back to article Hey, tech industry, have you noticed Amazon in the rearview?

Dear readers, I apologize in advance for the cursing, horrible metaphors, similes and so forth that will populate this blog. I am writing this after a day of dealing with a network cryptolocker outbreak and finally hitting that wall where I no longer care about anything except venting unto the world that silent rage that has …

  1. ratfox
    Thumb Up

    Nice Rant

    Would read again!

    1. The Boojum

      Re: Nice Rant

      Have 'pocket'ed to show to colleagues. Should be required reading.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nice Rant

        This whole thing reads like it was written by a person with a meth problem that some company put in charge of IT security. This guy needs to put the sentences in order before hitting submit instead of just frantic scatter shot "things that annoy me" tweets in paragraph form. Ironic that an IT security guy is complaining about unnecessary and cumbersome processes which add little value.

        Easy question: then show me where he's wrong (and by that I don't mean the alleged meth problem).

        The only issue I see is the dependency on reliable network infrastructure (as in: it uses the Net - not good). But, having dealt with suppliers who all want their full dose of BS spent before they even want to discuss taking money and supplying kit (let alone help you in an emergency), this piece is quite accurate.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nice Rant

          I'm not arguing against cloud in general. That's just a banal point, see every other IT article or vendor ad for the last five years for the same argument in favor of cloud. Everyone agrees, except hardware vendors.

          The "just use a credit card" and get whatever you need today point is dumb. If you have all kinds of people in any sort of enterprise just putting in their credit card number and spinning up whatever they want to spin up, you are going to have an architectural mess. Who is going to integrate all of those one off environments with on prem, third party, other cloud apps, who is going to manage all of those one off environments, etc.

          Put another way - the argument that this guy is making against traditional IT vendors is EXACTLY the same argument that end users make against IT every day. IT is slow, expensive, bureaucratic and process orientated. They can do it faster with an Excel/Access app in VB without even contacting IT to hear the 18 reasons why what they want to do won't work. Now some of this is a legit complaint by the end users, IT is too slow and overly focused on the rule book instead of getting stuff done. A lot of the reason IT has the processes, procedures, etc in place though is not just for the sake of processes and procedures.... It is because if they half-bake an app for every user that needs something that day, over time it is going to be an expensive, discrete, duplicative, mess. Now IT doesn't recognize the same logic when it is them, instead of the users, that need something "right now.".... In short, half of this article is just stating the obvious (the cloud thing is going to be big) and half of it is just going over board on why everything can't be whipped up that day. I think it is incoherently written as well, but more of a stylist complaint.

          1. cloth

            Re: Nice Rant

            I agree - this is an over simplistic view on a very complex problem. There are lots of things that can be gotten 'just like that' - but there an awful lot that can't. Most people I end up speaking to have no idea what they are creating and need specialised help - you know - that sort of technical help that isn't just asking for what sort of anti-virus I need. If every Tom Dick and Henrietta got the company credit card - watch out world - IT has just descended into Chaos.

            Simplistic article - however, I quite liked the style and a lot of the content - it just needs moving away from 'IT' as a whole..

            (But he did get an article published so what does he care ;-)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nice Rant

          I actually don't think the network connectivity problem is a real argument against the cloud. If you lose your external networks (already running in the AT&T, Verizon, Orange, Vodafone, etc network "cloud"), you are dead in the water. You are not going to be any more dead in the water if your data center is within AWS or Microsoft Azure instead of in the room down the hall as your users are likely using the internet to connect anyway..... Don't get me wrong, I think the cloud is great and everyone should be using a cloud service of their choosing (not necessarily AWS), but just spinning stuff up in anyway that anyone feels like it is a bad idea on cloud or on premise.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Nice Rant

            I'll give him the point about SAN though. That is a solid point that many people seem to have overlooked. It is really difficult to justify the need for an external SAN today. The hyperconverged or SDS (in the cloud would probably make sense too) approach makes a lot of sense... particularly SDS in my opinion. This is especially true now that you can scale storage in hypercon models independently from CPU/cache.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Nice Rant

              Also, if AWS is so easy to click a button and have services up and running in a few seconds, why do they need this guy? Whoever is consuming the service, like development, can click their own buttons on AWS or the cloud of their choice and they don't need to bother with sys admins, ops, etc.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: Nice Rant

                They don't.


          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Nice Rant

            "your users are likely using the internet to connect anyway"

            This is only true for some values of "your".

      2. Someone_Somewhere

        Re: Nice Rant

        > This whole thing reads like it was written by a person with a meth problem that some company put in charge of IT security. This guy needs to put the sentences in order before hitting submit instead of just frantic scatter shot "things that annoy me" tweets in paragraph form. Ironic that an IT security guy is complaining about unnecessary and cumbersome processes which add little value. <

        This whole thing reads like it was written by one of the retards in Sales/Marketing - you know: the people who barely understand their /own/ jobs never mind the thing they're selling/marketing.

        I look forward to the day when they're replaced by A.I.s - I only hope it happens before I die, so that I can witness their pitiful attempts to sell me their children's/mothers' kidneys for a drag on my cigarette.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nice Rant

          "This whole thing reads like it was written by one of the retards in Sales/Marketing - you know: the people who barely understand their /own/ jobs never mind the thing they're selling/marketing."

          You are kind of in the same boat as the reps who sell you infrastructure. When the cloud hits in full force, there will be few IT ops, infrastructure jobs and few infrastructure sales reps selling to the non-existent IT departments.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: Nice Rant



            In case you hadn't noticed, virtually all sectors are facing this issue across all of society. This is the 4th industrial revolution. At present, nobody has any solutions to the problem.


