Normalized Systems

Re-creating Information Technology Based on Laws for Software Evolvability

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Summary

Information technology is the dominant technology of our time. It is omnipresent in nearly every enterprise. However, serious indications exist that there is something fundamentally wrong with information technology. Even now, many IT projects are reported as going over time, over budget, or not satisfying the required specifications. Some say that the same function seems to be built over and over again, in slightly different ways. Is this coincidence? Or could this be due to Manny Lehman’s law of Increasing Complexity? This law implies that the addition of new functionality to existing information systems becomes more and more complex, and therefore costly, over time. Actually, this resembles a widespread belief amongst practitioners, which is in line with the fact that information technology departments and budgets grow every year.

In the first part of this book, the authors investigate whether these alarming ideas are substantiated. They present a comprehensive but concise overview of the requirements, characteristics, and the development of today’s information systems. They conclude that severe problems do exist in information technology and that it is quite possible that these problems are symptoms of something more fundamental.

In the second part of this book, the authors elaborate on their Normalized Systems theory. This theory explains the fundamental problems that information technology is facing today, and shows how to build evolvable information systems that are immune to Manny Lehman’s law. Therefore, information systems built according to Normalized Systems theory will avoid the ever-increasing cost that current information systems seem to entail.

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