372 posts • joined 11 Jan 2011
Re: Nice charity you got there, shame if your Windows got broken.....
This is the answer. Microsoft is so obviously done with supporting fixed-feature on-premises products. The only reason they don't come out and say they're dumping boxed products is because the installed base is still quite large. Even Office 2019 is now click-to-run only and won't run on non-Windows 10 machines...you know, "cloud cadence" and all...
Like all software companies, Microsoft is now addicted to monthly revenues and will never go back to selling you one-time-purchase products unless forced. It makes sense that they're forcing charities this way as well because they can write off that portion of running Azure/O365 as a donation rather than just the list price of the software.
On the commercial side, they're making it harder and harder to access product downloads in MSDN/VS subscriptions as well, probably hoping people will forget about it and click the "spin up an Azure solution" button instead.
Re: I'm not a developer but this is a genuine question...
Thst's the eternal question. It usually gets answered by saying that no one portion of the system is big enough to break anything. In the microservices world, it means the application is broken up into a ton of small components all HTTPing and JSONing their messages around. Even the database is abstracted away so you can swap in a whole new database under the hood.
Where it breaks down is when you start factoring in dependencies, requiring lower latency, etc. All those hops cost time.
Re: as soon as my shop realises
Yes, the tools is the killer. I'm all for the transition, but the constant swapping out of tools has to slow down if they want anyone other than consultants to develop an aptitude for it. I've actually had people tell me that one tool or another is "old" because it was from 2015.
The key seems to be doing only what works
It's like ITIL. I've worked in a few places where they've hauled the management consultants in, paid them a shipping container full of money and bought the IT Service Management Platinum Package. Problem is, if you don't adapt ITIL to the organization, it just becomes a ton of paperwork and process that no one wants to follow, and slows down the pace of change. Eventually people get fed up and the situation gets bad.
The same thing is happening again, with fear of missing out stirred into the mix. Everyone wants to be Netflix, Facebook or Google. And they're desperate to do something, anything, right now. What they're failing to realize is that this transition is meant to be adapted as well as adopted. If you have a mission-critical system being supported by 200 different offshore development houses writing code, you really shouldn't trust them to check code directly into production. If you have developers who can't/won't test their code and rely on integration/QA to find their bugs, then they can't "own the problem" the way Google SREs can. Bottom line is that if you want a real transition and not just a tickbox, you have to go slow and fix your cultural issues first. Problem is that tool and consulting vendors don't make money when you do that...they make money scaring people into implementing whatever's hot that month.
Not being from London, I did some Googling. I see the first two items as part of the "Agile hipster with a MacBook covered in build tools stickers" set, but cereal bars?
DevOps by Fiat (not the car manufacturer)
This is symptomatic of a larger problem...fear of missing out by companies is forcing them to send in the management consultants and force-feed a "digital transformation" initiative on them. On the surface, it looks like another ITIL -- just buy a ticketing and change management system off the shelf and Bob's your uncle.
What everyone is missing is that to do it right, you need a total culture change. I've only understood this in the past few months (and yes, I'm very late to the party, thanks for noticing.) I work at a non-IBM IT services company that's doing something similar, but IMO has a greater chance of actually succeeding. For me, being in systems engineering, the big hurdle has been the --WALL OF TOOLS-- that cloud the actual change that has to happen under the hood. Telling someone that they can't manually make a change, and instead have to feed it through a meat-grinder of CI/CD stuff, who has directly worked with systems their whole career, is a big mind-shift. The Devs have been in control of DevOps for the most part, and so everything is designed to make infrastructure go away. IT services people understand infrastructure and most don't do much software development beyond automating tasks. Meeting in the middle appears to be the key for systems people.
The problem is that the culture change is pretty radical. IBM will have a very hard time, as would any company relying on resources nine time zones away who are pretty disinterested. The reason an "ideal" DevOps system works so well is because the ideal system is a 10-person startup, all in the same office, all understanding every aspect of the operation, and all working over 90 hours a week cranking out fixes and features. It's much harder to implement when your resources are all over the place, and in some cases you don't control them. It sounds like they're just trying to use this as an excuse to get rid of anyone still left in a high-cost country.
"The notion that as a developer you'll have to learn Docker, Kubernetes, and 30 other things before you can even deploy an app is something I'd like to get rid of,"
My brain is hurting. As an infrastructure person, I thought the endless parade of strangely-named tools, products and frameworks was to abstract away the hardware. You know, push the Build button and your code magically deploys to a serverless, infrastructureless layer on your cloud of choice.
But you can take a certification exam again... Some of these tests are structured such that you can't invalidate a bad score. The MCAT (the exam you take to gain access to the academic hazing that is medical school) is like this..all your scores, good or bad, stay on your record and follow you, so even taking it again carries less weight.
Imagine being 22, most likely under a lot of parental and societal pressure to get into med school, and basically flushing your life down the toilet if you have a bad day on test day. Not good, especially if you've spent the last year or more studying, which is apparently recommended.
Re: Holy Hell...
