back to article Bookstore sells some data centre capacity, becomes Microsoft, Oracle's nemesis

With 2015 drawing to a close and 2016 about to begin, it is time to reflect on the fact that the world never stops changing. The tech industry certainly changes, and so here's one sysadmin's view of the industry's movers and shakers. In part one we're going to look at Amazon, Oracle and Microsoft. As I see it, the strategy of …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In other words

    A plague of all three of them.

    Should describe the three of them perfectly.

    My current employer has fallen for the Azure/Office-365 snake oil [1]. Email is moving to Outlook on Jan 1st.(hence the AC post)

    I would not want to be on the support desk on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th..... 31st.

    [1] Yes I know that it works for some but personally, I am reducing my dependency on Google and MS as fast as I can. They only want your body and soul for their ad streams. I am not a Number (six or anything)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In other words

      "Recently, Amazon has decided that owning the online world isn't enough. It wants to be Walmart. It wants physical stores and even more warehouses. It wants sub-warehouses everywhere delivering you goods automatically."

      In the US, this strategy is already failing for Amazon. The issue is State sales taxes. States can only force a vendor to collect sales tax (which can be as high as 9.45% in TN, and averages 5.45% across the US) for sales to people living in the State, if the vendor has a physical presence in the State. That physical presence can be very small and have nothing to do with the core business. Congress just enshrined this system into Federal Law last week. As Amazon has expanded it's warehouses and data centers across the US, they have had to start collecting State sales taxes from more and more of their customers. Adding physical stores in new places will increase the fraction of the US that Amazon has to collect sales taxes from.

      I live in a State where Amazon had to start collecting sales taxes about a year ago. In my own spending, I have shifted about $4k in 2015 away from Amazon and to places like Newegg because of this issue, as Amazon, more often than not, is no longer competitive when you look at total cost, even with free shipping using Amazon Prime. All other things being equal, I save roughly 5%+ doing this. For my place of work, since we also have to pay sales taxes on items where we are the end user, I've probably shifted about $20k away from Amazon over the last year.

      This trend will continue to create a drag on Amazon's ability to compete online, at least in the US.

  2. Cirdan

    Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article



    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article

      The issue with Linux is that unless you have multiple Linux specialists able to deal with any problem that might arise who don't take holidays (or the team is sufficiently large enough to deal with holidays) then you need a support contract, which means that you need Red Hat. Or possibly Ubuntu.

      Over 5 years, look at the cost of Red Hat versus a Windows 2012 server. Which OS is more expensive to run?

      Linux does work out a lot cheaper if you just pick a random distribution, download it and run it as it's free and you don't have any support costs (unless/until a problem arises) but if your running something mission critical on it's going to cost the business badly.

      Run this if your interested in the costs, though adjust the figures to something more realistic for a SME:-

      The basic is that even if you've only got about 50 staff who are being paid peanuts on average, brought up a bit by the well paid staff the cost of them sitting around doing nothing for 10 minutes exceeds the cost of a support contract.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article

        "The issue with Linux is that unless you have multiple Linux specialists able to deal with any problem that might arise who don't take holidays (or the team is sufficiently large enough to deal with holidays) then you need a support contract, which means that you need Red Hat. Or possibly Ubuntu."

        And why, pray tell me, does this not apply to Windows?

        Or is it the case that it does but you haven't noticed that because you're in a Windows shop and you have a sufficiently large Windows team?

      2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article

        Over 5 years, look at the cost of Red Hat versus a Windows 2012 server. Which OS is more expensive to run?

        I'm sure that depends on who you ask:

        So they say "Red Hat Enterprise Linux experienced 34% lower annual TCO per user compared to systems running Windows Server", what are your figures please? And a suitable citation.

        1. kryptylomese

          Re: Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article

          Generally, Linux uptime is fantastic and little things like services being able to be reloaded without any down time and better quality updates (UAT tested which you cannot claim Microsoft do).

          Most companies will insist on the support of RedHat etc but a good Administrator will be able to fix most issues. If it is down to the operating system itself then you should hopefully spot that in your DEV/UAT environment and if you don't have either of those (regardless of operating system) then then you should not be in IT.

          RedHat support (I do not work for RedHat BTW) is far better than Microsoft and they even support Microsoft products. Actually, it is fantastic because that is their business model.

          You can argue all you like that Microsoft is still relevant but that just means that you have never experienced something MUCH better - Hope you do soon!

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article

            "UAT tested which you cannot claim Microsoft do"

            I'm not sure about that. W10 has millions of beta testers who get to test all the upgrades before they're pushed out to enterprise customers.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              W10 has millions of beta testers...

              ... and it's still shit.

            2. Hans 1 Silver badge

              Re: Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article

              >>"UAT tested which you cannot claim Microsoft do"

              >I'm not sure about that. W10 has millions of beta testers who get to test all the upgrades before they're pushed out to enterprise customers.

              How is that any different to the billions of other people who were testing the patches by updating early up until now? Also, do home users have domains or corporate kit, guess not.

      3. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

        Re: Re: Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article

        Thankyouverymuch for your advice Microsoft Online Reputation Management person.

      4. oldcoder

        Re: Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article

        Which is more expensive? Windows - hands down. Specially when you include the costs of the Windows security failures.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: @oldcoder

          The whole "TCO thing" is flaky, it depends on who is running the evaluation and just what they are asking as the licensing costs for Windows (in particular) are complicated.

