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What If Yoda Ran IBM?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the and-green-gene-was-born dept.

Businesses 205

Esther Schindler writes to mention that one IT leader who came from big business found himself in quite another world when he transitioned into a smaller business, specifically with respect to the amount of attention from their vendors. He presents an amusing approach with a familiar twist. "Not only are the IBMs of the world leaving money on the table, they're also risking future sales. The IT leaders at small organizations will in many cases be employed by larger organizations someday. Why alienate them? Vendors could engage IT leaders in small organizations now and build brand loyalty. How could they make such a business model work? Let's imagine (with apologies to George Lucas) what Yoda might do if he were running a large consultancy."

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205 comments

All the software would be written in Forth (5, Funny)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591245)

Which might be a Good Thing.

Why not in C? (5, Funny)

rabiddeity (941737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591671)

Actually, I think he could do it equally well in C++, following some special guidelines. Within a given program, either all loops would either begin with "do", or none of them would. In addition, Yoda's code would never use exception handling [wikipedia.org] .

I waited to reply (-1, Offtopic)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592185)

In computer programming, if the task is broken down properly, just about anything can be accomplished in less than fifteen functions. If the code base requires any more than that then there are a few things getting in the way: cruft and delay. Cruft is built in the hardware standards which allow you to move the right variables in the less than fifteen functions. Delay is built in to the hardware capabilities and how that information is controlled throughout the vendors. Cruft and delay are profitable.

If the federal government adhered to the ninth and tenth amendments then the actions of the federal government would be limited to international negotiations and bureaucratic housekeeping. By limiting their actions in this Constitutional way they have no excuse to dig in our pockets for more money. In this scenario it is reasonable to have the president placed in office with a vote of an electoral college. If the government were properly limited his position is to look over the proceedings of other great men beneath him performing international negotiations and bureaucratic housekeeping.

Political cruft and decay is the software tax you pay.

Re:Why not in C? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592353)

For those of you who are not programmers, exceptions in C++ -- and in most other languages, including Python -- pretty much all follow a model of:


try:
        something()
except Exception:
        something_else()


where something() is executed and if it fails due to the named exception, something_else() gets executed.

I actually didn't get the joke at first until I thought about how exception handling is specified in Python and C++.

Re:Why not in C? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21592695)

Yep. `Do or do not. There is no 'try'.`

Did you say that with a lifp? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591715)

er lisp?

Re:Did you say that with a lifp? (4, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592135)

Have you seen Yoda's hands? He'd have to use the Force just to type all those parentheses!

Yoda didn't face Wall Street (4, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591263)

Every quarter, each publicly traded corporation must feed JabbaTheStockAnalysts, who will deem them more, or less capitalized by their whimsy, the weather, and other important factors.

Yoda doesn't have a chance.

ahh Yoda.. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591275)

I was always wondering what's the name of that guy with the big ears, making the computers run..

Leaving money on the table is not always bad (5, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591319)

Nor is leaving room open for competition.

These build a healthy industry in which you can play. Complete dominance of an industry is unhealthy (look at Old IBM or M$). Having competition gives you feedback which is vital for the long term success of a company. Trying to be all things to all people dilutes your business strategy too. Far better to leave some opportunites unexploited.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591453)

Does that make Microsoft Jar-Jar?

They're always in your face and they both can annoy people merely by existing.

Re:Leaving money on the table is not always bad (5, Informative)

jomama717 (779243) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591471)

I would take it a step further than "not always bad" and say for a companies like IBM it is probably perfectly logical and necessary in a lot of cases. With the sheer size in terms of resources and infrastructure of IBM the overhead costs must be enormous. The cost/benefit ratio probably starts to even out long before a project gets down to $25,000 (from TFA).

So it is not that the huge vendors are doing the little guys a favor by passing on small deals, it's that it just doesn't make any sense for them to pick them up. Small vendors fill a niche that large vendors can't afford to.

Re:Leaving money on the table is not always bad (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592075)

Perhaps you missed all the press releases that corporations love about mergers, you know, synergies, consolidation, minimising overheads, eliminating redundancies. It is not really overheads that give small business an advantage of big business. It is simply staff quality ie. staff members who fulfil more than one role at a time, real live team work instead of meetings and empty talk, staff who are successful at climbing the corporate ladder but are useless at their job and hiring more staff to do the work not being done.

