Give me a green screen day any day of the week. Now before you say I am crazy, let me explain. Back in the day, we had these centralized systems called mainframes. They were very expensive and were high maintenance. Given these high costs, the systems maintained 99.999 to 100% of hardware availability --WOW! I remember hearing how mainframers were scared to turn off or reboot (they call it IPL) the mainframe. Some mainframes have been up for years before needing an IPL!
Why do newer more advanced server computers have to be rebooted daily? How many times does Chicken Little have to run around the office screaming the "network is down"?
Is it because servers are cheaper than mainframes? Is it because the server guy/girl is clueless? Are the applications junk? Why? Why? Why?
Well here are my thoughts....
1. Servers are cheaper! Not only are they cheaper they are not all that different than your Personal Computer (PC). How many times do you reboot your PC? How many of us put the PC to bed at night? PC's were developed in the 1980's from off the shelf components and used a single user operating system such as DOS or CPM. Back in the day storage was very expensive and the File server was born --Thank you LANTastic and Novell! File Servers did well on the LAN. Application Servers were starting to make their mark, however these machines were never meant to host more than one user at a time, not to mention thousands. For Enterprise Computing we need Enterprise machines, with an Enterprise Operating System --they cost the big money but they are always on!
2. Back in the Day, the computer pros were college graduates. Most were Computer Science and Management Information Systems graduates. Does this matter? You bet it does. It is possible to learn coding (some of our best coders don’t go to college) and other skills on your own, college brings more to the table. Command of the language, and being able to write thoughts in a logical order --i.e. usable documentation! MIS Graduates have business sense in additional to their technical scruples. Many of these grads are management material! Here is the problem; users think the IT workforce is made up of helpdesk/computer fix people. This is so not true, but that is who they see on a daily basis. Many IT organizations are headed by a Chief Financial Officer, who intern thinks all IT people are helpdesk/break fix workers. Based on a lack of technical knowledge, the CFO hires the wrong people into management. These management teams fail because of lack of a business or a technical degree and a general lack of business sense. These practices are worsened do to a shortage of qualified IT candidates.
3. The applications are more complex and should run on a true Enterprise Class computer. I sometimes wish Bill Gates would recompile Windows to run on an IBM P series machine! Wow, that would be hot. However Windows has its shortcomings, remember it was designed for a single user i.e. Personal Computers! Windows is unable to have multiple user environments. VMware has been used to try to get around this, but it requires a complete Windows environment –hence hundreds of servers to patch. In the mainframe world I can carve out a virtual environment that is an extension of my OS. This makes it possible to load and host the application in the virtual environment. It is true that Windows can host multiple applications on 1 Server, but there are conflicts with DLL’s and registry settings. I think a registry is a good idea; however hosting multiple applications that need different registery settings introduces a big risk for conflict.
My thoughts presented above are the tip of the iceberg, many factors are at hand for unacceptable computing environments. Here are my thoughts:
Hire someone who has multiple OS and hardware experience
Hire coders that have a hardware background
Remember a person with a Masters is a manager, shouldn’t make a request for a master degree if the position is hands on technical. Ask for a Bachelors instead, much easier to find and better qualified.
Managers need to be technical and proven leaders. Never stick a techie guy in charge –unless he/she wants the change. Then give them the tools to become and effective manager!
This is all I have to say for now. I can write pages on this stuff….
Check this old article out. May blog about this subject --Downteching!
I agree with some of George Mason University’s Professor Hugh Heclo. DOWNTECHING will allow the above bullets to be accomplished.