          But even if Windows was a little cheaper for my use-case, which I doubt, I would still choose Linux for the simple reason that I am in charge of what my computers do. Not some company that won't give me all the source code and reserves the rights in the EULA to disable stuff if they feel like it (e.g. for DRM support). That is a point of principle for me.

      5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article

        It's maybe worth pointing out that Linux is essentially a Unix-like system with the skills being largely transferable. Those of us who are long enough in the tooth remember the days when Unix boxes such as the NCR Towers & other 68k boxes, MIPS and SCO boxes could just sit in SME customer sites with only occasional site visits.

        I had one client based about 100 miles away running SCO who I used to visit every few months when he needed either some data fangling or a new bit of application S/W. Plus the odd dial in to sort them out when they got themselves in a bit of a twist (unplug the fax, plug in the modem & I dialled in from a brick sized Nokia clamshell). Multiple specialists on site? The main problem with those boxes was that they were a danger to gainful employment!

        1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

          Re: Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article

          As far as transferable skills and knowledge, I use Antergos (Arch with nice installer). I have found the documentation at Arch, Debian, and Ubuntu directly usable if I allow for systemd (Arch) and differences in package management tools. If one is familiar with Linux, its philosophy, general system layout, and how things are generally done one can readily switch from one distro to another easily.

        2. herman Silver badge

          Re: Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article

          Yup. The main problem with Linux (or any other kind of UNIX) is that so little support is required, that it is very hard to make a business out of it.

          1. Tim99 Silver badge

            Re: Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article


            Yup. The main problem with Linux (or any other kind of UNIX) is that so little support is required, that it is very hard to make a business out of it.

            Don't worry, Red Hat will fix that by imposing systemd on the rest of us.

            Mine's the one with a copy of "Unix Power Utilites" in the pocket >>======>

      6. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article

        Windows™, because good managers know that the only cure for FUD is a bonefide certified support contract.

  3. MyffyW Silver badge

    Oracle are pretty merciless with their licensing for on-prem stuff. May the gods protect us if they ever get us hooked on their cloud.

    Penguin icon as a salute to Cirdan's reference above.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Oh really?

    "No matter in which area of endeavour it chooses to participate, Amazon is corporately obsessed with efficiency. Amazon commoditises everything, from books to labour to computing to logistics. Amazon automates and orchestrates. It lives and breathes metrics and analytics."

    Was this taken from an Amazon press release?

    The reality seems to be that when everything goes OK they are indeed efficient but if something goes in the least off the expected track they have no efficient means of getting it back.

    Case in point: item due in stock on the 18th, order placed on the 13th. Item, somewhat large, qualifies for free delivery. After a bit of reading round I thought that (a) it should also qualify for free pickup and (b) that would be quicker. So I placed an order for delivery & followed up with a query about pickup. In the event of a positive response I'd have had time to switch to a pickup location.

    In response to the query I was told this order (on free standard delivery) had been upgraded to free standard delivery with my actual query unanswered. When I checked this free delivery was now showing delivery charges.

    In fact the despatch date was brought forward to the 15th with deliver on the 21st.

    In response to various followups I was told that:

    (a) The delivery charge would be refunded but it was near despatch date & their system wouldn't allow a refund until it was confirmed that it had been despatched but - get this - I had to tell them (customer services) when it had been despatched.

    (b) It qualified for free pickup but because it was close to despatch date I couldn't change & would have had to cancel & reorder. No mention of whether this was the quicker option so I let things stay.

    I checked that I really had to tell Amazon when Amazon had despatched an order and this was confirmed and again given the explanation that this free standard delivery order had been upgraded to free standard delivery but that the agent had forgotten to wave [sic] the charge.

    The item was marked as despatched on the 15th, the delivery charge was refunded but that was the last that was heard of the item - no further status changes since it was handed over to Amazon Logistics. Did it ever arrive at the local depot, or was it lost, damaged or stolen? Is it still sitting there waiting for one of the vans which have delivered several items here since the due delivery?

    From the above there are several points which challenge the picture of almost magical efficiency in the article.

    Firstly there's the amazing disconnect between despatch and customer services that means that the customer has to relay the message.

    Next there's the fact that their CS system will allow an operator to upgrade to the delivery option to the same option. Indeed, it appears that their core system doesn't actually include the concept of "free" as delivery is shown as an invoice line and free is just a contra line which the CS agent has to enter manually.

    And a company that lives and breathes metrics and analytics really ought to know how long is reasonable for a package to move through its logistics chain and raise an alarm and keep the customer informed if it doesn't. It should also be able to escalate a CS case if there are multiple customer enquiries about an order.

    It would also help if CS sent queries to someone whose native language is that of the query. Responses included somewhat broken English, especially the first one. Don't rely on someone claiming to be fluent in English: Amazon is a book store so maybe they should grab a copy of Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue" and read what he has to say about that.

    There's a lingering suspicion at the back of my mind that says "agile". If you develop systems in small increments you maybe don't have the bigger picture in mind and you maybe you don't consider what happens when things go awry and add routes to get them back on track. And especially you don't deal with the bit that says the system is more than S/W - it's the entire shooting match including the people who are handling customer enquiries.


    This is a long account in case someone from Amazon reads it so they can learn from it, otherwise Amazon usually gets things right and is indeed efficient when they do but when they don't they seem to be able to glue it back together again.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Oh really?

      There's a lingering suspicion at the back of my mind that says "agile".

      From your description it seems that their systems are a tad FR{agile}

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Oh really?

