* Posts by Erik4872

321 posts • joined 11 Jan 2011

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HPE core servers and storage under pressure

Erik4872
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What to do with $5B?

The funny thing is that "old HP" just got done unmerging its businesses and writing down a couple of failed acquisitions (Autonomy) and ventures (Helion public cloud.) I say the best way to use that money would be to save it and use it to shore up their core product lines rather than going out and buying yet another flash memory array startup.

There are still more than a few customers (us included) that need solid, reliable on-premises medium size servers. HPE still fills this role nicely for us. If they can continue this rather than chasing money in the public cloud that eventually won't go to them, medium organizations like ours will keep paying. Public cloud providers are just going to go to Foxconn with the Open Compute spec in hand and ask for 5 million white box servers, and that makes sense in the cloud environment, since you don't actually care deeply whether the hardware is healthy. HPE's new core market is medium sized and large businesses who can't outsource to the public cloud. Small businesses are lost, because the public cloud will eventually win out. Large businesses will probably roll out their own private clouds on vendor hardware because they don't want to spend money maintaining things -- they'll just use it through the warranty period and repeat.

It's just like what's happening in the PC industry. Solid, high-margin, well built PCs and laptops/convertibles are doing fine. Companies still need them. What people don't need is the sub-$300 zero-margin, poor quality home computers that the low end of the market puts out. The consolidation in the PC market is a result of the product teams, marketing teams, etc. of the low end being removed. Lenovo is doing fine with its workstations and ThinkPads. HP actually has a few decent laptops out these days. And Dell, with the shackles of the stock market removed, is also improving. You just don't see this stuff showing up at Best Buy the same way it used to.

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China cites Trump to justify ‘fake news’ media clampdown. Surprised?

Erik4872
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True, but...

The ironic thing about the electoral college system was that one reason it was designed was to preserve the popular vote, but have one last circuit breaker to prevent a true demagogue from being elected and not have that circuit breaker be Congress. It's interesting that this was thought of in the late 1700s, when people didn't have 24/7 media coverage from a million sources available. I guess the idea was to have popular representation, but prevent someone from winning solely by making wild campaign promises they could never fulfill, or by manufacturing a personality cult, or by playing on some deep-seated fear. Oh, oops. :-)

It probably would have worked if some 1700s politician had access to Twitter or something and told the entire country everyone would get $20 million if they voted for him. Back then things had to be pretty sensational to make it into every newspaper in the country. More recent counter-example, FDR was able to win and he was in a wheelchair with polio...again, pre-24/7 news cycle.

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Erik4872
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Not to defend censorship or anything...

...but Facebook needs to recognize they're just as much an organ of the press as newspapers, TV and radio these days. I've read studies saying that virtually everyone under 30 uses social media and the web as their primary or sole source of news. Actual journalists should be concerned with the ability of groups on both sides of the spectrum to produce slick news pieces that look totally believable. People will click on clickbait regardless of its truthiness, and personally I have a very low level of confidence that the average person is capable of telling truth from fiction. I feel that if a regular, average person sees something on Facebook, they're not going to question it. Don't forget that it's not just computer nerds using the Intenet anymore -- everyone has a smartphone now and the UIs are simple enough for the simplest of people to use.

Of course, the traditional press has biases. I'm convinced one of the reasons Trump won is because the media emphatically stated he had no chance right up until the last few weeks -- people didn't come out and vote, and the "evil, hateful media" meme riled up Trump's already easily rilable supporters. But, fake news makes it harder for meatier, well-researched stories to see the light of day. I have no idea how to fix this problem, other than Facebook actually curating content. The problem is that this is hard, and it goes against the "peer to peer content sharing" nature of the service. It may be hard, but I do feel something needs to be done to control the spread of outright misinformation while allowing both sides a platform.

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IFTTT isss notttt afraiddd offf Microsofttt Flowww

Erik4872
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""business critical" untested badly written Exel"

Exactly. I have done IT work at very large companies, and the reality is that almost all department-level number crunching and lots of critical processes depend on creaky stuff like Excel macros written back in the Office 97 era, and Access database "applications." Take that, and throw in a dependency on an online script processing engine.

"We have such sights to show you...."

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You work so hard on coding improvements... and it's all undone by a buggy component

Erik4872
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Tower of Abstraction Syndrome

What I see a lot, coming at this from the systems integration side, is developers relying so heavily on these towers of dependent libraries that it's very difficult to tell what the actual code they write is doing under the hood. Or, they take on a huge dependency for one tiny library function to avoid writing anything new.

No one should unnecessarily rewrite known-good code, but taking a dependency means taking the responsibility of ensuring that it is secure, and continues to do what you want it to do over time.

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Honeywell's UK staff mull strike action

Erik4872
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Time to restore the employer/employee balance

Interesting to see this in a UK context -- most private employers in the US dumped final average salary pensions ages ago when they got the tax loophole known as the 401(k) and could wash their hands of any responsibility.

I would definitely be behind a more balanced relationship between employers and employees:

- On the employee side, a higher degree of loyalty would be necessary. More dedication to the job, less job hopping every 6 months...basically making employers want to keep and invest in you. Of course, that's only possible with...

- ...On the employer side, a higher degree of fair dealing with the employees. Have a career path people can actually achieve. Don't lay people off the second the stock price drops, and don't just dump everyone involved when you can a project...reuse them! Pay fairly, provide great benefits and invest in training. At least contribute meaningfully to an employee's retirement account if not managing a pension plan.

A good example of this would be pre-90's-meltdown IBM. I hear stories of employees who worked their entire careers there, and retired with a solid pension and lifetime medical benefits. They had a no-layoff policy for ages. Now, they're doing everything possible to reverse all this, just like every big employer.

I think this will eventually backfire on big employers. Economists use the term "efficiency wage" to mean "pay more than the absolute minimum you can to potentially see an increase in productivity." Squeezing workers will, in the long run, lead to lower productivity and less quality work produced. If an employee feels their employer is dealing with them fairly, they'll do a good job. If they feel the employer is out to get them at every turn, they'll respond in kind.

