About this Blog
What this Blog is About
My name is Bruce Gruenbaum and I have spent the last 20-some years building software. From requirements gathering through analysis, design, development, testing, deployment, documentation and maintenance, I have done it all.
I started my career in South Africa at the height of the Apartheid years. While I am not a political person, the Apartheid years had a very profound effect on my career. Apartheid resulted in sanctions being imposed on South Africa and these sanctions meant that companies like Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Intel and thousands of others had no direct investment in the country. This meant that support for their products was virtually non-existent and I often had to figure things out for myself.
This resulted in having to learn a lot about all aspects of the computer business, from building computers through building networks, configuring IP addresses and establishing the environment in which I could actually build the software that I needed to get the job done. Through all of this, software remained my passion.
Very early on in my career I was forced to learn how to integrate various applications across networks that did not necessarily talk to each other. We found ways of doing this and integration has therefore always been a key part of my experience. I also had to learn to understand the business around software, from the financials through the integration of the applications into the business.
At the end of the 20th century I moved to the United States. Over the last 13 years, I have been fascinated by how we have switched from businesses being driven by technology to technology being driven by business. It's been interesting to watch the collapse of entire industries as the technology age has created new business opportunities. My passion remains with the software but I love watching how new trends affect it.
Much of my career has involved work with Progress/OpenEdge. This blog therefore has a lot of posts about Progress, especially as it relates to integration with other technologies, especially Java and .NET. SOA has been a key part of my work for the last few years and the Social Media aspect of Web 2.0 has become a key driver in a lot of the work that I do. All of these things are topics for discussion on this blog.
Over the last 5 years, my career has changed focus from a strongly software-focused career to a more Enterprise Architecture focus. Research on technologies, understanding how they affect information technology, and driving significant competitive advantage for companies by improving their business, application, information and technology architecture is a major component of what I do. I am a TOGAF-9 Certified Enterprise Architect, and my blog also switches focus to Enterprise Architecture from time to time.
I also regularly comment on industry trends and programming techniques and disciplines.
My normal work day is at Microsoft where I am an Enterprise Architect leading the discipline in the Digital Supply Chain.
Please Comment! Even if you disagree!
I love a good argument, especially when the viewpoints that are expressed are well though out. Don't just accept what I say – challenge it. All I ask is that you do so without personal malice or profanity. That and spam are the only reasons that I moderate comments on the blog. Please feel free to comment on what I have said and don't be shy to argue.
Why "The Software Gorilla"?
When I started this blog I was looking for a title for the blog. I was working on some of the original posts that I had in mind and I realized that a large part of my time is spent working around a lot of problems.Then I got thinking about one of my favorite books on software development. The book is called "The Career Programmer: Guerilla Tactics for an Imperfect World" written by Christopher Duncan. I highly recommend his book. It's a great read, no matter what you do in the software business.
In the book, Duncan makes the case that software programmers are really engineers who are trapped in a corporate world that significantly impacts the quality of the software that is delivered by imposing unrealistic demands on those of us who view with reverence the art that we create. As a result we are often forced into a guerilla war with the corporate world that doesn't understand the complexities associated with developing stable, secure, quality applications. Many times essential functionality is built into an application "under the covers" because we know that we have to do the right thing, but the corporate deadlines mean we are doing things that we are not contracted to.
As I have learned over the last twenty-some years, this guerilla war never stops and in fact it seems that we are under more and more pressure to deliver more and more for less. Since Y2K, the software business has changed forever. Two big bubbles both burst at the same time – Y2K and the .com bubble. Both of these were created by technical people, many of whom were out to make a quick buck, and some of them were less than scrupulous in their dealings. The bursts of those two bubbles has significantly increased the pressure we are under and no more does the corporate world simply give us carte blanche to build applications the way we see fit. Now we have to justify everything and many times I find myself doing stuff that I don't get paid for because it is the only way to get the right thing done.
In this sense, I completely identify with Christopher Duncan's guerilla. I am a career programmer who uses those very guerilla tactics he speaks of.
When I was a kid growing up in South Africa, there was a war going on between the South African government and the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) in what is today Namibia. I remember my father explaining that it was a guerilla war, but being a kid, I didn't understand that there was a difference between a guerilla and a gorilla. Both seemed to frequent jungle areas. Both raided the jungle for food and both very strenuously defended their territories. To me, gorillas and guerillas were the same thing. Only when I got older did I understand the difference.
Gorillas are an endangered animal. Their habitat has been destroyed to make way for the needs of humans and they have been forced to change their behavior to cope with it in much the same way as we have had to adapt our behavior or face extinction in the face of the changes in the corporate world.
As I said, I definitely consider myself one of Christoper Duncan's guerillas, but I like to think that when it comes to doing what I do, I am an idealist and I try and provide the best application code I can with the naive innocence of a gorilla in his own habitat. And, yes, software development is the 800lb gorilla in the room and I'm not a small guy.
So my blog is officially named "The Software Gorilla".