        "From your description it seems that their systems are a tad FR{agile}"

        "Bag of spanners" also seems to fit.

        After being informed it hasn't arrived they've now come to the conclusion that they've lost it in transit. So much for automation, analytics, metrics efficiency as a religion and all the rest. There seems to be a built-in assumption that all will work and that they don't need to check for the situation where it doesn't.

    2. Paul Smith

      Re: Oh really?

      I Wish you had put the TL;DR at the start. That was three and a half minutes waiting for a punch line that I will never get back.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ericsson Cloud

    For part 2 can you pass on your 5cents on OpenStack cloud

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Ericsson Cloud

      I've already done several Openstack pieces this year, and probably will again in the next year. They are not, however, part of this series.

  6. Adair

    What goes around...

    comes around:

    'Microsoft (Windows) is a cancer that attaches itself in a proprietary sense to everything it touches'.

    I seem to recall someone saying something similar a while ago.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lemme see -- Amazon, Oracle, Microsoft.

    "In part 2, I'll take a shot at decoding Cisco, Dell and HPE."

    A discussion of cloud offerings and strategies, with not a single word about the elephant in the room? Not even to dismiss it?

  8. elDog

    The Genormous "elephant in the room"?

    Yes, I was wondering why there was only a single word in the body about the Gigantic cloud provider. Seriously, Cisco, Dell, and HPE? Maybe the G-group will be the third part of this two-part series.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: The Genormous "elephant in the room"?

      There are three parts to the series. If, however, you are expecting a discussion of Google, they are not included. Google hasn't altered their strategy meaningfully in 2015 and doesn't look set to in 2016.

      Indeed, Google, Facebook and a few other giants have made no meaningful changes in strategy for some time. Mostly because the existing strategies are working so well for them.

  9. Mage Silver badge

    Interesting article.

    I thus will not be surprised if Amazon take over the local Petrol stations / Midi-markets and use them also as parcel depots (to ship and receive, to aid selling on Amazon and buying), with a coffee shop with not just WiFi but the Amazon voice controlled ordering terminal as a touch screen for menu, local shopping and online ordering.

  10. a_yank_lurker Silver badge


    Amazon gets into the cloud more or less by accident and applies what any competent retailer does - wring out as much flab in the system as they can. This is what Walmart and other major, successful retailers have been doing for decades. Also, as a retailer is Amazon is used to much lower profit margins on each sale. And retail pricing is generally very simple, an item costs x at retail with no flaky discounts and groupings. Retailers are also used to the idea the customer always has a choice of where to shop; so execution to customer expectations is more important. There rarely is true vendor lock-in at the retail level - there are plenty of places that sell the identical book, camera, tv, etc. Fundamentally retail is a commodity business and successful retailers act accordingly.

    Oracle and Slurp are used to much higher profit margins on each sale and are used to complex pricing schemes that no one understands. Often, by design, both try to force forms of vendor lock-in. There really is no major difference between the major RDMS but Oracle and Slurp want you to believe there is this major difference, which usually is a couple nice-to-have additional features that one probably does not need or will ever use. The risk for this model is that customers wise up and realize they are being fleeced legally and either leave or demand and get serious changes. What is the value added by Oracle or Slurp to their cloud offerings that justifies their pricing models?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As always

    Enjoy your daily two minute MSFT hate responsibly.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: As always

      Actually many, including myself, are wary of all cloudy providers for various reasons. This includes Amazon, Oracle, and Slurp. The post is noting that Amazon is acting more like a standard retailer in the cloud rather than a typical, pricey tech company. This affects the pricing of companies like Oracle and Slurp because there is a strong downward price pressure from Amazon. As long as AWS meets customer expectations they will be a viable, lower priced option. If nothing else AWS makes an excellent cudgel to keep Oracle and Slurp more in line.

      As far as Slurp hatred, I despise them, but the post is about whether their old style strategy is still viable in the face of AWS. And same goes for Leisure Suit Larry and his minions about the viability of the old style strategy.

  12. P. Lee

    A risky game

    Win10 has depleted a lot of trust.

    My feeling is that Azure pricing is predatory and temporary, but AWS genuinely runs their business as they see fit, almost ignoring the competition. This feeling isn't altered by news of MS offering, then revoking free storage or wanting to charge for CALs for a DHCP server.

    I know who I'd be going with on the long haul, especially since an expensive application re-write is almost certainly required either way. I'd be picking the Cloud from the company which doesn't want to license my core2 home server as an eight-core monster because, well, I have trust issues. If I see money-grubbing rather than service, I start to have concerns for the future.

  13. Ozzard

    Trevor, surely Office sells Windows, not the other way round?

    I know plenty of folks who'd love to migrate to a free OS, but they can't because:

    - Microsoft Office doesn't run on the free OS;

    - They can't afford to re-train their users in a new office productivity suite;

    - Even if they could afford the training, they can't afford to lose being able to round-trip Microsoft Office documents to/from partners, clients and suppliers without loss of fidelity.

    There's exactly one way to kill Microsoft: write a bug-for-bug compatible version of Office and release it for free. Not a "better version", not a "restyled user interface for easier navigation", but a drop-in replacement such that your average user doesn't even notice the change.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Trevor, surely Office sells Windows, not the other way round?

      But even Microsoft can't write two versions of MS Office that round-trip.

      Or even one version in some cases.

      The inertia is nothing to do with feature parity or UI similarities - after all, MS Office' radical UI overhaul took three versions to reach all the applications in the suite.