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Burger barn put cloud on IT menu, burned out its developers

Erik4872
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Fiddlers and tweakers indeed...

Hungry Jack's CIO is correct - most developers or IT folks who are even slightly hands on wouldn't accept a vendor management role unless forced. That, and IT project management is usually where burnt-out techies who don't want to keep going on the learning treadmill go. I know and work with lots of IT PMs -- they make lots of money but who would want that job? As a PM you're a glorified secretary who has to get 500 people they don't control to do their jobs or lose theirs. As a vendor manager you're a service ticket passthrough and "free lunch collector." The second thing is nice (and if your vendor is Oracle you'll get showered in free stuff) but I'm a big fan of actually doing work and solving problems.

I think right now, the SaaS vendors are cleaning up by selling the dream of firing (or neutering) the IT department to companies who don't really see IT as useful and want to be rid of it. I think in some cases it can be done simply, but the second you want anything custom, prepare to pay. That's definitely how Oracle operates - they'll sell you their HR or ERP suite but it only works out-of-box for a tiny fraction of organizations. I know someone working for a large state university using PeopleSoft, and they pay through the nose to get Oracle or their "preferred consultants" to customize the system for changes in state law, union contracts and rules, etc. What I wish CIOs would be taught in their MBA classes is that the level of complexity doesn't change - it just gets pushed to different areas and that's the point of SaaS, but it doesn't disappear and if your vendor has a bad day, so do you!

(By the way, does Burger King know about these guys? I'm reminded of the "McDowell's" restaurant from "Coming to America." If I'm ever in Australia I'll have to try them out and see how they compare -- if their Oracle SaaS stuff is working. Those burgers on their website look an awful lot like the Whopper!)

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Fujitsu to axe 1,800 jobs across the UK

Erik4872
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>> "Anything not connected with cloud is at risk," our source claimed. <<

Sounds like they're pulling a page from IBM's playbook, and basically any services vendor these days. I've heard from IBMers that people are being dumped unless they can show how they contribute to "cloud, social, mobile or cognitive" stuff...so all those people keeping that "luddite" infrastructure running are done for.

I know the public cloud is coming, but I do feel the insistence that it's going to replace all on-site hardware is overblown. I think like everything in life there will be a healthy mix of everything once the Second Dotcom Bubble pops. The only reason it hasn't already is _because_ of the public cloud...companies with silly business plans can stay in business much longer when they don't have to build out networks and data centers themselves.

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SAP Australia's MD and COO both resign to 'pursue opportunities outside the company'

Erik4872
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Re: winds of change in PHB culture?

I think it might finally be happening. As a systems integration person, I end up getting the products of said deals to make work in a real environment. All I can say is they must have the best salespeople in the world. I think they just funnel expensive lunches, alcohol, rounds of golf and strip club visits into CIOs until they are suitably pliable. That's the only way I can explain it to myself while shaking my head over some of their software modules.

It speaks volumes that the only way to truly get experience in SAP implementation is to spend years working for a management consulting firm who was hired to put it in...and implementers I've talked to in the past say it's not even clear at that point.

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Google 'screwed over' its non-millennials – now they can all fight back

Erik4872
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The industry has to grow up

I'm over the hill at 41 now, and work like crazy to differentiate myself from the stereotypical older IT worker. Unfortunately, companies lump everyone in together and assume that everyone is crusty, set in their ways and won't learn anything new. I'm in systems engineering, and our field is going nuts right now with software-defined everything, public clouds, etc...and I'm going along with it, learning everything I can and seeing where the dust will settle after the second dotcom/social media bubble bursts. There are plenty of older folks saying "oh, this Docker stuff will never take off" and "the company will never move to a public cloud." Let's just say I'm not betting on either of those coming true -- I'm hedging.

There are some enlightened places out there that value experience, but Silicon Valley employers are generally not in this group. Microsoft skews older, which is good, but it's still very hard convincing a 28 year old team lead (or worse, a 28 year old MBA with no experience appointed to a manager spot) that you're worth taking a chance on. The reason I think this lawsuit is a good thing is that, for better or worse, Google and GE seem to have the most slavishly copied HR policies in the world. Every company has an open plan office because of Google. Many companies experiment with stack ranking because of GE. If these companies have to change their behavior towards older workers even slightly, the rest of the HR managers will note the change and immediately implement it verbatim.

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Dell has laid off EMC people at Hopkinton

Erik4872
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This is one thing to hate about mergers

I've been through this once and know many people who've been caught out when 2 big companies merge and they don't need 2 people doing the same job. It's especially bad when you're given the choice to move or be laid off, and can't for whatever reason. Nobody wants to be unemployed in the US these days...especially in high cost of living markets. Almost always, the acquirer will wipe out the acquiree's workforce...and EMC isn't exactly a small company. When you consider that EMC is in Massachusetts and Dell is in Texas, there's probably no chance anyone will survive long term from the EMC side.

Hopefully these people will find work soon...one problem with companies getting too big is there are fewer corporate jobs to go around.

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It's time for Microsoft to revisit dated defaults

Erik4872
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The defaults keep the edge cases working

Microsoft desperately wants people off AD and onto Azure AD as their primary authentication source, but Azure AD's not quite ready for all the tasks AD does today and will be in place for quite a while. Having defaults that seem like they're from a different era does actually make sense. If you're a total newbie building out a new AD for a customer (which admittedly doesn't happen much these days, but we do it pretty frequently) you're going to want to hold down replication traffic until the admin confirms it doesn't need to be held down. Since a lot of replication traffic is RPC based and extremely chatty, it's possible to fill up a small network link if you don't set things up right.

We're used to LAN speeds on our broadband connections here in the first world, but outside the US, Europe and Southeast Asia, it's not uncommon to have leased lines at very low speeds and very high latency. Same thing with satellite links, cruise ships, etc. It's entirely possible if you have a localized environment and all your locations have Metro Ethernet links back to HQ, that you don't really care about replication intervals and clients can log on to any domain controller. But, this can be a problem in big directory environments with lots of policies, logon scripts that take forever to run, etc.

