Appliance the Myth in IT

I think it is human nature to be looking for the quick-fix or "Silver bullet" solutions.  The idea of an Appliance solving your problems is one of them.

To start off let’s talk about what an appliance is in this context.  When thinking of this I think of a refredgerator or a toaster.  You plug it in the wall and off you go.  You keep the milk cold or you toast your bread.  So in the IT world, this is to be a self-contained artifact that serves a specific purpose.  So le’t use Netezza as an example or a router as an example.  Both good appliance examples.  One creates a database device the other a router. 

The observation I have is that these are only a part of the solution and though expensive and often complex are often not the largest cost part of the equation.  In parallel to this the household appliance serves a partial purpose, but not the whole.  You still need the food as part of the supply-chain.

So in the deman/supply chain of the world of Data and Business Intelligence having an appliance is a good thing and it helps greatly.  But this does not solve the issue of the need of getting the food and the food itself.

OK so I have gone all over the place on this, so let’s see if I can draw an analogy…

                            Home                                                                            Data Appliance
Source of Food      Store  (you need to go and get                            Source systems (need to get the data)
                            the food)                                 
Get it Home             Public or private transit                                        Data Integration (find and move the
                                    (standing in lines…)                                             data)
Store It                       The Fridge                                                                The Appliance
Use It                          Take it out of the fridge                                      The Business Intelligence Part
                                    and prepare it for consumption

OK this is not a perfect thing, but I ope you get the point.  Bringing the ice, storage and accessibility in the house was a great leap for the household.  But the fridge was not self stocking, and it does not prepare the food.  The same thing holds true for the Data Appliance.  We need to source the data, properly configure it for use and consumption and then there is the use and consumption.  I think, just like the bringing of the cooling shed into the house, the data appliance is a big leap forward – but it is only a piece of the total puzzle, so don’t forget that part.

Note – we have or are now a Netezza systems integration partner.  This is not why I wrote this, but is in response to conversations with clients.

Also take a look at Architected Info’s post

  1. Jim Reply

    Very clear what an appliance is, I think. I am starting to understand you and now that is scary. The formating of the table was a problem on my screen. Maybe less spaces would work cause I think the table is a good help.
    Great use of a metaphor. Always important to remember that all metaphors break down at some stage as they are only a metaphor, not the real thing.
    I think IT people use words that come out of metaphors, but often forget the meanings are not self evident truths.

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