The Dark Side of Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing is the whole new buzzword… but what about Dark Cloud Computing? What is it?  WHAT IS IT, YOU SAY? Let me tell you a tale. 

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As the mad dash goes on to reuse components across the enterprise and indeed across multiple enterprises and even the world-wide web itself, there exists a plethora of sick little “anti-methodologies”  that have cropped up.  They call themselves agile, extreme or by whatever buzzword makes them appear to be decent, but it is all LIES I say. LIES!! Let us examine but just a few of the soulless zombieponents out there. . . wandering and sucking the brains of innocent coders who tread in their path:

Code Name: Evolving Protoype
Real Names: Frankenvolver, Gonkulator
This poor mutant starts its diseased technolife as a spreadsheet, a few static html pages, or maybe a toolkit downloaded to help someone learn a thing or two.  Modules are added on piece by piece.  Like plumbing that was never architected – the pipes are wired-up and welded on the fly.  They are split, merged, rerouted, heated, cooled, cracked and duck-taped together.  Intricate arrays of small kitchen funnels, feeding the leaks into thousands of feet worth of Home Depot plastic tubing.  Frankenware is born!  It wanders the code scape, in a slow, plodding fashion – oozing bits and bytes as it slogs through existence.  Changes and add-ons become so complex that one day, while unchecking a checkbox, a user generates a catastrophic error condition that butterfly-effects through the whole system.  Airplanes crash in mid-air collisions, China invests heavily in the US debt and curing the financial crisis, with the exception that a strange beam emanating from Alaska blankets the earth in a putrid ray that brings every soiled diaper ever created to life and seeking human flesh. Behold, the Gonkulator has achieved its end-game.

Code Name: Application Programming Interface
Real Names:  Glueware, The 7-Layer Burrito
This sedentary leech leads a life of obfuscation through feigned reuse. Multiple vendor systems, sporting an API tout how they can be connected to achieve customer’s goals without them having to “pay ridiculous prices” for custom-developed software.  Purchasing 8 or 10 of their favorite titles, customers then hand them over to software developers to “get them working together. It should be easy. They have an API…”  Some of the APIs return morbidly warped SOAP headers, others use XML so strict that forgetting a slash results in an entire service halt requiring a server reboot, while others provide incompatible formats requiring walkers to translate via XSLT into an EDI through a JSON to save as a compressed semaphore file.  The customer starts complaining how they are spending more on the integration than they had to pay for the actual software, and they blame the in-house software developers for being incompetent.  2 vendors are bought out by larger competitors, the entire staff of the original company is right-sized into tent city, and the product now demands a maintenance fee for support it can no longer provide, because it has fired anyone who had any knowledge of the intellectual property that made the sale worth while to the buyer.  As tension mounts, the software engineers thanklessly make the impossible happen – the system is finally stabilized, and even though clicking a button sometimes yields a 40 second wait time before the calendar will pop-up and allow them to enter a date, the customer claims a bitter victory.  2 weeks later, 4 of the vendors release mandatory automatic updates that unwind the whole system and bring it to a screeching halt.  Again the in-house software developers (left in charge of the integration) are blamed for not predicting the future using their Magic 8-Ball.

There are MANY others…
Code Name: Enterprise Service Bus
Real Names: Codestapation, Bloatificus Maximus

Code Name: Data Transformation Services
Real Names: Mayan Calendar Syndrome

Now you can imagine where this probably goes.  These abominations are proliferated –  bolted together at a whole new level by scalable virtualization.  Hosted on farms of 486 processor-based units sporting terabytes of storage exposed through a sea of 100MB hard-drives with 3-prong SAN adaptors; we are able to deliver The Dark Cloud.  Now, creating a user account can take hours instead of minutes.  Diagnosing the source of a problem can take years.  interpreting the results of a logical error can become less accurate than ever before.  And, we will stand tall and call this PROGRESS.

It is a brave new world indeed when we can present users with portlets that have 60% overlapping functionality, scores of buttons and roll-overs, all smooshed into a technicolor CSS nightmare that delivers functionality in the most convoluted fashion possible and routing even the simplest requests through countless levels of auditing that cannot be deciphered for any usable purpose, generating mismatched results, and yielding such rage at work that road-rage becomes child’s play.

All the while, more and more blame is heaped on those inferior “in-house” developers, who in a strange twist of fate are the dying breed that knows the true craft of software development…strangled at the hands of self-appointed experts who fired their actual engineers long ago.

And as irony on top of irony – the customer who glued these mutants together spent 10 times the actual cost to develop an elegant solution, blamed the knowledgeable, and passed all the additional accountability to THEIR customers…

They call this: Progress
Real Names: Devo, Insanity


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