Linux Journal: Competencies

“In geology, the term competent applies to hard and useful rock.
Climbers prefer competent rocks–so do builders. Right now, I’m
sitting in a Scottsdale hotel, looking at a big example: Squaw
Peak, a mountain standing in the middle of the flatness that is
Phoenix. Squaw Peak’s rocks have proved their competence for 1.7
billion years. Camelback Mountain, Squaw’s neighbor to the east, is
300 million years younger. Yet both are near the ends of their
lives, slowly downwasting to sand and gravel. In another few
megennia they’ll be gone. To weathering forces, rocks merely are a
source of dirt. Squaw Peak and Camelback Mountain are the
near-solitary remains of a departed landscape now almost entirely
reduced to flat desert floor. Most of the surrounding rock has been
blown away or washed to sea by red and brown rivers. Today, the
nameless mountains and plains of the former Arizona are layers of
mud slowly lithifying below the floors of oceans.

“This kind of perspective is helpful when considering the
existence–and the persistence–of certain heavy-duty enterprise
platforms and applications. Mainframes, for example, date from
computing’s Precambrian Era and have been headed for extinction
since its Paleozoic. Yet, they still persist as irreplaceable
building materials for large enterprises of all kinds. IBM
mainframes even host smaller virtual computers of the sort that was
expected to replace them…”


Get the Free Newsletter!

Subscribe to Developer Insider for top news, trends, & analysis