From Gartner Symposium: IT news of the weird

From Gartner Symposium: IT news of the weird

Summary: Dan and I are at Disney World in Orlando, Florida taking in Gartner's big Fall event; Symposium/ITxpo. Right now, we're both bloggin' from the press room we've also been hitting a few sessions.

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TOPICS: Virtualization
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bittman1.jpg

Dan and I are at Disney World in Orlando, Florida taking in Gartner's big Fall event; Symposium/ITxpo. Right now, we're both bloggin' from the press room we've also been hitting a few sessions. Given all my recent coverage of the OpenDocument Format, I just got back from one on enterprise content management and Dan apparently took in a presentation on security.  If you're here and you see us, be sure to say hi. 

Based on what we heard during Gartner CEO Gene Hall's event kickoff keynote, Dan has already posted our high level impression on this Fall's theme: rapid results.  While I missed part of the keynote because the battery in my IBM Thinkpad T42 went from 67 percent strength to zero in a blink of an eye (causing my system to go instantly dark on me), I did pick up a few odd news items during the morning's presentation (which included several of Gartner's most senior analysts).

One of those came from Gartner fellow Tom Bittman (pictured above right) who said the next big sprawl that enterprises need to start worrying about (server sprawl has always been a thorn in the side) is virtual machine sprawl.   With physical servers where you can size up the problem by seeing all the boxes, it's sort of like Tysons Corner in Virginia where a quick scan of the landscape gives you a real sense of the suburban sprawl that has taken over that region of the state. 

But with virtual machines, where you have no idea how many "computers" are inside each of those boxes, I guess Bittman is warning us that things might really start to grow out of control, especially now that virtualization technologies like Intel's Vanderpool and Microsoft's Virtual PC will be on-board in many of tomorrows systems in one way or another.  

Another issue with virtualization technologies is that they don't just apply to server operating systems.  They also run on desktops.  In fact, after installing VMWare's workstation product on one of my test systems, I'm 100 percent sold on the glory of virtual machines.  Sure, they take more memory.   But the ability to make a clone of my last known stable configuration and to always be able to restart from there -- something you can do with products like VMWare -- is one of those features that you just have to see to realize how useful something like that is.  Not only that, while I have one VM attached to my local area network at home (with access to other local systems and printers), I have another one attached to the corporate VPN.   In the former, I do all my personal work and private emails.  In the latter, it's strictly business.   One system.  Two virtual machines.  Clean separation of work life and personal life. 

One real promising use of personal VMs is on the security front.  Are you one of those people that's paranoid about the bread crumbs left behind by the ecommerce sites you do business with (and whether someone else can steal your identity)?  Then do what I do.  Start up a new virtual machine that's basically a completely clean and cloned install of your OS, use the browser (but no other applications) to do your shopping.  And, when your done, shut down the VM and delete it.  It's like having the ability to wipe out Windows and resinstall it (with all security updates included) in just a few minutes.  So, if you think server-based VMs are going to be subject to sprawl, just wait until end users discover the power of personal VMs.

More weirdness

Bittman wasn't done. Then, he mentioned how he's now hearing about companies that ask their employees to not only buy their own comptuers, but take on the responsibility of managing them as well.  Uh oh.  Are you the family or neighborhood PC guru?  Get ready for your phone to start ringing.  

OK, so let's say this is a half-way decent idea and you were given a $1000 budget for something .  What would that something be?

Topic: Virtualization

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16 comments
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  • Been there, done that

    [i]Then, he mentioned how he's now hearing about companies that ask their employees to not only buy their own comptuers, but take on the responsibility of managing them as well.[/i]

    Which massively beats dealing with a totally clueless IT "help" department.

    [i]OK, so let's say this is a half-way decent idea and you were given a $1000 budget for something . What would that something be?[/i]

    Fry's Special box with a Sempron processor, cheap Maxtor hard drive, cheap video card, and every remaining penny spent on memory. Linux, of course -- saves on the budget and I can be sure what's there.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • WTF?

    > "Bittman wasn't done. Then, he mentioned how he's now hearing about companies that ask their employees to not only buy their own comptuers, but take on the responsibility of managing them as well."

    Do they want me to buy my desk? How about that file cabinet? I'll reserve the trashcan for this idea.

    Oh yeah, your next paragraph implied they were willing to pay for it. I don't see that in his comment/your paraphrase.
    Cardinal_Bill
    • Precedent

      Auto mechanics traditionally own their own hand tools, and many other skilled trades likewise expect their craftsmen to have the basic "tools of their trade."

      With user customization headed where it is, it's not totally unreasonable -- although I wish a computer had nearly the same investment lifetime as my drop-forged wrenches.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
      • I could almost accept that...

