top Ballmer Says Amazon Isn't a "Real Business"
Actually, as a former short time IBMer, I think you're both right. IBM core has lifers that have been sucked in and have worked there for years, most without skulls that ate actually marketable outside of IBM (yes, really). This self feeds where the vast majority internally still are riding on skills from 20yrs ago, and so the company competes over the past several years by bleeding out acquisitions it makes as it tries to buy its way into new markets without a real coherent strategy (see everything from storage platforms to their analytics acquisitions over past several years). Its a sales company where they try and compete on their long, slow, stodgy, established contracts, every once in awhile buying a new company and then rolling the capabilities under existing software contracts and agreements, adjusting the margin charge yearly to justify.
This hasn't been working for several years at this point, anyone who understands basic financials can see the company has been playing financial games for about the last 4yrs (Money Mag gets credit for being one of the first mainstream places to call this out about a yr ago, even questuoning Buffets inVestment).
So yes, they are tech in the sense they invest quite a bit into r&d to establish a patent hold, if someone else comes up with a remotely competent product that sells, IBM goes through this portfolio to attain a royalty stake while divesting itself of the risk.
Does that sound like a tech company?
top IBM VP Talks About Another $1 Billion for Linux Development (Video)
Actually, IBM does invest in desktop Linux and in a company of about 400,000 employees, has a sizable chunk running on an internally built standard and continuing to consolidate onto it. It wouldn't be a stretch for them to give this away given the efforts are already undertaken. The fact that they don't suggests they don't see a return worth it.
top Book Review: Puppet 3 Beginner's Guide
I'm passing PCI, SAE16, etc. audits without a problem and as a matter of fact use Puppet as part of my control framework, and a sound network topology around the various environments. Not knowing what "infosec doesn't permit such holes" means, the counter argument in a generalized sense is that trusting a host to gather its own data (audit itself) and then retrieving it nightly isn't exactly a stable methodology?
about a year and a half ago
top Red Hat Makes Supported OpenStack Release
"Thousands and thousands of virtual machines. Try supporting and auditing that many servers with any other distro
Puppet, CFEngine, Tripwire, etc. all play well with other Linux distros as well. If you're talking about just using RedHat Satellite to manage such a beast, get out of 2001, RH really missed the boat on pushing such potential in the Enterprise space and only over past year seem to be winking at Puppet. If you're talking about their efforts on OpenStack, great, but you still need that next layer down.
about a year and a half ago
top Best Buy Follows Yahoo in Banning Remote Work
Indeed, AT&T went through this I believe last year (or yr before). Over the past several years, they have allowed employees to telecommute and work from anywhere, to the point that employees were moving to their own more preferred locations in the country and taking advantage of the opportunity. AT&T about-faces and says employees are required to show up to office, with mandate of 30 days for the new "initiative." This had the by-product affect of folks who had moved away from offices (or were located in areas where offices had closed up) suddenly were non-compliant and would need to quit or face termination.
I don't necessarily see this as Yahoo's true intent (yet), but it is easier to see this mindset for the likes of Best Buy who is continuing to try and thin the ranks.
top Ask Slashdot: How Would You Convince Someone To Give Up an Old System?
Bob probably is well aware of the chaotic disorganization of his system as well, where I suspect he devised something that worked well in small form, but simply is not scaling out beyond its original intent. If you approach it with educating him on understanding Google Docs, and what value it provides, he should start to learn for itself its advantages and how it actually makes it EASIER to manage the docs. He may well fully embrace the idea then on his own (the easier way to get want you want is he wants it as well). Be careful though... he may also finally have found the person he has been looking for all these years to take over the job and do whatever the hell they want with it, in which case he says congrats to you and its yours forever to maintain (until the next solid contributor comes along in 20 years).
-A Jaded Board Member
top Ask Slashdot: Best Incentives For IT Workers?
I applaud the pro-active nature of the organization on this, and appreciate your efforts to have a strong preference of carrot over stick.
I have been managing IT Operations teams for ~10yrs now (with a rooted background in SysAdmin), and more often than not, in my own experience, it is the organizational culture that often strongly correlates to the work output of a collective team. I have worked on companies that paid absolutely ass and were not overly generous with there employees, yet people understood the purpose, the mission, and their role, and gave 110%. I have worked at companies that were more than generous with payroll and side benefits, and folks slacked off.