It is about staff pursuing larger more profitable clients, rather than smaller clients. It is about the retail sector, low customer ethics, shopping prices, amateur negotiating tactics, customers looking for answers they want to hear rather than the truth ie chronic time wasters and quite simply stereotyping small customers upon that basis and avoiding them.

For large companies the best way to tackle small clients is as a three level company, major corporate services, medium business franchise (one per regional city) and small business franchise (many local locations). The franchises have to be fairly tightly controlled and your really after franchise teams (most of the staff at the franchise are part of the franchise), rather than franchiser and poorly paid under trained monkeys. It could be used as a side ways promotion for internal staff, where the company creates and funds the franchises, and creates a partnership with existing internal staff who would be willing and able to self manager, all as a significant staff development opportunity.

Yoda is God eh? or A!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591585)

Did you ever notice that Yoda is the Jewish word for god with an "a" added to the end? Just sayin... (not that Yoda reminds me of an old Rabbi in sound or shape...)

I don't think so? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591625)

Yod is a Jewish letter. Now, it's the first letter in the proper name of God (AKA the Tetragrammatron), but it's not the Divine Name itself. I don't know if it's used as a shorthand (because pious Jews even go so far as to write G-d instead of God), but I haven't seen it used that way.

EASY! (5, Funny)

CajunArson (465943) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591325)

All Yoda would have to do is look at any company and just say: "No, too old"
Some of the companies would then get really bent out of shape and turn evil later, while other ones would just annoy Yoda until he gave up and threw them a support contract he never has to fulfill since he dies!

Yodanomics (5, Funny)

clem (5683) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591339)

Well, let's see. If Yoda ran IBM of the 1980's like he ran the Jedi Counsel, he'd probably remain fixed in his devotion to the old ways, overlook some growing threat and then watch helplessly as the order he watched over was overcome and twisted into an empire of unimaginable might.

Wow. Thank goodness that didn't happen.

Vista of Death will destroy iRebels (5, Funny)

kubusja (581677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591503)

But once our mighty Vista of Death is completed ... no one will be able to stand up against Emperor Gates ... We will find and finally destroy iRebels!

And Tux Skywalker will destroy the Vista of Death. (1)

lavacano201014 (999580) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591571)

The iRebels and their X11-Wing starfighters will destroy the Vista of Death. Take THAT, Emperor Gates.

Re:Vista of Death will destroy iRebels (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591937)

You won't even see Emperor Gates.

Defeat his apprentice, Darth Chairidius, first you must.

Re:Yodanomics (1, Redundant)

ttapper04 (955370) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591609)

Please mod insightful.


Thank you.

Re:Yodanomics (3, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592421)

Re:Yodanomics (Score:2, Insightful)
by ttapper04 (955370) Alter Relationship on Wednesday December 05, @06:48PM (#21591609)
Please mod insightful.

Thank you.


Wow! It worked! Here, lemme try:

Please mod funny.

Thank you.

Re:Yodanomics (1)

mveloso (325617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592295)

Not just that, but their tragic lack of health care would cause defections of key people in the workforce, leading to the almost total destruction of the organization.

yeah, jar jar. (2, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591343)

Let's imagine (with apologies to George Lucas) what Yoda might do

Don't bring George Lucas into this. You'll end up with a lanky, obnoxious rastafarian running the place.

Yoda quotes about running IBM: (3, Funny)

ForestGrump (644805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591351)

Run IBM I do.

Feel the force...force of Cell processor.

Conference not with a phone, but with the force.

Re:Yoda quotes about running IBM: (2, Funny)

pravuil (975319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591443)

Big blue, small green, become one it will. Destiny misquoted. Chosen one am I.

Re:Yoda quotes about running IBM: (5, Funny)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591701)

"Begun, this clone war has".

(in reference to the emergence of Compaq)

If Yoda ran IBM (4, Funny)

kindbud (90044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591411)

The company would be called Machines Business International, Yes.

The CEO would be Steve Ballmer, the company would be run out of Redmond, WA, and it would market the dominant desktop OS in the world. But Yoda would think he was still in control running things out of Yarmonk.

