back to article Stop sexing up IT and give Civil Servants Macs, says gov tech boss

The man in charge of the government's IT efficiency drive has told MPs that Whitehall should use more Apple Macs while castigating the previous government for trying to sex-up IT projects. Ian Watmore, COO of the Efficiency and Reform Group, told the public administration committee that Labour had poured cash into computer …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

FAIL

Is Wantmore for real?!

Is this clown for real? Now I don’t doubt that new Labour tried to Billy bullshit IT projects, as they did with everything else, but what is he going on about!? On one hand wanting more open source and a move from MS products and on the other wanting more Apple toys to be used, Apple being the most insular and proprietary IT (gadget) company going.

Our CEO is a bit of a MAC fanboi so we recently priced up a lease agreement for some MAC’s it worked out at £300 PER UNIT more expensive than the DELL Optiplex’s we normally lease and still £180 per unit more expensive than an equivalent spec DELL, as the lowest spec MAC’s were over spec for our normal requirements. And this doesn’t take in to account duplicating our software estate, extra staff training, support costs, loads more extra work integrating the bleedy things and the fact that the support is shite, back to base rather than one site and only 1yr access to their support services.

I think Mr Wantmore YOU were part of the problem and STILL are!

23
4
Jobs Horns

Ahh good old Mac users...

...we have a user at work who has a laptop, when he had some issues with it he said "we should use Macs, they never go wrong". Sure we COULD use Macs, but then we'd never get the software to run natively on OSX, so we'd still have to bung Windows on them and have the same issues.

Luckily this guy doesn't have any say in what hardware is purchased.

(As it happens, I have a Mac at home, an old iMac G3, makes a great door stop, maybe one day I'll turn it into a fish tank).

4
1
Silver badge
IT Angle

Macs are cheaper?

Blimey, can he get me one, too.

And do they really need Macs to do thier work? Which would you prefer to steal on a train?

4
0
FAIL

An insidious smell

How to spot an idiotic politician:

1) Blaming previous people in power - check

2) Not actually a trained professional in the field - check (An accountant by trade)

3) Blaming corporate entities, when he was the managing director of a corporate entity in the field - check

4) Despite what little understand they could glean from their background, in the end fall back on an idiotic conclusion which is quite frankly akin to what a child could infer - "Use what I use at home." - check

I say get rid of the number cruncher and appoint someone that can form a coherent argument based on valid information.

31
0

Jim Henson just rang...

...he's missing a Muppet.

54
1
FAIL

jim henson rang?

surely he's missing a psychic since he died in 1990....

0
0
Go

Spot-on analysis

And I've worked on nothing but government IT for 8 years. IT Companies knew how bad project management was, and took advantage. Even the systems that worked cost much more than they should have done.

All we need now is for Whitehall to set up a central development organisation, pay industry rates, and give good training. They'll save a packet. An absolute packet.

5
0

I refer the honorable gentleman...

...to my earlier post.

Over here http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2011/03/30/cabinet_office_ict_strategy/

0
0
Anonymous Coward

More Macs

Right, so not only will the hardware be more expensive than it currently is, the licensing more than likely more expensive than it currently is, the support costs will go through the roof because most of the users are used to windows (I don't care how intuitive osx is supposed to be, some users are only capable of following procedures by rote) and in addition to this there will be loads of enterprise apps that won't work, or will need to be run in a vm / through parallels and at best requiring hours of expensive fiddling to get them to play.

Then we have other bollocks, like the cost of getting security consultants in to re-write the secure handling of data procedures that we already know aren't adhered to in the first place.

At least with open source the idea is that the licensing costs are non-existent.

7
2
Silver badge

OSX?

No worries, they'll run WindowsME

0
0

lol

Well, replacing everything with Apple stuff would keep things secure for about 3 months. After that, an enterprising hacker would realize that he can write trojans using 6 month old security flaws that Apple hasn't patched yet and steal loads of juicy government data.

8
1

Mac Off

He's either clueless or received a substantial incentive to recommend Macs.

5
1

One other possibility

I'd go with 'both.'

4
0

Incentive

When Big Ben strikes "Bung!"

1
0
Bronze badge

Hitting the nail on the head.

It really just shows where the problem lies.

What hope does government IT have with dickheads like this in charge?

13
1
WTF?

Because Mac are well know for that VALUE.

