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Is NoSQL to Blame for Healthcare.gov? Nope

By   /  November 27, 2013  /  1 Comment

hcby Angela Guess

Matt Asay of ReadWrite recently wrote, “Recently NoSQL database vendor MarkLogic has been taking bullets over its alleged role in Healthcare.gov’s many technical problems. Some have gone so far as to argue that NoSQL databases, in general, are faulty because of the Healthcare.gov debacle. This is stupid. MarkLogic is a fine database. While not perfect, it’s silly to blame Healthcare.gov’s problems on this legacy database. Code isn’t the primary problem. As I’ve argued, Healthcare.gov’s problems aren’t really about code, but instead about process. For proof, look no further than Healthcare.gov’s British peer, Gov.UK, which credits NoSQL technologies as a significant reasons for its success. The difference isn’t in the code the two websites used, but rather their respective approaches: Gov.UK is iterative, agile. Healthcare.gov is top-down, waterfall.”

Asay continues, “Open source invites criticism by laying bare its strengths and weaknesses in a way proprietary software never did. Developers today have a level of accessibility to the code they use that previous generations of developers lacked, with a megaphone (the Internet) that allows them to broadcast complaints about that code. But let’s not lose sight of just how blessed we are to have this code, or forget our obligation to apply it appropriately in order to be successful. In other words, read the documentation before you complain that open-source software doesn’t ‘work.’ More often than not, it works just fine, but not for the ill-conceived purpose you have in mind.”

Read more here.

photo credit: Healthcare.gov

  • Come on. NoSql (either, No Sql or Not Only Sql) is the re-invented wheel of COBOL/VSAM (and, more often, IMS) development. Your granddaddy coded that way, and gave us all those bloated applications. As a result, Dr. Codd devised the relational model for a reason. Just such an OLTP/POS application as healthcare.gov is proof that NoSql is still a toy. MarkLogic has been selling its “database” for a decade, and still needs VC money to stay afloat? Yes, MarkLogic is the reason healthcare.gov is a mess.

    MarkLogic’s foray into health care is fairly recent, and attempted because it was having issues placing its “database” in other venues. The love affair with hierarchical data (HL7 being a major culprit), which is appropriate for some indications, but not OLTP/POS, has become the health care software industry’s perfect hammer. Thus, all applications are made to look like a nail.

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