A couple years ago at an RSA conference, I saw Oracle’s CSO Mary Ann Davidson give a presentation called “Confessions of a Process Junkie” about software engineering and the culture surrounding coding. She had a very good argument regarding the qualificaitons and certifications required of civil engineers vs. the standards and (lack of) qualifications and certifications surrounding software engineers. For example, here are some of her examples of if Civil Engineers built bridges like developers write code:
- “We can add some rebar later, so what if the concrete has set?”
- “The bridge has crumbled? Sorry, I can’t reproduce that problem here.”
- “But it wasn’t designed to have so many trucks on it.”
I think you can start to see the point. Well, as is usually the case. A picture is worth a thousand words.
There’s so much that can be said about this topic, but I think the image above says enough by itself. I wonder if software will ever reach the point where it can be relied on to drive mission-critical systems as this certainly isn’t the case today.