If dont belive me then

http://acidcow.com/pics/13085-why-you-shouldnt-buy-a-mac-1-pics.html

7
2
Bronze badge
Troll

letters and/or digits

a USB key of course, much easier to pocket and harder to prove it's not mine

0
0
Grenade

But...

Does IE6 run on a Mac?

If not, theres not going to be many Gov systems accessible on this new hardware...

8
0
Stop

All previous businesses I have worked for...

...have said the same.

Its a buzz word because everyone wants every to know they know about IT.

Most popular buzzwords/phrases top 5:

1. Can we not replace with Macs they are better than PCs

2. I work on spreadsheets so I need a bigger screen so they fit on the page

3. My machine is very old now, can I have a new one as it will save so much time and money

4. (To IT team) Bet you guys are always on Facebook and Twitter and never do anything.

5. (To IT Team) You don't look very busy just sitting around talking (so not discussing work then obv)

.

9
0
Anonymous Coward

All previous IT requests that I've made...

Maybe it's cause I don't work in IT, but other than point 1 (and maybe 4 and 5 if I'm in a good mood) seem to be genuine. I've often been given some crappy 15" screen with 512MB of memory trying to run database queries, extract shed loads of data to massive spreadsheets, etc.

Point 3 is the biggest one that never seems to be understood. If I'm waiting 5 minutes for a database query to run (or a program to load, or a calculation to run) because of a slow computer, maybe I run it 6 times a day. That's 120 hours a year. Even on minimum wage that's £700, enough for a bigger monitor and a memory boost at least.

Often this is misunderstood by IT folk - maybe because they all conveniently have twin 20" screens, 4 gig memory, latest processor machines - and all they do is browse Facebook and Twitter all day =p

4
0

On the other hand

Where I work we have a policy of replacing PCs with new ones every three years (which is when the warranty expires anyway). I still get a lot of requests for new computers "because mine's so old, I've had it for at least five years now." So I check the installed date we always record and it shows the PC is a year and a half old.

Then I get "Your records must be wrong, I'm sure I've had it for more than three years." So I go to the PC in question and look at the serial number (which for these models conveniently contains the manufacture date) and point out that it was only manufactured two years ago, and they still insist they've had it too long and want a new one. To my great satisfaction, I then get to reply "No." And walk away.

It's taught me (well, reinforced really) that users lie, except in cases where they don't and then they're just clueless.

7
0

Yours is a common situation...

...misunderstood requirements by IT department who think a one size fits all works 100%. Which it doesn't.

Don't worry bit more flexible over here!

2
1

Keyboard broke

I work in sales and I had a colleague who used to have to visit customers with a laptop with keys missing from the keyboard. IT had got fed-up replacing his laptop every time it got a little old and his keyboard "broke".

0
0
Stop

time to run?

In my experience the users computer speed is not the issue in the speed of work, it can usually be pointed to either a network connectivity speed, the user installing lots of nonsense on 'their' computer, having no training in Excel or a VBA programmer.

I would suggest that exporting large amounts of data from a powerful database to a local spreadsheet is not the best way to work and better to spend that £700 per person on changing your process. Although £700 a year doesn't sound too much, how much time do you spend getting coffee?

Most people who ask for a new computer ask because they want to appear important, "look at me I've got more RAM then anyone else"and so they can run the latest version of what ever random software they think is great.

3
1

While I agree on quite a lot of this...

...I do tend to spec machines with higher resolution screens; working on large spreadsheets on poverty spec 1366x768 or 1280x800 screens is just appalling, so I usually get at least 1600x900, and the batch I have on order now are 1920x1080. Helps with architectural drawings too.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Big screens and powerful PCs are for managers

"...I've often been given some crappy 15" screen with 512MB of memory...."

That is never decided by the IT department but by senior management who believe that having a big screen and a PC powerful enough to do your job are actually status symbols to be reserved for management, much like having a big office with a big desk and a nice view. The same is true for notebooks that would allow out of hours remote support - these are really status symbols to be handed off to directors' children on which to play illegally downloaded games. (Directors obviously need local admin privileges to install such nonsense because they are important)

6
0

Laptops for management - AC11:12GMT

That is all far too true. None of the IT staff here have a laptop, although we do some after-hours support. This usually ends up being done from our home PCs over Citrix. All of management have laptops of course, even the ones who never take theirs out of the docking station and just leave it there in the evenings. Some of these are even ultraportables, because they're more expensive and therefore higher-status.