            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Nice Rant

              "In case you hadn't noticed, virtually all sectors are facing this issue across all of society. This is the 4th industrial revolution. At present, nobody has any solutions to the problem."

              So what is your point then? Cloud is going to be big, hold the presses, and that all of these IT vendors should become Mexican restaurant chains.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: Nice Rant

                These vendors can adapt or they can die. There are no other choices.

                You either enable IT to become as easy to work with as Amazon, or IT won't be there for long. And in order to enable IT to be as easy as Amazon you need to be able to meet IT's needs quickly, efficiently and in real time. You also need to provide them with hardware, software and services that enable IT to deliver a self-service approach to their internal customers.

                That's the way the world is now. Cope.

          2. Someone_Somewhere

            Re: You are kind of in the same boat as the reps who sell you infrastructure.

            No, I'm not - I saw the writing on the wall a /long/ time ago and got out of /doing/ IT - I'm a consultant these days and get to go to interesting places and help people do stuff with IT instead.*

            * audio/visual mostly - it's /loads/ more fun and it pays better too :D

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge


    Not if the incompetence of their store is anything to go by. I can search for something simple, like "bose radio" and get model rockets and gym equipment as "results"

    Not exactly confidence inspiring.

    They are, however, good at taking your money. That's still a step up from some vendors.

    1. Ben1892

      Re: Amazon?

      I'm relived to find I'm not the only one who gets poor search results. Amazon is always held up as the holy grail that all should aspire to, but I can never find what I'm looking for and end up passing them by for a site that has a decent search.

      1. jason 7

        Re: Amazon?

        No the search on Amazon is the worst ever. Go for lowest price means having to scroll though 20 pages of £1 upwards unrelated crap before getting to what you need. Better to go high to low and then you only have 5 pages to scroll through.

        Selecting other search categories like size, price or brand can totally throw search results too.

        It's the one area Amazon have totally neglected.

        However, as said paying for stuff once you find it is so simple. Two clicks for me and done.

        I had one of my old IT Trade suppliers call me up recently to ask why I had not bought anything from them for a while. I just told them that Amazon is usually within a £1 or so of them and offers cheaper delivery with two click purchase. Whereby they always require I login every time, have to confirm my address, type my credit card details in over and over and don't offer a free delivery option. I told them that even if Amazon is a few quid more expensive I'll still buy from them as it saves me 10 minutes. I'm a lazy sod!

        1. Down not across

          Re: Amazon?

          No the search on Amazon is the worst ever. Go for lowest price means having to scroll though 20 pages of £1 upwards unrelated crap before getting to what you need. Better to go high to low and then you only have 5 pages to scroll through.

          Selecting other search categories like size, price or brand can totally throw search results too.

          It's the one area Amazon have totally neglected.

          Quite. The search is so staggeringly awful, that I can't help but think it is that way on purpose. Perhaps the idea is to drum up more impulse buys that way.

      2. EvilBanana

        Re: Amazon?

        Even when I know exactly the very thing that I am looking for, I still can't find it on Amazon. It's easier to find stuff on Amazon through Google, than it is through Amazon. And lets face it, Google search results are now what they used to be...

    2. BurnT'offering

      Re: Not if the incompetence of their store is anything to go by.

      As a way of evaluating AWS? No, it isn't.

      1. ratfox

        Re: Not if the incompetence of their store is anything to go by.

        The search on the Amazon store does suck, indeed. It's however fairly irrelevant in an article about AWS.

        Must be one of these people saying "why would you rent computers from a book store??"

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amazon?

      Hey Straw Man -- "I can search for something simple, like "bose radio" and get model rockets and gym equipment as "results"" < wrong.

      10 pages of results, all related to bose radios & related equipment:

  3. Mike 125


    Agree. From start to finish, the buying process just works and even gets better. I now get free delivery in a couple of days on average, without even trying. They got the IT right, right from the start. How very, very, very, sadly, incredibly rare.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: nailed

      "From start to finish, the buying process just works and even gets better."

      Usually. And when it doesn't then IME their disempowered helldesk with its incomplete grasp of the English language doesn't stand a cat in hell's chance of putting it right.

  4. Anonymous Blowhard

    "this sort of hubris is exactly how mainframes were overrun by PCs"

    I think this is a very misleading statement; mainframes weren't "overrun by PCs", it's just than in the majority of use-cases, PCs were better. But not all; for large scale IO-intensive applications, mainframes still rule.

    We're seeing the same with phones and tablets replacing PCs for content consumption; for most content creation the PC (or Mac) is still the better tool.

    Cloud will definitely be the better solution for lots of applications that are "on premise" now, but it won't be appropriate for everything.

    IT has seen lots of technology changes, sometimes the new stuff is better for every use-case, and becomes the new baseline (paper replacing wax tablets) but usually we're just adding more tools to the toolbox and the intelligent user will select what's most appropriate.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Premise - a : a proposition antecedently supposed or proved as a basis of argument or inference; specifically : either of the first two propositions of a syllogism from which the conclusion is drawn b : something assumed or taken for granted :

      Premises - a : a tract of land with the buildings thereon b : a building or part of a building usually with its appurtenances (as grounds)

      IT'S PREMISES!!!!

  5. Reginald Marshall

    It's probably cyclical.