I haven't been an AD newbie for years, but I can imagine someone looking at some of the stuff from Windows 2000 era and saying "WTF?" Things like SMTP-based replication and the old super-complex multi-forest multi-domain model only make sense if you have a real need for them these days. But the funny thing is that Microsoft hasn't really rewritten the Distributed Systems Guide from the Win2K Resource Kit in its entirety, so people may be going back to that as a primary reference.

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'Too big to fail' cloud giants like AWS threaten civilization as we know it

Erik4872
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Re: Absolutely

All valid points. I'm a little upset that this is the state of things. The problem is that people who do actually understand systems are dismissed out of hand and our knowledge is dismissed pretty easily as dinosaur crap that no one really needs to know anymore.

I think one of the problems is that systems guys have traditionally tended towards the BOFH personality. Often that's for good reason, keeping the developers from wrecking things for everyone else. But some really bite back hard when developers ask for things. When the public cloud showed up on the scene, it immediately opened up another channel for the developers to go through to run around the sysadmins. Seriously, I'm doing an Azure-centric project now; you wouldn't believe how easy they're making it for developers to just throw whatever they want out on the Internet...it's literally push button. Forget about all the abstracted systems stuff running under the hood...it's the cloud! It's elastic! It grows and shrinks with demand seamlessly! The developers on this project seriously look at me with straight faces and say this when I try to set up some sane limits on what can be deployed and how it should work. As much as I hate the term DevOps, our two sides are going to have to merge at some point to handle some aspects of our mutual jobs. Developers can't just deploy to a magic infinite cloud without expecting some healthy pushback, and the BOFHs among us are just going to have to let some control go.

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Erik4872
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Absolutely

I am totally not a luddite even though I've spent a lot of my career focused on data centers and hardware. I know it's a good thing when you can take complexity out of the equation and build a service that functions well enough that you don't have to worry about the internals.

BUT...I do worry a lot about new entrants into IT not getting enough education around the fundamentals. If you're a web developer these days, you aren't really interacting with the servers at a low level -- you're submitting API calls and getting the results returned to you. But, do you know _how_ the API delivered those results? Same thing goes with the core networking protocols like TCP/UDP and other fundamental services like DNS/DHCP. If those things are abstracted so far that only service providers and a few wizards know how they work, what does that do to basic troubleshooting skills? Will IT pros just throw up their hands and call the service provider to solve problems they may have been able to track down themselves previously?

I think the article is spot on -- if talent gets too scarce, a company is going to outsource to a company that has those people -- and the salary behind that skill set will drop as more offshore people are trained. Look at mainframes -- the big outsourcing firms have tens of thousands of Indians fully trained on mainframes, while hipster startup guys thumb their noses at it and go back to writing their apps in RESTful JavaScript frameworks. This is the precise reason for the offshore firms offshoring -- they can't get domestic people at a reasonable pay rate who want to learn something that isn't cutting edge, because those same people are worried they'll be thrown out at a moment's notice and not be immediately picked up because they chose to work with an older technology.

It's very important to allow things to get easier, after all, who wants to program in assembler when a high level language is so much easier to understand? But in the rush to containerize and abstract every single complexity, I think we might be leaving too many things buried under the abstractions.

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Microsoft disbands Band band – and there'll be no version 3

Erik4872
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Microsoft = IBM

Microsoft is becoming the new IBM. IBM only stays in a business if they can make obscene margins or have a guaranteed locked-in revenue stream. Therefore it doesn't make sense to sell one-off consumer hardware unless you can lock the user into paying for it over an over again in terms of subscriptions.

Examples:

- Windows, Office -- obscene margins because they can sell the same product billions of times for no incremental cost, and now they're charging for subscriptions (Office 365, Windows 10 Enterprise.)

- Azure - obscene margins because all they have to do is build data centers and the control plane once, and locked in revenue by charging monthly for Azure resource usage.

- Server software -- guaranteed lock-in and revenue stream (software assurance, etc.) plus everyone is being funneled slowly into Azure -- I think the long term goal is to make it uncomfortable enough to run on-premises Windows Server that most companies will just move to Azure.

There's a reason why IBM doesn't sell PCs, printers, storage, or x86 servers anymore -- they can't make massive profits on them even if they do feed into larger deals.

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End user computing in the digital era

Erik4872
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Eternal struggle in EUC...

I've been doing this for a while in companies with a fair share of both types of EUC customer - totally managed and totally unmanaged. Just a couple years ago, VDI and BYOD was going to completely wipe out managed PCs, and everyone was going to access their core LOB applications on their phones. What always happens with these oscillations between full control and no control is that the dust settles and we wind up somewhere back in the middle.

A call center agent running one application in a highly regulated, locked down environment does not have the same requirements as an aircraft powerplant engineer or a creative type making marketing fluff. I think it's silly to throw out what works every few years just because Gartner or whoever says that everyone is headed that direction. It's the eternal struggle...IT pundits tend to reject the tried and tested in favor of the new and shiny. Everyone's so worried about being left behind that they immediately try to shoehorn their existing workloads into these "new ways of working." Progress isn't bad, and we always get neat pieces of tech out of these hype cycles, but we should add what we get to what's there already and only dump what's there when what's new is massively better in every way.

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City of Detroit's IT boss took payola from tech suppliers, now faces jail

Erik4872
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It's the way of the world

In the US, the kickbacks and bribes are much lower scale than the rest of the world, but the IT world is full of little stories like this here and there. A reseller pays the purchasing manager $20K to get on the preferred vendor list. A CIO gets pumped full of booze, golf and strip club visits until he signs the exclusive deal with Oracle/SAP/Microsoft. The CEO overrides the bidding on a contract to give his brother's company a sweetheart deal. The only reason this guy got caught was because there was at least some public scrutiny. If Detroit wasn't in such bad financial shape, I'll bet this would have never come to light.

I'm not saying it's right, but it does happen. Often the scale is so small in the context of a larger deal that companies just factor it into the cost of winning the business.