On the other hand, their servers would run quite well in damp conditions.

Yoda would use the force (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591437)

Yoda would use the force. Maybe instill do what you say you will and force it into the system. No exaggerated promises, caveats or missed deadlines. Perhaps be honest with the customer and not be so much on the dark side.

Not just an IBM issue, goes for 90% of the service providing companies out there. The force only grows while the dark side is not present in greater numbers than the purist side.

IBM doesn't do much well at all... (2, Interesting)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591459)

IBM's #1 advantage is they are on every government and big corporate preferred vendor list, because they have entrenched sales forces who are excellent at pitching to upper management. They are great with the mainframes too.

Other than that, what's good about them?

Servers:
IBM xSeries are junk
IBM iSeries are treading water and relegated to vertical markets
IBM pSeries makes Sun look cheap.

Software:
Tivoli - Sucks
DB2 - Ok
Lotus - Sucks
Rational - Double Sucks

Consulting services are the same as any big vendor. If you're the CIO of a small company, you're simply insane to expect IBM to give you the time of day -- why would they? They make more money collecting maintenance on shelfware from a big bank than they would providing actual service to you!

IBM has some really smart people tucked away somewhere. But to an IBM customer, dealing with IBM is like dealing with the IRS.

Re:IBM doesn't do much well at all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591681)

Steve Balmer, is that you??

Seriously you are way off here!! And what exactly are you comparing to?

Servers:
IBM xSeries are not junk, Dell is junk
IBM iSeries are decent machines despite slowing sales
IBM pSeries is an awesome system. In fact NO company makes a machine like this...ANYWHERE
not to mention z

Software:
Tivoli - Best management software that exists
DB2 - Awesome database and scalable (not to mention on just about every platform)
Lotus - Market share seems to disagree with you
Rational - again you seem to be against the grain

Re:IBM doesn't do much well at all... (3, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591787)

I use IBM "products" (calling them that is generous) on a daily basis. Grandparent is right on. If you honestly think those software products are "awesome", you fall into one of the following categories:
  • You are in management. Congratulations, you've been suckered.
  • You have never seen anything other than IBM software. All of Slashdot offers its condolences.
  • You need your head checked. Feel free to post an "Ask Slashdot" asking for references.
  • You are an IBM shill. (Doesn't really seem their style, but there's a first time for everything!)

Re:IBM doesn't do much well at all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21592133)

Seriously you are way off here!! And what exactly are you comparing to?
Tivoli - Best management software that exists


Remember when IBM wrote software? Now their only "best-in-class" software was bought from a small company that could actually code.

DB2 - Awesome database and scalable (not to mention on just about every platform)

Yeah, developers these days don't use Macs or BSDs, do they? Wait, what's this max row size? *Under* 32KB? Is this part of the "We have to let MS Access be better at *something*" club?

Lotus - Market share seems to disagree with you

Good thing market share (especially for enterprisey software) is no indicator of quality, then.

Rational - again you seem to be against the grain

In the case of Rational, I'm comparing it to a power drill to the temple. Better not try to compare it to other software, because then it might *really* look bad.

Re:IBM doesn't do much well at all... (1)

73bgt (706638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592275)

> IBM has some really smart people tucked away somewhere. But to an IBM customer, dealing with IBM is like dealing with the IRS. Very true. I have been doing some work with a local council recently, they have fully bought into the IBM thing, iSeries, lotus notes, websphere, etc. When you actually get to deal with IBM things you can get things done. But IBM don't deal directly with customers. First you have to go through the partner for that business area, pay £1500 per day for a consultant who usually knows less than than your avarage employee assigned to the project equipped only with the IBM website documentation. Only when all has failed will IBM send in a team of salespeople, with one tech guy to answer the hard questions. The salespeople go off to the management/stategy meetings, and we get get the guy with the clue to help us sort out the real problems. They do themselves a disservice. It should not be that hard, their software is pretty good compared to the competion.

Re:IBM doesn't do much well at all... (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592635)

Umm, Tivoli Network monitoring and management is second to none. I mean that, none. They utterly dominate their market and for good reason.

pSeries are good systems.
Z leaves everything else looking cheap, underpowered and lightweight. And I mean lightweight, the top z box weighs two tons...

iSeries I don't know much about, I'm not sure big blue are too huge on those any more either.

x are great x86 systems. Dunno if they're special, but they're not bad either.

