Friday, April 16, 2004

Architects vs. IT Architects

Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan : The Role of Traditional Japanese Art and Architecture in the Work of Frank Lloyd WrightI was having an email discussion with "B" regarding my previous blog entry: the "urban cube on a roof". The linked JOS thread had the standard, flip comparison of architects and IT architects. "B"'s quote was worth pasting here:

I don't understand the nuiances of what my architecture friends state, but they are not happy that their millenia old discipline is being slighted by IT people claiming to have a "deep connection" to their discipline. Face it, even the best architects in IT (at Sun, Microsoft, IBM, etc) create stuff that would get you fired, jailed or executed if applied to the world of "real things". By any measure, IT architecture (if you can call it that) is today where true architecture was when people were building grass huts.

Hard to argue with that.

Cringley on MSFT and GOOG

Sun Certified System Administrator for Solaris 8 Study Guide (Exam 310-011 & 310-012)I'm going to use GOOG as Google's stock symbol until I'm notified it's incorrect. Anyhow, Cringely had an interesting (and, IMO, somewhat misguided) missive about Sun, Microsoft and Google. The gist of the article is that 'you can compete with Microsoft by ignoring it'. Like Google did. His reco for Sun is to spend the cash from the Microsoft settlement by giving employees a sabbatical and letting them come up with ideas. Like Google does - the sort of approach that resulted in Orkut and Google News.

I contend, however, that this is misguided because Sun is not Google. Their approach, technology, focus on software, hiring practices, etc. etc. are diametically opposed. Sun still hasn't produced a Java IDE that can remotely compete with Visual Studio. How in the heck are they going to invent a multi-billion dollar software technology analogous to Google? Ain't gonna happen, IMO. But I hope they surprise me. I know some very good folks who work for Sun.

Google, unlike Microsoft, actually is a technology company, and this technology extends beyond development all the way to operations, which is almost unknown in the software/Internet space. Google has figured out the best computer power per dollar of investment. They've also realized they cannot and should not scale their support linearly with the number of servers. They've introduced better system management tools and better automation, but with a business objective in mind. Corporate IT everywhere else is still thinking in terms of headcount with the more heads the more powerful the manager. Google is smarter than that. They invested in their data center operations from the start while most companies invest as little as possible and pay more after the fact...

...Google shows, just as Adobe did a decade before, that companies CAN compete with Microsoft. But to do so they have to unlock the intellectual talent of their employees and then USE that knowledge. Bringing this story back where it started, I can't see where Sun is doing this. They do not appear at present to have a culture that can grow the company beyond their present business model...

Shake Your Groove Thing

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