Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Perfect Virus principle #5: Seamless Migration

As indicated in my post of Monday, 11/22/2010, I am extrapolating Jeff Walker's Principles for the Perfect Application into a discussion of The Perfect Virus. Since Jeff's monograph on the subject did not anticipate stealth or suicide mechanisms, any errors or lapses into stupidity are solely my additions and should not reflect poorly on what I consider to be the biggest single contribution to software application design since the invention of computers. And Jeff, thanks for giving me permission to do surgery on your baby.
THE PRINCIPLE OF SEAMLESS MIGRATION: The Perfect Virus can seamlessly migrate all or part of itelf from one technology environment to another. I'll discuss several dimensions of this quality in the next five postings (Monday through Firday) as follows:
6. Mutation Control;
7. Black Box Portability;
8. Openess;
9. Native Implemention; and
10. No Common Denominator.
My first appreciation for the principle of Seamless Migration came back in 1987. I was sitting with Larry Ellison at Oracle one afternoon when we heard that RTI (later to rename itself Ingres after it's flagship database product) had just announced they were about to deliver a cross-network query. This feature allowed a database to exist across multiple computers, and a single SQL query could collect data from multiple computers across that network. I'll never forget Larry's reaction. He slammed his hand down on his desk and growled, "I'll be damned if I'm going to get out-lied by a bunch of professors from Berkeley!"

My subsequent adventure with Larry was outlined by Mike Wilson on pages 169-170 of his book The Difference Between God And Larry Ellison. It was a Friday. Larry gave me until Monday to produce and ship an ad to Computerworld magazine, so the ad could run the following Monday. Ten days, from start to finish. During those ten days, Larry had his developers patch together a distributed query and slap it on a mag tape being shipped to a VAX customer. Thus, when the ad broke we could truthfully claim to be the first company to actually deliver a distributed query. Furthermore, our Seamless Migration would connect any Oracle RDBMS running on any computer hardware, under any operating system, over any network. Here's the ad:

The Perfect Virus will probably have to exist on several disparate computers, all running different operating systems, all in varying degrees of security compliance, and all protected by serious firewalls. Oracle ran on virtually every hardware platform, under every operating system, over every major netowrk (which have all been replaced by the Internet and TCP/IP). Larry taught us well, grasshopper.

This is why Larry Ellison was the first pick for my Cyber Privateer Fantasy League team. Because the difference between God and Larry Ellison, as Mike Wilson pointed out, is that "God doesn't think He's Larry Ellison." And as for me and my cyber privateers, to paraphrase Larry, "I'll be damned if I'm going to get out-virused by some totalitarian regime in Bejing."

Okay, so I'm still steamed that I can't retaliate against the concerted effort being made by Chinese to infiltrate my poor little Linux box, which I should probably rename "The Honey Pot" since I haven't closed down some of the ways they're trying to break in. But when I grew up in Wyoming, we never even locked our doors when we left the house. Boy, gone are those days of trust!

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Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?