They and Promettic are basically the only game in town if you want an independently-adminstered computerized exam. I think almost all if not all of the high-stakes exams are done on computer now in the US. The SAT, GRE, GMAT and MCAT definitely are...but I think the LSAT is still a paper and pencil exam. (Most lilely, because they don't trust those clowns either.)
This sounds like the equivalent of the US Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) taken at the end of medical school. Talk about a high-stakes exam...doctor friends of mine have said the score you get on it (assuming you pass) basically determines whether you get a residency you want, and that all future hiring is done based on that score too. I would have been beyond upset if I had spent months studying for the exam and not been able to complete it.
It's one thing having an IT certification exam blow up in the middle...quite another for a test that determines the course of the rest of your life. Medicine and law seem to love these no-do-overs, all-or-nothing high stakes exams...maybe they're just rites of passage. I hope these exam candidates get something more than an, "oops, so sorry about that!" from Pearson VUE.
Consumer refers to who's paying
Consumer versions of Windows 10 are "free" and paid for by providing telemetry data. The Enterprise editions, and Windows 10 for Workstations, are paid for by license fees/subscriptions. And yes, the consumer editions are also free billboards for advertising and drivers of Microsoft Store revenue.
That's the big shift - Microsoft used to care very much about selling a Windows and Office license per box and ensuring that you couldn't use more than one copy. Now, the focus is on making sure that someone is paying the monthly fee to run the software, and they're not as concerned with *where* it runs. And for the free users (Home and Pro,) Microsoft gets sent data about usage that can be disabled in the Enterprise versions.
Re: empire building
I thought Amazon was notoriously "flat" and basically didn't allow anyone's span of control to go beyond a small number of people. Most of the MBAs cycling through management consulting land are touting the "2 pizza team" concept that Amazon supposedly follows.
I figured the cuts would be for staff in acquired organizations...Amazon and others are buying up tool vendors at a fast pace so I thought they would have acquired a bunch of employees that way.
Could be a positive thing
It strikes me as a little bit creepy, but the reality is that if a tool exists that allows me to get resumes past the Taleo filter and other content filterers, and into a real interviewer's hands...I'm going to use it. I'm assuming the Resume Assistant is going to genericize your resume to make it as machine-readable as possible.
What I wonder is whether LinkedIn is actually a professional platform anymore. When the UI started morphing into Facebook-style a while back, people started treating it like Facebook. I run in both the techie and management circles because of the nature of my work, and this is absolutely the case. You have people posting vitriolic comments, getting into comment fights, etc. You also have self-help attention seekers posting inspirational quotes, and their followers congratulating them on having such great vision. For a platform that's basically supposed to be an extension of your CV, it has a lot of social stuff that many potential employers might use to filter you right out.
Glad I don't work there!
The company I work for also has a lot of long-service employees, who would definitely be affected if the company opened up voluntary redundancy and then pulled it back. The thing about our workplace is that it's very easy to let yourself get settled into a nice quiet corner as you build up tenure. If you aren't keeping up, especially if you've been around forever and are expensive, you get tossed at the next bloodletting interval. People who keep up get to stay for the most part. It's the nature of the business...as you gain experience you get better and build up your industry connections, making you more useful. Sometimes there are capricious firings, offshoring attempts, etc...but usually they're fads that don't last beyond one CIO iteration. IBM seems hell-bent on removing any sort of labor cost from their books lately. Just a couple decades ago, I remember IBM, AT&T, GE and others being very paternal corporations that essentially offered lifetime employment...no more I guess!
It's interesting that IBM does appear to recognize that they can't offshore everything to the cheapest rent-a-coder or rent-a-sysadmin shop, and are keeping some people from leaving voluntarily with a package. But I can't imagine how bad employee morale is there...if you're good, you're basically surrounded by everyone who hasn't been able to pull the trigger on leaving...and who is probably going to have a hard time finding a similar job.
Serverless is just another abstraction layer
All serverless is is the next generation of API-only applications. Instead of having dedicated instances of...anything...you just pass a JSON blob into a URL and...somehow...you get a response blob and/or a set of actions. The main difference is that you don't even care where it's going or how it's working...but under that tower of abstraction is a real set of web servers somewhere.
Aren't they just a BPO outfit now?
My experience with Xerox these days is just as a business process outsourcer for governments and big companies. For example, they are the ones who administer the red light camera program where I live. All they're doing in that outfit is collecting a percentage of fines paid and hiring a few "needful-doers" to man the cameras and respond to complaints.
I know they still make copiers and printers, but even those are just physical extensions of the BPO organization these days.
Re: Why does Windows 10 bundle Flash?
The main reason was to bring it under patch management from a source of patches that would regularly get applied. From my experience in end user computing stuff, Flash installed standalone almost never gets updated. Sometimes that's for good reason to prevent a garbage internal application from failing, but usually it's just because no one is keeping an eye on it. This was one of the reasons Flash is such a huge target for malware...tons of consumer systems have old versions installed. See also the Java and Silverlight plugins for examples of client-side apps with lots of system access and no easy update mechanism!