        Except then it'd be buy your own stapler/staples, yellow stickies, printer paper and so forth, the next thing you know it would be buy your own toilet paper. Give em an inch and they'll take you to the cleaners. :-)
        Cardinal_Bill
        • Give them an inch

          And they'll dang well [b]insist[/b] on providing you with toilet paper.
          Yagotta B. Kidding
        • So long as you get reimbursed

          I can remember Scott Adams recommended this approach, to office supplies at least, in his book "The Dilbert Principle" (he recommended it as a way to get AWAY from "the Dilbert Principle").
          Mark Miller
          • reimbursed

            thats why it awin win foer everybody when come to tax time company can list it as a buz exspanse they get atax break the employee gets atax break you guy don't see the benfenits from all this its call jobs. you can ork at home seven days aweek father and mothr will be at home i would give them 2500.00 for a computerplus free computer classes drop in the bucket
            jameswest
  • Bad idea - here's why

    OK, so buy my own PC and manage it for $1000.
    So, $800.00 for a PentiumM laptop, w/0.5GB RAM, 60GB HD, Wireless, WinXPpro. Add $150 for 2-3yr support. Install Suse OpenLinux 10, OpenOffice 2.0, Firefox, MYSQL, Evolution w/Exchange connector, etc. This is all part of a company image developed in-house. No licensing costs or upgrade costs. And it integrates into a Windows AD network built and managed by local third-party consulting VAR.

    OK, so how do I ensure that security is managed on the PCs? What happens when a new worm (Linux based) hits? How is custom software installed by users? How are workstation issues/failures resolved by users?

    Even though I can outfit myself and my staff with Linux based Windows compatible systems and software, how do I manage and protect my company? How do I maintain the productivity of my staff without in-house IT support? THis may not be a big problem for a 15 person office, but it sure is for a 50-500 person office/company! This is a nightmare of support issues.

    Each of your office staff has now been transformed into a mediocre/incompetent IT support intern but they are being paid $20-$40/hr as a business/marketing specialist/supervisor/manager!

    Great idea! Saving tons of money just thinking about it. I can't believe an industry analyst got up in front of the IT press and said this out loud! Was he obviously under the influence? I hope so, or he has no other excuse. This is a stupid idea! If there are companies doing this, you're going to hear a thundering silence real soon as those companies stop discussing the status of these programs. They'll be too embarrassed by the failure to discuss it further. Wait and see. One of the worst ideas I've read since picking up PC Mag in 1986. This is worse than DRM. This is worse than Microsoft BOB. Need I say more?
    gigglypuff
    • Shows why 67% of CIOs are afraid...

      ... for their jobs. Users - and management - always knew that users could do a good enough job on their own, without being troubled by expensive people pushing (only) disruptive ideas.

      Turn on your Windows box and start your day. What could be simpler than that? (;-))
      Anton Philidor
    • Kind of agree with ya here

      Particularly about the support issue. It's fine with a small business, where you have maybe 20-50 desktops to manage, but I think in a larger deployment, it could become impractical. Not all hardware is created equal. Secondly, when a computer breaks down, in order for the warranty to apply (ie. to save on the cost or repair), you have to return the computer either to the place where you got it, or back to the manufacturer. I guess the employee is going to have to spend time doing that too, in such an eventuality. Is management going to take the time to keep track of who got what where, beyond the costs, and handle this for them? That would be one way to deal with it, but it could get to be a hassle on them.

      It's far easier to manage such a thing if all of your hardware comes from one, or a few sources. Your hardware supplier(s) becomes "the devil you know" as opposed to the one(s) you don't. It's also a bit easier to hold the manufacturer accountable for problems. If everyone is responsible for getting their own machine from their own preferred source, then if they have problems with that source, I don't know, does word get around sufficiently to prevent others from buying hardware from the same source? In a large organization with thousands of employees, that kind of information would probably be contained within their own departments, or even working groups within the department, depending on who receives the public electronic dialog going on between employees. I doubt word would get out company-wide.
      Mark Miller
  • I've done some of this, but at small companies

    Re: "Bittman wasn't done. Then, he mentioned how he's now hearing about companies that ask their employees to not only buy their own comptuers, but take on the responsibility of managing them as well. Uh oh. Are you the family or neighborhood PC guru? Get ready for your phone to start ringing."

    I haven't purchased my own PC for work yet, but I have typically managed my own PC at work, in the past, with some help sometimes from the I.S. staff. I remember being surprised to hear that at other companies they didn't allow you to do this.
    Mark Miller
  • Employees buy/manage their own???

    My first thought is, has Tom Bittman ever played the role or IT administrator for a large enterprise? With ideas like that I think not. It isn't just the phone that will be ringing; how about the spyware, viruses, against-policy software, etc., etc. Kiss the corporate security good-bye and welcome all the black-hats into the office. What a great idea; job security at last. ;)
    rptasiuk
    • What about security

      With the growing concern over the use of USB drives, MP3 players and other various forms of removable storage media, how would any company expect to ensure internal controls over confidential data if the computing equipment used by company staff is purchased and owned by company staff?

      Any employee with enough time on their hands could spend a weekend on sites such as insecure.org and use some widely available tools to gather confidential company information and store it on the computer they own. If the employee is laid-off or fired for reasons they don't agree with, the highly confidential files they have stored on the computer they own can be used in a way that could reflect very negatively on their former employer.
      Ipv9
      • Ya dont say.....

        What a brilliant observation grasshopper
        glstorck@...
    • employees/manage thier own

      it great it gives the company tax breaks plus the employees can take classes to learn about thier computer its awin win it save the company money plus it give the employess the tools they need to know about basic computers and give other people achance to work when they have alot of time on there hands. i'm consider one of the best in computers
      jameswest
      • Really?

        You may be "consider one of the best in computers" but I wouldn't trust anyone who didn't have at least a rudimentary grasp of spelling and grammar to work on my systems.
        HiRezL