That Which Endures

Rosetta Stone

I feel a little uncomfortable with a title like this pertaining to ANY topic related to Information Technology (IT) but in context the phrase is relatively descriptive.

In the years that I’ve been involved in IT, technologies and approaches have changed frequently and often significantly.  I learned “structured programming” which was considered a vast improvement over the “branch-to-hell-and-hang” woolly free-for-all that had existed previously (at least to hear my professors describe it).  That was superseded by object-oriented programming and others…

Similarly the technologies have evolved and changed… Assembly, COBOL, FORTRAN, LISP, C, C++, C#, C-spot-run, etc…

Approaches to storing and accessing data have similarly evolved: flat-files, relational databases, hierarchical databases, object-databases, columnar databases, HADOOP, etc…

The one thing that has NOT changed and which applies to ALL incarnations of data processing is the need to store and retrieve “information”.  I’m not talking about the form in which the data is stored, I’m talking about what it “means”… the “semantics”.

The sad thing is, most universities fail to teach (or the students fail to learn [… that would have been true of me anyway]) that one can model the information in such a way (“Conceptually”) that it can be “mapped” or “shaped” in ANY of the “latest-and-greatest” (“Logical”) storage paradigms or platforms and the great thing about creating the “Conceptual” model is that it can persist and be evolved and enhanced as the business information needs change and as the “logical” underlying solutions / designs are changed.  This conceptual model can serve as a living, breathing IT “Rosetta Stone” which can serve as a hub-of-meaning for enterprise-wide integrations, enterprise data warehouse designs, vendor integrations… anything that involves getting an “idea” from one system to another.

This “Conceptual Information Model” becomes “That Which Endures” and serves to make every new system implementation going forward easier, cheaper, faster, and more valuable.  It’s a pity that so few executives and IT folks understand that.

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