* Posts by Jon Collins

26 publicly visible posts • joined 13 Jul 2007

Unix is dead. Long live Unix!

Jon Collins


Seven lessons from the HP Touchpad fire sale

Jon Collins

Pants on fire?

At the risk of sounding Californian, thanks for all the great feedback, positive and negative. I should probably have been clearer on one point in particular - in terms of liars, nobody writing in the media said in advance that HP would shift its entire stock in under a week, nor (to their credit) said afterwards, "That was so obviously going to happen." For punters like thee and me, the effect was pretty obvious - the moment Touchpads went on sale, people wanted them. Hence indeed, what pushed me to write this piece in the first place.

While I'm here - the question of whether other vendors can sell tablet devices both at a profit and an acceptable price point right now is moot. Yes indeed, in this instance, Apple is charging a fair price for a device based on current manufacturing costs and its own purchasing power. However, the price is still too high for the mass market - but not for Apple buyers and early adopters. As prices drop I can foresee (through a scanner darkly) at least a two-horse race, with a third wildcard linking to the future of Windows.

And then someone else will bring out the roll-up screen and it'll all change again :-)

The basics of app management

Jon Collins

Kinda sorta

Performance is an absolute, in that it shouldn't drop below a certain threshold, even as the number of users, or the amount of traffic scales. I've seen a few application architectures that were not built for the latter, which meant silly rules had to be imposed for example around the number of concurrent users. In which case, performance was maintained but the system couldn't really be said to be scalable!

Does business really care about security?

Jon Collins
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@Trevor and Jake

Thank you.

Very interesting debate, and what's behind it - namely taking responsibility. The best senior IT guys seem to be the ones who recognise the importance of being very good at technology, and not just trying to fit some imaginary business-oriented role. Meanwhile, the better businesses recognise that IT works best when it is treated as more than a tool. One of the toughest things as we all try to make sense of it, despite "what works and what doesn't" being relatively clear, is how to take a bad IT situation and turn it into a good one. I think this will remain a work in progress for at least as long as I'm in a job.

The evolving role of the IT security manager

Jon Collins

Thanks JLocke and AC

You're absolutely right on all counts of course. Let me say the vantage point of the business is a far better place than that of IT. Ultimately, business management is responsible for information security, not IT management - so there is a question about taking responsibility here. Perhaps the simple question is "who goes to jail?" - but while IT is constantly trying to second-guess the risks or patch holes caused by poor attitudes, nobody gains.

El Reg reader assembles own iPad

Jon Collins

Here's one I made earlier...

OK, I called it "vaiopad" - was this a classic case of peaking too early? ;)


Why an embedded OS is like a mammal

Jon Collins

Fantastic comments, thanks!

To all who have commented and indeed responded, thanks very much for helping bottom out this under-served area. Yes, indeed, just picking up on the 'embedded' category is inevitably going to lead to inconsistencies in both categorisation and interpretation, which we do our best to avoid. But it's comments such as these that we can all learn from! Watch this space... and keep them coming.

What to do about virtual server security?

Jon Collins

Sorry -

We've covered such things in previous articles, I'll dig out some links!

Where is virtualisation taking you?

Jon Collins

@AC I hear you

Aye, planning and management should be in there. The "more dynamic" thought could have been rephrased "a bit less klunky when it comes to actually implementing anything"... I agree that more planning would be a great thing. From other feedback I'm not sure many organisations have it quite as bad as you are suggesting, but I can remember working at an insurance firm a few years back, and sitting in that very room when the ops manager was "told" what would be required of him the week after, in terms of new kit to support. So amen to that.

Jon Collins

On "the bad"...

Can I be blunt here - I don't think we've seen the worst of it yet from a manageability perspective. The risk of IT copping out is high, particularly if faced with too many demands for new servers/services. Best practice in these areas is still being defined - which is why all feedback is so very valuable! Thanks!

Thinking about production scale virtualisation projects?

Jon Collins


Arf arf!

Juggling server virtualisation and database workloads

Jon Collins

What I meant was...

if the databases are local to the server, they will indeed be accessing teh local disk. makes more sense?

What do Scotland, Australia and Africa have in common?

Jon Collins

Rural locations?

Living in a rural location, I've never heard anyone say they don't want fast internet! But then perhaps teh people that don't aren't communicating all that well anyway ;-)

Managing the Windows desktop estate: Your view

Jon Collins

1.7 and 1.8

Well spotted - and sorted, thanks!

Desktop virtualization: More than a little interest

Jon Collins

@W - To be fair...

... that's exactly what we said we would do when we polled The Reg audience!

Chrome OS: Windows killer?

Jon Collins

The idiot

@Peter Snow good point, and it was the former - he was competing for volume with someone else who sounded like he wanted to pack in his job (everyone else in the carriage nearly joined in). As I understand it it was a corporate upgrade, so the main cost would have been in his productivity as he switched. To be honest, apart from the fact he was a noisy git, I had a lot of sympathy!