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Trevor, surely Office sells Windows, not the other way round?

      The biggest problem with Slurp's Office is not user retraining, features in the alternative, OS compatibility but that it uses a default proprietary file format. The ability of non Slurp options to correctly read the files has always been a bit dodgy at best and this is the real source of the vendor lock-in, being able to open and edit business critical files.

      The idea it must a complete drop in replacement is an insult to users. The vast majority are more than capable of using another office suite. But most have a very reasonable, legitimate concern about file compatibility. The EU could force this if they mandated that all electronic files use ODF formats only when submitted to the various governments.

      1. serendipity

        Re: Trevor, surely Office sells Windows, not the other way round?

        "but that it uses a default proprietary file format"

        B*llocks it uses an Open standard XML format. That's why there are loads of open source libs out there that can read and write offices docs. I'm using one at present called Epplus to create Excel spreadsheets.

    3. swschrad

      are users so dumb they can't click right instead of left? really?

      I have plinked around in a number of Office alternatives, Mac and WinSlows.

      unless you are doing something like running a dangerous petrochemical synthesis plant from Excel 97 spreadsheets' macros, LibreOffice and the separate Mac suites (foregoing any discussion of Office for Mac, which is usually the Windows offering plus/minus a half major version) will do ya just fine. and there are minor changes, on the order of difference of Windows vs Xwindows.

      a day of fumbling, and most users are adept at substitutions.

      this will not crash any company.

      batshit insane pricing models can.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: are users so dumb they can't click right instead of left? really?

        "a day of fumbling, and most users are adept at substitutions"

        From my experience - nope. Most users are not even close to being adept at the original. Hell, if I'd had 1 EUR for every question like 'how do I insert an extra column in my Excel page' I could have retired years ago.

  14. W. Anderson

    glaring propaganda of promoting Microsoft article

    It would be informative if the article author - Trevor Pott - would spell out cearly exactly what is the superior technology that Microsoft posesses in sentence -- ...."Will the superiority of its (Microsoft's) technology"...

    Microsoft enjoys only about 10% of global Cloud Computing Services, compared to 28% for Amazon AWS and approximately 45% for various OpenStack Cloud based vendors - according to report by Synergy Resarch Group, whose results corrolate closely with other reputable findings. Azure Cloud services have become quite dependant on integrated Redhat and Ubuntu Linux Server solutions in order to run "Docker" Containerization and Hadoop Big Data Analytics that are mandated by it's customers. The company is also dependant completely on FreeBSD networking stack just to run it's networking infrastructure, and is basically non-competitive with Enterprise Linux which runs not only all USA and international banking and Financial Services firms, but NASA and aerospace industries science, research institutions and Top500 most powerful supercomputers on earth, as just a few examples

    Google, Fcebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Android Mobile Operating System (OS) , ChromeOS, commercial Drones, Rasberry Pi, Apple – the list is endless, has no reliance on Microsoft technologies.

    As Mr. Pott admitted in article, Microsoft is a no-show for competitiveness in any aspect of Social Media and Mobile computing, including Smartphones, tablets. Even Chromebooks are greatly outselling every make and model of Windows Laptops in last 3 years of Amazon end of year seasonal shopping.

    If Pott is referring to the Desktop, which is dimishing rapidly then he also needs to explain technically just what is the superiority of Windows 8/10 over Apple OS X and Ubuntu/LinuxMint.

    Trevor Pott has demonstrated that he is merely a Microsoft shill, promoting his heroine company to a modern audience that sees right through the hype and crass propaganda.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: glaring propaganda of promoting Microsoft article

      Not a glaring propaganda piece but one noting that many companies have a strategy problem including Slurp and Oracle. The basic assumption is that there is no technical reason to favor any of the vendors so what is the force in the cloud.

      One of the major forces in the cloud is a retailer acting like a cost sensitive retailer selling to price sensitive customers. The post's thrust is that Slurp and Oracle do not offer any compelling reason for their higher prices and flaky pricing structures with AWS and others using a much simpler, generally cheaper, and more transparent pricing structure. To some extent Slurp and Oracle both rely on inertia to keep customers. But, if one is wiling to pay the essentially one-time cost to migrate to AWS one might be able to save money and aggravation over the long term.

    2. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: glaring propaganda of promoting Microsoft article

      Microsoft has great technology, but lacks vision.

      Just look at windows phone... an unnecessary disgrace. And I tried hard to like windows ce.

      Linux is in many ways inferior to windows and in many other ways superior, overall I would say it is inferior to windows server, unless you check the price, then the TCO is inferior, and therefore ppl should use it.

      As fo cloud... I see no point in using azure. Why pay more for the same, and, as some commentards point out, have pricing risks?

      1. Paul Smith

        Re: glaring propaganda of promoting Microsoft article

        I am curious to know in what ways you think one is inferior/superior to the other. After twenty years as a corporate Windows user I have spent the last year using an Ubuntu machine. I cant using voting buttons on emails anymore (unless I use the web front end) and it is more difficult to join Lync online meetings. In every other sense (including the number of calls to the help desk) I would have to say my experience has been as good or better.

    3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      "Trevor Pott has demonstrated that he is merely a Microsoft shill"




      Thanks for that. I haven't laughed that hard in years.