    I'm too young to have personally experienced the dethroning of the mainframe by PC proliferation, but that situation has remarkable similarities with what's described herein. Need a service? Whip out the credit card and there it is! Just like people could solve a lot of their problems with Lotus 123 and dBase...

    And then those little services proliferate. You find out that their integration with the rest of your processes is nonexistent to lousy. You end up with an unholy hodgepodge of little custom somethings which are partly critical to the functioning of your business, and you don't know which parts are the critical ones. So you organize a department to integrate, control and oversee the services -- and the next priesthood is born.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Spot on

      Not to mention that, in the ease of setting up new, business-critical bits and bobs, absolutely no forethought is given to general data architecture, nor is security even mentioned at all.

      Hey, doesn't that make a solid basis for DevOps ? Hoo boy, it sure does.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's probably cyclical.

      Really good point. Yes, using the mainframe took longer, because there was actually a plan in place and an organizing process instead of a 1,000 people with PCs doing whatever they felt like... PCs worked well to get them what they wanted immediately that day and the next day... but a year in and it was a giant mess of disconnected spreadsheets, file servers, etc and they wished they had a single enterprise app which everyone used instead of 100 versions of the truth. More efficient in the short term, less efficient in the long term. AWS and people with credit cards is similar. It will get them what they want right now, but what about when they want to have a universal service bus or integration architecture. Hmm. It is really no different than people whipping up Excel VB apps with Access and so forth. Quick and easy. You can get it running in a day. Over time it becomes a mess.... Not to say cloud in general is bad, from AWS or Azure... but cloud via people with credit cards is definitely bad.

  6. Nixinkome

    A superb summation of the 'dinosaur' effect nicely sprinkled with some of the most inoffensive to action put-downs I've seen. Who's to know whether the Amazon effect will be as quick to endanger species as the asteroid[s]?

    Just as Amazon has its decriers, the funeral industry constantly plods on. Oh hey, they're making more of them. Burning is a better option. You can still buy books from Amazon and guess what - they are still cheaper too. Ready for scanning.

    I agree that systems from the past have their applications and we wouldn't be here without them but they are not to be discarded, just adapted. I want to push a button to get things done as much as the next and I thank those who are enabling such shortening of task time.

    P.S. Perhaps PHBs have a function in demanding ever shortening time cycles for the rest to implement.

  7. thondwe

    Channel + Frameworks + Internal Purchasing

    I'm with you, and by the time you've added in Internal Purchasing, Framework Purchasing Agreements, Tendering and all that rubbish it takes us months to buy a couple of servers with exactly the same spec as we already have 50 of. Oh and we have to correct the order from the supplier because they've not spec'ed it correctly cause we read the spec sheets more carefully than they do...

    Not only that, we buy them from "resellers" who order them from the "Supplier" who then have some muppets build them (3rd party?) and ship them (another 3rd party) - as a result we don't get what we ordered and it's never shipped to the right location - and no ones knows even when it's going to come.

    AND, the reseller's don't support what we buy, that comes from the manufacturer directly...

    AND, once it's here it needs it's firmware upgrading, which then breaks something else, and DOA pieces replacing before it even thinks of working...

    No wonder AWS/Azure/... is so appealing!

    It's quicker and easier to spec and buy a new car...


    1. Skoorb

      Re: Channel + Frameworks + Internal Purchasing

      I see you too have worked in the public sector.

      We have been trying to lease (yes thats right, lease) a new version a bit of kit we already lease for over a year now. It's been going on for so long the old contract has expired and rolled over to Silly Price With All Support Chargable Per Call™. So now finance are refusing to pay and the vendor are threatening us with reposession.

      We still haven't got an order approved for a new one. And now we have rolled into a new financial year so we've lost budget approval.


  8. Keith Glass

    Seems like nothing changes. . . .

    1998. I'm deploying a system to HQ NATO outside Brussels. And the HP printer we shipped in turns out to only have a North America power supply. So, talk to HP, find the local vendor, buy correct kit ?

    Not that easy. Vendor wants a meeting first. A week from day we called them. Fine, didn't need the printer immediately, continued deploying the rest of the gear. Show up for meeting (at their offices, they wouldn't come to us. . .). They find that we're not registered as a HP Belgium customer, " . . . could you fill out these forms, and we'll get you approved in a few weeks. . . ."

    I look at them like they're from Mars. I pull out my AmEx Corporate Card, telling them I simply wanted to purchase a printer, why couldn't we do that, right there, right then ? "We have procedures".

    Fine, I had approval to spend up to a quarter million Belgian Francs on the spot. . .and they told me to wait a few weeks ?

    So, I go back to the deploy site, grab a copy of the local Yellow Pages, and call up computer stores.

    5 of them say they can get me the printer I want, so I ask them to fax me a bid by COB the next day.

    One faxes me a bid in about 30 minutes. Radio silence from the rest. COB next day hits, I call the guy who responded, give him the credit card, and arrange delivery for the following Monday (this is a Thursday afternoon).

    Monday morning, printer arrives, we unbox, install, all is good. Then a second bid comes in (this is ~Monday, 1:30PM), followed immediately by a phone call, asking what we thought of their bid. They were shocked that we went with someone else (who, BTW, was cheaper), and they were actually surprised that we thought a deadline for submission was actually a deadline, and they promised to complain to NATO Purchasing (That didn't bother us, as the program was run out of, and paid for, by an office in the Pentagon. . . ).

    Even funnier, was that a day before the team flew back to the States, the "official" HP vendor we had originally talked to, called to ask when they could expect our application to become a customer. . . .

