IT People should just say no to clueless reporters....

I originally wrote this after Paul Thurrott wrote a ridiculous article (http://www.windowsitpro.com/content1?topic=android-140400&catpath=google1) about all that is wrong with Android.  After writing it, I felt better but I realized he isn’t the only one with this messed up perception of corporate life.  I have been consulting and supporting companies in the area of IT operations for my entire 16 year career.  I have worked for a vary diverse set of companies from GE and Chrysler to an Internet Startup to Mom and Pop companies and everything in between.  While they all have their own issues and odd behaviors, they always have a few things in common.  IT is always a drain on resources that no one wants to fund.  The IT staff always has to do more with less than they had last year.   Finally, they are all expected to figure out how to do the next big thing.  

So why am I writing about this on a Corporate Linux Blog?   A lot of the press are making an argument for the IT Professionals, the ones supporting the phones, computers and servers companies use every day.  They somehow thinks it’s harder to manage different versions of Android than it is to support Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux which these same professionals support already.  As an operations veteran in corporate environments of all sizes, I am frankly pretty insulted.  My teams and I have been doing this kind of work for my entire career.  

These press individuals have all obviously never been in the trenches when a virus like Nimda hit.  They have not had to make the arguments to upper management that a consultants computer be brought up to the corporate standard for antivirus and patching or they shouldn’t be allowed on the company network.  They are forgetting the days when Microsoft put out patches all throughout the month not just on one Tuesday.  They do not deal with the fact that users routinely stop or refuse to take critical patches.  They have not been at the help desk at 7AM on a Monday morning when <insert vendor name>’s software just messed up the entire call centers computers and the company is losing untold amounts of money every minute they are down.

The reality of corporate IT life is that only in the last couple of years have the tools we have available to us started to become effective at managing any OS.  No matter how hard anyone tries and no matter how large the company is, things fail.  Patches sometimes won’t install or they cause conflicts, or they break new things.  That is just part of life and one of the major reasons why you test.  More importantly, it’s why you always have a back out plan.  None of that means that we can as IT Professionals tell our users not to use X critical software that only runs on Y OS.  We as professionals are there to do what must be done, support our users.  We are there to make things run as smoothly as possible.  We tell them no when it will hurt them, train them when they need to do things in new ways, and generally try to stay as invisible as possible.

Companies have been looking at allowing personal devices into the corporation for years now.  It has never been a whether or not we would have to allow them, but a when and how discussion,  at least internally to IT.  The inability to manage all of these closed and open solutions is the far larger problem today.  As we all know where a problem exists, a line of companies will form to fix it.  Symantec, IBM and others are set to roll out solutions by the end of the year to manage IOS and Android.  They will add Windows Phone 7 when it reaches a critical mass.  None of them is picking sides or describing the problem as more difficult for either of the platforms.  

So the next time Mr. Thurrott or anyone in the press wants to talk about life as an IT Professional he or she should try being one for a while.  For now though, go back to doing what you do best.  Be a great reviewer and tell me what great things I have too look forward to from all of my favorite vendors.  Leave the heavy lifting and worrying about how to protect corporate assets to the people who do that for a living.

When Experts aren't Experts bad stories happen...

I came across this story about Windows vs. Linux Servers on the IT World Website.  The supposed expert states things like "Windows access control "blows Linux out of the water," he claims. "In a Windows box, you can set access-control mechanisms without a software add-on." "  Since I setup access control on Linux servers on a regular basis.  I have never needed a software add-on to do it.  Several of the companies I have worked for have used tools that manage all of their servers in a unified and automated manner.  These tools however were used for all of the systems in their environment be they Unix, Linux, Windows and even the Mainframe.

The "Expert" also seemed to think it was harder to manage a Linux Server over a Windows Sever.  This is strictly a matter of what you are used to.  While there were times in my past where I did Administer Windows Servers.  Going back now and trying to do things is difficult because of how much has changed.  Learning and becoming an expert in any operating system takes time and requires work.

Companies need to evaluate the Linux vs. Windows choice based on what they are trying to do.  Everyone needs to not make this decision on a case by case basis.  There are no hard fast rules and staffing and cost will always be the biggest things to determine it.

 

Why Linux can never win with some penetration numbers....

There is an amazing rant over at Computer World by Stephen J. Vaughan-Nichols that has some really intense data.  When having discussions with people about the penetration of any OS it's really hard to get good numbers.  In this article Mr. Vaughan-Nichols takes issue with the IDC numbers focused on sales of computers.  I agree with him that sales, especially when trying to compare Windows to Linux Sales, because the I have only once purchased a server with Linux on it.  Even that time I got Windows as a bonus.  That means that for the numbers reported in sales my purchase still counted as Windows servers.  For most of my clients I recommended purchasing the most cost effective server possible.  That normally meant that they purchased servers with Windows on them and we would then just reformat and install Linux on the machine.  In this article he points to a similar example of Weta, the company that made all of the AWESOME Avatar CGI.  They are reported to have used 35,000 cores on 4,000+ HP blades running Ubuntu.  What is interesting about that is that HP doesn't see any blade servers with Ubuntu installed so each of those machines counted as Windows machines. So the next time you are debating the installed base of Linux with your favorite Windows Geek remind them that your OS is able to be downloaded for FREE.