      1. serendipity

        Re: "Trevor Pott has demonstrated that he is merely a Microsoft shill"

        Yeah the MS haters are out in force this holiday season ;))

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: "Trevor Pott has demonstrated that he is merely a Microsoft shill"

          I'm pretty sure I qualify as an "MS hater". That said, I do make a concerted effort to recognize my own biases and put them aside in order to analyze companies, people and markets as objectively as possible. What I want to be true and what is true are rarely the same. Accepting that can lead to understanding why the dichotomy exists and if there is anything I can do to affect it.

          The universe does not care what we believe. Truth exists independent of individual desire, or will.

          But I still find it bloody hilarious to be called a "Microsoft Shill". Made for good fun.

          1. Hans 1 Silver badge

            Re: "Trevor Pott has demonstrated that he is merely a Microsoft shill"


            Upvoted and I must admit that you do, in fact, sometimes, put your biases too far to one side. That is why, when I read some of the sentences in your articles, I, too, have the impression you are a Microsoft shill.

            Great article, although I think MS is already dead, the WinPhone demise came earlier than expected. Windows 10 is avoided with fear left, right and center - ordinary people think it is windows 8+ ... Cloud means the client no longer matters, which means Windows is as good as dead - it is more expensive than the competition. Macros are dying in Office and, once they are removed from the Windows version, the office suite will no longer matter.

            I think Governments will dish Office because it cannot handle ODF (standard document file type) properly, it cannot even handle DOC/PPT/... etc (including X versions) properly, when the files were created with a previous version.

            Look at the recent deal between the French government and Microsoft, it is creating uproar in France (selling^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hdonating data of all French school children + moneys for the service)!

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: "Trevor Pott has demonstrated that he is merely a Microsoft shill"

              "you do, in fact, sometimes, put your biases too far to one side"

              To be honest, I am not sure I know what you mean by this. If you mean that when I am biased I am really biased, well...that's probably true. I have a number of biases I am aware of. I think Ninite is badass. I feel privacy, information security and data sovereignty are important. I think people who try to rule through fear are monsters and value compassion, empathy and sympathy...even when I sometimes find it hard to generate those qualities in myself.

              The problem I have with that interpretation of this quote in the context of this article is that I am not biased towards Microsoft in any way. I hate Microsoft, and they hate me right back.

              I have spent my whole life working in small business IT. I am politically, ethically, morally and economically on the side of "the little guy". I have championed the rights of the hoi polloi for as long as I can remember. These are not qualities that endear you to Microsoft, nor are Microsoft's business policies all taht endearing to me and mine.

              That leads me to the other possible interpretation. That in attempting to put my biases aside and analyse things objectively I somehow wrote statements that were too pro-Microsoft. To be honest, having looked back over the article, I am not sure what those might, be...but I accept that maybe some might find such things.

              I do have to wonder, however, if the biases of the reader don't come into play. If you hate Microsoft - and believe me, I know what that's like - it is easy to see anything that sounds remotely positive as somehow "shilling" for Microsoft. I certainly don't like it when people write nice things about them. My emotive reaction is to shout at the screen and inform the world how horrible Microsoft is.

              The problem is that for all my personal dislike of them, they are, in fact, a massively important and in some cases dominant supplier of IT software and services. They do a lot of things right. They do a lot of things wrong. They aren't so neatly summed up as my emotive reactions would like, but they do tend to create a polarizing emotive effect on everyone.

              I think what so many are unwilling to admit is that it simply doesn't matter if we hate Microsoft or not. Millions upon millions of us do, and it makes no difference whatsoever. Most of us who hate Microsoft will still end up using and support their software and services. And the majority of people - so far at least - aren't annoyed quite enough to be assed to do anything about them.

              Microsoft has the overwhelming majority of the extant IT using population by the short and curlies. They don't need to play nice. By the same token, very few of us ever want to admit the futility of our rage or the reality of our own irrelevance.

              When doing analysis, I don't feel I get to cling to such pleasant mental shortcuts. My own feelings need to be put to one side so that I might engage in analysis logically. No matter how distasteful I find the results.

              Fortunately, Twitter exists. I can vent my spleen by shouting aimlessly into the void, and only the NSA will hear me.

              1. Hans 1 Silver badge

                Re: "Trevor Pott has demonstrated that he is merely a Microsoft shill"

                Upvoted! Thanks for taking the time to respond so fully.

                >That leads me to the other possible interpretation. That in attempting to put my biases aside and analyse things objectively I somehow wrote statements that were too pro-Microsoft. To be honest, having looked back over the article, I am not sure what those might, be...but I accept that maybe some might find such things.

                Spot on!

                Note that I am past hate, I see Microsoft as a kind of crack dealer. The worst thing is, I do not think their solutions are that great (to be polite) or worth it. There are better alternatives out there that would not be anywhere if they were not better and/or cheaper than Microsoft's equivalent.

                There is a reason why Linux/Unix admins get way better pay than Windows admins.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "Trevor Pott has demonstrated that he is merely a Microsoft shill"

                "I am politically, ethically, morally and economically on the side of "the little guy".


                That's what everyone thinks.

                Unfortunately there are some people who try and bore everyone to death with how morally superior they are in every single post they make.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But the Emperor has no clothes

    In NZ, we don't have the major datacentres that Microsoft, AWS and others build. We still have a number of home grown and medium sized vendor datacentres though and they supposedly use world class technology.

    Microsoft forces users to do Office 365 through a Singapore based datacentre.. Email folders can take a while to update. That is unforgivable but MORE unforgivable is the number of outages its had.. Lasting hours some of them.