    . . . .I finally got to use my limited knowledge of invective in French. . . . (grin)

  9. localzuk Silver badge

    So, so true.

    I stick with one of my suppliers because they're fast and no-nonsense. I want XYZ, I ask for a quote, they get back to me within an hour or so. Usually I can then get an order in that day, and can have thousands of pounds worth of equipment here the next day.

    Compare that to some of the software companies I have to deal with. We have a contract with one web based software provider, and we are likely going to expand it to cover half a dozen or more additional organisations in the next 6 - 12 months. I can't just get the same deal for each school. Instead, I have to meet a rep, get a 40 page contract, sign it, send it back. Whole process several weeks. For access to a website.

    Other companies have it down. AirServer? I want a license? I click buy, stick a card number in and voila I have it!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't worry many managed service providers protect themselves from this innovation thing by including "revenue protection" in their contracts meaning nobody can afford to leave less they get charged £400,000 for decomming their 5 HP G6 servers with sql server ontop of the £1.2m you've already paid over the previous 5 years. Unless you buy the managed solution providers new solution which costs twice as much, but they'll waver the ETF.

    Moral of the story, never work for a company that uses managed hosting.

  11. Ugotta B. Kiddingme


    That is the best article-leading disclaimer I've read in a while. I can almost hear the frustration devolve into "You know what? FUCK this!" Here, I think you need this more than I do. You'll feel much better.

  12. Naselus

    While I agree with the entire point on trying to buy stuff...

    I don't entirely understand why your friend Mr. Unicorn was given network superpowers as opposed to being told to go stick his horn up his own backside, given that the result was so entirely predictable. Next time someone demands superadmin root godhood so they can do their job as junior assistant to the janitor, just scream 'SONY HACK!!!!!!!!' at them repeatedly and then jump out the window.

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: While I agree with the entire point on trying to buy stuff...

      just scream 'SONY HACK!!!!!!!!' at them repeatedly and then jump out the window.


      just scream 'SONY HACK!!!!!!!!' at them repeatedly and then throw them out the window.


  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Worth it for:

    "one of those omnijerk-class twunts who whines and whinges until they're given network superpowers because they're a special unicorn princess"

    Thank you.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

      Re: Worth it for:

      Also had CryptoLocker on my network.

      Luckily permissions to files and folders was heavily enforced, so the damage was constrained to only that user's departmental folders.

      It was a simple procedure to rm -rf said department's data, copy fresh data from a backup, apply network permissions where needed, and everybody was back to work.

      Laptop hard drive? Got binned as I could not get rid of cryptolocker - seems user's son "played" with it and it got installed so good and proper that I preferred to bin that hard drive rather than take the risk of a resurrection. It even start to encrypt USB drives inserted... nah, not good to mess with that. Bin it, get new HDD, reinstall windows, and all is well and good.

      1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        @ Anonymous South African Coward

        but we need to know: did "that user" have an industrial accident? fall up a flight of stairs? or into a "randomly placed" cement mixer?

        You might be giving too much attention to problem solving and not enough to retribution er, future problem prevention...

  14. EvilBanana

    Ebooks more expensive that books

    Can someone explain to me, why second hand books on Amazon are cheaper than Ebooks for the kindle? How does that work?

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: Ebooks more expensive that books

      I am no expert and know nothing about it but that doesn't often stop a determined commentard.

      It seems to me that Ebooks are priced as for the new book, you are paying for the content more than for the physical item.

      Whereas second-hand books are an entirely different market, you are no longer paying the publisher for the original (they've had their cut when the book was first sold) and you are buying it from the current owner as a used item.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Ebooks more expensive that books

      "How does that work?"

      Second hand dealers buy books in bulk for bugger all. Some of them take library disposals. House clearances. Car boots. Remainders. Whatever. They can then afford to pass them on for very little. In fact many of them can sell for a nominal amount because they have enough margin in "post and package" charges.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ebooks more expensive that books

      Because publishers.

      Instead of saying that ebooks are books with much cheaper sales and distribution, they decided to monetize the convenience and as a result, keen readers like my wife continue to return from B&N with books from the bargain bin.

    4. Down not across

      Re: Ebooks more expensive that books

      Well, they're not second hand are they. A more fairer comparison would probably be a new paperback. Also if I recall correctly ebooks suffer from full VAT.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ebooks more expensive that books

        Thats as maybe, but why buy an eBook that costs as much or more than a hardback from the same or other source? Does the ebook format add any value other than convenience

    5. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Ebooks more expensive that books

      Shhhhhhh!!!!! (..he said, all the time making 'cut' gestures)

      Its not an Amazon thing, its the publishers. Due to longstanding law once you buy a book (or a record) its yours -- you get to read it, lend it, sell it or use it to prop up a table leg. Kindle files aren't as flexible. You get to buy a facsimile of the book for about the same price as the book and you can't do anything with it except look at it (and maybe 'lend' it to another Kindle user -- but that's got a lot of strings attached even when its possible). Publishers would love to have a business model that charges customers every time they read or listen to something and the Kindle's closer to that than physical media, its all gravy (which doesn't stop the publishers bellyaching about how hard done by they are).

      My Kindle profile is a bit odd. I seem to read a lot of 'Samples' but relatively few books. It might be due to a) if its an old book I can get a used copy for a lot less than the Kindle price, typically $1 for the book and $4 S&H (and the business is going to a used book store) or b) if I'm going to be nailed $13 or more for a digital file I'll spring for the extra and get a real book thank you very much.

