What it is, is what it is.

Sitting in my cubicle today I heard this over the divider, "What it is, is what it is."  Meaning the data warehouse data load job was running longer than expected and no one could explain why.  But that was okay because in the computer business we have to expect this sort of thing.  Delays are delays.

It reminded me of a sign I saw in a Canadian Pacific Airlines ticket counter one day, back before that company went bankrupt.  The sign said,

   "In order to serve you better, we are improving our computer environment.

                                         Thank you for your patience!"

At first it struck me funny that I was to expect to receive lousy service while computers were being upgraded.  Then I wondered if service would actually get better after the upgrade.  Well, given that the company went out of business soon after that, I guess service got worse.

What it is, is what it is.  Live with it.  Or not…

I think my systems provider should deliver a system where "What it is, is what is expected."  Of course the only way to know what to expect is to test the product prior to giving it to the customer.  And by test I mean full functional tests, user acceptance tests and performance and volume test.

The challenge in the Big Data world of Data Warehousing is people forget that it takes time to process a billion rows of data.  And every effort to build a system that can handle the large volumes needs to be made up front in the design and development stages, prior to bulk data loading and even prior to the performance & volume tests. 

There is one school of thought that says, first make it work, then tune for performance.  The challenge with this is, what happens if you tune all the performance you can out of your current design and the thing still runs like a tortoise.  Then it’s back to the drawing board.

Somewhere else on this blog site there’s an entry call "Performance is Always an Issue".  It’s my mantra.

What it is, could be better.

  1. Stephen Reply

    I spent the day with Stephen Brobst CTO of Teradata and he had some great insights on how to plan for the bigger picture while minimalizing the what it is is what it is outcome. I will add some posts to talk about it later.
    It is frustrating to hear this as I am sure if the person was getting the results of this sort of outcome in their life (say a leaky roof or something) they would not accept that attitude.

  2. Jim Reply

    How fast something is running is really a perception and expectation issue. I recall how impressed I was as computers did things so fast, then in a few weeks I wondered why it was so slow. I am always amazed at the volumes of data it can process. I think my worry when it does not measure up to my expectations is that there is a problem.
    I remember way back when a program I wrote used to go to lunch every so often. I searched and searched for the problem. I finally stumbled on it and I had overwritten a counter every so often and it was counting thru 64000 (16 bits) till it got back to zero. Then it was fine again until that fluke operation was performed again.
    I also think as we learn a system we know what to expect. Some stuff will take longer but if we know it is OK, then it is what it is. If there is a bug or one of the terrible loops, it can be fixed if we can find it. Software is what it is in this imperfect world.
    There is no such thing as bug free software.

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