Bundling it with the browser is also partially historical. Microsoft bundled Flash with IE going way back, but didn't release periodic updates until recently. Almost nothing uses Flash on the Internet at large, but there are a lot of internal applications, especially in the training field, that haven't moved on yet. They'll have to when Adobe finally kills Flash completely, but don't hold your breath waiting...
Not sure he's thinking about the entire population
I've heard lots of predictions about what will happen when the vast majority of humans can't sell their labor anymore, and most of the rosy ones don't take everyone into account. Consider these 2 extremes (and this is in the white collar world; blue collar is a whole other kettle of fish:)
1. Hipster full-stack web developer sitting around a cafeteria table with 10 other hipster developers at a San Francisco startup, building web scale apps and getting paid a fortune, living at work doing 16 hour days with basically no concept of a life outside work. These are most often the people who say a robot-filled future will enable humans to have jobs that "don't feel like work."
2. Systems Analyst III, buried in some dark corner of a large corporation or state government, with an extremely narrow focus paper-processing and report-generating job. Their job consists of following the same set of unchanging rules, and is often designed to not allow them to deviate from those rules. (Big corporate IT has more of these positions than people think...yay ITIL!) This employee comes in on time and leaves exactly when their shift is over, has no desire to spend their entire life at work, and often hates their job but needs it and the security it provides.
From my experience in the real world, there are way more #2s than their are #1s. This is going to sound mean, but I think that most people are only capable of holding down one of the #2 jobs, simply because we don't need 7 billion visionary thought leaders and elite scientists. The problem is that modern society is built around middle-level educated white collar workforces coming to an office and processing paper all day long. Millions of students come out of universities every year with a generic BS in "management." Up until lately, large corporations would take in almost all of these graduates and put them to work doing some random task. These students would have something of a career path...associate analyst, senior analyst, supervisor, manager, director, etc...and they would earn and consume at an appropriate level throughout it. Switching everyone to unemployment, a fixed income, or minimum wage work is going to break the consumption cycle. A process-follower cannot be a data scientist.
Maybe it's time to rethink UWP and the mobile UI?
I get where Microsoft is coming from. The company I work for also basically lives and dies based on a couple of products that are standards for the industry we support. This is very similar to Windows/Office on the desktop. Microsoft badly wanted to control the entire platform the way Apple does, or at least control the OS the way Google does. Big companies take a long time to react, and it's only now that they're fully admitting their mobile platform is dead. Once a company gets addicted to lock-in, no product or initiative that doesn't result in 100% guaranteed total lock-in will ever get reasonable levels of funding. Look at Azure - Microsoft is poised to be the next IBM mainframe provider. Now THAT is lock-in on a grand scale...no more one-off software sales. We're moving one of those cash cow applications to Azure now, and it's astounding that people don't see that they'll be paying Microsoft *forever* to host it.
What I wish they would do now is admit that mobile is dead and continue rolling back the mobile-first user interface in Windows 10. No one wants VB6-era apps, but IMO they're moving too slowly in undoing what was done with Win8.
Killing the OS is definitely a "change in strategy."
It's strange to watch the last few months of Windows Phone's life. You can tell that Microsoft desperately wanted the lock-in and guaranteed revenue stream that owning a mobile platform would give them. But I think reality finally set in that they weren't there in time to influence things the way they can with PCs.
Not to worry though -- if they can't lock people in on phones, they're definitely going to do it with Azure. Especially with Azure Stack -- they're basically repeating the IBM mainframe model. Ship a box with "no user serviceable parts inside" to a customer, keep it fed and cared for, and charge by the MIPS. It's a very smart business strategy, and the main reason IBM can afford to attempt a transformation into a management consulting firm.
This will be entertaining
For those not in the US, this happens every single time a company announces they're expanding or not happy with their current situation. Atlanta is not a surprising choice...they spent most of the 90s vacuuming up corporate headquarters and back offices from around the country with lures of cheap taxes, free services and land as far as the eye can see. I imagine every municipality in Texas, North Carolina and other southern states is also competing heavily on a very similar platform.
What I'm not quite getting is whether Amazon is planning on formally splitting off AWS from retail and sending the retail part of the business off to Siberia somewhere while they compete head to head with Azure in Seattle, develop Alexa, etc. I wonder whether they're going to need smart people or just back office order processors...that will definitely determine where they put their headquarters. As an example, the financial company running my 401k is based in Boston, but all the drone work is done in Dallas.
The entertaining part will be seeing which municipality bent over the furthest backwards to attract the new HQ. I live in New York and we're constantly losing large employers who can just pick up and move because lower-cost locations will suspend taxes for decades, build them a headquarters for free, pay their electric and gas bills, reconfigure roads and zoning laws, and basically anything else they ask for. I imagine it's going to be somewhere in Georgia or Texas...cheap labor, nearly zero taxes for the well connected, and much more room to maneuver.
Today's cloud lesson...
The lesson for today is that you should never assume a cloud provider's operations are 100%. I hate having to explain to people why we need to have an instance of our service in more than one region. "But it's so expensive! My cloud salesman assured me that each region is interconnected data centers miles apart and they are nearly incapable of failing!"