      I suspect Amazon knows all this.

  15. Daniel Feenberg

    There is a reason for everything

    Recently Dell refused a purchase order from me, because I had raised the quantity from 6 to 7 (and kept the same unit price). They had to send another quote, which for some reason had a lower price. So they should have accepted the first PO.

    I do know why vendors ignore potential customers that call them (as opposed to the potential customers that they cold call). It is because sales people believe that the only reason you would call them is that you have bad credit with your current vendor.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Skoorb

      Re: There is a reason for everything

      To be fair, bad credit with your current vendor is an excellent reason to call another vendor.

  16. Martin Summers Silver badge


    I needed anti virus for remote hosted desktops running on VM's. I got the first 5 licences online and emailed their corporate sales to ask if I could get more on the same key as we were going to clone the VM's with their software on them. Not only did noone answer me at all even to this day from about 2 months ago, I had to go through 2 of their support channels before someone finally decided to email me. I told this UK based sales rep what I wanted and after a 2 week gap he finally replied that their business model didn't work that and they couldn't support virtual machines. Bearing in mind their damn software was working just fine and I only needed to hand them more money. I emailed him and literally said "The software is working we don't mind that you don't support it, are you saying you actually don't want to take our money?" absolutely no response at all to that. Suffice to say I went somewhere else then.

    I put the same scenario to AVG on their sales line. "oh it sounds like you need technical support I will put you through" Tech support then asked me for my name then what I wanted, I explained again. "Can I have your email address so I can pull up your record please" I said I don't have a record since I'm not a customer with them. The reply? "How can I help you today?" she literally reset herself to the top of her script. In disbelief I just said I'd already explained twice and there was no way I was doing it again "goodbye". I was in utter disbelief and still am.

    Thanks for giving me the chance to get my rant off my chest Trevor!

  17. Emmeran

    Perfect Rant

    Loved it, learned a lot just from reading it.

    Once upon a time all factories had their own power generation departments (and associated vendors), now they simply have transformers(etc) to connect to the greater grid. Just take a Sunday drive through New England for a classic example of a move from local power (usually water) to steam to centralized power.

    Only a fool fights the tide expecting to win.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    we usually buy lower end kit directly from distributor. Recently I needed a couple of 10G fiber modules for our Cisco switches. Apparently we can't do that anymore, since it has to go via a Cisco partner. Registering as a partner is supposedly easy, but still a hassle. Colleague of mine found some Chinese site that offered 3rd party stuff. Suspicously cheap compared to the "official" gear. Bought four online, got a reply within the hour asking for model numbers of our switches, so they could test them. We received a test report and 3 days later the items, shipped via UPS Express. Works perfectly. Total cost : 83 euro, shipping included.

    So in a way I'm happy that Cisco tries to make it more difficult for us to buy their gear. If it was easy I probably would have paid about 15 times the price without really thinking about it.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      re: "So in a way I'm happy that Cisco tries to make it more difficult for us to buy their gear. If it was easy I probably would have paid about 15 times the price without really thinking about it."

      I see some of the white goods manufacturers are getting it. Just had a tumble dryer belt break. Surprised that manufacturer, not only was prepared to sell me a replacement belt at third-party price, but also pointed me at a YouTube video walking through DIY fitment. Obviously, I could also arrange an engineer to visit.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IT sales

    From experience, the main objective of classical IT sales is to find a way to get the customer to commit without finding out how much the thing is going to cost. There are still many vendors who do this. Call this number to speak to one of our experienced sales confusants.

    Some years ago we need a program encryption system. There was HASP...and there was the company that strung our CEO along for weeks waving vagueness and trying to give the impression that the final cost would come in under HASP. When we finally got a quote out of them, it worked out about 50% more expensive when you did the maths. But the CEO was so proud of his "negotiating skills" that he wouldn't believe it.

    The business model only exists because of the buyers who see it as a way of emphasising their special preciousness of being able to negotiate with confusants. Whether you call it disintermediation or cutting out the middleman, doing it has to be good for technical people. Even the vendors would benefit if they eliminated some of that creaking sales overhead.

    1. calmeilles

      Re: IT sales

      I know that when I tell vendor that the budget is £X they'll come back with an overspecced quote nudging £2X.

      Weeks will then be spent paring down the spec and "negotiating" the discounts until I get what I wanted in the first place at the price I was prepared to pay.

      Vendor's seem to think that this ridiculous process will endear them to you for offering an extra special "good deal" but it doesn't.

      Amazingly however it still seems to work on whole classes of PHBs who will, with apparent sincerity*, offer congratulations on said "good deal."

      The willingness to forego the stupid price/product merry-go-round is why Dell — through a re-seller — got my last order over potential vendors $c, $h and $i. I have no idea if that was good vendor or good reseller but I do know that enquiry Monday, quote Tuesday, purchase order Thursday resulted in delivery following Tuesday. 9 (7 working) days from interest to install will result in return custom.

      [ * Yes, I know it can be faked: but few PHBs have the skill-set.]

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IT sales

      I think in some cases you are correct. Spinning up a vanilla VM on a cloud service, probably don't need a sales person. Putting an entire estate on cloud, probably need a sales person... as everyone thinks they are entitled to a deal beyond the stated price. If people didn't want to negotiate and were pleased to take the price as offered, no need for sales... but they don't. They want a special price and some services thrown in with a few other special considerations. People can go buy HP servers, Cisco, etc on some larger distributors website, but the prices will probably not be where you want them to be and you'll want to lock in that price for the next phase purchase in a year, etc.

