One Trick Ponies

Recently I came across an excellent article on One Trick Ponies in the world of architecture. One trick ponies who know only one type of solution and desperately try to make that one the only possible solution.

This part of the article made me smile, especially since it perfectly describes my sentiment after a situation I experienced not so long ago:

Now while I look down on these people, because lets be blunt they are lying in an attempt to secure a project that they aren’t qualified for based on the hope that they can somehow pull it off. (A dazzling example of managing risk … upwards!) Why people do this I’ll never know it ALWAYS ends in tears. But I guess it keeps the cash flow going for a while.

My personal experience involved an external expert who insisted that, for a simple Java project, storing data in a database on an IBM System i would be impossible, it would cost enormous amounts of money to access and integrate this “legacy mainframe” from the Java world. I challenged the expert and asked him what kind of database was used on an IBM System i. An awkward moment of silence followed. The IBM System i uses DB2, a well known and proven database technology, it is extremely easy to access it from a Java program. In fact, developers won’t even notice the difference between the System i DB2 instance or a Windows instance.

This expert tried to guide a company towards a more expensive solution simply because he was more familiar with it. The IBM System i DB2 solution was unfit because he could not be part of it.

Of course, no architect can know every piece of technology or platform. You are bound to encounter something you are unfamiliar with. But if you do, be a professional architect and investigate, read up on the basics and find knowledgeable people inside the company who can help you fill in the details.