Sunday, November 24, 2013

Database Disagreement

From the NYT investigation into the fiasco:

"Another sore point was the Medicare agency’s decision to use database software, from a company called MarkLogic, that managed the data differently from systems by companies like IBM, Microsoft and Oracle. CGI officials argued that it would slow work because it was too unfamiliar. Government officials disagreed, and its configuration remains a serious problem."

Ann Althouse asks: "What the hell is MarkLogic and why did it get this sweet deal that caused so much grief?"

The phrase, "managed the data differently" seems to refer to the fact that instead of being a standard "relational" database, of the kind sold by IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle, this was a "NoSQL" database. This sort of database is marketed as superior for Big Data projects, but I don't really know much about it, and apparently neither did the programmers on the project.

My big question a lot like Althouse's question. Why did "government officials" tell the technical team what database software they should be using? Why did "government officials" think that they knew more about databases than the technical team they had hired? Why did they think it was safe to do that?

I suppose they thought they had all the time in the world: Three years to put up a website.

The techies tell you, "we don't know this database." Silly whiners. They've got years to familiarize.

And then the "years" go by
in the blink of a programmer's eye
and you watch your website die.

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