      Also, if we are being honest, most of the purpose of sales people is not to service customers. Just as the purpose of marketing is not to inform customers. It is for the vendor's benefit, not the customer's benefit.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: IT sales

        "Just as the purpose of marketing is not to inform customers. It is for the vendor's benefit, not the customer's benefit."

        In some cases it can be very difficult to ascertain whose benefit marketing are for other than their own. They seem to assume that their pestering will not lose my custom. This benefits neither myself as customer nor their employers as vendor.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: IT sales

          "In some cases it can be very difficult to ascertain whose benefit marketing are for other than their own."

          I think we must know some of the same marketers. Difficult to say what the point of their campaigns are other than to have campaigns.

  20. infracat

    Very Nice!

    Your post rings some very familiar bells. As an IT manager I had to deal with many "channels". Some were ok but most were a pain in the _ _ _. I would cringe when the "team" came to call bringing the "young lady" associate who was obviously there as a distraction. Ask a real technical question and the team would need to call someone. I usually tried to work around these teams and talk to the manufacturer myself even using subterfuge by borrowing enough info from another company (through contacts) to make a "support call".

  21. Barry Rueger

    Only in Canada....

    For some reason Canadian retailers and suppliers seem to have a special affinity for refusing to take our money.

    To the extent that we often go directly to a US supplier because even after duty, taxes, and brokerage it's just easier.

    Plus the American company actually sells what we want.

    (Insert rant about so-called "free trade")

    Just this week I was idly looking at using AWS as a home for some decidedly small Web sites and ancillary items.

    It would represent significant overkill, but at first glance would be cheaper, and more ïmportantly get me away from the latest hosting disappointment.

    As much as I dislike Amazon's business and labour practices I keep returning to them specifically because they always greet me with "Hell yes we'll take your money! How can we make it easier?"

  22. Mark 85

    Excellent article/rant that points out the obvious. Some companies and their sales droids are so full of themselves that they have forgot one important thing... serve the customer. If I need a part for say my car, I need it now. Not in two months after listening to sales pitches, finding a "partner" (what the hell?) or jumping through their hoops. Sell me what I want or need now and then leave me a number in case I need some help.

    I see that a bunch of commenters have totally missed the point which is: you want my money, make it easy for me with no BS. You want to feed your ego? Go find another sucker.

    Old saying comes to mind: The sign of a dying business is one that tells their customers: "We've never done that way before and we won't do it now.".

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    or you're going to reason yourself out of a job. If AWS (or Azure or whoever) is so wonderful in the way they can spin up services in seconds, why do they need you to be the middle man clicking the magic button? You could just turn over the entire estate to one of the cloud players, likely AWS or Azure, and then the Dev teams don't need the go between sys admins like yourself. Often times there are situations where the Devs need something "right now" and don't want to wait three business days while the sys admin team finds their credit card (or is finding a credit card even a value add). That is the logical end of DevOps... i.e. Dev runs their own Ops on a cloud. So the real question is: Do you want to be in business in 2020? All that hassle you are complaining about = a sys admin's job. It might be inevitable, but recognize you are complaining about you.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Careful...

      They don't need me to be a sysadmin. And in case you hadn't been paying attention, I saw the asteroid headed for sysadmins a great bloody long time ago and systems administration is no longer my day job. I'm a writer. Systems administration is a side gig I maintain only to have legitimacy in what I write. It is less than 25% of the company income at this point, and dropping fast.

      So no, mate, I'm not complaining about myself. I'm complaining about you. I told the world this shit was heading down the pipe ages ago and then I got the hell out of Dodge.

      Have you noticed that great big hunk of death-dealing rock hurtling towards you in the sky? Because if not, you should look up, mate. Sooner, rather than later.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Careful...

        The issue is... what else are they going to do? Everyone can't be a blogger (well, probably). Everyone cannot be a developer, especially as dev tools require fewer and fewer developers over time. There are going to be a handful of superstars and probably a lot of business user making remediations in a BPM tool. It is the end of IT as we know it. It's a nasty situation for these IT workers. Telling the third world farmers that the multi-national is coming in with combines and chemicals doesn't help them. Telling them to out smart the green revolution doesn't help them because they, as a group, cannot. If you are just stating the cloud is likely going to blow up IT operations, obviously I agree with you. The asteroid is going to hit. It is going to cost millions of jobs with no clear replacement for those jobs in the near future. What's the solution?.... Not sure why it is better to look up as the asteroid hits you as opposed to looking down as the asteroid hits you. The net is the same.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Careful...

          Ask the luddites. They faced this same issue. Maybe you can learn from history.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Careful...

            Except the luddite fallacy wasn't a fallacy for the people involved. It was horrible for the weavers who were thrown out in the street. It made sense for them to want to smash the machines. Yes, when you are looking at the broad strokes of history instead of individual people, it is better to have automatic looms than weavers from a productivity perspective... but the productivity gains are not recognized by the workers in real time.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Careful...

              "It was horrible for the weavers who were thrown out in the street."

              Back in the early C19th it wasn't the weavers who were the Luddites. It was the cloth dressers or croppers who finished cloth for the clothiers - it was the clothiers who were the weavers. Under the factory system there were far more weavers then before. And as far as I can see the factory owners were largely those clothiers who could see what was happening and sold their farming interests to finance building mills; at least one of my 3xgreat grandfather's brothers was one (not that he was successful).

            2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: Careful...

              Where did I say "fallacy"?