Lotus, we can agree on. But rational? My god, what is your malfunction? Clearcase is a winning source control system, purify is a fantastic (and simple) debugging tool.

This isn't even to mention their myriad research labs.

I mean seriously, are you living under a rock? Big blue doesn't do everything right by a long stretch, but it has a hell of a lot going for it. If it doesn't deal with the small fry that's because it has more than enough big fry jumping for a bite at the bait.

WTF? (5, Funny)

Malached (1119819) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591493)

"During my first year at Sequoia I concentrated on improving the processes that affect operational excellence." ... I annoyed the F*&%( out of the people who did the real work. "With these processes largely working, I must now spend my time providing a technological vision" .. when they started ignoring me, I came up with lots of useless documents, to pretend that I was actually worth the ridiculous sum I was paid.

Yoda? Already in charge. (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591511)

Recalling just what part Yoda played in the first 3 episodes, I'd say he's already running IBM's consulting. That's why small businesses don't get any attention.

Why? Because the returns are bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591515)

I have a good chance, compared to most people my age, of being a CxO of a large company in the next 10 years. Probably somewhere around 50%.

However - in this company (of 100k) there are about 100 people like me. What are vendors supposed to do, lavish money on all of us just in case:

- They can identify who we are.
- Some of us make it.
- We feel obligated to them.
- We ignore our fiduciary duty to shareholders.
- Technology or requirements don't rule them out as vendors.
- Internal process doesn't require independent vets of major procurement.
- The company is organised enough to consolidate procurement decisions.

Much better to be good at your business (eg - delivering projects to enterprises) and attempt to win on merit. Personal relationships can fuck up performance inside companies, the last thing you want is to let them be used against you when going outside.

Dear Lord (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591517)

Who talks like this?

With such a small shop I have to spend a great deal of my time maintaining operational excellence. However, my role must move from an operational one to one that is more strategic. During my first year at Sequoia I concentrated on improving the processes that affect operational excellence. With these processes largely working, I must now spend my time providing a technological vision for Sequoia. Because I am a member of the Executive Leadership Team (the primary operational management body), my CEO also expects not only technical vision but business vision as well.
Is there a class when you get your MBA that teaches you to use terms like "maintaining operational excellence"?

Re:Dear Lord (4, Funny)

belthize (990217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591577)


      Learning to identify your core competencies so you can leverage your resources in an effort to devlop effective intra-deparmental synergy
thus allowing you to devote time to identifying emerging paradigms is what being an MBA is all about .... or so I'm told.

Belthize

Re:Dear Lord (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591581)

Yes. But you can only take it if you successfully leverage your paradigm.

Re:Dear Lord (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591643)

Nope. Not *a class*. But I dearsay *every class* of an MBA is filled with this sort of slang (I hesitate to call it 'jargon') so you get brainwashed by it..

Whether there's anything else in the classes other than the words, I leave for you to decide.

Re:Dear Lord (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591799)

The MBA students see through the same BS that you do - you don't get into a top MBA program by being an idiot. But then, they also see that it's the way the game is played... In fact, they see through it better than the nerds do, and that's why they are the boss pulling compensation with additional zeros than us nerds.

finally! (5, Insightful)

blhack (921171) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591539)

I have been saying this same thing for years with regards to IBM's AS/400 platform. Anybody who has every worked with one of these machines will tell you that they are absolutely, hands-down, the greatest database box available today.

But.

The only people running Os/400 are huge financial institutions who's annual I.T. budget ranges in the Millions of dollars. I can't get a copy of OS/400 to play with. Just can't do it. Not unless i want to spend a month's salary on it. Even then, i can't really DO anything with it (maybe have one connection to the database at a time).
Now take linux/mysql. I use this combo ALL OVER THE PLACE. Any time i need to throw a database down, its a linux box with Mysql. Every. Single. Time.