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The web is past peak innovation: It's all negative returns from here

Erik4872
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Re: These stupid vertical scrolling websites

Agreed - I hadn't looked at the non-support side of the HP website for quite a while, but went looking for a new printer last night. Holy crap, that was the most content-free web page I've ever seen. You need to find the magic "show all" link in tiny print off to the side to make the scrolling photo montage go away and bring you to the list of printers. Even then, it's rendered as a set of massive tiles that you have to scroll down through.

I'm hoping this is just a trend that's in the process of peaking, but I'm still waiting for someone in the design community to say "stop the insanity!" No one has come forward yet.

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Erik4872
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Give me functionality any day

There are 2 extremes in the design camp -- Jony Ive and company would absolutely love a completely blank, flat, white rounded rectangle surface that only responded to finger gestures the user had to memorize...and only responds by vibrating, -maybe- speaking, and changing the color of the surface. Most software developers I've worked with prefer a text file as the only means of configuration. (I wish I could post a screenshot of one of the GUIs our dev team cooked up to test an admittedly complex system...it looks like the control panel of a fighter aircraft with over 100 buttons, checkboxes, etc. all squeezed onto one massive page.)

The big problem is that something like a phone or computer now has to be designed for the absolute lowest common denominator user. People using smartphones are, for the most part, non-technical. They just want to use Facebook, SMS and the web with absolutely no visible configuration items. The problem is that this leaves the techies out -- we're stuck with a non-functional UI that we have to guess the right finger gestures on or find the hidden "drawer knob" that's usually light-grey on white. And once we get that drawer open, the controls are dumbed down as well.

I think an ideal solution would be to skin applications to have a techie mode and a dummy mode...hide all the functionality under the covers and build two user interfaces. You have to have both - computers and phones are no longer the exclusive geek toys they were. Personally, I'd love to see simplistic terminal UIs come back where it made sense...IBM midrange and mainframe come to mind due to their ease of understanding what to do even if you've never seen the system before.

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Windows Server 2016: Leg up or lock in?

Erik4872
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It's an Azure push

Most older companies (i.e. those who have been around for more than 10 years or so) have varying degrees of dependence on Windows Server.

- One of the biggest is AD - in pretty much every mixed IT environment I've been in, all the identity management has been in AD even if most of the servers have been Linux.

- Windows desktop apps delivered over Citrix are next -- both need Windows Server obviously

- The next is all the .NET web code that's been created since 1999 and continues to be created.

Microsoft is preparing for the end of these requirements by making it harder to resist Azure.

- When you buy a Windows Server VM in Azure, the license is included in the price, no cumbersome software assurance, or anything else needed.

- They're pushing Azure AD, federated identity and cloud management services like Intune -hard- because they know one of the other last reasons to have on-premises hardware is management tools.

- All the cool new stuff is being locked up behind these agreements to ensure they still get revenue Azure-style, monthly, for everything you deploy on site. Windows 10 Enterprise is the only way to get a fully manageable (from an IT perspective) client OS anymore now that Home and Pro are the "free" versions.

So I don't think Windows Server is going away any time soon, but how and where you run it is probably going to change. Look at how quickly CIOs heard the OpEx siren song and switched to Office 365. When they're presented with the bill for licensing, they'll move all their Windows workloads offsite.

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Larry Ellison today said really nice things about rival Amazon's cloud

Erik4872
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Re: Could get interesting

Agreed! People think of Oracle as one of these crusty software giants like CA, Symantec, BMC, etc. that are just extracting license fees year after year from companies that are hopelessly locked into their 20 year old products. I think Oracle is definitely one of those, but they have the money to burn on developing new things also.

I guarantee the main goal of bulking up the Oracle cloud is not so companies can run x86 IaaS stuff, but to host all of Oracle's software remotely. Adobe did this with Creative Cloud to guarantee permanent lock in and subscription revenue because they know there's no alternatives in the industry. Microsoft is doing this with Office 365 - they're making it an incredibly bad deal to buy perpetual Office licenses now. I think Oracle's plan is to make it so expensive and cumbersome to buy, license and run Oracle software on premises that companies have no choice but to buy into the cloud.

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Dear sysadmin: This is how you stay relevant

Erik4872
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Re: A good sysadmin...

Excellent points. One other thing on the "job security" front...I have run into so many people in my career (I'm old too!) that have defended their lack of documentation as job security. That's not where it comes from. Like you mentioned, real job security comes from the fact that things run smoothly under your watch, stuff you design doesn't blow up randomly, etc.

In the end, there's very little job security anymore. Once an MBA-wielding middle manager or management consultant comes to your CIO with a spreadsheet showing you as expensive and offshoring as cheap, the decision is as good as made. It sounds defeatist, but it's true for most cases where the CIO has no clue what you do. Your job security comes from a good reputation and the ability to jump ship when this happens and land somewhere else, possibly doing something totally different. Don't think that not documenting something will save you -- I've seen offshore guys come in after people have been fired for not cooperating...they'll just systematically pull everything apart as their onboarding effort and finish that documentation!

The good thing (for now) is that companies are constantly waffling back and forth between offshoring/outsourcing and in-house IT, and not all of them are on the same cycle. Usually the MBA guy comes in, gets the CIO to sign an outsourcing agreement, things go nuts after a while, CIO gets fired, new CIO comes in and in-houses everything -- and the cycle repeats!!

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Erik4872
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There really is a change afoot...

A lot of people I've talked to are absolutely unconvinced that cloud computing, microservices, containers and all that fun stuff are going to catch on. In some industries they may be right -- there are tons of good reasons to keep local control over your data -- but the truth is that it doesn't matter. The cloud has definitely been sold to most CIOs out there. Microsoft was very smart to get Microsoft shops into it by shifting them to Office 365 with Azure AD as a baby step. The pay as you go, fire the IT guys, OpEx cost model arguments are just too loud for most organizations to hear availability, data integrity, etc. arguments over.