              I say study what the luddites did and didn't do, as they have been through this already. The luddites - not the so-called fallacy - are the lesson.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Careful...

            "Ask the luddites. They faced this same issue. Maybe you can learn from history."

            It's an interesting matter. It wasn't quite a single movement and it the issues weren't necessarily simple. The outcomes varied.

            For instance in the East Midlands one company that wanted to mechanise lace production was driven out of Loughborough by Luddism and moved to Tiverton in Devon. Workers who wished to remin with the company walked to Devon. Tiverton acquired a mechanised lacemaking industry at the expense of Nottingham's industry.

            In the West Riding the Luddites were one particular branch of the textile industry, the croppers. Historically the industry had depended on clothiers, home-based family businesses carding and spinning raw wool and weaving it, often combining this with part-time farming. The clothiers depended on others for finishing, fullers, who mechanised earlier and cropping. As mechanisation extended the croppers tried to resist. AFAICT the numbers involved were tiny but reading between the lines of the usually politicised accounts they seem to have been trying to hold the clothiers to ransom. Some of the clothiers sold their farming interests and set up factories with varying degrees of success. Some moved out of the industry into others, quarrying for instance. Many must have ended up as factory workers. And the consequence, from the mid C19th to the mid C20th far more people were employed in textiles in the factory system than there ever were in the domestic system. Employment per se might not have been as significant a factor as remuneration and status.

            And the moral is? Search me. Probably that the results are unpredictable. The set of circumstances that led change in the textile industries to raise numbers employed might not happen in the IT industry.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Careful...

            So you don't know either, then?

            I suppose you could derive some satisfaction from being able to say "I told you so", but merely being the bearer of more proverbial bad news doesn't exactly help the situation much.

            You have a wealth of industry experience, and while entertaining, your diatribes also trend towards the morose; maybe instead of only ranting about the death of IT, perhaps also consider a good followup article about what the poor doomed IT sods could be looking for in the next iteration of their career.

            You've touched on that area in previous articles, and iirc they were interesting as well. After your spleen is sufficiently vented from this latest boondoggle, please consider something in that vein again.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: Careful...

              Let me try to be perfectly clear about this:

              You're fucked. IT is fucked. Steel workers are fucked. Programers are fucked. Robot makers and butlers, cahiers and pop stars. You're all fucked. We're all fucked.

              We have reached a point where we not only automate one industry's worth of jobs out of existence, but we are automating them all out of existence. At the same time, we're giving more and more power, rights and protection to capital owners while massively cutting into the rights of free speech, assembly, protest, and to organize concerning labour issues.

              Despite multiple trials demonstrating that basic income programs are not only viable but shockingly efficient we are globally descending into a hyperconservative mindset that is not only xenophobic and bigoted it is greedy, grasping and violently objects to the idea of "giving handouts". So the one thing that could allow our civilizations to cope with the loss of jobs and the flood of ultra-cheap basic goods is something that is completely off the table in most nations.

              So: we're fucked. There aren't going to be jobs for any but the elite, unless you happen to be willing to work for less than robots. Now, in some cases, people will indeed work for less than robots, but they will eek out a shitty, horrible existence.

              Having been indoctrinated for generations never to raise our voices to those in power, the owners of capital will live high on the fruits of robotic labour, and the rest of us will slowly descend into the squalor of subsistence or barely-above-subsistence living.

              This will take 50 years to play out, but the seeds of it are visible everywhere. There are no "go work this job, you'll be safe, secure and make fuckloads" jobs. For anyone. Anywhere.

              You want a solution? Agitate for social change. Get the peasants revolting. Work towards a more equitable society. Convince your nation to implement social services reforms including basic income.

              Unless and until we all do that, we're collectively fucked, and our children are multitudinously omnifucked.

              That's the truth of the matter. If you don't like it, well, sorry. I don't lie to people if I can avoid it.

          4. MonkeyCee

            Re: Careful...

            Surely ask the miners?

  24. Nate Amsden

    still need people with operational knowledge

    Because 95%+ of developers don't know how to operate shit. I speak as someone who has worked closely with developers(including 2 companies that used AWS for some time) for the past 16 years at a half dozen different companies(mostly startups).

    Most of them are completely clueless when it comes to operating stuff. Many of them don't even care, they don't WANT to know they just want to code. Code quality is quite bad and generally is trending towards worse rather than better.

    I remember one of my former co-workers told me a little thing that happened at his company this was probably 5 or 6 years ago, they were in amazon and the developer asked "can't you just turn on the "auto scaling" feature?" I could understand that coming from a non technical person but a developer? I don't have words.

    A lot of orgs that use public clouds, especially IaaS (SaaS does make sense in a lot of cases), don't know any better. I mean they don't know that it is unusual to spend six figures a month on services. They don't know that they can cut their spend significantly by doing things in house. Of course you need the talent to do so.

    One excuse I heard for using public cloud(the company wasn't using Amazon, but another smaller enterprise player I forgot the name, not one of the obvious ones). This is a billion dollar corp, spending more than $600,000/month with public cloud. They had regular performance problems and outages. But the management didn't care, they didn't want to have to "deal with servers and vendors". (even though they had to deal with their cloud vendor all the time). One of my friends worked there and proposed a plan to bring it in house with a 4 month ROI, management didn't care.