0
0
Silver badge
Linux

Be careful where you point fingers

> Point 3 is the biggest one that never seems

> to be understood. If I'm waiting 5 minutes for

> a database query to run (or a program to load,

> or a calculation to run) because of a slow

> computer, maybe I run it 6 times a

...except the IT department fully realizes that if you are "waiting on a database query", then there is squat you can do about it by playing around with what's sitting on your desktop.

2
0

Re: time to run?

Indeed, the worst thing about spreadsheets is that people use them for functions much better served by databases - i.e. "handling shed loads of data". Copying the data to a spreadsheet and then processing there is the equivalent of printing a 'table' of data from a spreadsheet, cutting and pasting it (with glue and scissors) to sort it, then getting a calculator out to do the sums.

0
0

Whichever Government

I don't know about others on this site. But I have worked with both Central and Local Government on consulting and IT projects and I doubt whether the majority of the problems can be placed at the door of some figurehead MP. The Senior Civil Servants and their project managers are generally to blame for poor project management, poor specification, constant changes and general inertia.

So whichever government is in power the same old crap occurs.

But its always easy to blame the last lot.

6
1
Thumb Up

Hammer/Nailhead

Having spent most of the last 25 years, initially as a civil servant, latterly working for assorted companies doing the same work contracted to a Major Civil Service Department, I concur whole-heartedly with this evaluation.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

No, we just pay him

Watmore does not have a Civil Service background; he is actually a New Labour political appointee from the private sector with no relevant experience. Here is a quote from this 'genius': "I don't recognise 'IT projects' - they are business projects." No doubt building a ship is also a 'business project' but it is still helpful if the f*cker actually floats.

5
0
Anonymous Coward

...but same old Civil Service

So nothing's changed in the last 20 years.

Back then the EO and HEOs were OK and generally tried to do a good job. Management from there on up were worse than useless, only interested in feathering their retirement nest and scoring points against their peers.

Disclaimer: I was a system designer brought in to work at HEO level for 18 months, so not a civil servant myself. We achieved nothing: the project was sabotaged by departmental in-fighting and canned just like the previous two attempts at the same project had been - and by the same squabbling managers.

1
0
Silver badge
FAIL

A1

Will they be using Mac Minis for servers?

And he'd better buy them before Lion comes out because it's rumoured that Lion won't have Samba.

1
1
WTF?

Huh?

I thought Samba was a lion. He almost got flattened by a heard of wildebeast and had to into exile or something.

All this newfangled technology confuses me sometimes.

4
0

SMB on Macs

Lion won't use Samba, it's being replaced with an SMB implementation rolled by Apple themselves. This is supposedly to get away from using GPL code.

0
0

Not Samba

It's Kamba the White Lion you're thinking off.

0
0
FAIL

Ah, yes, but.

"I am certainly not part of the problem and I would contest that the corporate industry of this country has caused the problems."

Unfortunately most government IT is not done by "the corporate industry of this country", but by the corporate industry of other countries.

Perhaps that's the problem then.

3
0
Silver badge

Didn't Apple say something about OSX servers recently....

Oh yes. They're stopping making them.

So we'll have racks full of Mac Minis then.

0
0
Thumb Up

Don't knock it

@Peter Gathercole

Don't knock it - Mac Minis make decent low-cost, low-power servers for light loads (with Debian installed). Mythic Beasts have been doing it for ages:

http://www.mythic-beasts.com/macmini.html

(full disclosure: I've been a customer of theirs)

2
0
Anonymous Coward

So does a guruplug with a eSATA hdd on it.

Although neither scale well.

There are much less thirsty pc's kicking about than the mac mini and if you're whacking debian on them anyway, why would you pay the apple tax?

1
0
Anonymous Coward

As a committed Mac head, I'd just like to say

This man is off his rocker. As good as Macs are (IMMHO), I suspect hiring the support expertise would be an absolute nightmare whereas support engineers for Windows and networks of Windows systems are a dime a dozen. Windows is the standard in the corporate (and government) environment and I don't see wishful thinking changing this.

5
0
FAIL

posts

posts like these make clear the cause of UK IT generally being such a disaster

2
0
JLH

Open source "more easily hacked"

Mr Watmore is a senior civil servant. He has gone before a parliamentary select committe and stated that "He insisted the government was committed to using more "open source" software to save cash - but had to balance this with concerns about how easily it could be "hacked". "

This is purely and simply FUD.

Mr Watmore, if you read this please present the eveidence for your assertion that open source software is more easily hacked.

Please stand up and speak at any one of the IT user groups which meet in London and give a presentation to back up the statement you make.

