“Mise en place” Your Software

How professional kitchens can help your business

A place for everything, everything in its place. Benjamin Franklin

The concept of optimal organization is extremely relevant today, especially in the computer software industry.Proper organization and planning is of utmost importance when sharing data between websites, programs or organizations. The programming backbone behind this type of sharing was the topic of a talk given by Core Informatics at Tri-Con 2015.

With 24-hours’ notice, Core Informatics was asked to step in for a speaker who could not attend Tri-Con. John Stalker, Core Informatics‰’ Product Manager for Platform for Science, took on the task of crafting the last-minute presentation. John gave a talk entitled ‰Scientific Data Interoperability via the Platform for Science‰_and how YOU can help!‰ During the presentation he advocated for the adoption of the OData (the open data protocol) web-service standard as a low-cost solution to enable data interoperability across life-science software platforms.

How was John able to prepare and present a presentation so quickly? Perhaps it was due to his own organization and the process of mise en place, which, conveniently, is akin to OData, the basis of his presentation.

Mise en place: An organizational philosophy

Mise en place is a French phrase for creating an optimal organizational structure, literally “putting in place”. In professional kitchens it describes arranging, organizing and preparing ingredients for optimal use at a future time.

According to The New Professional Chef,mise en place ‰means far more than simply assembling all the ingredients, pots and pans, plates, and serving pieces needed for a particular period. Mise en place is also a state of mind. Someone who has truly grasped the concept is able to keep many tasks in mind simultaneously, weighing and assigning each its proper value and priority. This assures that the chef has anticipated and prepared for every situation that could logically occur…‰

Anyone who has ever watched a cooking show or had a peek inside a professional kitchen has seen mise en place in action. Everything is prepared in advance, measured or seasoned correctly and within hand‰’s reach of the chef. Every day and every shift the organization is the same, until it becomes second nature to ‰reach for salt‰ in the same place. Mise en place ensures quick meals in restaurants, but it is more than assembling the ingredients, it is a state of mind– a state of organizational efficiency that can benefit all types of work/life situations.

OData Compliancy the optimal organization style for your software?

Open Data Protocol (OData) compliancy is basically a systemic mise en place for software systems. An OData compliant system matches perfectly with other OData compliant systems. Information is stored and communicated in a standardized way, so the system always knows, just like the chef, where to ‰reach for the salt‰.

Software systems communicate via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). OData compliant APIs, enable better interoperability and increase the ease of deployment. Integration with other systems is easy with the simple plug-and-play system afforded by OData. When APIs are OData compliant, organizations can interact easily (no additional time or programming is necessary) with any other OData standardized systems via an enterprise service bus (ESB). If the systems are not OData compliant, organizations will need to build individual connectors for their ESBs in order to exchange data. OData is just an easier way of exposing what you want to expose, while your raw, underlying data remains private.

Working in an Open Data Protocol model will enable more access to more programs and increase simplicity for the consumer. According to OASIS (Advancing open standards for the information society) ‰OData provides a way to break down data silos and increase the shared value of data by creating an ecosystem in which data consumers can interoperate with data producers in powerful ways, enabling more applications to make sense of a broader set of data. Every producer and consumer of data that participates in this ecosystem can increase its overall value.‰ In other words, as the user/programmer community for OData grows, so will its value.

When systems are not OData compliant nearly every integration is custom and not portable. To properly connect with partners or programs, these organizations need to create custom code solutions. This can be avoided with the adoption of OData. In fact, with OData, relational databases, file systems, content management systems, and traditional web sites can all readily communicate. Using the standardized OData model will have untold benefits for the consumer as more and more code is built by different organizations such as eBay, IBM, Salesforce, and Dell, all using the Open Data Protocol model.

Across the board, organization and planning increase efficiency and decrease complexity. So, though John Stalker was surprised and honored to give a presentation at Tri-con, he was not nervous. He knew what he wanted to talk about and just ‰reached for the salt‰.