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Complexity of It Systems Will Be Our ­ndoing

By Network World

November 4, 2010

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Roger Sessions, CTO of ObjectWatch and an expert in software architecture, argues that the increasing complexity of our IT systems will be our undoing. In fact, he just recently got a patent for a methodology that helps deal with complex IT systems. Network World Editor in Chief John Dix recently caught up with Sessions to get his take on the extent of the problem and possible solutions.

Outline the IT complexity problem as you see it.

The basic problem is the larger and more expensive an IT project is, the more likely it is to fail. You can do a lot of analysis as to why that is. You can say maybe we're not using the right methodology, or communications is failing, or any number of things. But ultimately the only variable that appears to correlate closely with failure is complexity.

So my basic proposal is that as systems get bigger and more expensive they get more complex and complex things are harder to deal with and therefore more likely to fail. So if the system is under, say $750,000, it has a good chance of succeeding. Once it approaches $2 million it has less than a 50% chance of succeeding. And by the time it gets much larger than that, the chances of success drop to near zero.

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