Why?
Because i grew up playing around in redhat, suse, mandrake, and gentoo boxes and I feel like i know linux inside and out (although i'm sure i don't). I have complete confidence in myself to order some hardware, install a distro on it, and have a database up and crunching within a day.
I have NEVER tried this with an IBM product because i simply CAN'T! I can't risk that significant of a portion of my budget for a toy that I may or may not be able to get working in time.

I guess it works the same as what happened to my beloved coke machine today. They upped the price to $1.25. Nobody drinks coke anymore except the people who are REALLY addicted to it.
Bastards.

Coke at $1.25 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21592157)

Yeah, glad someone else noticed this.
At $1.25 for a 24 oz, it is cheaper for me to buy a 2 liter for $1.25 - $1.50 and throw away the unused portion if I don't get around to it before it gets flat.

Same thing has happened at restaurants that have upped their drinks to $2.25. OK, I could grin-n-bear it for $1.95, but once you crossed the $2 barrier for ICED TEA, water please.

Same with candy bars. $0.69 even at a grocery store? I used to (as a kid in the late 70s) get them for free with a $0.25 off coupon. $0.50 was bearable if I wanted a treat. Now, F' no.

Back to Coke, the only ting you can really get in liters in the US is Coke et al. I used to assume this was because Coke was international and had standardized world-wide on a size. Then I spent 3 months in AU/NZ. There they don't have 2L bottles. They have 1L & 3L (which I can't even finish off a 2L before it goes flat) So, much for my theory.

Re:finally! (2, Interesting)

dwywit (1109409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592203)

I have been saying this same thing for years with regards to IBM's AS/400 platform. Anybody who has every worked with one of these machines will tell you that they are absolutely, hands-down, the greatest database box available today.

Amen brother!

The only people running Os/400 are huge financial institutions who's annual I.T. budget ranges in the Millions of dollars.

Cite? My PPOE(2) had an annual IT budget around AUD$200K, and we managed to run as AS400 E35 + ~50 green-screen terminals and ~50 peecees on that. Try telling people that you could support 100 users on a "server" with 48MB (yes MEGABYTES) memory!

Yes, the HW and OS cost a lot of money to buy, and maintenance is a PITA. OTOH, you put a call in, and someone is there within agreed contract times to fix it, or escalate it. The machines just sit in a corner and run.... for years. The E35 ran for more than 10 years before it became economical to replace it - so they replaced it with NT servers, and we became used the BSOD in the server room.

Coke? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21592269)

I agree with you completely about IBM, but Coke?

"I guess it works the same as what happened to my beloved coke machine today. They upped the price to $1.25. Nobody drinks coke anymore except the people who are REALLY addicted to it."

Upped? Let's see, Coca-Cola was introduced in 1886 at $0.05. In today's money, that's $1.09. Wow, a whopping 15% price increase over a mere 120 years! Yow!

They kept the price the same for 70 years [209.85.173.104] despite hugely fluctuating costs.

Wait, that's price per serving. Initially Coke was sold in 6 ounce servings. So in today's money, it would actually be $2.18 per 12 ounce can. So it's really 44% cheaper per ounce than 120 years ago. You were spoiled by them keeping the price at exactly 5 cents for 70 years, but after they started raising prices, they actually tracked slower than inflation, overall.

Yes, I know big numbers are scary, but it's called inflation, and it's not just the Coca-Cola company being mean.

Anyone would be an improvement... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591573)

...over Sam Palmisano. He's been an absolute disaster for the company. The company (services especially) has been in complete disarray for years. There's no investment internally for improving processes, tools, or technology; everything is about cutting, cutting, cutting. We've lost huge numbers of good technical people that we won't ever get back, we've outsourced our own capabilities to the point where our internal proficiency has withered away, and we're selling huge chunks of the business left and right (witness the transition of Network Services to AT&T).

All IBM adds to a solution is a "single throat to choke" and overhead.

What If Yoda ran IBM? (2, Funny)

Phat_Tony (661117) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591627)

He'd dual Bill Gates with a lightsaber?

Re:What If Yoda ran IBM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591793)

Would Bill have a duel bladed lightsabre? What color would it be?

Re:What If Yoda ran IBM? (1)

karbin (1047742) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591953)

Nitpick I know, and not trying to be a grammar nazi - but I like how the GP misused dual instead of duel, and the parent misused duel instead of dual. It's like you two traded words.