    Last company I was at was paying at the peak over $400,000/mo to amazon, company imploded not long after I left. My current org hired me to move them out of amazon years ago, they launched their app and of course the costs exploded as they tend to do with cloud services, towards the end of our time in that cloud we were well over $100,000/mo, and I'd argue we have grown 8 fold or more since that time (with that growth all of the gear fits in roughly 4 cabinets). The savings were obviously huge, but savings aside the higher availability, better performance, more control, is not as easy to quantify as the raw $ savings from purchasing/etc alone.

    My current engineering management had cloud experience in the past(Joyent I think), with similar results - spending upwards of $500,000/mo on services resulting in a plan to bring it all in house(and they did), so fortunately I haven't had to fight my butt fight in some time. Don't get me wrong though the list of SaaS services we use is long as hell, dozens of them(even some for Ops including stuff from Dyn, Neustar, LogicMonitor, Pagerduty, Duo security etc).

    I'll also say many ops people are shit too, run of the mill IT staff have been bad forever probably (few exceptions I'm sure).

    Operating in a public cloud, especially one as limiting as AWS is requires talent(to do it right), I argue more talent than is needed to do things in house. There are a lot of "features" that you don't realize you get up front.

    It certainly can work, if you put enough effort into it, or if you just live with the unreliable nature of the platform(along with costs etc).

    Amazon tries to recruit me at least twice a year, along with netflix and I don't try to keep track how many service providers and cloud companies and other companies etc. I'm happy where I am at though.

    Looking forward to tonight, HooterPalooza 2016, hooters bikini contest in Fremont, CA doors open at 5PM.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: still need people with operational knowledge

      Agree, but it seems like a maturity thing. AWS has been able to charge a premium because they were really the only game in town. AWS is not inexpensive... whether it is less costly than on prem probably depends. You need to bundle infrastructure, data center space, power/cooling, admin positions like finance, IT HR costs, probably some other things to get an apples to apples. Now they have some competition from Azure and MS and AWS are in a price war, the AWS prices should come down. Azure is pretty good and getting better. Google is also becoming a player.

      1. Nate Amsden

        Re: still need people with operational knowledge

        For my examples all is included. Staff, datacenter, bandwidth etc.

        Here is another example

        Startup was spending 25% of REVENUE ON CLOUD.

        They moved out to tier 1 hardware 6 month ROI.

        I was later told their CEO was so angry at amazon for robbing them (maybe they used other words ), that they were happy to tell others their story and how overpriced public cloud is.

        This kind of stuff doesn't make news often(just not sexy to talk about) even though it's happening a lot. People move in, realize the mistake in a lot of cases and move out (or maybe they are stuck and die).

  25. ndada

    Simple v Complex Infrastructure

    Greetings from an Infrastructure king. Totally agree about the vendor rant and 1/2 agree with the infrastructure rant.

    Currently support many 'out of the box, it just works' solutions from some of those hyper-converged vendors. It doesn't always just work. And instead of spreading the blood of a goat over a switch you're doing it over a shrine to their support personal.

    It's not generally faster to have a vendor fix it (who generally cares a lot less than you do) and it does help to have knowledgeable infrastructure folks to help vendors figure out the problem(s). Granted with these solutions you need fewer of us - but completely get rid of us and the vendors will laugh all the way to the bank with their over-priced, under-specced "solution" that guarantees you'll be back with a check for more hardware.

    Some other commenters have pointed out that a lack of centralized control leads to a poorly integrated, expensive mess. I can attest this is true.

    It also leads to a lot of people re-inventing the wheel for their department because they don't know a solution already exists for their problem.

    I dread the day someone decides this mess needs to be cleaned up and all the systems need to be integrated. I curse the management that's enabling & supporting this. I pity the users that are victims of this.

    The cloud is very useful - but needs to be utilized wisely and integrated well or it just ends up making the cloud vendors $$, not your business.

    1. Someone_Somewhere

      Re: Simple v Complex Infrastructure

      No, no, no ... haven't you been paying attention? DevOPs will fix it!

  26. martinusher Silver badge

    Its not just IT...

    My daughter works in a non-IT industry and she was telling me about the problems of getting stuff overhauled at a facility in Scotland (this is a multi-national / multi-whatever hydra of a corporation so its got business units all over the place). They gave her the "long drawn out intake of breath through teeth / say it will take three months / can't give a price but it will be expensive" reply. Lot of management, people to review, OK, not-OK and generally faff about processing the order with maybe one or two people left (after however many rounds of layoffs) to do the actual work. The problem is that she uses Amazon Prime and while Amazon isn't about to start selling heavy industrial equipment (although I haven't looked...) and its not the sort of thing that gets shipped from a 'fulfillment center' within 48 hours it has reset the bar about how procurement should be managed. So it looks like the people in Scotland will have even less work to do and the management will be occupied figuring out who to lay off next (themselves would be a great place to start but unfortunately they're usually the last to go -- and they usually have the nice 'package').

    In my own field there are companies that get it. They get my business.


    Great post and great comments.

  28. CbD1234567890
    Thumb Up

    Trevor. I love you. You've written here what every CIO / CTO thinks and feels and for that I absolutely ADORE you.

    I have a very short favourite authors list.

    Simon Travaglia

    Trevor Pott

    Rant often, say it the way you feel.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge
  29. the_stone

    I am a communicator...I have people skills

  30. quxinot

    Holy shit. It's probably the first time I've ever wholeheartedly agreed with mister Pott.

    In fact, I've sung almost exactly the same tune after trying to make a purchase at a Best Buy. If you're a business, the overwhelming task for you is to make it easy for customers to give you money. You'd think this would be a prereq for business 101, and the class would build from there.....

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