There are a bunch of forces at work that are causing shifts away from the traditional admin roles and responsibilities:

- Software defined everything is reducing the need for specialists in a particular vendor's proprietary hardware ecosystem

- Virtualization (as a first step) and cloud VMs (as a logical conclusion) are also hurting people whose focus is proprietary hardware -- I can't remember the last time I directly interacted with some of the VMWare hosts we have at the place I work now.

- DevOps is actually starting to become a thing. It was total startup hipster stuff a few years ago, but developers of real world applications are really starting to adopt this.

- The lines between software and hardware, developers and sysadmins are getting blurred. All good sysadmins should know at least scripting and "glue coding" but increasingly it's possible for developers to bypass the admins and deploy their own stuff.

I guess my advice for the future is to stay flexible and try to be as much of a generalist as you can. People who know one hardware stack or OS are about as valuable these days as coders who know a single JavaScript framework and can't do anything outside of it.

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Uber lost $7m a DAY in the first half of this year

Erik4872
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Re: Nobody is looking at how the executives spend money on themselves.

This this this!!!

Any time you want to predict the top of a bubble or a company's inflection point from growth to decline, it's one of these indicators:

- Executives buying corporate jets if they didn't have one already

- Lavish spending on conferences, etc. for senior management

- Buying or renting a new headquarters (see Sun for an example of that one.)

Also, people forget that executive compensation isn't limited to money or stock. Companies routinely give "loans" to execs for real estate purchases, which are conveniently forgiven later on. They pay for expensive cars, "business dinners," private security forces, family vacations, etc.

I don't know why more people don't just form corporations and funnel all their personal expenditures through them. I did IT support for executives of a large company way back in the day, and it was not uncommon to see their secretaries processing massive expense reports covering things that were obviously personal expenses.

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Erik4872
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Make it up in volume!

Yes, it's 1999 all over again, but this might actually work out for them. I already hear people say they're "Ubering" somewhere or "calling an Uber." If they can put so much pressure on Lyft that they fold, they have a near monopoly on disruptive phone-based ride-sharing service, _and_ Kleenex-level brand recognition.

Better to do this now, before the big IPO happens and those cranky investors won't let the company spend any money that isn't guaranteed to return 1000% in less than a month.

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HPE sharpens knife for next salami-slicing staff redundo round

Erik4872
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Re: It's worse than you think

Not sure what's going on at HPE these days, but haven't the paper pusher types pretty much been let go by now? Having dealt with them as a customer, I do know there are way too many account execs, etc. But I thought HP got rid of 30,000 staff. Isn't that basically all of EDS, where I'm sure most of the paper pushers came from?

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Microsoft bins Azure RemoteApp, says go with Citrix instead

Erik4872
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This is actually good news

The entire Azure space is very confusing right now. Microsoft is trying with all their might to get people onto Azure AD -- just click here and you have Office 365! -- and Azure RemoteApp was to be one of the key ways to do it. The only problem is that you needed a proprietary client (last time I checked,) an Azure AD account, and the apps you publish had to run on the latest version of Windows, essentially unmodified.

The problem is that 99% of users who require RemoteApp/Citrix have at least 1 or 2 "senior" applications that don't perform well without a million tweaks, app compat shims, etc. Azure RemoteApp didn't give control over the individual VMs, so it was basically a way to serve up Office. In addition, the real hardcore Citrix users (healthcare and banking) tend to have really crazy application requirements, making traditional XenApp and traditional AD the solution, even if you deploy it in Azure.

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IT security pro salaries: Silicon Valley? You'd be better off in Minneapolis

Erik4872
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Established companies vs. hipster startups?

Having worked in a non-security position for large companies, but having lots of IT security friends, the difference is the type of employee termed "security professional." In established companies, these people are the ones responsible for "real" security like PII, PCI, etc. for companies with millions of customers. They're the ones who get fired when the company has to give out free credit monitoring for a year in exchange for not improving their security. In hipster startups, they're the ones maintaining whatever crazy federated identity management solution their cloud providers have chosen. Either that, or their startup is producing the latest security "single pane of glass" mashup that they're trying to sell to big companies' IT security professionals. Either way, the pay is lower for startup employees -- in many cases they're playing the IPO lottery.

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US.gov to open-source made-to-order software, allow contributions

Erik4872
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Interesting

I wonder how this will affect code quality. Most software written by the usual suspects (Accenture, Infosys, etc.) whether for private companies or for government, isn't exactly stuff that holds up well to public scrutiny. My experience in doing systems integration work has been that they do the absolute bare minimum to get their code to run and not crash under the laughably inadequate QA standard tests. (I think that's what they mean when they say "the needful." :-) )

As for open source, I've always wondered about that not being a developer. How is it possible to _not_ use an open source library, routine or anything else these days, especially doing stuff like web development? I'm sure there's lots of open source stuff buried in closed code. Web front ends these days are practically snapping strangely-named open source framework Legos together in a configuration that does what you want.

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You think Donald Trump is insecure? Check out his online store

Erik4872
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Classic Reg

Whoever came up with the strapline for the article deserves kudos - I LOL'd. You even got the sentence fragments down pat.

That said, this is further proof that political campaigns don't exactly employ the highest-caliber IT security geniuses on the planet. The Hillary e-mail server thing was just an "executive privilege" thing we see all the time in big-company IT, but what about all these email leaks from the DNC and others? I understand that exposing things to the Internet means they're likely to be exploited at some point, but I thought secure email was pretty much a solved problem these days. Unless of course, you use "12345" as your password...

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Capita was always going to axe staff under Project Vincent – sources

Erik4872
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This happens in the US all the time too

Any time an outsourcer comes in, even if they keep the existing staff it's almost certain that they will be replaced with cheaper staff as soon as they can. I've seen it a few times at companies -- Tata or Infosys comes in, takes the existing staff and slowly transitions the work offshore. It sucks, but they have to do it if they ever hope to make decent margin on the deal. Otherwise, there'd be no reason to engage in the business -- you'd just be a pass-through IT department with similar costs.

