Re: another failed attempt at database independence

From: Robert Freeman <>
Date: Wed, 7 May 2008 17:46:58 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <>

>> none of the data is normalized. they have columns with the same name in
different tables that mean different things. you have columns
>> copied to

lots of places because developers don't want to code joins (they think its too hard).

Few things make my blood boil than this kind of thinking. Even on projects I have nothing to do with I just want to smash heads together when I hear this kind of thinking. Lazy developers!...! someone call the Wahhhhmbulance!


 Robert G. Freeman
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  • Original Message ---- From: Rick Ricky <> To: Niall Litchfield <>; Sent: Wednesday, May 7, 2008 1:56:05 PM Subject: Re: another failed attempt at database independence

that article is 1.5 years old. I believe they are deployed to 80% of the DoD now with expectations to be at 100%. My understanding is that the application is bloated and really hard to use, so many people have the option to use travel agents since the application is so hard to use. The idea behind it is travel agents are expensive. Plus there is a lot of accounting associated with this and they put it all into one application. so instead of calling a travel agent and then using a separate accounting system, they wanted to put it all together. It was supposed to save money. if you google it, you see claims of big cost savings. No idea if its accurate or not.

it has very complex logic doing all kinds of stuff. none of the data is normalized. they have columns with the same name in different tables that mean different things. you have columns copied to lots of places because developers don't want to code joins (they think its too hard).

The cost numbers on this vary depending on the article. I saw other articles from 2005-2006 or earlier that clamed $600 million or more. I have seen that in several places. So it might be less, it might be more. don't know.

On Wed, May 7, 2008 at 3:47 PM, Niall Litchfield <> wrote:

On Wed, May 7, 2008 at 4:21 PM, Rick Ricky <> wrote:

The Defense Travel System (DTS) is attempting to move to database independence. Last I read a few years ago they spent $600 million on this application up to that point. I'm sure its alot higher now. Probably close to $1 billion or more. It basically handles all of the commercial travel for the US Department of Defense (over 3 million users). They have over 2 TBs of data. They did not design for archiving so it will grow indefinitely.      

doesn't tally with the figures in the google search you quoted - either for total cost or for percentage of travel going through it. eg cost < $500m and < 20% of the travel going through it.    

They are currently working on a "technical refresh" (supposedly that is their PR word for "pay us to write this piece of junk software again"). They wrote their new modules against a mySQL database using an outsourced sub-contracting company(which made money even though this failed completely. I think the company is Dovel. Not sure. Might be IDC). They wanted to prove they could make the application database independent. They used a tool called Hybernate to generate all their queries. Probably spent millions of dollars on this re-write of the code.      

I expect you'll find that's hibernate...    

They deployed it to production 2 weeks ago and it was so bad that the whole system was down for 3.5 days. This means EVERY person who works for the department of defense could not book commercial travel or get reimbursed or book hotels or get reimbursed for taxis or meals, or CHANGE FLIGHTS if they were overseas for 3.5 days. They had to back out the changes. It totally failed. Now since this is a time and material contract(they make more money if they screw up), they are getting paid more money to fix it.

They do not have any code built into their application to let them detect where the performance problems may be. Its so pathetic I have been told their DBAs laugh at the rest of the team in their meetings. More of my tax money down in flames. They already paid for the oracle licenses. Migrating 2 TBs of data that is GROWING to another database is so unlikely it is laughable. Yet the DoD got sold on database independence. They are not allowed to use ANY oracle features. It would mean days of down time just to move the data to the new database and this is before even testing it. That is not going to happen. The data model has no normalization or primary keys at all (they ignore their DBAs).    

Well that doesn't sound like a bad tech decision, but unprofessional behaviour all round - I'd be sorely tempted to fire any of my team who laughed at their work colleagues in team meetings, for example. In fact it mostly seems to me to be a "why did you start when there are travel agents already" type question.  

Niall Litchfield
Oracle DBA 

Received on Wed May 07 2008 - 19:46:58 CDT

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