A Life In The Day Of:Getting Personal: David WalkerTitle: Principal Consultant Data Management & WarehousingResponsibilities: Strategy, Architecture and Team Leadership in large data warehouse projectsStaff size: Depends on projects etc but between 1 and 20 normallyPrevious jobs: Technical Leader (Databases), Sequent Computer Systems Head of Customer Services, EMIS Computer Resources Manager, BCFEEducation: Degree in Maths and some other bits of paperClaims to fame:I once did the traffic news for a San Francisco radio station. I went down to do a helicoptersight seeing trip and the guy also did the traffic news and thought it would be fun to have“a British person do it with his English accent”For a laugh:Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are going camping. They pitch their tent under the starsand go to sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night Holmes wakes Watson up."Watson, look up at the stars, and tell me what you deduce."Watson says, "I see millions of stars, and if there are millions of stars, and if even a few ofthose have planets, it’s quite likely there are some planets like Earth, and if there are a fewplanets like Earth out there, there might also be life."Holmes replied: "Watson, you idiot, somebody stole our tent!"How the devil are you?Well, my shoulder is a bit stiff, and I had a nasty cough last week, and there’s this nail onmy big toe, and … Oh I’m fine thanks.
Currently, whats giving you a buzz?Wasps – my son and I are big fans of London Wasps rugby team.On the work front delivery is, and always has been, the biggest buzz going for me – beingin a project that is actually achieving what it sets out to do and being at the heart of it isgreat, long hours and late nights are just forgotten when you are succeeding especially ifthe project is doing something interesting and/or worthwhile.In technology I am looking at what column storage databases and data warehouseappliances will deliver to businesses over the next three years and if they can disrupt theexisting technologies.What challenges are you currently facing?Data Warehousing projects often are difficult to justify based on the initial cost and yet atthe same time the business wants faster, more accurate data. The challenge is therefore toreduce cost and yet increase benefit.There are also a large number of quick wins offered to businesses that really either cost toomuch or lock the business in to a vendor – these are difficult to compete with when you feelyou have a better long term solution for the client.What projects top your priority list for 2008?Company projects include producing more high quality white papers, so many producedthese days are empty advertorials but when I take the time to write I want it to conveysomething of value.Client projects will, I am sure, be focused around driving more information and less datafrom systems and getting better value from their data warehouses. This will include faster,higher quality data and re-hosting to new platformsWhat really rattles your cage?Technology for technology sake – My mother constantly feels the need to get avideo/DVD/camcorder/computer for which she has no use, then after six months on theshelf I get a phone call that starts ‘I’ve got a … and I can’t get it to work.’I’ve had the same conversation with clients who have bought software or hardware butfailed to find a true use for it and eventually call needing help either to commission or de-commission it – in either case it is a waste of time and money.What initiatives have added real value to our lives?Two areas strike me as important, the first is social justice, things that help people get onthe bottom rung of the ladder but not handouts – give a man a fish and you feed him for aday, give him a rod and you feed him for a life time type stuff.The second area is communications – as the cost of communication has dropped we havehad the opportunity to understand others better, it has however often been a wastedopportunity.
If you could travel back in time what technology would you drown at birth?Why?Microsoft Visual Basic. It was an innovative product that made it really easy for anyone tostart programming and that was the problem. Suddenly everyone was a programmer andthis led to a rapid demise in the quality of programming, a loss of good design,abandonment of change management and the birth of the script bunnies who have createdso many of the viruses that are around.Whats the next big thing?In the technology market in general it will be some change in the way in which media(music, books, movies) etc is handled. The current status quo of copyright, DRM etc. is notsustainable and people want more media for less cost so will work to break protectionwhere it exists. In the data warehousing space it will be a boom in appliances and therationalisation of tool vendors that will most change the marketWho do you most admire?My wife; she puts up with me coming and going around the world for work whilst keepingthe kids on the level. Cooks for unexpectedly large groups at the drop of a hat and still hasa sense of humour after fifteen years of marriage.Outside of work, what do you get up to?I coach and play rugby and as a family we also go to the theatre a lot. We spend as muchtime as we can at our house in Dorset. I also enjoy travelling, reading and listening tomusic. My nerd factor comes from my stamp collection which I find incredibly therapeuticjust sifting and sorting stuff without any responsibilities.Whos invited to your dinner party?My family and friends – celebrity is over-rated. If I did have to pick from the famous thenRichard Feynmann (Physist) , Umberto Eco (Author and Professor of Semiotics), BernardKnight (Pathologist, but dead funny!)Whats the worst job youve ever had?I worked for a small company immediately after leaving Sequent. It only lasted a few weeksbecause the owner was one of the most dishonest people I have ever met – he misled meabout the company product, company turnover, sales pipeline, and just about everythingelse – but even then I am more disappointed with myself for believing him.Aside from your house, whats the most expensive thing youve ever bought?I once spent £2,000 on a pair of 1920 Egyptian Revival enamelled cufflinks. They haveCleopatra’s head at one end and Cleopatra’s needle at the other. I bid for them in auctionagainst one of the TV newsreaders and Vanessa Feltz and got a bit carried away – but Iwon!What item can you not live without?My mobile, running a small business you need to be in contact and able to read e-mail etcwherever you are. I don’t like it but I can’t live without it whilst I do this job!
Shipwrecked on the proverbial desert island, what are you reading, what are youlistening to and what are you watching?Umberto Eco – The Name Of The Rose, Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue, Michael Caine – TheItalian Job