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1: You rarely talk about technology. Is it not important?
A1: Technology is great. It can do wonders for the business, for IT, etc. But it is the least-difficult aspect with which to deal when designing the proper infrastructure. People and process issues are making a mockery of IT.
2: Our shop has purchased all this nifty technology, yet we are still having a difficult time maintaining RAS. What else are we missing?
A2: Many executives think that technology is their savior. They gobble it up and spend millions in the process. What they're missing is the proper organization structure and key processes.
3: This new age of computing with technology is evolving so quickly. Is it really very complex?
A3: This new world is very complex, yet very exciting. Unfortunately, complexity plays havoc with RAS. It's fine when all this sophistication works as it's supposed to, but sometimes it doesn't work that way. We were at a company one day that had redundancy built into the hardware in case of a failure. Memory crashed on one CPU—so we put in a command to switch over to the redundant system, which it did, while repairs were made to the damaged system. After repairing the damaged system, the customer switched back to the regular system and the database was confused and corrupted.
4: Why does client server computing seem so complex?
A4: The problem is that we are so accustomed to all of the applications executing on the same piece of hardware, that picturing it as a series of many computers is abstract. If you started on mainframes, the best way to envision it is to think of the PCs as one large system. Don't think of them as separate computers.
5: Should we go with two-tier or three-tier technology?
A5: You may not have a choice. If you are buying off-the-shelf software, you will get what the vendor has developed. The better way to go is three-tier. It is more complex, but allows for linear growth and the option to change part of the system. Of course, once you use one vendor's middleware, you are pretty much locked in.
6: Do we need to standardize on one DBMS?
A6: No. Standardize on SQL and relational DBMS technology. Buy the cheapest product that meets your business requirements.
7: Is the mainframe dead?
A7: No. We recommend that you change the presentation and process layers if business changes dictate. Otherwise, most of the mainframes we've seen are state of the art technology. Remember the software is legacy, not the hardware.
8: What is middleware?
A8: Middleware is software that permits the transfer of data from one software layer to another. When we want to transfer data from the presentation layer to the process layer, middleware handles this data transfer.
9: Do multiple protocol networks really work?
A9: Yes. Multiple stacks on a desktop are a real solution to the migration from older to newer technologies. The only real problem is the move to network computing where all devices are connected to the network first and access servers second. Sometimes this is a difficult concept.


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