It's all just computers and data centers, even if it's very much software-defined and very resilient. If humans and computers are involved, something will eventually go wrong.
Learn to filter brainwaves
I'm currently in the middle of a forced "DevOps by management consultant" transition. None of what everyone is saying is totally out to lunch, but the sheer volume of opinions and information coming at you from all sides is overwhelming when there's an actual IT environment to run as well.
The key thing to realize is that people 2 or more levels above you are being wined and dined by cloud salesmen, and they have been plugged into the information firehouse at the high level. That translates down to my boss getting 2 AM emails from a super-excited puppy-like "cloud strategist" asking him when we can implement CI/CD by, or why we're not orchestrating Kubernetes containers even though they have no idea what that actually means. The only way to deal and keep your sanity is to learn to filter some of this out.
With all the cloud and cloud tool salesmen leaning on the IT strategy people, plus everything that doesn't involve the cloud or containers being called legacy regardless of age or usefulness, combined with the intense fear of missing out or being left behind, it's not surprising that we have a ton of Bobs out there. I'm hoping that the second dotcom bubble burst will slow things down to a sane level and we'll take what makes sense back into the real world...but I still haven't seen the top of the bubble yet!
Re: Not surprising
That's the problem with IT services companies in general. They have to make margin on their outsourcing deals and have lots of levers to pull in order to do it. I work for a decent service provider, and even here there's a constant drive to squeeze and squeeze more. The main reason I actually like working for service providers is that you get exposed to a lot of things while not having to endure 100 hour weeks at a software company or a soul-crushing internal IT job at a company that doesn't care about IT.
If you manage to get to the point where you're something of an expert at what you do, keeping that spot has become harder since management feels they can replace you with 100 identical resources in a cheaper part of the world. The sweet spot for me seems to be finding those rare companies that will grudgingly pay for someone who can demonstrate better results...those are getting harder to find but they're out there. Body shops like DXC will never value talent...and forget it if you're doing anything considered a commodity skillset. Even if it takes the offshore guys 20x longer to do something, they're still cheaper, the customer won't know the difference and you'll never compete with that.
How NOT to Win Friends and Influence People
That's pretty arrogant, but I've seen that happen to friends of mine who work contract jobs in finance. One day the bank will just say "we're cutting rates by 10% and/or changing your contract terms effective immediately. Agree by 5 PM or pack your stuff and go."
Now, contracting is one of those things where you know you never have a stable job but the pay can make up for it. Purchasing OTOH...how many suppliers do you think rely on large corporations overpaying for items because of some contract negotiated years back? I'm betting it's a lot. DXC may just be another rebranding of HP Services, EDS and CSC, but it sounds like they're trying for a margin squeeze right out of the gate so they can "look tough" to their supply chain.
It'll be interesting to see what this company does. You could argue that with the cloudy world upon us, companies will become even less aware of what happens inside the IT magic box, but I guess they have to balance that with the fact that most companies have been around the block with IT outsourcing once or twice before. Hopefully this means they are less susceptible to the sales tactics that allowed EDS/CSC to charge rates that allowed suppliers to overcharge for toilet paper...doubt it though.
Wasn't the writing on the wall?
Every place I've personally seen or heard evidence of that wasn't absolutely married to Solaris and SPARC has been trying to get away from it forever. I can't imagine it's easy for Oracle to get new customers for anything other than their database applications, given their reputation.
You did see a lot of Sun hardware in the academic space back in the day, because their model was similar to Apple's -- give it away to students so that those students will buy it at a much higher margin when they're executives. But, the only places I've seen Solaris lately are those with 30 years of code that's totally married to Solaris, or workloads that have characteristics making SPARC the best or only choice.
Hopefully Larry isn't being too stingy with the severance packages. I feel bad for anyone who's still around keeping SPARC alive.
That's the best description of CA's business model I've ever heard. I had a project at work around 2012 migrating a ton of managed devices off of their desktop management product (the former Unicenter from the early 90s.) It was very obvious that they weren't even trying to improve the product beyond making it compatible with new operating systems. They were just milking license fees from customers who felt they were stuck on it for whatever reason.
A good idea plagued by buzzword mentality
The higher-ups in our organization are very buzzword driven, and I imagine they collect a lot of free meals, golf trips and other...amenities...from the DevOps consultants. Just like Agile a few years ago, we've been told that we're now "all in" on DevOps.
What will happen in our case is that we'll take the parts of it that make sense and use it in the real world work we do. We'll even take the single-pane-of-glass magic tools the DevOps company of the month sold them and give a half-hearted effort to integrate them. I think that's the key -- if you let your consultants run the show you're going to get an ITIL-style monstrosity that takes more work to care and feed than the actual work you're doing.
We have a lot of "boring, legacy old school" stuff from 2005 (if you can believe it.) We also have a lot of new cool shiny microservicey stuff. Knowing where to apply DevOps techniques, which ones are appropriate for your world, and what to skip is the key to keep DevOps concepts (which for the most part are really good ideas) from being another shelfware that gets abandoned when the next buzzword comes to town.
Checking to see if it's 1999...