4
0
Silver badge

It's a common myth

The logic: Anyone can get to and modify the source code - including malicious people. Therefore it is easy to inject back doors etc into open source code. Therefore open source cannot be trusted.

0
0
Linux

There's more than one meaning of 'hacked'

What Mr Watmore is referring to by observing that open source software is more easily 'hacked' is the ease with which civil servants will be able to 'fork' any open source application the government chooses to deploy. It is this loss of control and corresponding freedom for mandarins to hack away at the code that really scares Mt Watmore. (You may also recall that famous episode of Yes Minister involving a big IT project, and a lecture from Bernard to Jim Hacker on how to resist nominative determinism.) Hope that clears up the ambiguity.

0
0
Silver badge
WTF?

FFS!

I am a committed Mac user, love 'em to bits but flipping heck, what a complete fecking plank!

Has this nob ever heard the phrase, "Horses for courses."? Just 'cos he, like me, enjoys using one at home or for a bit or work doesn't mean they will be perfect for the bog standard admin graft of the Gov offices!

Let's not even start on the fact that my taxes would be wasted on this cack idea! Get a bloody huge order of Dells, stuff Windows on 'em and be done. Sorted! Everyone happy, MS will cut you a bloody good deal on several thousand licenses for Windows and Office, unlike Jobs, and the users will not keep bugging the poor IT support crews with questions about an O/S most of them will most likely never have used!

8
0
Flame

See the problem?

Most of you want to stay with the same old failed systems: Windows! Look at what a success that has been. Cheap? Have you ever worked in a shop that uses mainly Dell? I have, several times. The cost of the native hardware, with Windows or Suse or Redhat (or self installed Slackware or Suse) was not much lower, especially with the Gold support needed. Then, the failure rate was "awesome". I recall getting a batch of six higher spec. laptops. All were under repair within six months, two of them twice and not for user damage, just straight, hardware failure. The desk tops were scarcely better, though the servers, once one called in the engineer to fit the ordered parts rather than what arrived, were not so bad.

Do n't give me Linux: all the Linux sites kept Windows for the office work and engineers tended to switch to Windows straight or via virtual machine to do documents or read email, run calendars .... Plus, the maintenance was no joke (one of the firms had a very well developed means of distributing and maintaining Redhat, even so it was not wonderful to administer).

Actually, OS X is not bad, based as it is on BSD and with full LDAP as standard. You can even buy the full MS Office suite for it (and it works). It just depends upon what software you need to run for the majority of your users. The hardware tends to be rather good in comparison with the opposition (though my old Thinkpad is nearly 11 years old and still going). Unlike you, I have come across a few OS X users of the senior sort who use them for work, in a work network. They seem to cause less trouble than most and manage more than adequately without costing a fortune.

So, throw off your prejudices and lack of experience and listen to the man. Just because yo do not like what he says does not make him completely wrong. We can hardly claim that "professional" IT types have done a wonderful job of cost control, engineering, design or implementation. If we are all so wonderful, how is it that we could not make good, solid cases to our paymasters for our perfect plans. Just look at the rubbish interfaces most of our users have to suffer and the arrogant attitude to those not sharing our prejudices and having other priorities, like their business or entertainment.

Or do you believe that everyone who owns a domestic appliance or a car should understand how it works and how to service it, for example? Work or play, for the vast majority, computers are just a means of getting things done, not an end in themselves.

And for those sniffy about style: most of us appreciate good design and attractive objects at home or work and expect to pay more for them. Otherwise we should all sit on packing cases at work and use planks on trestles for desks, in rooms consisting of bare concrete floors and walls etc...

8
25
JLH

OSX based on BSD

Actually, OS X is not bad, based as it is on BSD

Indeed. Someone please remind Mr Watmore that OSX is based on BSD - which is - errrrr..... open source, no? And therefore easily hacked. Ah well.

6
1
Jobs Horns

You are a pillock, a troll or both

Corporate bodies either public or private need things to be cost-effective

They need to be able to scale up

They need to have lots of redundancy

They need the supplier to have a well defined roadmap that isn't shrouded in secrecy

They need to be able to use their legacy apps

They need to integrate with existing systems

They need suppliers that don't suddenly change the rules based on the whims of the CEO

The list goes on and on but needless to say, Apple fail on every single one which is why you don't see mega corps buying Macs except for maybe the design department cos as the marketing blurb tells us, having a Mac makes you so much more creative dontcha know

10
2

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums