Software Bloat: Why Popular Now?

March 8, 2022

I think I spotted four references to a January 2022 write up called “Why (Enterprise) Software Is Bloated.” The write up states:

People are often baffled why enterprise software is slow, uses lots of memory, and is generally a pain to work with.

Those characteristics did in a number of outfits whose marketing assertions were essentially science fiction. Examples? Delphes, Entopia, and Fast Search & Transfer. There are other examples as well, but the companies share a common human failing: Describing the future instead of building a product that delivers the future.

Overall, the article highlights some answers to the big Why?

Among the reasons I remember are:

  • It is easier to build and just wait until the low code or no code “revolution” upends one’s organic coffee
  • Companies want to start selling, presumably to keep funding sources happy and to get cash to hire people who can write what the art history major in marketing put in a slide deck
  • Companies want to sell maintenance contracts which are an attempt to shift to a subscription service for some activities
  • Companies have specific needs. With each sale the “enterprise software” becomes a suit tailored for someone with class (maybe Prince Andrew?)
  • Partners get the job of making the enterprise software work. That can be exciting.
  • Software development as it is practiced today in inherently complex and its DNA includes unexpected issues.

I have a different take on the subject. Let’s be contrarian.

REASON 1: No one cares about the product. The focus is on telling a story, getting cash (either from a funding source or from a customer).

REASON 2: Staff are unable to make the product work in a way that solves a customer problem the customer expected the system to solve.

REASON 3: Shifting responsibility and blame. Yep, integrators, certified partners, college pals looking for something new to sell, and so on.

REASON 4: The short cut technologies (open source, the cloud, and no or low code methods) are too time consuming and costly to make work like that slide deck said they would.

REASON 5: Demand for services may be slowing. See “Service Side of US Economy Grew in February at Alowest Pace in a Year, ISM Shows.”

Is there a way out of this quagmire of enterprise software? Sure, just hire a wizard, attend conferences, and update the slide deck. Alternatively demand more and look for lower cost options.

Now the Why? Enterprise software customers are finally making a feeble attempt to get vendors to do better because money… Will it work? The answer is in the next enterprise software vendor’s slide deck.

Stephen E Arnold, March 7, 2022


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