It's dawning on the big guys that perhaps things have gotten just a tad out of hand with the complexity in Kingdom of Enterprise. As makers of WebSphere and pushers of deep and tall J2EE stacks, Big Blue has certainly been more than willing to partake in chanting that the "complexity is good, complexity is billable" mantra of the upper consulting echelon.
So it's wonderful to see that they're waking up to find a world outside of the statically-typed and XML-ridden garden. The very same that has this perceived aura of being the only way to do Serious Business. First they jumped on PHP, now they woe to continue the look outside under the banner of Radical Simplification:
Application development using IBM programming models and tools is untenably complex. The Research Division's new Services and Software strategy includes a strong focus on radical simplification. Radical simplification was one of the featured topics at Paul Horn's recent Vision Conference. Over 70 people in IBM worldwide are currently participating in an effort to define the problem, and the scope of the solution, more precisely. Our effort will lead to recommendations to emphasize, grow or refocus selected existing Research projects, to start new projects, and to undertake other initiatives to promote a culture of simplicity. This talk will discuss some of the insights we have gained so far into different perceptions of complexity, the nature of complexity in IBM software, why complexity is a high-priority problem for IBM, and some of the directions being pursued inside and outside IBM to deal with complexity
What great news (decorated with my emphasis)! It certainly lifts hope that their embrace of PHP is merely part of a larger strategy to fight complexity and not just stop at where PHP does.
What's even more encouraging is that IBM'er Sam Ruby followed up with a presentation entitled Hello from the open source world!. It talks about how the open source approach is providing greater transparency and much lower complexity on a number of key areas (such as going from idea to patch on a major project).
He presents the concept of Zero Training to be essential to achieving simplicity. And I couldn't agree more. I'm constantly reminded and amazed at the power of this when I see new quality patches for Rails coming from people who just picked up the framework yesterday.
Ruby (the language) itself is also an intensely well-suited language for chasing Zero Training. Not only does it make the construction of domain-specific languages so easy that we use them all over, but it also puts them right it in hands of the application developer and leads to significant reductions in complexity and increase in learnability (gotta love those -ilities).
And lo and behold, what's on the last page of Sam's presentation? Worth Watching. Item number four from the top: Ruby on Rails.
Hey, Sam, there's no reason to stay on the sideline watching. We got plenty of room in our pool of Radical Simplification to let both you and the rest of IBM dip in. It's a party and a pursuit where everyone's invited.