    If the cloud can't deliver the 3 9's uptime your IT department should have been delivering since 1985 why go there? Why does storage cost so much, run so slow and take so long to get commissioned when you move from consumer to commercial cloud?

    Any large company that delivers its ERP to the cloud deserves the misery they will encounter. Simply put: Its not as reliable or powerful as the solution you can deliver at home. The cost advantage will disappear on the first 4 hour outage.

    Apologies for the Anonymous post but my employer etc...

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: But the Emperor has no clothes

      Your CIO is spineless, from now on he should cut costs and deliver the same reliability as Office 365.

  16. W. Anderson

    comments without any technical merit

    Commentor "aitor 1" suffers from the same inability as Trevor Pott in not being able to articulate - technically - just what are the supposedly "inferior" ( and superior) qualities of Linux in comparison to Microsoft Windows in statement ..." Linux is in many ways inferior to windows and in many other ways superior,"

    The Register is a technology blog, not a social media, and the article author and aitor 1 must make statements based on technically proven merit, otherwise the discussion/conversation degenerates into crass personal opinions only, many times ill-informed.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: comments without any technical merit

      Mate, you lost any semblance of credibility to dictate what The Register is, should be, will be or how anything should be written the instant you said that I was a Microsoft shill. That is the single stupidest, most incorrect, most fundamentally and demonstrably flawed claim that any human being has ever made about another human being since life emerged from the primordial muck on this planet.

      And yet you made it.

      Regular readers and commenters will know better. Readers without blinders on that can be seen from space will recognize that "damning with faint praise" doesn't amount to shilling. But you, oh, Mr. Anderson, you went full derpy.

      Never go full derpy.

      I did get a great laugh, however, in forwarding your comment on to my Microsoft PR contacts. Considering the amount of hair they've lost because I don't toe the party line on anything, I think they'll have a glorious laugh. Or possibly sob uncontrollably into their vodka.

      In any case, Happy Holidays. May your social beverage-related antics be as amusing as your comments. If they are, you'll not fail to be the life of any parties you participate in.

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "Microsoft operates on the belief that for every computer in use, Microsoft is owed a tithe."


    Even if you don't run it (as they did with Unix distributions on Intel processors)

    They wants it.

    Need a "shmegle" icon to denote limitless greed.

  18. Jonjonz

    Oracle and MS are practically driving customers to Amazon, and Amazon is the ultimate fascist state that will crumble after robots take all the jobs, and no one has any cash to pay Amazon their 30%. Nature will eventually win, but not till after a massively bad time for us.

  19. Jason Hindle

    Bandwidth theft?

    "It ended up costing me hundreds of dollars, and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it."

    Can't you insert a lawyer up Microsoft's bottom, for taking bytes without your permission?

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Bandwidth theft?

      Can't you insert a lawyer up Microsoft's bottom, for taking bytes without your permission?

      Probably not. The phrase "By setting your update option to 'automatically download' and/or keeping it thusly set" (or words to that effect) will appear somewhere in the landshark's missive to Mr. Pott, Esq. It will, however, be accompanied by a bill for legal services rendered, amounting to another couple hundred dollars.

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Bandwidth theft?

      And pay the lawyer umpteen times any amount I might recover? Seems pretty futile.

  20. Mikel

    Microsoft cloud

    The purpose for this is to rent you Microsoft's server, rather than have you buy one from their hardware partner. Through some mystical mind bending they have somehow convinced these same hardware partners to help steal their own bread and butter. Talk about the dark side of the Force....

  21. W. Anderson

    off topic Trevor Pott

    All the bluster you exhibit Trevor Pott, still does not articulate what are the proven "factual" technical charactistic you see Microsoft Windows as having over Linux, e.g. Redhat Enterprise Linux.

    Crass distractions of comment do not make any difference to "credible" technical comparisons, and I truly believe that you have thus proven to be a Microsoft shill.

    Kill the messenger when you cannot address the message! eh

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: off topic Trevor Pott

      First off, where did I say anything about Windows "having something" over Linux? I don't recall ever writing such things on The Register.

      Oh, I could do a lovely conference on design choices in various operating systems that compare and contrast them, and I do count different distributions of Linux, BSD and Windows as separate operating systems. But a discussion about the technical, practical and economic implications of various choices probably would not result in my calling any one a universal "winner". Different distributions are better for different tasks, and some were never given the chance to do their best due to marketing failures more so than technical ones.

      It's a very interesting area of debate that I thoroughly enjoy, but not one I look forward to typing out. I prefer to have those discussions as part of a round table debate format. I find speaking faster than typing, and I find that having other experts around offers multiple points of view on the economic and practical aspects of the discussion. Not all businesses or individuals have the same needs.

      Nowhere in this article, or any other, have I said Windows is superior to Linux. I have said in many places that Microsoft has a more proven strategy than any Linux distribution maker, which is simple objective truth. That has nothing to do with technical superiority.

      As for Red Hat: fuck Red Hat. In the face. With an acid-covered tractor. Those bastards have ruined Linux. They have done this not just in their own distribution, but through their control over critical elements of the Linux ecosystem, they have managed to force many very horrible changes on almost every other distribution out there.

      Ironically, while I loathe what Red Hat has done it has made them economically and practically far more successful. They are consolidating control over the entire Linux ecosystem, creating lock-in, and reshaping the very fundamentals of core components of Linux distributions to push people towards paid alternatives to open source packages.

