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Sunday, 2 June 2013

How do you slay a Hydra?

One head at a time (and make sure you burn the stump...)

In the ancient Greek myths, Heracles (Hercules if you’re Roman) was a great hero, the son of Zeus, and famed for completing twelve mighty tasks while indentured to the service of King Eurystheus. 

Many of Heracles’ trials involved the slaying or capturing of various terrible beasts that were ravaging the land - the Nemean lion, Erymanthian boar, the Styphalian birds and the mares of Diomedes. However, it Heracles’ Second Labour, the slaying of the Lernaean Hydra, that got me to thinking…

In the myth, Heracles is sent to Lake Lerna kill the Hydra, a monstrous, vicious and many-headed serpent with poisonous breath and blood, each head filled with teeth and jaws trying to tear you apart. Killing the Hydra was especially problematic, because if you decapitated one head, two more would grow back in its place. Meanwhile, just to complicate matters, the goddess Hera also sends a giant crab to distract Heracles (as if he didn’t have enough on his hands dealing with a multi-headed, poisonous super-reptile…).

Heracles eventually overcomes the Hydra by covering his nose and mouth with a cloth to avoid the poisonous fumes, before using a fire-brand to cauterise the Hydra's neck stumps after severing each head, while crushing the crab underfoot for good measure. (Easy…)

And slaying the Lernaean Hydra is just like Data Governance, isn’t it? 

You have to prepare yourself for the task and be ready for any poison, before engaging in the fight on multiple fronts. And unless you’re well prepared with the right tools and methods, dealing with the immediate issue only serves to creates more problems further down the line.

So go forth, bold heroes! Prepare your face-cloths! Sharpen your golden sword.

And don’t forget to bring a flaming torch so you can burn down the stumps before they grow back and bite you on the behind...

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