23 November 2013

Never Send A Boy to Do a Man's Job

About a month ago, I mused that the Kiddies were the cause of healthcare.gov's abject failure.
I haven't yet found more than vague descriptions of the architecture of healthcare.gov (herein, hc.gov), but I'm willing to bet a quid that it's a labyrinth of xml data streams exploding all across the InnterTubes.

Turns out to be worse than even I surmised. CGI has been an Oracle based application developer for a long time. Turns out that some part (don't know the extent from this reporting) of the site is run on MarkLogic, a *xml/NoSql* "database". Here's their site. Nailed it!!

Another sore point was the Medicare agency's decision to use database software, from a company called MarkLogic, that managed the data differently from systems by companies like IBM, Microsoft and Oracle. CGI officials argued that it would slow work because it was too unfamiliar. Government officials disagreed, and its configuration remains a serious problem.

Come on guys!! One knows that the NYT isn't a techy journal, but a bit more specificity would help citizens understand how bad this idea was. CGI has a marginal reputation, but this just tied both hands behind their backs. To repeat: reporting so far doesn't describe where in healthcare.gov the MarkLogic "database" sat. We also don't yet, from reporting, know whether this MarkLogic store was the central repository; although "yes, yes it is" seems a reasonable inference.

According to this reporting before 1 Oct:
It is also the core back-end database powering the new federal healthcare exchange that is set to open October 1. That system has been called the world's largest information integration project, says Aaron Rosenbaum, MarkLogic's director of product management.

No definition of what "core" means here, but since we're talking NoSql, I'll assert that "weakist link" covers most of what matters. I'd gloat, but hc.gov is way too important for that. It also means that Kiddies are easily flummoxed by Emperor's New Clothes. Back before the Triage piece, I was invited to the DNC IT folks to talk about databases and stats. This was preceded by phone conversations about databases and stats. When I got there, I suffered through a couple of 20-somethings who only wanted to jabber about Ruby on Rails. Didn't go well, and I wrote up Triage in a fit of pique. DNC proceeded to blow it in the state elections just as they did in 2010, although the absolute number wasn't as bad. Given the Obama coattails, I'd argue that DNC blew it worse. Off years are always difficult, but presidential years such as 2012 should be a springboard. Not 2012.

Then, this:
"We're doing grown-up, dull sorts of things," Todd says, "but also cool things that other NoSQL players aren't able to start thinking about because they're still playing catch up on the enterprise stuff."

Um. No, not grownups. Never send a boy to do a man's job.

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