* Posts by Erik4872

333 posts • joined 11 Jan 2011

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Uber engineer's widow: Stress and racism killed my husband ... Uber: Let's make flying cars!

Erik4872

I'm not surprised

I'm sure many here will say that the widow is just trying to collect some lawsuit money from Uber before dotcom bubble 2.0 pops, but bad employers really can work people to the bone. I've never really had the desire to work for a tech startup, but people I know who have describe an...interesting...experience. Stories I've heard usually revolve around one or more of:

- Founders/CEOs with major ego or anger management problems who are absolutely miserable to work for

- Very young executives with little or no experience running a large business, leading to all sorts of HR nightmares

- Very young workers with little or no experience working, so they don't know they're being taken advantage of

- Chummy fratboy culture that excludes anyone who isn't down with the rest of the bros

- Constant death marches inspired by any one of the above items

People forget that there are a lot of people who take pride in their work and can't just say no when given unreasonable requests. That, or they feel that they're missing out on the startup lottery if they don't pull their weight and stay employed until IPO day by any means necessary. I'd have no trouble buying the idea that a pressure cooker environment like Uber plus a few external stressors would cause someone to snap and just want out.

Add to that the fact that the guy moved from Atlanta to San Francisco. I live in New York and we constantly have people going down to Atlanta or North Carolina because they don't care where they live as long as they don't have to pay taxes. The cost of living difference between ATL and NYC is stark; ATL and SFO is orders of magnitude worse. $170K a year barely treads water in San Francisco or Silicon Valley. Imagine the stress of having to support a spouse/family in an environment like that.

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DevOps hype? Sometimes a pizza really is just a pizza

Erik4872

Best summary of the current state so far

Stock photos indeed, including large centered bold tagline...it's like someone manufactured a DevOps Startup Kit and every single 3 person team has a web presence that makes them look like a massive fully supported product.

The problem is that there's nothing wrong with the concept of DevOps. Developers and IT need to work together -- we in IT can't just be the Department of No. The main problem with it is that the Second Dotcom Bubble has been inflating for the last few years, coinciding with the DevOps shift. Useful information barely gets heard over the screams of "agile single pane of glass!" Everything's an automation framework, a cloud-based analytics platform, etc. because that's what's driving the phone and app ecosystem. Startups need big data in the cloud to monetize the info generated from their fart app. :-)

Just like the First Dotcom Bubble brought us much improved Internet access and services out of its ashes, I think that reasonable levels of cloud computing adoption and DevOps without the hype and snake-oil tool salesmen will be what we get from this one.

0
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Oracle doing due diligence on Accenture. Yep, you read that right

Erik4872

An unholy match

I fully expect the next headline to be "SAP in talks to buy CapGemini" -- it would make sense. Every big ERP vendor needs a consulting company.

I guess the idea is that software companies are moving away from selling software and onto selling monthly revenue extraction streams. Every former OS and product vendor is doing it -- their goal is to lock you into a cloud-based management tool that they sell access to rather than sell you software to implement. It's unholy, but Oracle buying a management consultancy makes sense. IBM is trying to turn their entire company into an Accenture clone. When you wrap your product in so much complexity that you need to sell services to implement it, that's a golden combination. Oracle could easily sell a set of ERP licenses "plus, we'll throw in half the population of India for _free_ to help you run it!"

6
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Next Superdome CPU chips amble into HPE

Erik4872

Re: Opteron killed Itanium

Very good observation...I had a very similar experience working on migrating another critical airline system from a Unisys mainframe onto Itanium around the 2003-2004 timeframe. Itanium on Linux was the only game in town if you needed 64-bit support (for high memory use applications) and didn't want to lock yourself in to IBM or Sun.

It's really interesting to see this whole thing slowly unfold over a decade or two. I'm assuming HPE is going to either port HP-UX and the Superdome to Xeon hardware or kill it entirely. However, it's not clear they can do this in one shot -- there are three OS platforms running on Itanium now (HP-UX, OpenVMS and NonStop.) Systems running on these OSes are pretty long in the tooth and usually critical to a company or government agency's business...

