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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

System Sustainability: No Longer an Option

System developers rarely analyze or even worry about the long term sustainability of a system. The main focus is usually on today's and the near future's needs. The client says "I need to consolidate these two billing systems by next January".

Everyone on the projects starts to focus on this requirement. It becomes an architectural driving requirement, functions and operations of the new system will be based on this requirement and dependencies will start appearing, which if traced will be found to have largely come from that main requirement - consolidate by January.

No one gives thoughts to what happens after January. How and what will the new consolidated system look like and need to do to remain sustainable and not turn obsolete in a year or two and require another consolidation project with something else at the time.

Last year I was fortunate to do some research work under the supervision of Dr. Peter Sandborn of the University of Maryland. We looked into this topic - how to create sustainable software - and have come up with a model that might help extend the life-cycle of software systems.

With news that countries like Oman will run out of oil in 40 years popping up, sustainability in all aspects is no longer an option, but a requirement.

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