Without knowing you or your background (nor the respective company), I can say that folks are often cognizant of the extremes they can get away with at work. If you (or the company as a whole) conveys an easy-going atmosphere where even the slackers are well tolerated, well, water sinks to the lowest point. This can often be detrimental to others around them, as it results in "Well if they aren't going the extra mile, why should I?" I believe just about anyone who is reading this has had that very thought cross their mind at one point or another, and it can be a valid one. Giving someone free massages, or cupcakes, or even a hooker aren't exactly motivational items - actually, they work the other way, in that encouraging folks to "take a break" from things, these same folks who even when working you are suggesting aren't putting in a sound effort.
Solution? Again, without know you or the org, do away with the massages, and most other extraordinary benefits that cost the company money, and instead convert this to regular financial bonus incentive. Make a big point on how performance relates to money, and more times than not, I find folks will go above and beyond to earn the extra incentive. You may have a few bad apples you clearly need the stick, but between the two, I'd suggest you may be on the way to success.
Best of luck!
top Microsoft Releases Windows Server 2012
Based on experience, I'd actually bet that Exchange number is higher. In most Exchange implementations I have seen of mid-to-large scale, the workload is distributed. In the survey case you linked, for inbound transit, it is completely sensible and in fact I would just about insist that the inbound transit be in something OTHER than exchange, such as Exim or Postfix, to both save money (why pay for yet another license to just pass mail along to inside resources?), as well as a security posture of managing risk with differentiating MX packages. If I carry that thought forward, a portion of those MX servers may well be in front of Exchange (or god forbid Notes or some other product).
top If You Lived In Riga, You Wouldn't Bother To Cut the Cord
U.S. telephone and cable companies have arranged a 'negotiated truce' in which cable incumbents enjoy a de facto monopoly on high-speed broadband service, while Verizon and AT&T focus primarily on their wireless platforms.
Mainstream media is starting to pick up on this same very notion, with Verizon's latest quarterly report covered by the
Boston Globe here which basically highlights the fact that Comcast and Verizon are getting cozy rather than competing. "Verizon Wireless struck a deal to market cable broadband from Comcast and Time Warner Cable in its stores, a move consumer advocates see as a capitulation by Verizon that will leave many areas with just one viable choice for home broadband: cable."
We as taxpaying Americans supporting these monopolies lose out on both fronts while this trend continues ....
top Apple Hacker Charlie Miller To Demo Dangers of Near-Field Communications
So there I am standing at the gas station yesterday, and I catch a quick glimpse of one of those ad's on the TV screen offering to give you 5 cents off per gallon if you pay at the pump with NFC through your phone. I'm a bit amused by this as right next to it is a sign saying not to use your cell phone at the pump with a funny symbol of fire next to it. Curious as to the contrary suggestions, I look at the fine print of the NFC ad where it basically says "for your safety, you can only use this as a single pump" or basically trying to manage the risk by only using it briefly. This is somewhat funny as they can't seem to make up their mind as to whether is it safe, or isn't it?
top Can Translucency Save Privacy In the Cloud?
Almost yearly, I (as do most Americans) get a small little statement/disclaimer entitled "Notice of Disclosures" or something to that affect from various banking, insurance, and other types of institutions I regularly do business with. I believe the only reason they send this is by legal requirement, and it tells me all of the different bits of information they have on me and what they do with it/how they resell it, or excuse me, "share it with valued business partners." Some things I can opt out of, which I eagerly do, while others I simply do not have that option. I've become jaded enough to the point that I am under the impression much of this information is more valuable than my "core" business, such as bank seeing my regular spending habits as well as able to speculate at my income by way of direct deposit tracking. This sort of thing marketers salivate over.
For online companies such as Facebook, the model is hardly different. For companies that give away applications for your tablet or only charge you a small amount of money, this can be an appealing revenue source, whether as a secondary one beyond the $1 they charge you or even the primary one.
Given all this, I tend to question that when building a product such as this, I have a hard time believing Path or any similar companies even remotely care to try and NOT see your information since it blocks them from such sources. Only when the media yanks the covers off do things get more interesting. This lets them assemble a web of contacts which has value, whether for immediate return or as an "asset" for the organization should they ever sell it (and revise their privacy notices). Lets see how things go once the dust settles and whether they have committed to any of these things.
top The Risk of a Meltdown In the Cloud
As a SaaS Operations Manager, I believe you are spot on. While I have no major issue with sending data up to the magical "cloud" in many cases, shame on me if I am not taking some responsibility on my own for backups, etc. Even if a cloud provider provides an SLA and claims full backups, should that fall apart, its still going to be my butt in the sling for recovery.