It would be cool to see these legacy OSes survive on x86-64, but HPE isn't exactly thrilled about supporting them, so I assume they're going to slowly wither and die.

1
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Windows 10 networking bug derails Microsoft's own IPv6 rollout

Erik4872

IPv6 needs a catalyst

It's interesting to see a large non-networking company going IPv6 only on the client side. The problem with v6 is that v4 is still just fine in most circumstances. NAT is a hack, yes, but it's everywhere and allows for an extended life for IPv4. Internal hosts generally don't need end-to-end Internet addressability, especially these days.

Obviously this can't be done easily, but I wish someone would come up with an "IPv7" that has more backward compatibility. IPv4's address space is small enough for humans to understand, and it's easy to communicate a 4-octet IP address verbally to someone.

Interestingly enough, IaaS cloud services are IPv4...and I think the major reason for that is because they don't want to alienate people who've worked in IPv4 networks for decades. They could have easily used this as the opportunity to get rid of IPv4, but it's easier.

4
7

Trello, hello, hello: Todo list biz gobbled by Atlassian for $425m

Erik4872

Selling the mining equipment in the dotcom Gold Rush

During the first dotcom bubble, companies like Sun, Cisco and the telcos were raking in vast sums of money. Back then, every single one of the dotcoms had to cater for either their own or colocated data center space, and a large amount of equipment. The second dotcom bubble has the cloud, which actually lets crazy startups hang around for a lot longer -- the VC money doesn't have to pay for a huge owned infrastructure when AWS or Google or Microsoft offers capacity.via a credit card.

Companies like Atlassian are now the new vendors of Gold Rush mining implements. The hot new thing is apps, and specifically DevOps-friendly apps. For consumer-focused phone apps this model makes perfect sense -- just picture a bunch of hipsters with fedoras, neckbeards, man-buns and PBR in the fridge, sitting around a cafeteria table in an expensive San Francisco office space banging out JavaScript. This environment needs tools like the ones Atlassian markets because the change is so frequent, staff is incredibly thin and the companies "need" to attract hip social media types with tools that work the way they want. On the corporate side, stuff like JIRA lets a company write a check to push the Agile/DevOps button and have their developers talking about stories, features and burndown rates. Actually, it requires a complete culture shift to work properly, but companies still like it because Agile lets them do away with a lot of the expensive planning, break the app into pieces and send it all over the world chasing lower cost labor. (I've worked at places that have gone Agile without the culture change and it's a mess.)

I actually think the end is coming pretty soon for the second bubble. Like the first one, we got a whole bunch of neat stuff out of it, but people are eventually going to get tired of the same old stuff and move on from social media and apps. I'm guessing IoT is going to be the next bubble to inflate, but we'll see. Either way, Atlassian is in good shape - IoT stuff needs to be programmed too.

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Travel booking systems ‘wide open’ to abuse – report

Erik4872

This happens elsewhere too

Whenever you bolt on an Internet/web connection to an existing environment, someone will eventually figure out that any semi-secret information in the system is no longer secret. This kind of thing isn't new - my electric company allows anyone to add access to my account by knowing the account number, ZIP code and name, all of which can be read directly off a bill thrown in the trash. At 90% of large companies, plugging a machine into the LAN immediately means that machine is "trusted" by most access lists and other barriers. Almost no companies treat their LAN as hostile even in the era of phones, tablets and BYOD.

A lot of these systems were designed back in the days when only trusted individuals were capable of accessing them. Way back in the day, travel agents were entrusted with paper ticket stock that would allow them to print tickets to any destination, and when ticketing. check-in and boarding were separate things there was a pretty good chance you could show up with a fake ticket at the airport and get on a plane. The record locator is the unique identifier in the database, and the only machines that used to have access to it were terminals at the airport, reservation and travel agent terminals and the GDS itself. None of this was designed in an era where it was even imagined that someone sitting at home could brute-force the record locators and pull everyone's flight data off websites. The airlines along with the banks were some of the first companies to be "networked" in the traditional sense, and this predates the Internet (consumer web, that is) by a long time.