I'm an IT guy, not a developer, so my experience lies with the "MCSE Bootcamps" that sprung up towards the top of the First Dotcom Bubble. I went after doing the MCSE myself because a consultancy I was working for at the time paid for it. If you were there for an upgrade like I was and knew what you were doing, it was a good way to cram for the stupid tests in a very short time. However, these bootcamps also enrolled a lot of complete newbies ("career changers") who were truck drivers and similar in a previous life. This is where we got the term "paper MCSE" from - the bootcamp taught exactly what you needed to know for the exam, and very little else.
Why not do this if you get a monopoly at the end?
When most people think of a monopoly the image of a state-owned enterprise comes to mind -- inefficient, expensive, etc. But Netflix and Uber are just following Amazon to where Microsoft was (and is working on going back to.) If you think of the end goal as having no competition, and therefore not having to constantly squeeze nickels out of your operation to keep up with the other nickel-squeezers, then why not spend whatever it takes to get there?
Uber already has Kleenex-level brand recognition. "Taking an Uber" is part of the lexicon these days, and I'm sure they know that if they keep pumping money in they will eventually drive competition out. Back in the pre-2000s era,Walmart in the US spent massive amounts of money to open stores in every little town. It was expensive but they eventually drove out all the mom and pop businesses, and now enjoy a near-monopoly on goods and groceries in many areas. Anyone looking at monopolies of the past and not seeing an opportunity to become one themselves is not thinking ultra-long term.
Now, admittedly some of the talk is starting to smell vaguely of "this time it's different" and "eyeballs are the new profits" and "we'll make it up in volume." We'll see whether Netflix and Uber become monopolies...the US is already starting to tee up the conversation about Amazon...they're currently putting many retailers out of business. I never thought I'd see Sears on the verge of bankruptcy in my lifetime for example...
Scale and pricing will be the determining factors
When Microsoft first announced Azure Stack, they were open to customers running it on their own hardware and the test systems seemed to indicate that this was possible. I guess they've rethought their ability to support totally random hardware configurations, and are now only supporting Stack on "integrated appliance" type hardware. The problem is that I haven't seen any of these appliances from vendors that scale down further than a rack-size footprint. The idea here is that you replace a good chunk of your on-premises hardware with the Stack, pay Microsoft and the vendor as you go, and the vendor keeps your appliance fed and happy IBM mainframe style. What remains to be seen is how much both companies will charge you to run stuff...obviously the PAYG rates will be cheaper since it's your hardware, but I can see stuff like PaaS SQL and other toys getting very expensive to run long-term.
If vendors are willing to put out a "tiny" version of this, I could definitely see companies with lots of small locations (like us) that can't put stuff in the cloud buying them. So far I haven't seen any yet.
Re: Local admin rights
Believe it or not this was the norm for internal applications ages ago...and those applications exist today. Not everyone is an Agile DevOps phone-based shop; there are plenty of businesses with millions of dollars running through stuff like poorly coded Access databases or VB front end GUIs.
"Not our core competency"
I understand how an MBA might think outsourcing all IT functions is a good idea. They outsource the cafeteria, garbage collection, etc. and never have any trouble. However, I guarantee you anyone making the decision to outsource has no idea how the magic box on their desk or in their lap gets software delivered, patches applied, etc.
This is where it comes back to bite companies. IBM and the like are trying to get away with doing the least possible work for the lowest internal cost to maximize revenue. They have zero interest beyond the SLA whether your organization is running. This leads to the added problem of long-term outsourcing...eventually no one in-house knows anything about the IT environment and the company is powerless to take back control.
The company I work for, which is usually on the trailing edge of trends, is finally starting to realize that offshoring all new software development to third parties was a bad idea...precisely because someone woke up one day and realized they were permanently tied to the offshore firms because anyone internal who knew anything about the guts of our software had been fired. If this is happening here, I'm hoping it's the continuation of a trend elsewhere.
Desktops and laptops have their niche
I think what's happening is that desktop and laptop vendors are going upmarket. The average consumer watches their Netflix and updates Facebook on phones and tablets now, so the consumer market for these machines is pretty dead. But, there are plenty of people who are doing actual work in a non-BYOD environment. For them, a full machine running a full version of Windows is still a good choice.
A couple of years ago, the industry mantra was "BYOD everywhere" and "tablets for everyone." This certainly came true in some market segments, but most traditional businesses are at least offering the option of a company-owned, company-managed PC. Not everyone wants a locked-down device they can't install software on, or they prefer the form factor. I know I'm the recipient of a few looks when I pull out a 15" laptop in a conference room full of Surfaces and phones, but it's just more comfortable to work on.
Now that PCs, laptops and workstations really are niche devices, vendors also see the opportunity to increase margin. They don't have to buy bargain basement crap components. They can invest in features that niche users want. And in the case of consumer models, they don't have to make 150 different brands/models for each big box retailer.
I do systems integration work for an IT services company (a competent one, not Capita or similar.) Basically, the party line industry-wide is if you're not fully on board with DevOps, you won't have a job for very long. Anyone who even suggests that developers shouldn't have full access to production systems and the ability to check random code in at any time is an old fossil sysadmin who's just trying to protect his job.
