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The Age of Data and Software Development

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The Age of Data and Software Development

Just as you should be making decisions based on data, so should businesses. It's important to remember that companies are collecting data about you—in totally legal ways.

· Big Data Zone
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I am so excited to be a data professional in the modern era. Yeah, 15-20 years ago, it was cool to be a DBA and a database developer. However, now, it’s amazing. Data drives (or should drive) all of our decisions. Whether we’re deciding how high to set the cost threshold for parallelism, which query we want to tune, or even which product would serve us best, we should be making these decisions based on data.

It’s not just about getting the average or the min and max, although those are the starting points. Now, you need to start to take into account standard deviation and you probably should learn how to run a regression analysis. All these tools will make you a better more valuable employee. It’s not any different for a business

Data-Driven Software Development

Just as you should be making your decisions based on data, so should the business. Software development ain’t easy. Making the wrong choices on which processes or functions to tune, which new methods to build, or which old ones to toss could have gigantic negative repercussions. So, software companies are collecting information about how you use their software. It’s just common sense.

Now, there are lots of laws in place (and international treaties, and all sorts of fun stuff, but this is not a law blog) that prevent companies from capturing certain kinds of information. There are further laws in place that prevent them from sharing or selling certain kinds of information. The same things apply to the information captured within a business (and if you’re working in health care, you might want to look up the term mens rea to be sure you’re not violating any of the information laws that you’re aware of).

The information gathered about how you’re using software helps the company build better software.

I work for Redgate Software. We have telemetry information in our products that lets us know how you’re using the software. It reports back to us. Don’t panic. We have a publicly posted privacy policy that we follow religiously. In fact, we’re legally obligated to both show you this information and follow it. Please don’t start uninstalling our software. You’ll note, we let you opt out (please don’t, more data is better data… well, as long as it’s clean and accurate and well-distributed… OK, different discussion, sorry). You never have to share anything with us.

Same thing goes for Microsoft and SQL Server. They have a (detailed, woof) privacy policy, publicly posted and available. It shows what they collect and how they collect it. In fact, from my (non-lawyer, this is not legal advice) point of view, it goes above and beyond just the strict legal requirements.

Do me a favor. Read those policies. Yes, they’re dull reading. However, that’s the information you need to understand so that you know how a company is dealing with telemetry. You need to look at information like this, published by the company, to know how and what they are doing (and are allowed to do) before you panic and start running around with your hair on fire.

If your SQL Server instances do not have access to the internet, Microsoft will never see your usage info. Personally, I think many, most, maybe even all your instances should be isolated from the internet (why invite attack). However, honest people can (and do) disagree on topics like this. Microsoft may never see your telemetry information if you don’t want them to. In fact, read the document, they tell you exactly how to control the telemetry (assuming you leave your instance connected to the internet). In short, you absolutely can opt out.

Conclusion

It is all about the data, and that is exciting. Let’s just be clear about the reality of things. When we hear that Company X is collecting data about you, yes, they are. We all are. It’s sort of our thing. That doesn’t make it evil unless they are violating the law (which you can check), or their own policies (which you can check), or are trying to hide it from you (which, again, you can check). So, check first, then take action if needed.

PS: I don’t have a privacy policy. Mine is a privately owned, publicly posted blog. All my information (except my password) is exposed, as will be anything you choose to share. Just so we’re clear. After all, fair’s fair.

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Topics:
big data ,data analysis ,data-driven development

Published at DZone with permission of Grant Fritchey, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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