Saturday, October 6, 2007

Are we dealing with GAF(general acronym fatigue)?

Two recent news items have made me wondering whether we are dealing with GAF: a General Acronym Fatigue.

The first news item is from a Dutch IT newspaper, which quotes research from a Dutch IT research organization: 73 percent of all IT decision makers do not know spontaneously what SaaS (Software as a Service) is. Only after an explanation of what is meant by SaaS (a formal definition), 69 percent say they know SaaS. Which leads to the conclusion that only 4% of IT decision makers really have no clue what SaaS is about, and 69 percent are just confused by the acronym / terminology. An ASP (Application Service Provider, not Active Server Pages) expert in The Netherlands says this is due to the fact that companies, vendors and end-user organizations all have different names for the phenomenon: "Web 2.o", "internet-accounting" or "online services". Some people have even called it "ASP 2.0", which is really silly as there are substantial differences in the delivery models as far as I am concerned.

The second news item has been not on a single source, but in fact has been heard among many blogs: more and more people are seriously questioning the ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) is worth using. I have answered this question already some time ago: it is not! It is just replacing one low viability solution (CORBA or brokers) with another (service buses). I have plead before to use Apache for instance as a service bus (or rather I would name it service intermediary), and obviously more people have come to this conclusion. But then of course, we are talking about the design pattern, and not about the commercial product type some people considered to be the next generation application server. I suggest to drop the name ESB, and instead to name it what it is: a service intermediary.

The future does not look toto bright for people confused with acronyms, in particular because the aaS letters are pasted to any random technology or product category you can imagine: PaaS (Platform as a Service), CaaS (CRM as a Service), AaaS (Accounting as a Service) well, you get the idea... the good thing is that we run out of options at 26 acronyms...

If we (yes, everyone in IT is responsible for this GAF situation) are unable to come up with good names for new concepts, patterns, technologies or products, we should not blame those poor IT decision makers for not understanding our value proposition. In 9 out of 10 times we are not dealing with an ignorant decision maker, but just with someone suffering from GAF.

OK, I am off for now, I am going for a BLT.

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