The question becomes how to solve it. I work in this space (not for a GDS, but very close to the processes.) All of this travel technology at its core is decades old and has huge amounts of dependencies on the core never changing. The cool stuff we see (airline websites, airline mobile apps, kiosks, etc.) is just the top crust talking through layers and layers of abstraction down to a reservation host, mainly in the old-school terminal session based method. Changing any one of those layers is very difficult because it breaks everything riding on top of it. It would have to be something at the web layer, like a CAPTCHA, but it would have to be done in an IATA standard way to make all the airlines adhere to it. The problem is you have to have something universal that acts like a record locator, but isn't available in plain sight or able to be brute-forced. And, it has to be easy -- I can't imagine people wanting to use their passport numbers or other personal identifying information beyond their name, nor do I expect the airlines will jump over an IATA initiative to issue digital certificates to all travelers for use on websites or maintain a central registry of usernames and passwords.

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Twas the week before Xmas ... not a creature was stirring – except Microsoft admitting its Windows 10 upgrade pop-up went 'too far'

Erik4872

Apology or not, results are the same

I'm actually not as much of a doomsayer as most people about Windows 10, but the reality is that for whatever reason, Microsoft is done with any versions of Windows before 10 and Server 2016. They will not have another XP or Office 2003 moment, period. I know why they're doing it (to gain ad revenue and extract monthly subscription fees for Win10 Enterprise users), I'm not a fan of it, but you're just not going to get anything beyond half-hearted support for previous Windows versions. I'm pretty convinced that they're also done with on-premises software and are waiting to lock everyone into Azure, but that's the next phase.

Taking this as the assumed end state, I'm actually glad they were able to get as many customers upgraded as possible. Millions of consumer PCs are completely unmanaged. They go unpatched, and Windows 7 is no longer being looked at with the same scrutiny when it comes to the less-than-thorough job they do patching it. Leaving these systems out to dry means they'll eventually be a botnet member, get ransomware, get a virus, etc. I don't like the way it was done, but at least they telegraphed that the end was near for Windows 7. I think they should have waited until the official end of life date to allow the free upgrade, but the shareholders would have eaten them alive if they were fully or partially supporting 3 complete release cycles of Windows. For better or worse, Windows 10 is the new client OS for everyone as Microsoft sees it.

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Capita is STILL the BIGGEST tech services supplier to UK.gov

Erik4872

Not so fast...

The US also has CSC/HPE, IBM, Unisys, Accenture, and a whole raft of other "IT Services" companies. We've got way more morons than you. :-)

As far as public sector goes, we also have the defense contractors' IT groups which I'm sure could give Capita a run for their money in the cost to talent ratio.

7
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Will Wikipedia honour Jimbo's promise to STOP chugging?

Erik4872

All big non-profits have this problem

Working for a not-for-profit entity does not necessarily mean you're getting paid in soup kitchen meals and eternal salvation. When a charity or other organization gets big, most of them do end up operating like for-profit businesses as far as compensation. Big charities "need" big name executives to run things, and yes there is a lot of quid pro quo favor-granting. There are often controversies with the Red Cross, Salvation Army and such that spend too much per donated dollar on operating expenses, and I fully expect Wikipedia is in the same boat.

That said, I do give money to them every year. I find Wikipedia one of the more useful Internet resources out there, simply because my brain likes to snack on knowledge. If I'm looking for a decent overview of a non-controversial subject, it's a great resource. It's also a time sink -- I wound up spending a few hours last month looking up some engineering term I heard, then getting sucked into the world of Great Lakes shipping before looking at the clock and saying "oh well, I didn't need to sleep tonight anyway."

I think it's better to let them have a little excess cash than turn the whole thing over to, say, Thomson Reuters or one of the scientific publishers, who will rent-seek subscription fees out of everyone.

