Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

The Open Mainframe Project

It would be remiss of me not to mention another new Linux Foundation project, the Open Mainframe project. I’m actually be pretty interested, from a purely personal perspective, to see what this project does and where they plan to take Linux on the mainframe.

I’m glad to see that both Linux on the mainframe, and the ecosystem is still thriving. Having been involved with it heavily back in the late 90’s, and writing essentially the only public strategy in the original and republished IBM Redbook “Linux for S/390”. The first four chapters were mine.

I can recall with great fondness discussing with them head of IBM Systems Group, and future IBM CEO, Sam Palmisano and many others, the real reason Linux would be key to future success, it’s freedom. With India and China coming on stream as technology powerhouses, with millions of future programmers, it was clear that they would learn on Linux.

Even Windows was still the most pervasive operating system in 1998-2000, it was clear from anyone who understood technical people that Linux would influence not jut code, but threading, languages, library structures, call interfaces and more at the system level. For no other reason than people can study the source, learn from it, adapt it etc. and that was a train IBM couldn’t stop, we needed to be on board before the train left without us. There is a good NY Times article from the period here.

Good luck to the Open Mainframe project.

The technology curve and it’s impact on staff

Picture from wikipediaThe Hype curve is an interesting thing, especially in the modern development and services organizations. It’s been my observation that increasing, staff hiring, to fill out development teams, as well as the services teams follow pretty much the same curve. Development staffing tends to lag 3-6 months, services staffing, another 3-6 months.

The way it works is this. In the technology industry you build up products and services in specifics areas, they follow pretty much what has become known has the “Gartner hype cycle“. A few visionaries are required at first, eventually the adoption rate is so high and so fast that customers can’t get the people they need and you build up services teams to help them often in conjunction to the products you are bringing to market. No one wants a technology they can’t use.

Eventually customers and adoption of a given technology gets to a point where one of three things happen. 1. the technology is simplified and commodotized to the point where you can’t make money from it, or the customers are no longer buying it 2. The customers have taken on board their own teams to do the work or 3. The technology itself is no longer relevant and has been superseded. This can happen very quickly, I could give a number of examples of things I know from my time at Dell, but thats not the point.

Such is the state of the technology industry, that when you reach anyone of these situations you have to look at the people you’ve got and decide how best to use them going forward. Not everyone is willing to re-train, may IT skills are NOT transferable from project to project and while it seems harsh, a team of people focused on the inner workings of a technology from 5-years ago will often be better off being let go to find opportunities with the skills they have, than put into new positions, on new technologies for which they have weak skills at best. This is especially true for services teams. Remember, customers and businesses are being charged for, or paying for the skills, knowledge and experience when they buy services, not to have someone train or re-train on the job.

As I’m sure you are aware, the IT industry is in a constant state of change, old paradigms are going quickly. Expecting businesses to hold on to staff that no longer have the skill and knowledge to develop the products, or deliver the services that will be needed in 18-24 months, much less over a longer period is, sadly a concept from the 1990’s and earlier. Layoffs in advance of change are an important way to balance the demands of an ever changing industry.

I wrote a recent blog post about staying relevant in a large company which applies to a point here

What’s a standard…


As I was working on my latest proposal for the Linux Foundation,  I got this fortune cookie in my takeout.  A reminder,  a standard is only as good as it’s adoption.

DMTF Announces New Vice President of Finance

Selva Subbiah from Dell joins Jon Hass, who is now Chairman of the Board of the DMTF, and Yinghua Qin from Dell Software Group who is VP of Regions. The DMTF remains a leader in industry standards, and is key in both emerging standards as well as getting engagement from the Asia Pacific region and their manufacturing and customer base.

It is an another excellent example of Dell broadening its’ horizon in both the technology industry, as well leadership in emerging and existing standards.

Dell iDRAC w/ Quick Sync

It’s not dead, It’s RESTing

Not withstanding the dead parrot sketch, here is a great example of the technology is “dead” type article I wrote about here , if you are a programmer, agree/disagree?

Claiming anything is dead often gives the claimer the right not to understand the thing that is supposedly “dead” but to just give reasons why that must be so and move on to give advice on what you should do instead.


Gaining a better city view

10584048_10152680088100530_6382819846875428430_nMckinney Texas is a great city, it contains all the best things about Texas towns and architecture.

Now I’m delighted to say they’ve adopted an become a reference for a number of our products. You can read the full solutions brief here.

The city deployed Foglight Application Performance Monitoring (APM) and Toad Data Modeler from Dell Software to increase application visibility, speed troubleshooting and improve integration giving

  • Better visibility into the city’s critical
    web and legacy applications
  • More-modern applications and services for employees and residents
  • Faster diagnosis and problem resolution
  • Proactive troubleshooting
  • Stronger integration of disparate applications
  • Ability to get more out of existing infrastructure

Yes, the picture is of McKinney Falls State Park, it’s not a city property.

About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group. I was formerly Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell, and an IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I'm an information technology optimist.

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