Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What is Production Data?

I received an interesting e-mail recently that made me stop and think a bit... so I thought I'd blog about it. Basically, the e-mail posed the question in the title of this blog entry – “What is production data?”

The e-mail read as follows:

I'm looking for a one paragraph definition of "production data". What do you think of this: "Production data is data recorded for the purpose of controlling/managing/reporting/researching events, processes or states."

I'm trying to get around the belief that data recorded by a development team to manage its projects and resources is somehow less than production data. To me it should be regarded as the development team's "production data" and so I'm looking for a definition that satisfactorily encompasses that belief, as well as encompassing regular business production data.

You know, I do not recall ever seeing an actual definition of the term “production data.” The above definition is a good starting point, but I do not think it is complete. The author of the e-mail makes a good point about different types of production data. The data used by an application development team to conduct their business (writing computer programs to support business processes) is definitely production data… to the application development team.

Here is my take on a definition:

  • Production data is information that is persistently stored and used by professionals to conduct business processes. It must be accurate, documented, and managed on an on-going basis to ensure its value to the organization.

I say information instead of data because the data must be defined and in context in order to be useful for production work. And I say persistent because even though there may be many forms of transitory data used by production processes, it is the data that is stored over periods of time that needs to be managed.

I think this definition should serve the needs of the e-mailer... and more. What do you think?

Did I miss anything?


Friday, March 05, 2010

Mainframes: The Safe IT Career Choice

A recent Computerworld article (Bank of America touts mainframe work as a safe career) touts the mainframe as a safe haven for those considering a career in IT. This is an interesting article because the usual spiel you hear in industry trade rags is that the mainframe is dying and only a fool would work on such a platform. It is good to hear an alternate opinion on the matter in a journal as respected as Computerworld. (Of course, the fact that I agree with this opinion might have a little something to do with my cheer upon reading the article.)

One of the highlights of this particular article is the discussion of avialable mainframe jobs at sites such as Monster (764 jobs over 30 days) and (1,200 ads over 30 days). These are significant numbers of jobs, especially in a down economy.

Another interesting tidbit from this piece is that "IBM says it's mainframe revenue has grown in eight of the last 13 quarters." This is impressive; consider the difficult servers market coupled with the impression that the platform is dying.

Speaking of the death of the mainframe, don't you believe it for a minute. People having been predicting the death of the mainframe since the advent of client/server in the late 1980s. That is more than 20 years! Think of all the things that have died in that timespan while the mainframe keeps on chugging away: IBM's PC business, Circuit City, Koogle peanut butter, public pay phones, Johnny Cash... the list is endless.

Some may counter that they recall reading about companies that were going to eliminate their mainframe. Well, yes, I'm sure you do remember those, I do, too. But do you recall reading many articles about companies that SUCCESSFULLY eliminated their mainframes? Many tried, few succeeded. Indeed, the re-Boot Hill web site provides examples of companies that tried to eliminate the mainframe but could not (hence, they had to re-boot). If you follow the link to the re-Boot Hill site click on the little tombstones to read the stories of failure.

So, the mainframe is a rock-solid platform, continues to grow, and is producing a significant number of job opportunities... what is not to like?


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