[lug] distribution favorites?

Nate Duehr nate at natetech.com
Sun Nov 12 10:02:47 MST 2006

Collins Richey wrote:
> On 11/12/06, Nate Duehr <nate at natetech.com> wrote:
> [ lots of fine points snipped ]
> I get a chuckle out of this discussion.
> All of this discussion about the merits of various distros is fine,
> and each has its good/bad points. but in most commercial organizations
> all decisions are made by the suits and legal beagles. It matters not
> how good and stable the distro is, it only matters that the distro has
> a mega-bucks support contract that provides the company with the
> warm-fuzzy feeling that they have bought someone to kick around if it
> breaks (the old German concept wer haftet dafuer?). Of course, it's
> Linux and it almost never breaks, and the mega-bucks are wasted, but
> the suits and legal beagles are content.

Absolutely!  Business continuity issues ("Do we have a service contract 
for this?") regularly trump good technical decisions.  :-)

In the case of Sean's customers, they're going to use whatever Sean 
recommends, because it's far more important to them that they have Sean 
available for assistance in times of trouble than which OS they 
ultimately run.  Same thing in my industry, although Linux still doesn't 
have a huge foothold -- most of my customers want Solaris and it'll 
probably remain that way until vendor companies (like where I work) 
start suggesting the use of Linux over Solaris.  This is slowly starting 
to happen as the developers (far removed from the production 
environment), have started to recommend Linux for the servers for 
various reasons.

What's interesting is, when it comes to other general business machines 
that corporations purchase, corporations RARELY buy a service contract. 
  Only IT is enamored with owning the hardware and paying a retainer to 
keep experts available at a moment's notice.  And a recent Network World 
survey of CxO types indicated that one of the things they're highly 
frustrated with is when they call technology companies they've paid for 
service contracts from, and have to fight to get the things promised in 
that contract.  Ultimately, having multi-tier technical support with a 
1st level support that can do little more than open the ticket and 
gather customer address/contract level information, is bad business.

In the case of other general business machines, the companies really 
just want to know there are experts out there that they can take them to 
if their in-house techs need assistance.  They don't pay to make sure of 
this, the infrastructure is just there.

An example would be fleet vehicles.  To muddy these waters a bit, the 
bigger the organization, the more likely they'll LEASE the equipment. 
Office furniture, machinery, and even that example vehicle fleet -- all 
typically leased nowadays by really large organizations.

How long until organizations lease their computing power?  HP already 
makes mid-range servers where the machine is delivered with more 
processors than the customer paid for.  For the price of a very large 
Purchase Order and the download of a binary file, you can turn on the 
remaining processors at will during times of heavy load (Amazon does 
this during the holidays) or growth.  I also think economically the 
trend toward outsourcing to other countries is an indication that U.S. 
managers/leadership don't want to manage or maintain their own computing 
infrastructure.  Just the tip of the iceberg.

It's an interesting thought -- it doesn't work for a lot of 
applications, and software differences and customization make large 
barriers to simply the idea of leasing computing power, but sometimes -- 
not always -- an organization would be better off not having an IT 
department at all, especially if they trust their vendor(s).  Right now, 
most don't, judging by that Network World survey.


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