What makes it worse is that often, the outsourcer will start making the workers' jobs miserable in an attempt to accelerate the process. Paying for plastic forks seems to fall in that category, as does strict enforcement of work rules, capricious changing of duties, etc. Anything they can do to get people to quit voluntarily is just a bonus for them, as they won't have to pay any severance or extra unemployment compensation.

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Ex-Citibank IT bloke wiped bank's core routers, will now spend 21 months in the clink

Erik4872
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Re: The need for software defined networking

Not sure about that one. SDN is great for desired state config and the ability to use crappy white box switches instead of Cisco gear, but those configs live somewhere and are managed by someone. It wouldn't take much for someone with enough access to turn all of that SDN gear into a bunch of dumb, unconfigured network ports. In theory they could just melt the whole network into a pile of goo by blanking out the software configs. Granted, it's easier to get back online if you're smart and archive your configs, but network admins generally don't like sharing control of things.

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Erik4872
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Re: Just another unstable idiot

"Seriously, let them fire you then collect unemployment if you are in the right."

Indeed. I think it was on my third or fourth big-company job that I realized, if I wanted to, I could just stop working altogether and it would take at least a few months to get through the procedures required to get rid of me. And this is in 'Murica, working for at-will employers. The first bad review is just the first step. When you get one of those, the grown-up thing to do is to use the time you have left to find other work, since you've been targeted for termination already. The immature spoiled kid thing, obviously, is to circumvent that whole process by clumsily sabotaging your workplace.

"He'll never find another IT job worth having."

That I'm not so sure about. IT has a bit of a French Foreign Legion mystique, in that you can just run away to a new location and get a job pretty easily after screwing up badly. I've personally witnessed this -- a company I worked for hired some "rockstar" systems architect who I thought was clueless. I did a little digging and it turned out he presided over a multi-million dollar failed project somewhere else as the chief architect. Now, he's going to have a criminal record so that's going to be a problem. But if he didn't, and just got fired because he was incompetent, all he would have to do is clean up his resume and walk into the nearest technical recruiter for immediate placement. If I were king of the IT profession, that's one thing I'd want immediately -- personal responsibility for bad work and liability malpractice-style.

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Erik4872
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Amateur hour, makes all of IT look bad

I'm assuming this lovely specimen worked as a NOC guy or similar -- why didn't he pull a Terry Childs and hold the network configs hostage until he got whatever satisfaction he wanted? A real BOFH would have wiped out all the network documentation, _and_ the primary and backup config files on all the equipment before casually heading off to lunch.

The thing I worry about is stories like this getting around to the executive classes and prompting more of them to consider replacing the "scary unstable neckbeards" with polite-but-incompetent offshore Tata or Infosys employees. People like this guy make the entire IT profession, including those of us who actually do a professional job, look bad in front of the decision makers. I've worked with a few people like Lennon Ray Brown (in terms of their personality, not their actions thankfully.) Let's just say some of these folks might have come back with a weapon of some sort if their boss gave them a bad review, not just wiped some router configs. IT does attract some intriguing personalities.

I've often opined that it's time for the IT and software development professions to grow up and actually establish a standard of professional work. Doctors and professional engineers do this, and the reward is a much more stable work life. Why are we still married to the romantic notion of the cowboy admin or coder doing things with no regard to how they could affect others?

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Seagate's south UK factory hasn't a future but HDDs do (it hopes)

Erik4872
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Would Brexit stop something like this?

Speaking as a 'Murican who grew up during the great offshoring-of-manufacturing -- wouldn't Brexit be something that could prevent things like this from happening? I thought a good portion of the argument was that having an economy less interconnected with the rest of the world would force the UK to become more vertically integrated, doing more jobs inside the country including manufacturing. Wasn't that basically what happened until Margaret Thatcher took over?

I guess I'm one of those people who looks around, sees no opportunity at all for people with a factory worker level intelligence and skillset, and wonders what we'll do with all of them. Once the only jobs producing reasonable incomes are Senior Cloud Engineer and Robotic Assembly Architect, you're going to have a lot of angry, less educated, less skilled people out there who have lots of time on their hands and an axe to grind. I'd rather keep some inefficiency in the system, just to give people something to do.

As much as Trump being President scares me, his proposal to remove the US from trade agreements and add tariffs on foreign-made goods would be a very interesting experiment. If every company, regardless of size or influence, woke up one morning and found the conditions favoring domestic work, wouldn't the work have to return? If nothing else, it would inject a little economic diversity back into the country and make it "OK" again to work in a factory.

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Microsoft delays Azure updates so you can catch up with the cloud

Erik4872
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Funny because Azure is the "legacy cloud"...

There are plenty of hipster Web startups on Azure, but Microsoft has been quite accommodating to legacy IT shops who want to use cloud technologies. Deprecating features is going to be a hard thing for all cloud providers as more businesses start relying on things being the way they were when their applications were first deployed. Azure Resource Manager has existed for a while, but they're just now getting around to building semi-automatic migration tools to move Classic resources to ARM in place without redeploying them.

What's been interesting as an Azure customer is watching the speed at which new things are developed and released. If you're an IT person at a very old school company, this is the most surprising change. It must be tough from a Microsoft standpoint too -- they're beating the rapid release drum, but they have to support things that they put out there potentially forever if customers keep paying for them, and migration institutes a breaking change (like an Azure AD cert rollover, for example.) I imagine there will be a few more iterations of "release, make it "classic", then migrate or retire" while Azure completes its buildout.

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You can buy Windows 10 Enterprise E3 access for the price of a coffee

Erik4872
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Aaaaand, welcome to Windows subscriptions!

I know all the accounting tricks say that OpEx is better than CapEx, but I still say it's totally retarded to pay a company for the same service, over and over again in small pieces, rather than buy it outright and use it forever. Look how long big companies stuck with Office 97 and Office 2003! They paid $xx once and used the software for 10+ years in some cases.

