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Rick Barton

Hello and welcome to my blog. I am delighted to blog for the BeyeNETWORK, and I'm really looking forward to sharing some of my thoughts with you. My main focus will be data integration, although I don't plan to restrict myself just to this topic. Data integration is a very exciting space at the moment, and there is a lot to blog about. But there is also a big, wide IT and business world out there that I'd like to delve into when it seems relevant. I hope this blog will stimulate, occasionally educate and, who knows, possibly even entertain. In turn, I wish to expand my own knowledge and hope to achieve this through feedback from you, the community, so if you can spare the time please do get involved. Rick

About the author >

Rick is the director (and founder) at edexe. He has more than 20 years of IT delivery experience, ranging from complex technical development through to strategic DI consultancy for FTSE 100 companies. With more than 10 years of DI experience from hands-on development to architecture and consulting and everything in between, Rick’s particular passion is how to successfully adopt and leverage DI tools within an enterprise setting. Rick can be contacted directly at

One of my favourite quotations is from Abraham Maslow, who said "It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail".  Ever since I first heard someone use this quotation it has resonated with me, especially since I have seen examples of this behaviour first hand on many occasions and in many different problem contexts.  For this blog though I'm going to concentrate on one specific example that can help to improve DI delivery.

 DI tools are great.  They are faster and easy to use than many other technologies, hence their success in the marketplace.  But let's not forget what they are designed for.  The clue is in the name "Data Integration" where "data" is the key word.  They are great at dealing with data.  But the DI tool is just one tool in the kit bag.  Another, often overlooked tool, is the Operating system that the DI tool resides on. 

Operating systems are very good at handling files, directory structures and hardware.  It is their raison d'etre and it is therefore no surprise that O/S vendors have developed their own tools to effectively handle these resources.  Some of these may not be as pretty as the DI tools, but used properly they can be more effective than any other tools to hand when dealing with files and file names.

So for example, lets take a directory containing many files, all of which have been landed overnight with the wrong date (e.g. infile001_20090701, infile002_20090701 etc.).  The batch process has failed to update the target system and the pressure is on from the business to get the data, so here is my solution (written in Korn Shell Script)

for i in `ls infile*_20090701`; do j=`echo $i | cut -d"_" -f1 `_20090702; mv $i $j;done

One line of shell script!  It took me about 15 minutes to write this.  (Please note that I'm a little rusty now, but any one of Emunio's employees could do this in much less time.) 

In my experience this simple task would take orders of magnitude longer using a DI tool, because this small problem is not the nail to the DI tool hammer.

My point here is that every DI developer has an additional tool in their kit bag.  Those technicians that take time out to understand their O/S and to practice with the supplied tools will be much more effective than those that don't. 

This also applies at the organisational level.  DI Managers should encourage a culture of learning and development such that the practitioners have the ability to determine when and when not to use their tool of choice.  This should also be reflected in sensible standards for DI tool use; they should recognise the power of the O/S supplied tools, encourage their use and in a small way increase the productivity of each member of the DI team.

Posted July 31, 2009 4:15 PM
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