What companies aren't getting is that DevOps really isn't just "fire your sysadmins and make the devs run their own boxes" for anything more critical than some random phone app. The concepts are really good, and this is coming from someone in an environment where the pace of change is glacial at best. What gets lost in translation is that the thing you're trying to fix is the nightmarish pain that a change can bring once the devs throw the code over to the ops. I've had operations teams say to me with a straight face that they can't deploy code until their entire staff is certified on the latest version of Windows Server. I've had operations teams refuse to accept things without a runbook explaining every possible thing that could go wrong with the system. And use that same runbook as an excuse to send every single thing that wasn't in the runbook up the chain to product engineering even though it's Sysadmin 101 stuff.
It makes sense for both sides to learn about the other. There are some developers I wouldn't let 100 feet from a production system simply because they've shown they have no idea how a computer works beyond the tools their language of choice provides. Some operations people are so hidebound in process that they're just too slow to keep up with changes. Like all things bubble-related, once this dotcom bubble bursts and the SV startups recede into the background again, I think we'll take the parts of DevOps that make sense and use them everywhere.
Don't forget the PBR in the fridge, the rooftop dog park, musical selections piped in from a record player, and Moleskine notebooks for everyone.
Dotcom Bubble II, French Edition?
Has anyone actually shown a positive correlation between work environments that look like a preschool and successful startups? Because this whole startup incubator thing was big during the end of the last dotcom bubble as well.
I understand the need to attract young hipsters the same way the SV startups do, but having a company entirely composed of younger people with less experience doesn't seem like the way to go if you want to be successful. You need at least a few "adults" in the company -- letting the kids spend 16 hour days at work is fine, but have some adult spaces as well.
One thing I've never been able to get, at any stage of my life, is why anyone would want to spend their entire waking life in the office. All of the Google-esque "all-inclusive" companies are like this; they create "fun" workspaces and handle all of their employees' personal business so they can spend the maximum time possible at work. Even if my employer were paying for 3 meals a day, I don't think I'd want to be around for the amount of time they expect in return. I know they're trying to recreate the college lifestyle, but it falls flat for anyone who's been out in the world a while and has some experience.
Re: Software Validated Stacks
"Here is the API and middleware you program against!"
But isn't that a chicken-and-egg problem? Right now, at the height of Dotcom Bubble 2.0, we have 10,000 companies from 5-person startups to Red Hat all pushing framework after framework, API after API, container after container. Unless _one or two_ of these become an absolute rock-solid industry standard -- we're talking RFC-level completely open, no lock-in standard, picking one vendor's framework and toolset is going to lock you into that vendor, and it'll be at the hardware level this time.
I see the same thing working for a software development company; there are another 10,000 vendors of all size pushing their own magic DevOps toolkit -- as in, buy our containerization framework and we won't just put your apps in containers, we'll containerize the containers and make them cross-cloud capable! What they don't tell you is that DevOps isn't a magic tool, and if you don't have the culture in place (i.e. 20 person startup huddled around a cafeteria table,) then implementing it is much harder than advertised.
Another transformation movement...
Translation: We just sent 10 shipping containers full of $100 bills to McKinsey and the advice from their legions of 25-year-old recent MBA grads was to be agile like Amazon.
I have no doubt that HP(E) has lots of dead wood left to prune, but I have been seeing this advice replicated over and over again at more traditional companies. Inevitably it boils down to offshoring everything that can be offshored, followed by cutting every single corner possible when it comes to the few people left onshore, then outsourcing everything that isn't a "core competency." I'm sure that even with all the mergers, demergers and splits that have occurred, there have been a lot of people let go and there are more to go. But cutting your way to growth, especially the usual way MBAs do it (starting at the top of the engineering pay spreadsheet) doesn't work long-term.
People forget that HP and the like are hardware companies producing tangible products that customers physically take delivery of. Even if the guts devolve into software-defined whatever, a hardware company isn't going to move as fast as a software-only company. I work for a very traditional company in a traditional industry, and every "old school" company is scared to death of being left behind in the race to the top of the Second Dotcom Bubble. You can't turn a traditional manufacturer into a trendy SV startup run by 100 people crammed around cafeteria tables. But that isn't stopping them from trying. This year, the trend is to badly implement something the consultants sold the company as "DevOps" similar to the way "Agile" was badly implemented a couple years prior.
I'm not surprised
I'm sure many here will say that the widow is just trying to collect some lawsuit money from Uber before dotcom bubble 2.0 pops, but bad employers really can work people to the bone. I've never really had the desire to work for a tech startup, but people I know who have describe an...interesting...experience. Stories I've heard usually revolve around one or more of:
- Founders/CEOs with major ego or anger management problems who are absolutely miserable to work for
- Very young executives with little or no experience running a large business, leading to all sorts of HR nightmares
- Very young workers with little or no experience working, so they don't know they're being taken advantage of
- Chummy fratboy culture that excludes anyone who isn't down with the rest of the bros
- Constant death marches inspired by any one of the above items
People forget that there are a lot of people who take pride in their work and can't just say no when given unreasonable requests. That, or they feel that they're missing out on the startup lottery if they don't pull their weight and stay employed until IPO day by any means necessary. I'd have no trouble buying the idea that a pressure cooker environment like Uber plus a few external stressors would cause someone to snap and just want out.
