Joel talking nonsense about "enterprise software" : LUSENET : Joel on Software : One Thread

In his interview to WebWord Joel say : "There's "enterprise software" which is usually a lot simpler and stupider than typical shrinkwrap software, costs $1,000,000, and requires an army of consultants to get it working"

I can't agree with that - obviously, there are plenty of cases when "enterprise" word was used as a buzzword, carrying nothing with it. Just another nice-looking word to throw in advert, right. But, Joel. It doesn't mean that from now all "enterprise" software is simple and stupid in reality. What about heavy servers you wrote for some Web services ? What about engines standing behind Web-monsters like Amazon and eBay ? Are those enterprises simple and stupid ? I doubt ..

-- Anonymous, August 17, 2001


Joel never called the enterprises simple and stupid. He said enterprise software was, and by "enterprise software", I assume he meant frameworks like Tivoli, BMC Patrol, or anything but Computer Associates. Having used that kind of stuff, I gotta say Joel is dead on about it costing millions, requiring armies of consultants, and being generally stupid. "Enterprise Software" generally works, but the fact that it's intended for professional systems administrators rather than home users means that the software vendor doesn't have to spend as much effort on error handling, auto-configuration, etc, so the software needs to be "hand-held" a lot. In fact, it's actually against the interests of CA, Tivoli, etc to make their software simple--those kinds of companies make more for consultant fees than they do on the software itself, so the software is usually bound to be "simpler and stupider than shrinkwrap software". Not all enterprise software is like this, of course, but a good chunk of it is.

-- Anonymous, August 17, 2001

Simple & Stupid Revisited

Hmm, a Windows desktop app can just use the Registry to auto-configure itself. Simple. I wonder how you make an auto-configured enterprise solution that links a mainframe inventory system with a Web-based ecommerce interface with a DOS-based membership management database and handles the batch payments just how the accounting department requires?

The hand-holding does generate hourly fees, but since these integration consultants are constantly modifying interfaces and features to adapt to evolving business processes -- while maintaing mission critical data and legacy systems -- perhaps they do earn their keep. I don't see how the software could do this automaticaly.

In the end, enterprise software is more about the consulting than the software b/c that's the nature of the problem. It's a moving target. So the software can be stupid. But the consultants must be smart.

-- Anonymous, August 24, 2001

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