4
8

A single typo may have tipped US election Trump's way

Erik4872

It's not "hacking" it's "social engineering"

The one thing that I hope this teaches people is that using public email services for anything important is a really dumb idea. So many of these hacking stories actually turn out to be phishing attacks or social engineering, targeting a technically ignorant yet very powerful individual. I've seen this happen in corporate environments. Executives just ask their assistants to handle everything, and as we've seen here, the assistant just forwards the request to IT.

Any corporate exec or politician who is still using hotmail, AOL or Gmail to conduct business is probably still of the mindset that they can't securely get their email from anywhere. iPhone and Android both support secure connections to corporate email accounts -- so 2FA means that you'd have to steal the user's phone to do your hacking. Hopefully both sides of the aisle will take this as a lesson and do some serious hiring on their IT teams to fix this.

6
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Microsoft announces 16 years of support for Windows, SQL Servers

Erik4872

Could be the end of boxed software from them?

Given how hard Microsoft is pushing Azure-first stuff, this might be one last olive branch to their "legacy" customers. Server 2016 is a traditional Windows release, but everything is slowly being sent over to microservices and PaaS-land. My experience so far with Azure is that Microsoft is doing everything they can to get companies to migrate their applications, not just to Azure IaaS, but to rewrite them to use PaaS components. There's a lot of positives for this, but one issue is the fact that you're now paying forever to use the service rather than paying once for a packaged license.

The big things that are going to keep customers on "classic" Windows are things like domain-joined SQL Server, remote app publishing (Citrix/RDS) and Active Directory (not Azure AD.) There's just too much built up around these items and no easy cloudy way to completely replace them. Everything else (ASP.NET applications, file/print sharing, etc.) can easily be handled by an App Service or cloud file storage. Assuming enterprises aren't going to outsource their identity management to Facebook or Google, their choices are going to be Azure AD or Classic AD for quite some time, and Azure AD doesn't do policy-based user/machine management to the same level Classic AD does.

In a way, this makes sense. Microsoft gets a constant revenue stream for cranking out updates, and customers who don't want Azure and don't want to move their applications get a slower pace of change. It's dizzying how much changes in Azure over a month...whole new services roll out almost weekly and the existing ones get upgraded capabilities.

0
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HPE core servers and storage under pressure

Erik4872

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

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

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

""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...."

1
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You work so hard on coding improvements... and it's all undone by a buggy component

Erik4872

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.

5
0

Honeywell's UK staff mull strike action

Erik4872

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.

5
0

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

Erik4872

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!)

9
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Fujitsu to axe 1,800 jobs across the UK

Erik4872

>> "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.

2
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SAP Australia's MD and COO both resign to 'pursue opportunities outside the company'

Erik4872

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.

5
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Google 'screwed over' its non-millennials – now they can all fight back

Erik4872

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.

0
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Dell has laid off EMC people at Hopkinton

Erik4872

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.

4
1

It's time for Microsoft to revisit dated defaults

Erik4872

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.

2
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'Too big to fail' cloud giants like AWS threaten civilization as we know it

Erik4872

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.

5
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Erik4872

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.

12
0

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

Erik4872

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.

3
1

End user computing in the digital era

Erik4872

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.

1
0

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

Erik4872

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.

5
0

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

Erik4872

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.

11
0
Erik4872

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.

9
2

Windows Server 2016: Leg up or lock in?

Erik4872

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.

9
0

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

Erik4872

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.

1
0

Dear sysadmin: This is how you stay relevant

Erik4872

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!!

3
0
Erik4872

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.

5
0

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

Erik4872

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.

11
0
Erik4872

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.

1
0

HPE sharpens knife for next salami-slicing staff redundo round

Erik4872

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?

0
0

Microsoft bins Azure RemoteApp, says go with Citrix instead

Erik4872

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.

0
0

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

Erik4872

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.

2
0

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

Erik4872

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.

1
0

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

Erik4872

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...

18
0

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

Erik4872

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.

3
0

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

Erik4872

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.

3
1
Erik4872

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.

9
0
Erik4872

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?

7
0

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

Erik4872

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.

2
0

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

Erik4872

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.

2
1

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

Erik4872

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.

19
0

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