I did see this coming though - Microsoft is signing absolutely everyone up for Office 365 and is in the process of becoming every company's auxilliary (or sometimes primary) data center for a low low fee per month. The Home and Pro users get Windows 10 "free" but Enterprise users are going to have to pay, Creative Cloud style, until the end of time.

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IBM scraps loyal staffer gifts in favour of... a congratulatory social page

Erik4872
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Gamification of the workplace!

I seriously doubt anyone who is a new hire at IBM will ever make any of those milestones. But for those who do, there's a totally awesome 25-year badge waiting for you on your IBM social page!

I work for a pretty staid company, so gamification of the workplace hasn't really hit here yet. But I've been reading the articles -- do Millennials really prefer badges and points to monetary awards? It seems to me that things like this would work only in companies like Google, Facebook, etc. that become your entire life. Even when I was younger I could never imagine wanting to work 16-hour days in return for "perks" that keep you there and working.

Although, this is a first for our company...they announced a few months ago that they were "harmonizing" the long service awards across countries...but they were still giving people money (just not as much.) Usually our HR is the ones slavishly copying IBM and GE...seriously, every single management fad that comes out of those places is implemented. I think it's because they have the same white shoe management consulting firm.

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App-V birthday to you, Win10: Virty tools baked in Anniversary update

Erik4872
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Expect all enterprisey features to go Enterprise-only

Microsoft just got finished giving away their latest OS upgrade to Home and Pro customers. Since it's "free" from now on, I wouldn't expect any more of the enterprise features to be backported into Home or Pro.

It's definitely a shift from Win7/Win8, but not unexpected. At work we were previously able to get away with Windows 7 Professional OEM licenses because we didn't use the enterprise features. Windows 10 is forcing the company into Enterprise licensing because there's no other way to control the telemetry to a reasonable level or access certain features we need now.

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DevOps: The spotty faced yoof waiting to blossom

Erik4872
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So much is coming together all at once...

DevOps is smack in the middle of a bunch of huge changes happening in corporate IT. One of the biggest problems is that so many "new" things are all coming out at the same time. Public cloud replacing onsite systems, new cloud-enabled applications replacing traditional client/server applications, automation tools allowing fewer sysadmins managing more servers, microservices, containers -- and it's all happening at the same time. Now, like the article states, this new world needs more flexible IT staff which is what DevOps proposes to solve.

The problem is that DevOps is like Agile, a good idea on paper that is often horribly misapplied. DevOps can migrate to NoOps very quickly in a startup-style environment, especially with all the pushbutton deployment tools being developed. Same way an Agile project can morph from "fast feature driven development" to "no architecture, make up the design as we go."

Is DevOps a mindset, a magic dashboard sold to PHBs, or a religion peddled by DevOps consultants? Right now it's all of them -- I'm hoping it shakes out into a sane blend of these.

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Oracle says it is 'committed' to Java EE 8 – amid claims it quietly axed future development

Erik4872
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"Insane, yes, but they're still there."

Exactly. People forget that Java EE is almost like the new COBOL, and the various Java application servers are like the mainframe now. Almost everyone doing things like mainframe conversions, ESBs and other enterprisey things in the early 2000s has some of that development in J2EE. When you consider that a lot of that development was outsourced and the applications are complex enough to be considered black boxes, it makes sense for Oracle to continue extracting revenue from people who can't really move. Think about it - knowing what you know about Oracle, would you ever choose them for a brand new database deployment? No one is, so Oracle has to milk the existing customer base.

CA is also famous for doing this. Some of their mainframe and UNIX applications are 30 years old and basically haven't changed...yet they're still generating profit because companies rely on them to run their businesses.

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900 Hewlett Packard Enterprise staff to leave building by month end

Erik4872
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Re: All a bit sad.

Holy cow, that's pretty much the most spot on definition of the "professional services" engagements I've been a part of, on both sides of the fence.

I've often said that the grumpy guys in your summary could wipe the floor with the white shoe services firms by just getting together and starting "Greybeards, Inc." (or Greybeards PLC if you're on the right side of the Atlantic.) You'd still need the slick MBA weasels at the top to sell to the executives, but cutting out the useless empty suits at the bottom would let you spend money on smarter people who would be able to actually complete projects. It's criminal what the big firms need to pay the Ivy League or Oxbridge types for a job that basically involves flying around the country 50 weeks out of the year, presenting PowerPoints and deflecting blame away from their offshore teams.

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From Watson Jr to Watson AI: IBM's changed, and Papa Watson wouldn't approve

Erik4872
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What would a private IBM be like, I wonder?

It would be very interesting to see something huge like a pension fund or investment house leverage-buyout IBM and take it private. You would need Sagan-esque "billions and billions" of dollars to do it, but the experiment would be fascinating. It seems to me that any company with so much in the way of resources, patents and intellectual capital could do incredibly well when removed from the yoke that is the public market. I've been watching the slow decline of IBM for quite a while from the outside, just as an observer and occasional customer.

That would be an MBA case study for the ages and any success would probably cause MBA's brains to self-destruct. They've been conditioned for so long to manage purely by spreadsheet, not own anything, focus on next quarter, get rid of as many talented expensive people as they can, and care only for the share price.

I'm old (just turned 40 last year,) but I still say that large employers owe some loyalty to their workers if that loyalty is returned. People work for large employers because they're not Silicon Valley entrepreneur types -- they're there to do a job. In previous times, a job well done was rewarded with promotions, competitive pay and no capricious layoffs. I do know a lot of older IBMers who echo the article's sentiments -- up until Gerstner showed up and shook things up, it was a great place to work. You could expect to be moved several times in a career and put in a lot of extra time for the company,but it was rewarded with a stable life for one's family. I think one of the problems is that employees are seeing even the IBMs, the GEs and the other huge companies treating their employees as disposable. Once that gets too far embedded in people's psyche, they're not willing to give any loyalty back which is why you see people leaving jobs after only a year for just a small salary increase or silly perk that the current company doesn't have.

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Cisco is to spend $10m on infosec scholarships to 'widen talent pool'

Erik4872
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Does that come with a guaranteed job?