Add to that the fact that the guy moved from Atlanta to San Francisco. I live in New York and we constantly have people going down to Atlanta or North Carolina because they don't care where they live as long as they don't have to pay taxes. The cost of living difference between ATL and NYC is stark; ATL and SFO is orders of magnitude worse. $170K a year barely treads water in San Francisco or Silicon Valley. Imagine the stress of having to support a spouse/family in an environment like that.
Best summary of the current state so far
Stock photos indeed, including large centered bold tagline...it's like someone manufactured a DevOps Startup Kit and every single 3 person team has a web presence that makes them look like a massive fully supported product.
The problem is that there's nothing wrong with the concept of DevOps. Developers and IT need to work together -- we in IT can't just be the Department of No. The main problem with it is that the Second Dotcom Bubble has been inflating for the last few years, coinciding with the DevOps shift. Useful information barely gets heard over the screams of "agile single pane of glass!" Everything's an automation framework, a cloud-based analytics platform, etc. because that's what's driving the phone and app ecosystem. Startups need big data in the cloud to monetize the info generated from their fart app. :-)
Just like the First Dotcom Bubble brought us much improved Internet access and services out of its ashes, I think that reasonable levels of cloud computing adoption and DevOps without the hype and snake-oil tool salesmen will be what we get from this one.
An unholy match
I fully expect the next headline to be "SAP in talks to buy CapGemini" -- it would make sense. Every big ERP vendor needs a consulting company.
I guess the idea is that software companies are moving away from selling software and onto selling monthly revenue extraction streams. Every former OS and product vendor is doing it -- their goal is to lock you into a cloud-based management tool that they sell access to rather than sell you software to implement. It's unholy, but Oracle buying a management consultancy makes sense. IBM is trying to turn their entire company into an Accenture clone. When you wrap your product in so much complexity that you need to sell services to implement it, that's a golden combination. Oracle could easily sell a set of ERP licenses "plus, we'll throw in half the population of India for _free_ to help you run it!"
Re: Opteron killed Itanium
Very good observation...I had a very similar experience working on migrating another critical airline system from a Unisys mainframe onto Itanium around the 2003-2004 timeframe. Itanium on Linux was the only game in town if you needed 64-bit support (for high memory use applications) and didn't want to lock yourself in to IBM or Sun.
It's really interesting to see this whole thing slowly unfold over a decade or two. I'm assuming HPE is going to either port HP-UX and the Superdome to Xeon hardware or kill it entirely. However, it's not clear they can do this in one shot -- there are three OS platforms running on Itanium now (HP-UX, OpenVMS and NonStop.) Systems running on these OSes are pretty long in the tooth and usually critical to a company or government agency's business...
It would be cool to see these legacy OSes survive on x86-64, but HPE isn't exactly thrilled about supporting them, so I assume they're going to slowly wither and die.
IPv6 needs a catalyst
It's interesting to see a large non-networking company going IPv6 only on the client side. The problem with v6 is that v4 is still just fine in most circumstances. NAT is a hack, yes, but it's everywhere and allows for an extended life for IPv4. Internal hosts generally don't need end-to-end Internet addressability, especially these days.
Obviously this can't be done easily, but I wish someone would come up with an "IPv7" that has more backward compatibility. IPv4's address space is small enough for humans to understand, and it's easy to communicate a 4-octet IP address verbally to someone.
Interestingly enough, IaaS cloud services are IPv4...and I think the major reason for that is because they don't want to alienate people who've worked in IPv4 networks for decades. They could have easily used this as the opportunity to get rid of IPv4, but it's easier.
Selling the mining equipment in the dotcom Gold Rush
During the first dotcom bubble, companies like Sun, Cisco and the telcos were raking in vast sums of money. Back then, every single one of the dotcoms had to cater for either their own or colocated data center space, and a large amount of equipment. The second dotcom bubble has the cloud, which actually lets crazy startups hang around for a lot longer -- the VC money doesn't have to pay for a huge owned infrastructure when AWS or Google or Microsoft offers capacity.via a credit card.
I actually think the end is coming pretty soon for the second bubble. Like the first one, we got a whole bunch of neat stuff out of it, but people are eventually going to get tired of the same old stuff and move on from social media and apps. I'm guessing IoT is going to be the next bubble to inflate, but we'll see. Either way, Atlassian is in good shape - IoT stuff needs to be programmed too.
This happens elsewhere too
Whenever you bolt on an Internet/web connection to an existing environment, someone will eventually figure out that any semi-secret information in the system is no longer secret. This kind of thing isn't new - my electric company allows anyone to add access to my account by knowing the account number, ZIP code and name, all of which can be read directly off a bill thrown in the trash. At 90% of large companies, plugging a machine into the LAN immediately means that machine is "trusted" by most access lists and other barriers. Almost no companies treat their LAN as hostile even in the era of phones, tablets and BYOD.
