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Due Diligence In Selecting Technology

8/31/2016 11:17 AM

Information Technology is not a religion.  Your buzzwords are not a mantra.  When a developer is confronted with a new technology s/he must evaluate this new technology and decide what the value is in relation to the learning curve, not just jump on the bandwagon.  Even worse is the management type who decides he is going down a technological path because he met the Tableau salesman on the golf course.  

At Sentia we take the technology selection process VERY seriously.  We choose Microsoft not because we are told to or because we are familiar with it, we choose Microsoft because it is the ONLY vendor who provides a complete solution from database to desktop to web.  We choose Windows not only because it is the Microsoft operating system, but because it doesn't require a six figure administrator to configure and make work.  We choose SQL Server because it is faster than Oracle (the only other real choice) on Windows. We choose .NET because it has a well documented amazing Integrated Development Environment (IDE) in Visual Studio, and it doesn't need a ton of other tools to develop applications. Gradle. Eclipse.  IntelliJ.  YourKit.  Clover.  The list goes on ad nauseum.  

We are so adamant about choosing the right tool for the job that we didn't even develop web applications until 2009 when Microsoft introduced their version of the Model/View/Controller (MVC) technology that got rid of the notion of statefulness across the internet and gave us a way to build web applications that made sense.  At the time it didn't make sense to jump ship to Apache/PHP on Unix/Linux (pronounced Line-Ux, the guy's name is Linus Thorvald) just to get web technology that makes sense.  I might make a different decision today.

Sure, Microsoft has made some grabs at the money tree with SharePoint and BizTalk.  These applications are designed to make a complicated task easier than it is.  SharePoint is nothing more than FrontPage (a WYSIWYG web page generating tool), along with document management.  You already have a powerful tool to develop webpages and web applications in Visual Studio (the IDE we talked about above) and you don't need documents.  No really.  You don't need documents.  An attorney MIGHT need a signature, but the contents of the document should be put in the database so it can be indexed and searched.  SharePoint is the electronic version of a file cabinet and the people who advocate, develop for, and use it should be fired.  BizTalk is more of the same.  It allows developers to use disparate data sources as native.  We already have a way to use any data source as native with SQL Server Linked Servers.  In fact, Linked Servers is the basis for Sentia's Information Integrator, an ETL tool that is so easy to use we think anyone can do it.  

Yes, we also know that we have to use JavaScript or can use jQuery or AngularJS or some other plug in to make out webpages look pretty and add functionality.  Microsoft was so dead set on ASP and ASP.NET that they attempted to force everyone to use their technology.  Now however with the advent of MVC and NuGet, we can use these plugins and maintain versioning on them (there seems to be a new version every week) easily with Microsoft tools.

What do we get for this loyalty?  We get a single group of developers who can do everything that needs to be done, from start to finish, without having to learn the latest flavor of some dumb Java tool or write a servelet to make Apache work, or know nothing about database design and development because they have never seen one.  We get to say 'This is the way we do things' and if that way changes, we all change together.  We get to build tools that automate the development of software because we all agree that 'this is what we do, and this is the way we do it.'  We don't have some new guy saying 'Gee I know this and I use that'  We have the old guys saying 'this the the best way and we know because we spent the time and did the due diligence to make sure that it is.'

The conclusion is that with this methodology, and the tools we have developed to generate about 80% of the code we deploy, we always do the same thing, the same way every time.  This makes the code base easy to read, intuitive and simple to maintain.  That doesn't even count the elimination of 80% of the development time and expense for our clients.

Really, if you have anyone else develop your applications, you are making a mistake.  If your project is done differently, it is done wrongly and you will save your time, money and effort.  Even better, if we can automate what we do, we can automate what you do.  We have clients who used to run themselves ragged 80 or 100 hours per week, dozens of employees, emailing spreadsheets and working fingers to the bone, who now only click a button to generate bills at the end of the month.  80-100 hours to 35 seconds and dozens of expensive employees to none.  It isn't religion, it is efficiency.  That is what we do.

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