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Opinionated Infrastructure, Convention over Configuration, Rails, IoS and Systems Design

If you want to make video people will share you have to try and keep things short and sweet, which is why me and my video guy Benny Crime decided to turn one long take into a few shorter ones. Over the last few days I have been on the lessconfig trail, talking about simplification as key to a better user design in handheld devices, but also servers and storage. What’s the deal with Android, IoS and Windows 8 – and what can they tell is about better user experiences. The best user experience is based on a strong opinion, instantiated in good design.

So here are the short shows, designed as companions to The Set Up.

On Racks and Stacks- The Return of Legacy Boy

and then there is How to Scale: Learn from Twitter

Enterprises need to stop blaming vendors for making technology too complicated, and start choosing technology that works better and faster out of the box. They need to get over the addiction to customisation, based on the idea that of course their needs are totally different from anyone else’s. Differentiation however should be in the services you deliver to customers, not in in the software or hardware you buy from a vendor. Customisation makes maintenance a major hassle, as any SAP shop will show. Customisation is like pouring concrete on your infrastructure.

Convention should win over configuration every time, or as David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Ruby On Rails, said when I put the question to him:

“I think conventions, less code, and less configuration are all instrumental to lowering the costs and pain involved with maintaining legacy applications. We’ve been working with the Basecamp code base for nearly three years now. It’s about 10,000 lines of code.

Convention has meant the world to this application. We’ve had four different programmers work on it and the conventions make it much easier for people to pass in and out. It removes the hunt of the complete picture by having the concerns centralized around very few lines.

So my experiences would tell me that conventions of reward (“do it like this and you’ll get that for free”) has a really long shelve life. I remember when I worked in PHP, I would always tweak the configuration approach a tad going from app to app. This would lead to the code base of the previous project feeling really old really quick.

Rails applications don’t suffer from the same notion. Yes, we keep adding features and tweaking APIs to make the common stuff easier, but the majority of core conventions has been stable for a very long time now. It gives all applications a common culture and fix point.”

A fixed point and a common culture – that’s what Systems need, if we want to scale more effectively. We need to learn from that mindset. We need to start thinking about Hardware On Rails

disclosure: IBM sponsored this video series as part of the build up to its forthcoming PureSystems launch.

Categories: IBM.

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Continuing the Discussion

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