-mail me at Sandra_Rossi@idg.com.au

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