Re:What If Yoda ran IBM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21592009)

Whooooooosh!

Re:What If Yoda ran IBM? (1)

bckrispi (725257) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591821)

No, but if he fights Darth Ballmer, we'll see how he can use the Force to deflect a thrown chair.

It is all dollars and cents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591647)

I have worked at a number of companies over the years. The smaller the company's purchasing level, the less interest any sales person has in that company. There is a certain annual dollar figure that is needed to get any vendor interested in your buisness. A visit by a sales person typically may have a direct cost from $500 to $1000 per visit, and an opportunity cost that results from not visiting someone else. Assuming a distributor or resellor makes 10% on a sale, it will take an order of at least $5000 just to break even on one visit. If multiple visits are needed or if there is substantial bid and quote activity, the purchase size needs to be much higher. Not only that, the vendor still needs to make a profit. If a vendor doesn't smell at least $50,000 to $250,000 in buisness, it isn't worth his time.
On the other hand, the new guy in the market without customers will take a risk on a small client in the hope of growing that buisness in time. But if that client doesn't grow at the same rate as the new guy, the client will be dropped.

Operational Excellence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591707)

Why would the author even think to engage IBM Global Services for their disaster recover plan when a regional consultancy would have been more than happy to pick up an account of their size? With a budget of $25K I'm not surprised they were turned down. IBM GS probably burns more than that per day on room service. Sheesh, operational excellence indeed. If that's how he manages his budget he needs to work on operational efficiency.

newsflash: (4, Insightful)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591771)



Big Co. pays more attention to potential customers who actually have money to spend with them. Also, some products are out of reach of small companies.

Wah. If you don't know that a 17 year old, dressed scruffily, who hasn't shaved for 5 days, will receive less attention at a Mercedes dealership than the nattily dressed 40-ish man, you just don't live in the real world. Sure: the 17 year old could be Bill freaking Gates, or a rockstar. Or might become one some day, but will have been so soured on the treatment received that they vow never to buy a Mercedes.

But frankly, almost all of the time, talking to the 17 year old is a waste of time at best, and at worst you lose the customer that is really ready and willing to spend money with you because you've ignored them.

Y, it sucks. So it goes. You might argue that one of the ways that Microsoft got as popular as they did with CIO types is because everyone uses them at home, so 17 year olds that get their start troubleshooting home computers go on to CIO jobs and stick with Microsoft because they know it. But, frankly, if that was all of the answer Apple would rule the world--everyone in a certain generation used them at school, but it did not help their adoption in enterprise.

btw: can we stop linking to CIO mag, please? It has the absolute worst S/N ratio of any online mag out there, and the article content generally isn't that good either.

Re:newsflash: (2, Funny)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592181)

[CIO mag] has the absolute worst S/N ratio of any online mag out there, and the article content generally isn't that good either.

Well, the articles are written by and for CIOs. When bullshitters are your target market ...

$25,000 for disaster recovery? (2, Interesting)

charlievarrick (573720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591785)

I've deployed systems for organizations 1/10 the size of what TFA describes that cost more than that.

If IBM could make money providing services to size X companies, they would.

If IBM doesn't want your business, take your business elsewhere.

And isn't developing a disaster recovery plan his job?

Let me see, now that he's got the whole "operational excellence" thing sorted out and he's made the "Executive Leadership Team" he wants to sit around all day dangling a whole $25K infront of consultants instead of, i don't know, fiquring out how to implement a disaster recovery plan .

Re:$25,000 for disaster recovery? (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592281)

They said they came fom a much larger organisation. That probably means they have never had to actually do anything themselves. They're probably a pure manager, totally non-technical. Managing your strategic planning is important, but I bet this CIO represents at least 20% of their IT salary budget, and it's just not that important.

Re:$25,000 for disaster recovery? (4, Insightful)

Alpha830RulZ (939527) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592403)

Methinks the author of TFA isn't as experienced as he would have us think he is. $25,000 will only buy about 120 hours of any reputable senior consultant. The big firms will need about $400/hr. IBM properly realizes that they can't deliver any value for the budget, and is not wasting the author's time or theirs.