When rip and replace is not an option

Jon Collins


Hello Anonymous Coward,

Thanks for your feedback. For the record, I agree wholeheartedly. I brought the topic up with reason, given that my last conversations with VMware and a number of other vendors most certainly weren't advocating peaceful co-existence - indeed, the debate I participated in at VMworld (and instigated) was that VMware was suggesting everything could be done inside the virtual sphere, without considering the virtual-physical hybrid you mention. Also participating were representatives from Gartner and IDC, who were confirming the same thing, i.e.: "VMware, you need to recognise the world isn't going to look like your vision, and act accordingly."

Not everybody has access to Gartner and IDC papers, hence one of the reasons for this column, written by analysts, not journalists. I do concur with what you are saying, but the point remains that there exist organisations (including other analyst firms) presenting a view of the world that suggests otherwise. It is therefore worth putting the more grounded view to balance things out, just as I have, and so have you.

As we were indeed ;-)

Jon Collins


Indeed, sir, and all for cheap, generic hardware. It's about making the right choices for the right decisions, for sure. I think "Anonymous Coward" hit the nail on the head with his "Don't Panic" remark - I would extend that to "Don't believe any one technology is going to solve all problems". And while this may be an obvious thing to say, anyone who lived through the mistakes made during the outsourcing wave, say, or the dot-com boom, is quite right to be nervous of the hyperbolic rhetoric around virtualisation, cloud, unified data centres and so on.

What we really think of IT architects

Jon Collins


Hi Jake,

Amen to all that. And agreed on the transatlantic question - it would be interesting, indeed.

Meanwhile, though I have worked on IT architecture I don't think I would ever claim to be an architect - though I have worked with plenty of very good ones, and some not so good. The reason for the question was not to satisfy my personal curiosity but prompt a debate - which I think has been achieved! I think what we have here is a snapshot of understanding where organisations are at, which is fantastic grist to the mill.

Cheers, Jon

Jon Collins


Hold that thought - we're still working on it!

Making project management work

Jon Collins
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Hi Charles,

Very good point.

Cheers, Jon Collins

The jury’s in: Effective software delivery

Jon Collins
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Thanks Solomon...

... for your input. We'll certainly keep your thoughts in mind as we publish the final report. You've hit on something we treat very seriously, which is that these reports are self-selecting and therefore, opinions are sometimes self-serving - the same will be true of managers as developers. What we haven't been able to do in the rather tight timescales is do any detailed comparisons, which we shall be looking into in our future analyses.

And thanks everyone else, anonymous or otherwise!

Cheers, Jon

P.S. Patrick, not that I know of - but its a good idea.

Mobile roaming. Do you care?

Jon Collins

Better than the alternative?

A bit of a divergence of opinion here. The dilemma (quite literally, two precepts which contradict) is that on the one hand, mobile roaming costs are far inferior to what they replace - hotel bills, calling cards etc; whereas meanwhile, on the other hand such costs do not compare well to local call and internet costs when roaming. It is fair enough perhaps that people should be miffed when hit with a large bill - but the research itself suggests that the size of the bill is a less important factor than the ability to predict. £1000/month may be sizeable, but for some, preferable to not having any comms at all. Meanwhile, I know I speak from experience that an unexpected bill of that size can be the single factor that causes a change of service provider, whether or not it is justified.

As for the bundling question, we pick this thread up here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/07/23/mobile_services_mix/

Cheers, Jon

Add a dash of Wi-Fi and sprinkle with data services

Jon Collins

Aye, but how far up?

Interesting comments on the automatic selection - but is it enough to just enable the switch? I'd hate to be half way through a major download when my device chooses to pick GPRS over Wifi, failure would be the better option in some cases!

And the winner is...the laptop!

Jon Collins

Comments on user-supplied hardware – more minuses than plusses?

A clear divergence of opinion here – but I get the impression that the split is between those setting the policies/implementing the schemes, and those impacted by them. Are IT Pro’s just (ahem!) tradesmen who should supply their own devices, or indeed, do we believe that the mothership should provide the kit? I’m personally feeling out of touch with this one as I’ve not worked for a big company for many years, but having said that I now have a personal laptop and a company phone.

Is it perhaps more like company cars? The benefits of a corporate runaround are largely in terms of convenience – often you get what you are given, but at least you don’t have to think about it. Car allowances became popular when the tax breaks started to erode, but I don’t know many people that actually spent the cash specifically on a car, rather, it just went into the pot and they just carried on driving their own vehicles.

The danger – and where the analogy dries up, particularly for laptops – is that computers often need to meet quite specific criteria to be suitable for corporate use. “Can’t enforce security” says one respondent; “yet another boneheaded beancounter money-saving brainstorm” says another. So – is it doomed to failure, or will virtualisation rescue it? Only time will tell, perhaps.

Jon Collins

Comments on form factors - each to their own!

So, there doesn’t seem to be much dispute that there will always be a place for laptops! There’s the question of ergonomics, as well as the number of apps that can be run on them compared to handheld devices.

“I want a phone to phone” says Daniel, “and a [laptop with a] keyboard I can type using both hands,” says Torben. “Everything has a place,” concurs John O’Leary and rightly so – perhaps the last thing we should be tryiong to do is to constrain people to any one form factor. I’m not sure I fully subscribe to the remark “It's a marketers dream but not an end user,” about the mobile Internet, but everyone’s mileage will differ – perhaps we should ask another bunch of questions about that?

Oh, and I’ve learned what an overhead projector is called in German! Gotta love this job :-)