A lot of these systems were designed back in the days when only trusted individuals were capable of accessing them. Way back in the day, travel agents were entrusted with paper ticket stock that would allow them to print tickets to any destination, and when ticketing. check-in and boarding were separate things there was a pretty good chance you could show up with a fake ticket at the airport and get on a plane. The record locator is the unique identifier in the database, and the only machines that used to have access to it were terminals at the airport, reservation and travel agent terminals and the GDS itself. None of this was designed in an era where it was even imagined that someone sitting at home could brute-force the record locators and pull everyone's flight data off websites. The airlines along with the banks were some of the first companies to be "networked" in the traditional sense, and this predates the Internet (consumer web, that is) by a long time.
The question becomes how to solve it. I work in this space (not for a GDS, but very close to the processes.) All of this travel technology at its core is decades old and has huge amounts of dependencies on the core never changing. The cool stuff we see (airline websites, airline mobile apps, kiosks, etc.) is just the top crust talking through layers and layers of abstraction down to a reservation host, mainly in the old-school terminal session based method. Changing any one of those layers is very difficult because it breaks everything riding on top of it. It would have to be something at the web layer, like a CAPTCHA, but it would have to be done in an IATA standard way to make all the airlines adhere to it. The problem is you have to have something universal that acts like a record locator, but isn't available in plain sight or able to be brute-forced. And, it has to be easy -- I can't imagine people wanting to use their passport numbers or other personal identifying information beyond their name, nor do I expect the airlines will jump over an IATA initiative to issue digital certificates to all travelers for use on websites or maintain a central registry of usernames and passwords.
Twas the week before Xmas ... not a creature was stirring – except Microsoft admitting its Windows 10 upgrade pop-up went 'too far'
Apology or not, results are the same
I'm actually not as much of a doomsayer as most people about Windows 10, but the reality is that for whatever reason, Microsoft is done with any versions of Windows before 10 and Server 2016. They will not have another XP or Office 2003 moment, period. I know why they're doing it (to gain ad revenue and extract monthly subscription fees for Win10 Enterprise users), I'm not a fan of it, but you're just not going to get anything beyond half-hearted support for previous Windows versions. I'm pretty convinced that they're also done with on-premises software and are waiting to lock everyone into Azure, but that's the next phase.
Taking this as the assumed end state, I'm actually glad they were able to get as many customers upgraded as possible. Millions of consumer PCs are completely unmanaged. They go unpatched, and Windows 7 is no longer being looked at with the same scrutiny when it comes to the less-than-thorough job they do patching it. Leaving these systems out to dry means they'll eventually be a botnet member, get ransomware, get a virus, etc. I don't like the way it was done, but at least they telegraphed that the end was near for Windows 7. I think they should have waited until the official end of life date to allow the free upgrade, but the shareholders would have eaten them alive if they were fully or partially supporting 3 complete release cycles of Windows. For better or worse, Windows 10 is the new client OS for everyone as Microsoft sees it.
Not so fast...
The US also has CSC/HPE, IBM, Unisys, Accenture, and a whole raft of other "IT Services" companies. We've got way more morons than you. :-)
As far as public sector goes, we also have the defense contractors' IT groups which I'm sure could give Capita a run for their money in the cost to talent ratio.
All big non-profits have this problem
Working for a not-for-profit entity does not necessarily mean you're getting paid in soup kitchen meals and eternal salvation. When a charity or other organization gets big, most of them do end up operating like for-profit businesses as far as compensation. Big charities "need" big name executives to run things, and yes there is a lot of quid pro quo favor-granting. There are often controversies with the Red Cross, Salvation Army and such that spend too much per donated dollar on operating expenses, and I fully expect Wikipedia is in the same boat.
That said, I do give money to them every year. I find Wikipedia one of the more useful Internet resources out there, simply because my brain likes to snack on knowledge. If I'm looking for a decent overview of a non-controversial subject, it's a great resource. It's also a time sink -- I wound up spending a few hours last month looking up some engineering term I heard, then getting sucked into the world of Great Lakes shipping before looking at the clock and saying "oh well, I didn't need to sleep tonight anyway."
I think it's better to let them have a little excess cash than turn the whole thing over to, say, Thomson Reuters or one of the scientific publishers, who will rent-seek subscription fees out of everyone.
It's not "hacking" it's "social engineering"
The one thing that I hope this teaches people is that using public email services for anything important is a really dumb idea. So many of these hacking stories actually turn out to be phishing attacks or social engineering, targeting a technically ignorant yet very powerful individual. I've seen this happen in corporate environments. Executives just ask their assistants to handle everything, and as we've seen here, the assistant just forwards the request to IT.
Any corporate exec or politician who is still using hotmail, AOL or Gmail to conduct business is probably still of the mindset that they can't securely get their email from anywhere. iPhone and Android both support secure connections to corporate email accounts -- so 2FA means that you'd have to steal the user's phone to do your hacking. Hopefully both sides of the aisle will take this as a lesson and do some serious hiring on their IT teams to fix this.