Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Avoiding software failure—is there an app for that?

By Julie Tangen
I recently read about a Six Flags roller coaster that got stuck on its tracks. Turns out it was due to a computer glitch. I’m always surprised when I hear about a glitch or software failure. With all the advances in technology and all the products available to solve the needs of every single consumer and company doing business today, I keep thinking that someone will finally figure out a way to create fail proof software that runs as its intended with no glitches, crashes or failures. Why can’t we get it right?

The topic of ‘getting software right’ is an ongoing discussion at my company. Most of us have worked together since the early days, representing companies like Mercury Interactive and Compuware, then later Borland and Codegear. The topic was top of mind then, and still today we’re reminded of the poor state of software every time we flip on the news; whether its an airline glitch that causes delays, or the NASDAQ going down. But when you’re stuck on a roller coaster 50 feet in the air, or behind the wheel of a Prius during a time of safety recalls, it hits home and we’re then reminded just how much we rely on software and computers in our daily lives. Technology innovation intended to make our lives easier also puts us at risk. When will we get to the point where we can truly trust software?

We’ve been thrust into a digital world and like it or not, we’re all along for the ride. I believe that with innovation there needs to be a greater focus and dedication to developing software and the systems that run them, otherwise we’ll continue to see big failures in the news. Why aren't software companies getting together to establish standards and best practices that shape and govern the creation of software and critical system? What about a consortium that focuses on ‘getting software right?’ Is there an app for that?
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