Their are of course numerous technical solutions to the problem, including cross-site replication, etc. The challenge is the more timely/accurate the replication, usually the higher the cost (bandwdith/limit latency expenses). When the finance folks start to see these numbers, or the customer, suddenly it becomes less "urgent" to them. The trade-off is often times a subtle expectation of HA due to potential direct impact on company profitability, but nobody wants to actually pay for it. I am aware of way to-many orgs that cut corners in this area and simply lie to the customer.
Hence, to your point, hedge your bets and do the best you can with regular backups
top Bringing Online Shopping Into the Future With the 3D Web
One would think if a few large retailers got together and set a base standard of images they expect a mfr. to provide for a product, this may alleviate some of the issues. While it shifts the "burden" to the mfr, its in their marketing dept's best interest to take the time to provide the pictures so the product moves off the shelves.
From there, the standard could mature into 360 views and maybe one day in my lifetime 3D. Baby steps ...
top Can Maintenance Make Data Centers Less Reliable?
Having been involved in Technical Ops of both large and small companies for many years, I have seen DR exercises and design that have run the gambit. I tend to think The key thing I have found to the success of any organization, exercise, or philosophy, is the underlying process that drives execution. The larger the team/org, the more change points, which in turn leads to more variables between tests. This creates complexity, as a test that ran fine a few months ago may not run the same today. However, ensuring change does not overrun process in understanding and applying the change into the greater design is a key to ensuring each test improves upon the last, until such time this is a finite process.
For example, when working for one of the big 401k's, the first DR exercise evaluated the data center completely being leveled and re-locating both technical services as well as the ~300 on site employees to another location. Long story short, the first exercise of this was scheduled for 2 days, and while it worked, we identified dozens of issues. We scheduled the next test 6 months later and addressed what we believed were all of the issues; on next test, we ran into perhaps ~10 issues. The next test we scheduled 3 months ahead and ran into ~2 issues. All awhile, things continue to change and innovation is occurring, change process control is ensuring that new things are being factored into the continual DR process/exercise. For a small telecom I worked for, the same type of testing was accomplished with ~2-3 week turn around time (smaller team, less change points, more dynamic response), but with same underlying principles.
Documentation of such things is critical, and employee turnover is often one of the greatest risk points. Having a diversified staff with overlapping knowledge should minimize the later risk to some degree, and if implemented fully, risk should be diminished.
So how does all this tie back into maint? Well, it is anticipated that if any system runs long enough, their will be opportunity for failure. It is preparation for when such failure occurs, one can balance the capability of providing a measured window of downtime (if any) and provide some degree of predictability (i.e. I test once a quarter). The counter to this can certainly be overzealous maint, so certainly their is a point to being reasonable. For example, what many of go through with our cars - the dealer wants us to come in every 3k miles for an oil change, whereas realistically most mfr's and my own experience dictates that ~5k (if not longer depending on circumstance) is much more cost effective. Either way, this is providing some degree of confidence that this should prolong engine life.
top AT&T/T-Mobile Merger 'Not In the Public Interest'
While TMobile service languishes in some areas, as a subscriber of ~7 years (flipped in years ago after AT&T Cellular last went tits up), while their domestic service presence isn't quite as dominant as Verizon, I enjoy international travel with my cell and a respectable domestic rate versus the competitors that I continue to pray they don't get sucked into the vortex of Verizon, AT&T, and increasingly Sprint of all companies. I have no contract, pay $100 a month for two phones between my wife & I, unlimited text, plenty of voice, and unlimited data on one phone where this seems like a "bargain" (the rest of the developed world laughs at what I consider a good rate).
What I enjoy for "landline" service (Ooma VOIP "free" $5 a year to cover taxes), the rest of the world enjoys a similar experience for wireless. TMobile seems like the black horse right now, and I rather see them follow through on a merger with Sprint than AT&T, mainly to bring back the third competitor in the pack similar to what was enjoyed in the late 80's/early 90's between MCI, AT&T, and Sprint. That set the bar for me personally where 3 competitors in telecom was a minimum number necessary for what I considered a truly competitive balance where they made their money and I felt I got value for my money. This is necessarily in the telecom space in my humble opinion with how things are looking. If a Verizon and AT&T duopoply were to happen .. watch Sprint disappear (as their coverage contract with Verizon "mysteriously" disappears and their coverage would suck worse than TMobile again) and rates suck ass across the board. The ability to enter the wireless market would continue to entertain higher barriers, so this would be difficult to overcome.
