editor's desk: Internet Time

I am sure that all of the hip Internet apparatchiks are going to call me a square and discount everything I say, but aren’t we getting just a wee bit sick of the Internet? These people, you know the ones I’m talking about -- Wired is their bible, and they live their lives governed by the newest Internet fads -- just plain bother me. I read Wired and am pretty “with it” as far as technology is concerned, but these people go to far.

I was reading a column, written by a friend and former colleague of mine who is an editor at a major PC weekly, that says that monolithic software, like Microsoft Office, Lotus Notes and Windows NT itself, just doesn’t cut it in the age of “Internet time”. The premise is, that with the Internet making new technology immediately available, any software that can’t be updated frequently is bound to go the way of the Dinosaurs.

I guess this includes OS/400 too, as we all know that OS/400 is just one big suite of software, bundled together, that provides almost everything you need in a platform for secure, mission-critical computing.

We have all heard the term “Best-of-Breed”. This, of course, is the antithesis of the product suite, or monolithic operating system, for that matter. With “Best-of-Breed” buying, we buy each piece of software that fits an exact niche, and does the best job of any product available for that niche.

The alleged advantage of a “Best-of-Breed” strategy is that the smaller the niche the software fits, the smaller the software and the quicker it can evolve to meet the demands of new technology. Maybe, maybe not, but the more important question is, “Do we want our software to follow the whims of the fickle Internet culture?”

Just because a new Internet-related technology pops up, it doesn’t mean that you have to use it right away. At the pace that new Internet technologies are being introduced, it is impossible to carefully consider the ramifications of using a new technology before it is obsolete.

Committing to a new untested Internet technology is like bungee jumping off a bridge without making sure your bungee cord is securely attached to your feet. We know what happens to careless bungee jumpers, and the same thing can happen to you if you embrace a new Internet technology without careful consideration.

I am not saying that you should live in the past and ignore new Internet technologies that come along. I am just suggesting that you should give the new technology time to prove its technological worthiness and let it earn its place in the market.

As users of AS/400s we have a platform that is tried and true, but looking a little ragged at the edges. One of the things that can keep your investment in the AS/400 from going down the tubes is your intelligent use of Internet technologies like Java and XML to build e-business enabled applications on the AS/400.

The emphasis in the last paragraph is on the word “intelligent”. The use of new technology because it is new is just as foolhardy as turning a blind eye to technological advances. One must weigh the benefit of a new Internet technology with the added costs in hardware, software and training. Then, and only then, should it be considered for use in mission-critical applications.

I know the lure of shiny new technology is great, but I caution you to resist the urge to rush out and implement every new Internet technology that comes down the pike. Give them time to prove their worth and you will live a long and happy life as an IT manager. Rush to judgement and you might end up like the careless bungee jumper.