      This is all, by the way, strategy they've picked up from the Microsoft executives they've hired on. It's reinforced by some massively egotistical (some might say megalomaniacal) personalities within Red Hat who have been given absolute control over key components which ultimately are determining the fate of the Linux ecosystem as a whole.

      Unfortunately for Red Hat, their strategy for global domination is simply too little, too late. Linux is absolutely a critical component of any rational analysis of the future of computing, however, it is a component, not the core feature.

      Put simply: nobody (beyond some edge cases on a moral crusade) gives a fuck about the operating system. Businesses and even individuals care about outcomes of computing. They don't even care about the applications. The applications are a means to an end. The operating systems, hypervisors, management tools and even infrastructure that it all runs on are completely irrelevant.

      Price matters. Usability matters. Standards adherence, APIs and so forth matter (so that applications/OSes/hypervisors/tools/infrastructure/etc can be manipulated and made to work with other applications/OSes/hypervisors/tools/infrastructure/etc). Lock-in matters (as a function of price and regulatory adherence). Privacy matters to some people. Security to even fewer.

      Analyzing a market has nothing at all to do with the superiority - real, imagined, or moral - of a technology, group of technologies, company, individuals or so forth.

      Analyzing a market is about examining past behaviour, looking at future plans, looking at the state of current technology, the requests and requirements of customers and analyzing both corporate and human behaviour regarding adoption, retention and reuse of technologies to determine how companies, technologies, standards and industry practices will evolve with time.

      No moral or ethical judgement is relevant here. Technical superiority is a very small factor in a very large equation. A factor that history has repeatedly demonstrated matters only in exceptional circumstances, or where the technical delta is extreme.

      I wrote an article series about the major players in the IT industry. Those whose strategies have changed significantly in the past couple of years and those that will affect and change the course of technology over the next year.

      There is an argument to be made that Google or Facebook should be discussed in this context. They are massive and their R&D budgets are focused on primary research: something that matters in the long run, as they are developing today the technologies that will matter 10 years from now to the rest of the industry. That said, they are not currently focused on anything that will push major market changes in 2016, so I chose to leave them out.

      Compared to the influence that the companies I discuss in this series can, do and will have on the market in 2016, Red Hat is simply not relevant. They exert a vice-like grip on the Linux ecosystem, but that ecosystem ultimately creates a component of the future of IT. It does not affect dramatically the outcome.

      Red Hat is functionally irrelevant to cloud computing. HP and IBM's contributions to Openstack are more noteworthy!

      Red Hat has already consolidated its hold over the Linux operating system as a whole, and it did that years ago. The damage is done, 2015 only say the repercussions of those choices play out as other distributions were forced to fall in line with Red Hat's plans. Nobody has the resources the fork elements (like systemd, gnome, etc) and keep Linux on its original path.

      There is an interesting battle coming over who controls the future of Linux - Red Hat or Docker - but I don't expect that to play out in 2016. If anything, the negotiations for Red Hat to buy Docker will stretch out into 2017, with the result likely to be that Docker becomes to rich for Red Hat to afford. My money is actually on IBM or HP to snap it up. Whether they manage to parlay control over Docker to sideline Red Hat and wrest control over the whole of the Linux ecosystem will be an interesting thing to watch in 2017.

      Red hat is the most successful Linux business to date. That said, Red Hat is small. They are okay at a number of areas, but are not the leading supplier of anything. Not operating systems, not middleware, not administrative or management interfaces.

      Technical superiority - or lack thereof - is simply irrelevant in the context of market analysis. Red Hat has expended almost all of its political capital wresting control of as much of the Linux ecosystem away from the community as possible. In doing so it has alienated many of its core supporters, even as those supporters are currently dependent upon it. (Very Redmondian, actually.) The end result, however, it that it doesn't have the economic, political or community capital to effectively alter the course of the IT industry. Its resources are expended and for all its efforts it bought nothing of value.

      So there you go. There's your analysis of Red Hat and of Linux. (But not of Open Source, which is separate from either and more important than both.)

      For all intents and purposes Linux is Red Hat. They've spent a decade making sure of this. Unfortunately, Red Hat's vision of what Linux is to be is neither true to the fundamentals of what made Linux great in the first place nor ambitious enough to command the future of technology.

      In the face of their rivals Red Hat are today and look for the foreseeable future to be nothing more than an also ran. And in getting themselves to the point that they can profit from "could been a contender" they've ruined something great, along with any real chance that the community ever had to command the future of the technologies upon which all our societies rest.

      Happy Holidays. I hope you get the chance to chill out. You need it.

      1. Dr Paul Taylor

        Red Hat

        I have been a (Debian/Ubuntu) user of Linux for 20 odd years (and a user of other Unix variants for 10 before that), but I don't feel the "vice-like grip" of Red Hat. Please explain. I have never voluntarily used Microsoft, but I do feel their "vice-like grip" because I am forced to buy their OS with my computers and possibly surrender my consumer rights when I remove it and install my own choice of OS.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Red Hat

          Debian is subject to the vice-like grip of Red Hat due to simple economics. If Red Hat - either directly through projects it outright controls, or indirectly, through projects where it merely "exerts influence" - raises the cost of forking (or simply not using) a given open source project then Debian's options become limited.

          Debian can make its choices and devote its own resources how it wishes, but it only has so many resources. Forking critical projects takes money, and lots of it. It takes developer time and those developers have to pay their bills, eat and otherwise live lives.

