Inspiration from Grand Buildings, Mainframes and Clouds...

Inspiration is a funny thing. It comes in all shapes and sizes and comes in all different ways. Today’s inspiration comes from visiting Union Station in Washington D.C.. The DAMA-NCR meets across the street from Union Station a few times a year and typically I’ll stop into Union Station for a quick stroll or a bite to eat at one of the shops before the meetings start.

As I sit in the main hall, walk around the building or browse the shops I can’t help but think that we don’t make things the way we “used to”. In today’s age of efficiency and cost cutting we’d never build such a “Grand” Union Station, it just wouldn’t happen.

No building is perfect however. Union Station is littered with scars of modernization and retro-fit, but it still continues to shine as a symbol of a time where grandiose ideas were OK and par for the course.

Taking this to the realm of Business, IT and Data...

When I learn more about “legacy” systems such as big old mainframes which run our largest businesses and governments I sometimes think back to times when I’ve visited these “Grand” stations. These systems were designed and built to stand the test of time and although they too are typically scarred by modernization and retro-fit, they are no less “Grand”.

I sometimes envy those out there who have experienced the golden age of these “Grand” systems. I bet they reflect on times where projects like Master Data Management (MDM) were done implicitly by nature of having one and only one system of record (or golden record) for entities such as CUSTOMER. It was all in the mainframe - they just couldn’t “get to it”, probably just a case of “grass being greener on the other side” kind of thing.

The explosive growth of Open Systems in the last 20 years has given organizations tremendous opportunities for new functionality and business growth, but we seem to have lost our “mojo” for “Grandness”.

You’d anticipate that the explosive growth of Web and Mobile technologies we’re experiencing now will naturally continue to erode our need/desire for “Grand” centralized systems.

Or will it?

If our Web and Mobile Applications could have all the “Grandness” of centrally stored data (built-in MDM, think data in clouds also) and all the applications look and feel like one extension of each other, perhaps we’ll no longer seek the comfort of these “Grand” stations to welcome us to our destination. Perhaps having many different stations which feel naturally integrated will satisfy our deep down desire for “Grandness”.

I’m excited to learn more about centrally stored “cloud” data. Perhaps it’s just the “Grandness” I’ve been searching for all along.

Until next time...Rich

Note: Random thoughts jotted down in my notebook yesterday in D.C.


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