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Record retention versus being a packrat

Bill Inmon, BeyeNetwork Contributor

This article originally appeared on the BeyeNETWORK.

Do workers in the IT profession ever decide to delete? Are we mostly packrats? Do circumstances conspire to make us keep things forever?

The other day

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I heard something shocking. In what year did IBM have the most active number of IMS licenses? If you guessed 2004, you go to the head of the class.

We also still have source code from the 1960s. Yes, some of the code survived the year 2000 debacle.

Does anything ever disappear in our industry? Yes, some things have been deleted. It has been a long time since I have seen a punch card or a keypunch operator.

The old magnetic tapes are still here, but have evolved. The old cases holding a reel of tape waiting to be mounted by an operator are really rare. Core memory is also hard to find.

What does withstand  the test of time and manage to remain with us? Old applications and database technology seem to become a part of are legacy and are still with us today. Once they become established, they seem to last forever. Never mind that the requirements that shaped those applications have changed a hundred times since the application was first formed. Never mind that some of the old dbms technology has not had a new release in over a decade. Once these have become ingrained, it seems that they will be with us forever.

Why is it so hard to get rid of code and old database technology? It must be the functionality. The functionality is so complex that no one is willing to go into the code and start to tear it apart.

The vendors love it. The maintenance fees they collect on those old technologies is the easiest money anyone has ever made.

The worst example of not getting rid of things has to be an organization I visited which had a data dictionary product. I asked what they were doing with it. They said – “nothing”. It had never been installed. I then asked if they were still paying maintenance. And to my surprise, they said – “absolutely”. They said if they ever needed it that it would be there and they wouldn’t have to purchase it again. One can only ask, “Why?”

 

Bill Inmon is universally recognized as the father of the data warehouse. He has more than 36 years of database technology management experience and data warehouse design expertise. He has published more than 40 books and 1,000 articles on data warehousing and data management, and his books have been translated into nine languages. He is known globally for his data warehouse development seminars and has been a keynote speaker for many major computing associations.


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