          Linux isn't some hobbyist project that a few hundred developers can simply make go in their spare time. An upstream Linux distribution like Debian is a massive investment, even when it merely repackaging code from most projects instead of actually maintaining forks.

          A distribution is an operating system, and any asshole who tries to say things like "if the community cared they'd just do the work to make X happen" is being purposefully deceptive. That's not how it actually works. Hasn't been for 15 years or so.

          One great example is systemd. Debian simply didn't have the resources to form Gnome (and other projects) which rely on it. This has had numerous consequences, which I won't go into here, but is a direct result of Red Hat's control of the ecosystem.

          Now, Red Hat will wave its hands around and exclaim that only half the systemd devs are from Red Hat, but that's not really relevant. Systemd has by now become hugely important to modern Linux (again, thanks to pressure from Red Hat), and other organizations have had to devote developer time simply out of self defense.

          Open source is also all about relationships. Who is friends with whom makes all the difference. It can and does drive architectural decisions, and carries far more weight than doing what the community actually wants or even what rational analysis says is best.

          Red Hat is everywhere. Financially, physically, socially. It funds so many developers for so many projects, sends those developers to conferences and otherwise ensures that its people have the backing and tools necessary not just to contribute to various projects, but to lead them.

          Is it an evil, sinister plot? That depends entire on how you look at it. Each choice, taken in isolation, is probably reasonable and innocent. But at the higher levels the choice to make resources available - from hiring staff to okaying project expenditure to conference support - is strategic. It isn't about hugging the community and helping the community get what it wants. It is about using largess to ensure the community has no choice but to do what Red Hat wants.

          Which is exactly what a corporation is supposed to do.

          So yes, Red Hat has a vice-like grip. Even over Debian. Compared to Red Hat Debian is a gnat to an elephant. It can only forge its own path when and where it can afford to do so. And its options to differentiate are decreasing.

          Which, oddly enough, is one of the actual stated goals of the systemd devs: reducing the diversity of the Linux ecosystem so that "needless differentiation" is eliminated. Imagine that.

          I use systemd as an example because it is fairly easy to understand why may want it gone. Systemd isn't the only example. Udev was another (until it become part of systemd). Many distros wanted nothing at all to do with udev.

          There's an argument to be made that systemd isn't part of Red Hat's evil plans to take over the world, but is instead part of Lennart Pottering's evil plans to take over the world. Tomato, tomato. Pottering may own the systemd copyright, but Red Hat not only pays his salary, they chose to adopt it, defend it (and Pottering) and throw resources at evangelizing its use.

          The difference between Microsoft and Red Hat is the difference between top down and bottom up. In the Microsoft approach decisions about direction are made at the top and marching orders are given.

          The Red Hat approach is to fund a bunch of smart people and give them relative (but limited) freedom to run amok in order to see what they come up with. Those projects and ideas that benefit the company strategically receive funding and investment and in this manner corporate requirements for consolidation, control and a general direction are served.

          Microsoft commands an army. Red Hat herds cats. But what open source faithful refuse to acknowledge is that Red Hat also decides which cats live and which cats die. If the cats move in a direction beneficial to Red Hat, they live. But if they start to colour outside the lines, Red Hat turns off the oxygen and a new cat takes over.

          No other organization, no other distribution, no collection of individuals - not even the kernel team - have that level of control over the Linux ecosystem. Red Hat owns Linux. How they went about doing so is Machiavellian, terrifying...and absolutely brilliant.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As far as IT departments are concerned, Amazon seems to have it all wrapped up - and unsurprisingly as Amazon is not threat to IT staff. However, there's a longer term cloud battle that's only just started, and that's the move to SaaS. When business users can buy office tools, mail, CRM, ERP, HCM, POS etc in the cloud, then the IT department becomes far less powerful and influential.

    Looking 5-10 years ahead, why would any business want an IT department who are more often than not seen as an expensive roadblock to business agility when the business users can get all they want from a SaaS cloud supplier?

    Every time I see an article predicting the long term domination of Amazon, I am amazed at the blinkered attitude of many in our industry. If people can't see that tomorrow's businesses will be run on the descendants of gmail, dropbox, salesforce, slurp, workday and even Facebook business then I suggest they should start rasing their eyes a little nigher than their navel.

  23. gnufrontier

    The Enterprise World

    Forget individual users. They were swept up in the wake of IBM's original partnership with Microsoft way back in the 80's. The ripples of that partnership are still washing dollars on Microsoft's shore. Admittedly, the ripples are smaller.

    But business people are risk averse. Most are not entrepreneurs after all. TheY are the boring nuts and bolts of the distribution system. They are interested in their business not IT. Their ignorance however shifted billions of dollars from their customers pockets to Microsoft. It is the consumer that pays the price not the business. Companies pass their costs onto the consumer. When you buy a brand name product, you have paid for the advertising. When you buy any product you have paid for the IT needed to keep the business running.

    In the main, business people are like most other people, herd animals. Why are businesses still using office ? Don't reiterate the BS about maintaining format. We are not talking about medieval typography. It's not the format it's the formulas. Spreadsheets were the go to application in business not word processing. It is the inertia of business in not wanting to change the massive amount of spreadsheets they have constructed over the decades. Excel VBA is like Cobol on mainframes.

    Word processing piggy backed on spreadsheets when it came to vendor selection for that application. MS won the spreadsheet wars and so took the whole suite.

    Libre Office is every bit as good as Excel but it is macro incompatible.

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