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Published September 10, 2021

The Tao of our Software

The Tao of our Software

I don’t remember when, but sometime in the mid-90s, I was at a friend’s house in upstate New York and while browsing through the bookshelf came across an old worn-out copy of The Tao Te Ching by the Chinese philosopher and writer Lao-Tze. It’s not often that you come across a text from 4th century BC and so I decided to sit and read. I remember being overwhelmed by the simplicity, wisdom, and humanity in those verses. One of those stuck with me and I keep finding relevance in the most unexpected places.

Where the pot’s notIs where its useful.

Thirty spokes
meet in a hub.
Where the wheel isn’t
Is where it is useful.

Hollowed out
clay makes a pot.
Where the pot’s not
Is where its useful.

Cut doors and windows
to make a room.
Where the room isn’t,
there room for you.

So the profit in what is
is in the use of what isn’t.

—Taken from Ursula LeGuin’s version of the Tao Te Ching

Today, I think about this beautiful verse as my incredibly talented colleagues at Nastel make software that helps companies ensure that their critical applications are highly available and reliable. In simple terms, when their customers try to consume a product or a service, it just happens. They don’t care about the network, application, hardware, or any of the complex architecture that makes this magic happen. They just want to get their cash from the ATM, order a toy for their child, get the air ticket as quickly as possible, get prompt feedback from their insurance company as they deal with an incident, get their payment from the Government without delay, etc. Nastel makes some of the key ingredients of this software stack that makes this possible.

While we provide what we call a lifecycle solution for the integration infrastructure (The invisible yet critical glue that helps connect applications and enables them to communicate with each other), one of our main differentiators is a set of proactive monitoring capabilities that once configured and put in place sits silently and prevents problems from happening, in most cases without any human intervention.

Software is beautiful and most useful when it just disappears while doing the important work like a silent force that is present out of sight. Just like the hollow of a pot, or the open space of a door frame, it’s there yet it’s not. If you want to know more about how we do this, take a look at our Proactive Monitoring Module, which is a part of our integration infrastructure management (i2M) solution, Navigator X