The economics of consulting firms are such that you have to charge about 3 times the payroll cost of your staff to cover your costs and make some money. So, if you have a reasonably experienced consultant, who makes $120k a year (which is lowish in the bigger markets), you need to bill that person at $360k a year. Figure 70% utilization, or about 1400 hours a year, and you have to bill the guy at at least $250/hr. That's the economics of the big firms. The only ecosystems in which those firms can deliver value commensurate with their cost are the large client organizations. Hence, they quite rationally focus on them. I won't offer an opinion as to whether they can in fact deliver to that value - that depends on the team, the people, and the problem.

This leaves a significant market out there which can be served by sole proprietor consultants for $100-150/hr. The author needs to go find himself one of those folks, and quit whining. If he had a business head on his shoulders, as he insists that he does, he'd be able to figure that out. Since he can't, I'm not sure I'd view him as likely to move up in the world to those larger firms, and I suspect that the vendors have figured him out as a weak player. I have never had trouble getting vendor focus when working in small firms, so it isn't impossible.

Yoda speaks backwards. (4, Funny)

dwalsh (87765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591789)

But this guy speaks asswards:

"With such a small shop I have to spend a great deal of my time maintaining operational excellence."
...plugged out the the kettle from the UPS and plugged the server back in.

"During my first year at Sequoia I concentrated on improving the processes that affect operational excellence."
...stopped answering user queries with "Have you tried turning it off and turning it on again?"

"With these processes largely working, I must now spend my time providing a technological vision for Sequoia."
... 1 week surfin' = 3 slide vision Powerpoint.

"As you can imagine, creating a fully functional disaster recovery plan requires an enormous amount of time--and, as I noted above, I've been focused on operational excellence, not long-term strategic planning."
... No, we have never tested restoring from the backups.

You know what happened? IBM consultants met someone a bovine coprologist even mightier than them, and that scared them.

I gots ta say! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21592107)

Hahaha! Bovine coprologist - I love it! Is that anything like a terminological inexactitudarian?

Clueless about costs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591807)

Obviously this guy is clueless about the true costs of things, which is very common. The cost to IBM (not to you) for one of their consultants is probably in the $100 + an hour with all the benefits, contracting costs, HR costs, etc added in, even worse if you want someone really experienced. At that rate $25k only buys you 250 hours (that's 6 weeks). This is barely enough time to make a dent in the task, let alone purchase any hardware. By the time IBM has set up a contract with you and sent a person in to do the job you're already broke and they've lost money.
Overall this guys $25k probably won't even cover the hardware and software licenses he will probably need, let alone a consultant. Everyone forgets about software license costs, which for something from IBM is gonna be more than the overall hardware cost. Completely clueless.

If you ever want to figure out what it would cost you to hire yourself take your salary, double it to account for HR, management, supplies and office space, then divide by 2000 (work hours in a year assuming 2 weeks worth of vacations, no holidays).

If you make $50k a year, you cost $50 an hour.
If you make $100k a year, you cost $100 an hour.
If your company wants to make a profit hiring you as a consultant they have to charge more than that.
If you follow this logic the reason for the obscene costs for lawyers and doctors (doctors have even larger supply costs plus insurance) becomes obvious.

Re:Clueless about costs? (1)

bhmit1 (2270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592497)

Obviously this guy is clueless about the true costs of things
Or at least he has no understanding of the costs associated with larger businesses. The internal rate for the (likely outsourced) consultant is probably $100/hr give or take, which they will mark up anywhere from $150-200/hr to cover sales commission, billing and other overhead, profit margin, etc. And for any IBM project, it really requires two people onsite, so that means you're being charged $300-400/hr, possibly more if travel is involved.

So that ends up with two weeks, maybe less, of services. In that time, you might have some planning meetings with a project manager, some upper management meetings to get buy-in and some direction, and a high level discovery in the first week.

And then you need to start looking at each system within the organization to determine if and how it would be recovered from the network, to the OS's, to the DBs, to the apps. Not to mention the requirement to identify the DR facility, testing plans, handling future growth, etc. Finally, you need to document your plan, make sure it's approved by management, and make any changes. All of that won't be happening in a week, not even a month, 3 months would be fast.

