STANFINS project (was: Re: So why do we still have to use Fortran?) 
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 STANFINS project (was: Re: So why do we still have to use Fortran?)


>>At the opposite pole you have Ada, which came with a lot of publicity,
>>the backing of the US DoD and lots of companies implementing it in order
>>to be competitive on the military market.  15 years later, virtually
>>nobody is really using it and its few fans are still at the stage of
>>"but wait for the next version".

>Further, a lot of the early Ada projects were not a good fit for the language.
>The one I remember best was the US Army's STANFINS-R project, a rewrite of
>their standard financial information system. This was essentially the Army
>payroll system, and the original was some millions of lines of Cobol. I don't
>really think Ada, which was intended for embedded applications, was a
>particularly good language choice for the rewrite.

>Even at the time, there was lots of controversy over how successful the
>project really was. I heard everything from "sterling success" to "miserable
>flop - over budget, behind schedule." Never did hear what the final outcome of
>the project was.

Below is a message I received from Ken Fussichen, the applications manager
for STANFINS Redesign:

begin quote>>>>

STANFINS-Redesign was a redesign of the U.S. Army's accounting system, with the
exception of payroll. It was a massive undertaking that was originally to be
done in COBOL with a wide variety of IBM mainframe tools.

In mid-stream, the Army decided they wanted STANFINS-Redesign to be done in
Ada. Who knows why. I even have documentation that says why that I only
partially believe. However it was decided in March of 1987 to do this project
in Ada.

This was a smart decision, in retrospect. At the time the analysis that was
turned over to the contractor was so poor that there was no way to meet the
schedules. The Ada decision bought a full year of functional analysis, as well
as time to get staff up to speed in Ada.

We had few Ada experts, but we did have some smart help. We learned Ada, we
learned how to put up large information system projects and we did things that
the language inventors never intended for the language to do. (Ada 95 has
addressed most of the weaknesses found in Ada83.)

Stanfins-Redesign went in, on time, within budget and with a higher level of
performance than was expected from a COBOL equivalent. Interestingly enought,
the contractor (CSC) lost the recompete, for reasons that are still not clear
to me. The best information I had was that the users were pleased, but the
politicians and generals were not. Again, who knows. However, EDS got the
follow on work.

I do not know what EDS did or did not do. However, STANFINS-Redesign went for a
best-of-breed competition against another program (a brittle COBOL based
something or other) it lost. What was interesting is the fellow who made the
decision was the primary author of the system that was selected. He announced
his retirement shortly after he came under some attack in the trade press.
(This is all documented stuff.) However, STANFINS-Redesign stayed dead.

STANFINS-Redesign was an unqualified success. It did what the customer wanted
done and it did it well. From a software engineering perspective, the
statistics are incredible. I have them at home someplace. Every study of the
STANFINS-Redesign project supports its success. It was killed for purely
political reasons and you, my tax-paying friend, paid for it.

To make matters worse, after spending four years of developing a highly
qualified Ada-Information Systems staff, they let it disburse.

I have all this stuff documented and I've presented it in the past to a wide
variety of primarily Ada audiences. This sad story is known up and down the DoD
and a clear indictment of the DoD's Ada-related decisions.

STANFINS business these days and my Ada business is waning. But within limits,
I'll chat.

Ken Fussichen
Applications Manager,

<<<<end quote

Jeff Seigle
Bethesda, MD

Sun, 24 Aug 1997 00:20:40 GMT  
 [ 1 post ] 

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