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Lessons from the all-star games

Opinion
Jul 16, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Taking the sports analogy further

Last time we looked to the world of sports to help us understand the differences between best-of-breed products and single-vendor suites. We saw that in the National Hockey League, a team of all-stars would win about half the time when facing the previous season’s champions, while in the National Football League, the champions beat the all-stars almost every time.

The difference in the sports participants is that in hockey, many of the all-stars (all professionals from the other teams in the league) were more experienced and more talented than some of the people on the championship team. Then too, because hockey plays with 3 offensive and 2 defensive players on the ice at one time, it’s possible that all of the offense (or defense) of the all-stars could be from the same team and have more experience (and more talent) than their opponents who are on the ice at that time.

In the football game, none of the all-stars (all college players) had more experience than the professional champions, and few were more talented. Add to that the fact that all offensive (and defensive) players go on the field together, and there’s a decided advantage for the champions – which is reflected in the outcome.

Translate that to software, and you’ll realize that software with a long track record (“more experience,” in the language we used for the professional players) can interoperate with other applications and services (either stand-alone or in a suite) better than newer apps.

The newer ones may have more features and may outperform their older competitors, but when it comes to working together newer isn‘t always better. In fact, using best-of-breed apps with long track records should also outperform new apps that are thrown together in the hopes they can outperform the “veterans.” The key is that only apps and services with a lot of experience have faced the myriad of problems the real world can throw at your network. Think about how you view version 1.0 of any product. 

Over time, as problems are observed in the real world, products are updated and changed to reflect reality. So in a best-of-breed collection as well as in a single-vendor suite, it’s good to introduce new apps and services one at a time and to allow them to build experience.

This doesn’t mean you never choose the new stuff; there may be other compelling reasons to do so. But if what you are mostly interested in is interoperability, then experience, longevity and a track record of multiple revisions over time are what you need to look for, whether in stand-alone products or suites of software.