For Jason R., it was an exciting time. His company was trying to break into the telecom market with a new product that they'd get to build almost entirely from scratch. The only part that he wasn't excited about was that the major customers had very specific requirements that his team would have to meticulously follow. In this case, some bigtime POTS operators demanded that all servers must come from Sun, and any databases must be built on Oracle 8i.
One of the applications they were building had to interface with the clients' call data records (or CDRs). The most important use of CDRs is for phone bill calculation, so naturally they were stored in properly designed and indexed tables. The CDRs were stored alongside all billing records, and were frequently accessed by mission-critical internal applications, and they weren't prepared to expose all of that to a third party. So instead, Jason's company would have to construct CDRs on their own from the signaling message flow. Because the CDRs would be processed right away, they wouldn't even need to store them. The tentative architecture called for an Oracle database for CDR pipelining from the front end to the application backend.
When the analysis was being conducted, the team grew concerned with the costs — both in terms of budget and disk I/O. Oracle licenses are incredibly expensive, and there would be a huge volume of CDR data written to and read from the database. Finally, it dawned on someone that the database was completely superfluous since records were processed as they came in. In fact, a single, low-end Sun server with a few hundred megs of RAM could easily handle the CDR generation and application backend.
Excited about their good news, they called up a meeting with the product managers. "We've discovered that we can deliver the product at a fraction of what our original estimates were." The managers left the room, some looking happy, others just looking incredulous.
Later that day, Jason got a call from the VP of Engineering. "Jason, while I understand what you're proposing is technically valid, you have upset the marketing team."
"I'm sorry... did I say something?"
"It's just that they've promised the customer that our product would use Oracle 8i, and now they're going to be made liars. Can you just humor me and add Oracle 8i to the design somewhere?"
"I have enough trouble politically as it is. I really appreciate this favor!" *click*
After delivering the news to his team, they argued a bit on what to use Oracle for. Ultimately they delivered the final product with an Oracle database that had a single table which was used to store a handful of configuration parameters.
It was the most expensive individual table Jason had ever created in his entire career.