This whole article seems to sum up a person that wants to get the local college grad rate on craigslist from big blue. If I were Sequoia, I'd be seeing if $25k could handle the head hunter's fee and signing bonus on a replacement for their CIO that could build the plan himself. Of course, I'm not Sequoia. I am, however, one of the $100/hr consultants that IBM uses.

Yoda Right Now (1)

synonymous (707504) | more than 6 years ago | (#21591841)

Yoda is in exile due to the Chancellor Count Bush Administration surprise attack against the Jedi and Republic. Help us Obi Wan.

I've lived some of this (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591891)

Posting as AC to protect ex-employer and his clients.

We were engaged to develop a large web app for a large not-for-profit (in the Care Sector) to replace their aged tape based mini-computers. We suggested IBM hosted services for hosting because of the incredible uptime you get with Linux VMs running on S390. IBM did not want to talk to the NFP directly however, despite their large (for that sector) annual budget. They wanted to have us acting as middlemen, for no apparent reason we could see. It was almost as if they didn't want to be seen 'hanging out with the spastic guy' - it was very weird.

I heard (I wasn't in the meeting where it was allegedly said by IBM) that IBM was only going to deal directly with large customers (i.e. Fortune 500 and Governments), and was building a network of 'Partners' who would manage 'smaller' clients. My colleague had the impression that 'manage' meant 'accept all risk'.

Sigh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21591929)

Mod points I have, yet not an article worthy of modding up there is, Hmmm?

Bullshit Bingo? (3, Funny)

sr8outtalotech (1167835) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592149)

I noticed from the article that $25,000 was the budget for implementing a fully functional plan. In addition the consultants must be experienced. Developing the plan is his job but I'm guessing his non-profit is not only cheap but has unrealistic expectations regarding what a disaster recovery plan that is fully functional entails. Being realistic, if their IT infrastructure gets wiped out by a flood, why bother with disaster recovery...they probably don't have the budget to replace anything before the insurance kicks in let alone have any type of backup sites/redundant infrastructure/replacement personnel available.

Another implication of the article is that only large consulting firms can do a quality job that adheres to best practices. "I'd like access to the same expertise that my colleagues at larger companies have." Could he really mean, he'd like the same expertise that his colleagues have at larger companies but for $15/hr. Isn't that what Craigslist is for?

I got out my bullshit bingo card and almost won...

strategic concerns
providing outstanding technology to our colleagues
strategic value
operational excellence
operational excellence
technological vision
technical vision
business vision
operational excellence
tried-and-true management principles
best practices

If only the same phrases weren't used over and over.

easy (3, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592167)

His lack of vision would result in the employees getting murdered, and he would go hide in a swamp.

I thought I saw him running 'round NCR. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592245)

NCR woulld seem to fit a bit more than IBM given some of its circumstances nearly following script. It'd fit given that it was a large company(similar to something Yoda would lead) with influence across the world, but then extinguished(via AT&T and Nyberg) to obscurity.

That's not to mention that their local presence is all but going [building26.org] or gone, and with a similar touch.

Engaging the wrong type of firm (4, Informative)

JeffSh (71237) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592327)

This CIO is engaging the wrong type of firm for what he wants. I work for a "Premier IBM Business partner" in Lansing, MI and we do this type of work all the time. We put together HA/DR solutions and serve some surprisingly large customers despite our simple business partner status.

Big blue takes a pass on work that is "this small", but that's what the partner network is for. We don't have the resources for huge projects, but we are perfectly geared for projects of this scope. Not only that, but we are focused enough to deliver quality product and quality customer service where big blue cannot. Additionally, due to our having a small but long-serving tech staff, we are not "green" as the writer complains. An organization the size of IBM simply is ineffective at serving projects of this size.

He should have, or the IBM reps he was in discussion with, contacted an IBM business partner in his area that could have helped him. IBM Business partners have always been part of IBM's strategic vision and the author of this piece completely ignores them and the role they play.

Idiot (2, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 6 years ago | (#21592559)

This guy is an idiot and I have no sympathy for him.

He has what is a small to medium business and wants the 900-pound gorilla of the consulting business to cater to him? Turn this around. What is wrong with all those small to medium consulting businesses? Are they too small for his company to pay attention to them?

Hypocrite.
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