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Written by Vern DeMille   
Thursday, 21 January 2010

 

Information technology organizations carefully choose and approve the tools they use in order to reduce maintenance costs and overhead. Here at the Church, we do the same thing while simultaneously choosing tools that keep us at the forefront of the technology world. A prevailing attitude at the Church has been that whatever technology or tool best fits the problem is the one that is used. It is an attitude that often causes maintenance and planning problems, especially when special care is not given to the impact of a chosen tool.

To enable the Church to adopt emerging technologies with less risk and more uniformity, ICS maintains a list of current, applicable technologies. The Directors’’ Council is responsible for approving the technologies and specifying the circumstances under which they may be used. The end result is a document called The ICS Technology Menu.

When choosing technologies, the Directors’ Council follows these guiding principles:

  • We strongly favor mature technologies and vendors.
  • We prefer acquiring software over developing it ourselves.
  • Internal development should be focused on business processes that are unique to the Church.
  • We prefer acquiring complete solutions over integrating best-of-breed components. We will consider integrating best-of-breed solutions if the cost and effort is not prohibitive.
  • We avoid modifying acquired software.
  • We prefer using facilities that we can fully own and control for hosting systems which contain confidential data, are essential to the operation of the Church, or affect the public-facing image of the Church.
  • We prefer solutions that adhere to industry standards.
  • We prefer solutions that provide uniform functionality and services world-wide.

The great thing about these guiding principles is that they allow any of us to recommend any technologies, even when they are not found on the list. When you submit a recommendation, the Directors’ Council places it into a category within the list (for example, Web Service Frameworks or Lightweight Containers). If your recommendation does not fit into an existing category, the Council considers it anyway, assigns a category owner and stakeholders, and forms them into a subcommittee charged with looking into your recommendation. Typically, owners and stakeholders are people who have a vested interest or at least some expertise in that category.

A few examples of technologies that have been recommended and chosen by this process include Java, .NET, and XQuery.

The languages category also includes a list of emergent but currently unavailable languages, as well as older languages that we continue to maintain, such as C, C++, and Visual Basic.

The ICS Technology Menu really is a road map of where we have been, where we are going, and which technologies are going to get us there. And anyone can support (or even work against) a given technology. The menu is a living list that is constantly evaluated, updated, and enhanced. It evolves with the technology and the needs of the organization.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 21 January 2010
 

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