The problem is not having enough smart people; the problem is having enough smart people who see a future in the IT world. Students aren't dumb, and there are very few dedicated (crazy?) people these days who study in fields that don't have an immediate ROI (at least here in the US.)

If you want to train the "next generation of cyberwarriors" or whatever, you need to provide enough entry level jobs that these students can graduate into. You then have to have a progression of roles, leading to higher salaries and more interesting work over time, to keep people in the field. Offshoring and outsourcing have destroyed entry-level IT and the informal apprenticeship system that people in my generation went through. (By this, I mean graduating from help desk to in-person support to data center monkey to junior sysadmin and so on.) Those entry level jobs in the US are most likely filled by close-to-minimum wage body shop employees or H-1B visa holders these days.

If I were a very smart student now, I'd be targeting professions that cannot be offshored such as medicine or high-end consulting. Doctors in the US have it made once they're licensed; they were smart and set up a system that prevents oversupply, lobbies against legislation that would lower their pay and regulates practice. We in IT-land could learn a lot from them.

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Microsoft's paid $60 per LinkedIn user – and it's a bargain, because we're mugs

Erik4872
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I'll never get the marketing people's valuations...

I have absolutely no idea what real world metrics marketing people use to value the personal data for an individual. I'm a good example of an edge case in their world; I'm 100% unaffected (in a positive way) by any advertising. I have never bought a product or service based solely on an ad. Yet, there are apparently billions of drooling idiots out there who will buy whatever the advertisers tell them to.

I think the acquisition makes sense given the shift I'm seeing with Microsoft. They're going from selling software by the license to being the toll collector for everything. If they can collect a toll on the employment process, basically by doing nothing beyond making sure the platform stays up, then they win as soon as LinkedIn Premium subscription and recruiter revenue reaches the purchase price plus the running cost. It's the same mentality as Azure...Microsoft is increasingly making it very difficult to purchase one-off licenses or to sign enterprise agreements that don't involve Azure-hosted software. Our company, who was staunchly against putting source code for anything out in the cloud, caved and asked me to start designing a VSTS solution for our developers. New services and applications are cloud-hosted because everyone's convinced it's cheaper than buying hardware and software. It's a big shift, but Microsoft is pouring all that extra money into making sure it collects revenue at every exit point from a service.

If even a small percentage of LinkedIn users falls into the gullible-to-advertising category, then $60 per user is a bargain -- they'll be able to resell that data over and over again for multiple times that amount. LinkedIn isn't like Facebook; people use it to get jobs and post mostly factual, real content.

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Government regulation will clip coders' wings, says Bruce Schneier

Erik4872
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How about professional engineer status for coders?

In the 20 or so years I've been in the IT field, much of which has been doing systems integration work on really crappy software, I've often wondered why we don't have some sort of PE-style licensing arrangement. This would in my opinion get around "regulations" forcing people to code a certain way, by making individual practitioners responsible for the abominations they write. The second you try to regulate something like coding methodologies, it'll be obsolete overnight. Let's say you're able to replace the hodgepodge of educational backgrounds out there with a reasonable set of prerequisites. Make sure people actually understand what the stuff they're writing does when run on real-world systems.

I fall into the self-trained camp, but I would welcome the opportunity to make my education more formal. PEs require an engineering degree, experience and a licensing exam as a minimum barrier to entry. I'd say that beats coder bootcamp and stackoverflow reading any day of the week.

And, as much as malpractice lawsuits scare me, the idea of personal responsibility for bad work holds value for me. One thing about our field that drives me nuts is watching someone screw something up, entirely their fault, then get fired, then land another job a week later with a hefty raise. Mistakes shouldn't be able to be covered up by cleaning up your resume and applying somewhere else.

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The Windows Phone story: From hope to dusty abandonware

Erik4872
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I wonder when Microsoft is finally going to pull the plug.

Intel isn't making low-end mobile chips anymore, handset manufacturers aren't interested in making phones, Microsoft is killing or selling off their own capacity to make new phones, _and_ no one is writing Windows Store apps to the extent they write Android or iOS apps.

I'd love to see them just drop the whole thing all at once, say "oops" and get back to focusing on Azure and Surface and software. But that won't happen -- they're just going to slowly let it bleed to death. At least HP had the guts to just shoot webOS in the head and get it over with...not the greatest decision IMO, but it was decisive.

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Whitman deletes another chapter in HP history as CSC and ES borg

Erik4872
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"The only way they could be turned around is by being allowed to innovate again."

I think that's part of it. EDS may be or may have been a semi-reliable ATM for the rest of HP, but I doubt it. Any time I've ever had any dealings with the EDSes of the world, I've been amazed at just how many highly-paid project managers and account executives have been involved. So they may offshore the actual work to the cheapest, lowest quality place they can find, but they need to keep all those account executives, PMs, technical liaisons, escalation managers, senior escalation managers, VPs of service delivery, etc. paid well and flying around the world.

It's the consulting model -- Accenture, EDS, CSC, IBM, and all of them do it. Every engagement has three tiers:

- Insanely compensated senior management who sell the dream to the executives

- An army of new graduate, no-experience PowerPoint-wielding 24 year old analysts, consultants, PMs and what have you flying 48 weeks out of the year, billable to the client, to be the public face of the project

- Offshore minions in cheap country of the week doing any work that is necessary

The problem is that those top two tiers are expensive and I think companies aren't as willing as they were to pay for it anymore.

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Erik4872
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Maybe IT services just isn't worth it anymore?

I'm sure this is just another bonehead move on the HP executives' part, or more likely their management consultants from McKinsey or similar. But...could it be that companies are starting to wake up and realize that deals with these mega-outsourcers never go as planned? Seriously, I've worked for providers as well as companies who partake in IT services outsourcing. The weird wall that builds up between the two companies causes IT progress to slow to a crawl. One side is trying to get away with as little work as they can for maximum cost, and the other is trying to minimize cost by refusing to pay higher rates for better service. This is always a recipe for disaster unless the company involved really has no interest in IT investment and just needs to keep the lights on.

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