top Oracle To Pay US Almost $200M To Resolve False Claims Lawsuit
At a previous employer, we were a moderately sized company with a significant Oracle DB back-end behind an online platform. While the relationship had been rather professional in the beginning, Oracle's sales tactics over the years have really taken a turn to the point of being beyond what I ever saw from Microsoft in the 90's. As an existing DB customer, we were looking for an SSO solution to the platform. Oracle has such a bundle, and in exchange for buying the solution, our VP negotiated for them to provide several weeks of consulting services to help implement. Months later, it was a disaster (its a hodgepodge of companies they have purchased over the years and nothing overly coherent) and so the org decided to completely abort and go in another direction. We agreed to part ways and let them keep the up front cost and first year of support, but come the end of our support year, asked to remove the recurring support option on our contract for this software we no longer used. The two sales folks in charge of our contract were afraid of looking like they lost an option, and decided to strong-arm and said that if we pushed to have this line item removed, they would increase the support costs of all the remaining items we continued to use beyond what we would pay if we just kept the line item. We were now forced to continue to pay for a completely separate SKU/product we were not using if we wished to maintain consistent terms on the Oracle DB we could not easily displace.
And if you want to see the shit they have been pulling with CPU's going multi-core and beyond over the past several years, look up the crap they pulled with HP when they tried to provide a BIOS option to lock a multicore CPU down to a single one to allow the server to remain Oracle compliant. Their explicit BIOS notes said as much at one point. Hint: F_ck Oracle again. You have no choice in this model of growing core density but to continue to pay more to Oracle, even if you hard-limit the cores down.
top Roundabout Revolution Sweeping US
Massachusetts has been using roundabouts for years. What is more remarkable, is given the local driving habits (I live just tad north in NH), they even have several two lane roundabouts in use at various junctures which somehow don't stand out with significant numbers of fatalities. Some of these are marked as such, some not so much and the drivers take some initiative and make it into two lanes on their own. I would propose that in my years of driving, one of the most creative maneuvers a driver can engage in is migrating from an internal round-about lane to an outside exit, particularly when they are busy (as again, one could postulate that the two lanes one were made two lanes for a reason).
top Are Streaming Media Players a Passing Fad
I agree that the market is still very much developing. The day Sony and other vendors start actually supporting a wider range of native media formats on their respective devices through their half-ass "DLNA" support which is near useless, rather than forcing me to convert file formats constantly and burn power/CPU time, I will look at this as a sign of real maturity. Sony won't ever do this as far as I can tell due to conflicting interests, similar with many other BluRay and TV type hardware vendors.
Until then, I buy WD Live! media players and place throughout my home that easily handle this internally and only burn a few watts, playing whatever media format I throw at it. I stream my media from a single network share, put my daughters videos, my wife's crap Lifetime movies, and all of my movies and music galore. Everyone is happy. Remove WD and replace with whatever other smaller tech company 3rd party media player is, and solving a very similar problem that the TV/Bluray makers don't wish to tackle.
top Fibre Channel Over Ethernet: From Fee To Free
Beyond this, the physical costs versus 8gig are just not justified yet. With the overhead of FCoE, you can roughly say 10gig FCoE is the same speed as more traditional 8gig FC. If you believe that to be roughly true, then price is the next factor to consider, as what are you really getting?
8gig Fibre Channel GBIC for a SAN fabric averages around $150-$200.
10gig network (CNA) GBIC for a more traditional network averages around $1100.
I am building out a new virtual farm now, and much as we tried to go the converged route with 10gig network, the price point simply isn't there yet (technology is still maturing this year as well). You can work around this with copper for very short runs, but the expense comes in per-rack network gear.
This should start to settle in the fall as the standards fall together better.
top NY Times To Charge For Online Content
Newspapers provide an important role in our society, particularly the larger papers such as this, the Boston Globe, Washington Post, etc. I never appreciated this more than when I lived in Arizona several years ago and realized, not to diminish the efforts of the good folks of AZ, but the quality of material was just not quite the same. With more and more newspapers just printing press releases and less original content, this becomes of great concern, and should for everyone who lives in the US, as papers often go out on their own to investigate political corruption, businesses acting unethically, etc. For the larger newspapers, this results in things such as Watergate, etc.
I am not a big fan of paying for any online subscription, and to contradict myself I am not sure I would for this (I pay for a regular Boston Globe as my own attempt to try and keep the journalist machine going), but somehow, I still wish for them to be successful. Like their own struggles, I have no idea what the obvious answer is. If you value similar, I am not saying pay for the NYT, but I recommend finding something you are willing to put a few dollars into every month, even if its just your local Sunday paper.