Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Consultant

The Consultant has a Ph. D, vast experience of high-performance systems architecture, a black belt in karate and a reputation as a genius. He's been brought in by senior management at vast but necessary expense for a strategic rethink of the way data is shared between systems, while implementing SOA, improving performance and finding the Higgs Boson. Needless to say, he tends towards the view that database development is overrated. He's already sorted out the data warehouse. Overheard by our correspondent:

I’ve finished the design for the data warehouse. Although I say design, it’s pretty simple. That’s why it was so quick. All data warehouses are essentially the same in that they are a dimensional model. That means that you essentially have everything that is a fact, an immutable fact [waves arms expressively], in the fact table. Just the one, big, table. That’s why they’re so attractive as reporting solutions - everything is in the same place so it’s easy to understand and the reporting is easy to automate. So in that fact table you’ve got all trades, the cashflows, positions, accounting information, accounts, exceptions, counterparties. Anything that’s a fact goes in that table [does wide googly eyes expression with dramatic pause]. Then anything derived is called a dimension, like for instance P&L calculations, whether the account is on balance sheet, or off... they go in the dimension table. Basically all we have to do is just pump messages into that fact table from the bus and then recalculate the dimensions in the dimension table periodically, and that’s the technical job. Getting the facts in there and getting the calculations done.


Anonymous said...

My, I would love to have a job wherein I could simply assume away all of the problems.

Wait, no, I'd hate that - the problems are what makes working interesting.

If you read that in an Austrian accent, it is even better.

Consultuning said...

As funny and clueless this consultant sounds, it is not actually that uncommon to run into this kind of "experts" in the day to day.
Higher level management certainly has a lot of responsibility on this. I don't know why or how they decide to put a sophisticated design into the hands of someone that simply claims to know and charges a hefty fee. Like taking your children to the most expensive doctor even if he cannot show any qualification nor experience.
I can even understand the suspicious thinking, like in the antivirus industry, that these guys are placed there just to justify the jobs of the people that comes later on to fix their mistakes. I cannot speak about the antivirus industry, but as part of the database community, believe me: for the manager is a pain having to pay for fixing something that should not have been broken in the first place. For the person fixing it, it's infuriating enough having to patiently put those "experts" aside and get on to work.
(Hint: confrontation usually does not work, they are not database experts, but they have proved to be very good at convincing people of false facts, so you should not try to prove them wrong in advance, as you'll hear them telling "I told you so" after you fix their problems. It's best not to say anything until you have actual results and can provide some conclusions).

Makes for a nice income, however. And the part where anyting derived is a dimension is priceless. And a good idea for a future article.

Pete Scott said...

Your "consultant" is behind the curve here
Shurely modern thinking is the single table with a column to indicate fact (zero) of dimension (not zero) - and if we are really, really clever we can use binary to store and identify many dimensions in one place...


I am going to have a lie down

Noons said...

"[waves arms expressively]"

Straight from the newspeak dictionary, 2009:

Waving your arms around and talking bollocks.

I think this CONsultant is a total fake:

where is the statement that all db design is reducible to the 4-table schema?


(curling up again)

StartUpFounder said...

Clearly a tech con...