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Re: Lucent Technologies & Sun Microsystems




Heya,

I've been following this and, well, even though it seems to be stretching
the scope of a chat about Inferno, I thought I'd give it a whirl.

>Redundancy isn't even the major issue.  The real issue is cost. 

Yeah, you save a whole $200-300 on purchase price ( NC's for less than
$600??? doubt it ). But the BIG saving is on post sales support. I like to
muck around with my computer, fiddle with things and load new
software/accessories/etc. That's sorta like fun for me and for many others.
However, step out of the developer's/hacker's ( meant in the old, cool way
) seat and try looking at computers from the secretary's point of view. 

Like many users ( eg. commercial management, data entry, help desk, etc )
they just want to do their job. Spending a few hours tracking down a
conflicting IRQ, searching for the thing missing from the system folder,
unlinking and chmod'ing a couple of files, etc - for developers, that's
often a challenge. For most other users, that's murder. It's a distraction
from their main work. The computer is just supposed to sit there and work,
help them in their tasks, not lead them from one GPF to another.

I lose about two hours per week working on my assistant's machine - usually
fixing something in the configuration of the machine or the network. I then
get at least another hour or two a week assisting other people around the
office in the sections outside our department ( we sell software, our crew
generally knows a lot about computers ). Don't even mention the whole virus
situation 'cos someone loaded a cool app from AOL or when some wanker
changes the configuration of the network and half the mapped drives
disappear or point elsewhere.

Generally I get these calls I'm walking past, talking with someone about an
issue or just hanging smoking - hell, I'm already there and I'm "free," not
some tech head they have to call in next week when they can next arrive.

As a manager in the company, I can charge myself out to clients at well
over $120/hr, thus every hour I spend fucking around on the PC's in the
office is potentially $120 lost to the company, thus it's losing about $500
per week on my time alone. OK, so yes if they got a junior tech head it'd
be about $50-100 per week max and yes, I kinda like it so it's a psuedo
lunch-hour/cig-break for me, but the point is, after spending $1,500 per
PC, this company is now paying $400 a week or so in un-official support,
not to mention what time the users lose dicking around getting things working.

Now, the concept behind the NC is that after buying it, you plug it in and
the applications are there, the user has their own storage space on the
server, configuration is stored on the server, etc. If an NC "breaks" but
other people's are working OK - fuck it - dump the box and slot in a new
one, they're all the same. 

Naive view? Possibly. After all, someone could dick with their
configuration or something, but hey, setup the software right and it
shouldn't happen, yeah? *grin*

>You can either buy a relatively inexpensive CPU for each user, and let
them do
>their computing at their desk, or you can serve them from a machine with a
CPU
>that's fast enough to serve them all.  Even if you go with max performance =
>1/2 users*local CPU, you're paying big money for that compute server, and you
>pay more and more $/instruction-second the faster your CPU needs to be above
>the mainstream.  Now you make *that* system redundant.

Hang on, hang on. I think I may be mis-reading you here, but isn't the NC
*different* to the time sharing/central processor model because the local
workstation has its own processor and does all its work on board, just
bumping various files ( including applications ), etc over the net, much
like a "normal" workstation? If this is the case, this argument is gone, or
am I missing something? 

>NCs as most of the NC companies envision them are not only less mobile, they
>finally put the hooks into software (machine-keyed licensing, software usage
>fees) that PCs in the office were a reaction to.

Yeah, which is why I and my mobile staff have laptop PC's and the
desk-heads would run NC's... Choose the tool for the job - I'm not about to
use my hammer to turn a screw, right?

>This is why I love the NC concept.  Anyone who is fed up with the "I've gotta
>be a rebel" mindset that is so firmly entrenched in computer guys should
>*LOVE* NCs.  

Or those of us who have to ( unofficially ) support the rest ( I'm systems
development manager - how the hell did I wind up doing tech support???? :)

>Lots of people are clamoring for it, saying that computers are too expensive,
>cheering that we can unseat Wintel (as if that's a worthwhile goal -- unseat
>them for *what*?), &c&c&c, and tech people across the industry who can't be
>bothered to learn the history of their own industry are jumping up and down
>talking about how NCs are going to be Boy Larry's golden spear against the
>evil gates.  And they're going to buy, buy, buy into the NC concept.

Hey, I may not like what Billionaire Bill and the Micro$ofties get up to,
but I'm not letting that cloud my perception of NC's and neither are many
others. Sure, there'll always by the hyper-heads, the spin-doctors and the
dickheads who believe the hype that they read, but in amongst them are
those who evaluate the new offering, determine if it does what they need
and, if so, use it. For me, NC's don't have to destroy Micro$oft, they
don't have to break Wintel and they certainly are not going to get anywhere
near the great nirvana/holy grail of systems. So long as they are another
tool I can use to reduce my daily support costs and let me spend more time
keeping my customers happy, thus giving me more time to earn $$$ for the
company ( after all, isn't that why the company is there? :), then I for
one would surely buy as many as I needed.

>Here's why it's good: FINALLY we have a chance to get these bozos fired.

If I were a hype-follower who just believed the bullshit and sensationalism
around me, implemented a system using all the buzz-words I could find and
watched it collapse in a drivelling heap, then I'd deserve to be a bozo.
After all, I'd be as bad as a foreign advisor who believed what was printed
in the newpapers ( home of sensationalist reporting :) about foreign
affairs and the beliefs/concepts/plans of some countries :)

>And if companies are too stupid to dump these fools after they've tied the
>noose themselves by going full-bore into NCs, they deserve them.

I'm sure I'll remember that if, after I've checked them and they work as I
think they will, I used NC's to drop my expenses and boost my assets ( eg,
happy customers, more profits :) I'm a systems
developer/hacker/technerd/whatever and while I don't have an MBA, I've been
out here long enough to know that:

	if income > expenses then

		you survive;

with a note that a good accountant usually does't go astray, either :)

Well, basically that's my bit on this - I personally wouldn't use an NC -
not my scene 'cos while I'm a manager, I'm still a hands-on tech-head
developer who loves to twiddle and, as a development environment, so far
they suck. That's me. If, on the other hand, I could set up a few NC's on
our network running centrally stored applications with user configurations
on the server so that the secretaries, accountants, business managers and
other <l>users could simply use the computer to help their work and not
have to worry about GPF's, viruses, trashed configuration files, running
out of HD space, etc etc etc. Well, I for one would be extremely happy - so
would our shareholders 'cos the company would be earning about $500 x 52
per year, not to mention the savings on the hardware/network/software
company that services, installs, configures and supports this crazy network. 

Face it - most people out there are just users, not developers like most of
the people on this list. For many, an NC on the desk is heaven. Trust me,
I've been dealing with this stuff for a hell of a long time and can see
where a maintenance free system is a major bonus - be it NC or Micro$oft's
new Zero Admin Windows system ( is that an oxymoron? :)

Sorry if I pissed off anyone who's fed up with the new O/S war this year (
not Windoze vs Unicks vs Max vs whatever, but rather NC vs PC vs Fat Client
vs Slim Client vs dumb terminal vs whatever ). It sure was fun to write
this and thanks for reading it :)

Cheers,

Grant