a reckoning for tech by the humans that work with it

The impermanence of all things. TechReckoning Dispatch v3n12


Hi friends,

This is the inside of our leaky washing machine. Cameron the repair guy has come all the way out to our beach town three times and hasn’t had the patience to find the leak which is literally the dripping shiny water in this picture I just took. Take from that lessons on (1) doing it right the first time; (2) power of visual troubleshooting; (3) having pride in your job; and (4) the Buddhist teaching of the impermanence of all things. The fourth lesson is the one resonating for me this week since I hope this means we get a new washer, but for you perhaps one of the first three will sustain you through your week — just don’t be a Cameron!

Speaking of the impermanence of all things, here’s a follow-up from last week on VMworld. My correspondents reminded me that VMware is in the midst of a secular shift. If packaged apps are moving to SaaS (latest Forrester numbers), and greenfield apps are all cloud-native, that just leaves the tiny legacy rump for vSphere. That’s not a growing business, and thus VMware’s focus on VSAN and NSX. Looked at another way, VMware’s fortunes rose with the server OEMs, and they are falling with them. There’s a reason Dell is now private and HPE is spinning off pieces of itself — few people buying more servers, and most people are buying less. Just because I say VMware did what it had to do at VMworld this year, it doesn’t imply that VMware doesn’t have a heavy lift to keep growing.

From the mailbag, Edward Haletky cautions us to read between the lines: “I think VMware is telling more story here than most realize. It is pretty subtle and I am not sure they even know how to tell it all at once.” Abdullah Abdullah and a few others mention their affection for VMware, which has to count for something right? VMware really gets under your skin.

Michael White argues that NSX isn’t for everybody yet: “NSX is definitely transformative, but, it has two few use cases at present. It is still also too complex too. I think that the best use of it currently is where there is a lot of change — like for scaling in web based business, or in a big dev test. But, as the complexity changes, and the pricing changes, it can be expected I think, to reach into other places — like normal IT.”

Matt Davis sent an insightful note worth reprinting in full:

A note on the 451 vs the VMware numbers — VMware has public cloud at 15%, 451 has “location neutral” cloud at 41%. So, this is the nut — this data is covered via survey to architects / leaders that have a stated interest in the whole “on premises VMware == Cloud” view of the world. See also https://da5is.com/clouds-and-kitchens-1648b9c06dbe#.bancdcfhw for the reality of private clouds. So, in thinking, yes, I believe that, on average, 15% goes to AWS or Azure, and 25% of survey respondents said that they run workloads on something they label a cloud.

As far as down the road, this is where I think it gets interesting. I believe that the majority of on-premises workloads from a cost perspective are being propped up by sunk data center costs. As data centers age and require capital to update/rebuild, there will be a push across the industry to use the cloud (because it’s the buzzword of the day). So, many companies will attempt to migrate to the cloud to avoid building a data center by executive mandate. These efforts will fail spectacularly, because migrating an existing DC to the cloud within the timeline necessary will be a forklift of non-cloud native practices to the cloud. At this point, I believe we’ll see a large number of articles talking about failed all-in cloud implementations. Not because of cloud, but because of a lack of understanding of what it takes to be successful there coupled with executive mandates. Basically, if you wait until a lack of data center capability forces you to cloud, you’re going to have a bad time. Depending on your vertical, innovation caused by smaller, more agile players, and luck — these will cause several enterprises, even large ones, to fail to the extent that they lose substantial non-recoupable market share to incumbents.

Advice to companies? If you have a data center coming up for maintenance or substantial rebuilding in five years, you should be architecting towards the cloud NOW.

Thanks for the kind words on the new letter-like format. The old format was getting long and kind of formal, and I like to feel like I’m sharing with friends. However, we are working on some new newsy newsletters here at TR HQ, and we are looking for a part-time editor. This is a paying gig. I’ve also got a new podcast series we’re developing to tell personal stories of IT pros working on transformative projects. If either of those intrigue you, let me know.

Here’s where we as a community stand on saving boxes. Bill Petro: only “iPhone/iPad boxes and Mac boxes”. Dan Frith is a reformed hoarder, but now it’s only Apple and audio gear in the hope he’ll resell it, but he just moves it around the house instead. Abdullah Abdullah claims to only keep boxes for the vendor return period, as does Paul Berndt. Sean Massey saves camera and lens boxes for his DSLR fix, and he saves server boxes for the kids to play in! He sent in a really cute pic. On the other hand, Yadin Porter de Leon confesses (brags?) that he saves “the original boxes for everything that runs on power, and [has] a storage shed where one wall is devoted solely to empty boxes for potential returns.” Robert Novak also has whole inventory to manage:

1) Any mobile device that comes with a box. Tablet, phone, laptop, smaller PCs (Alienware Alpha), hotspot, etc. Might have to send it back for service, or use it to ship when I replace and sell it. Keep indefinitely.
2) Printers, for a year or two or until I get around to purging/moving. Sometimes reuse the boxes for packing other stuff.
3) Anything work sends me that I might have to send back. Kinda falls into #1, but is a special case. Keep indefinitely (or until I change jobs).
4) Motherboards and video cards, especially if there are adapters or brackets or such that I might not need today for the build. Easier to identify stupid proprietary cables that way. Indefinitely, until I e-cycle them.
5) Coffeemakers. Yes, severe plural. I think there are six coffeemaker boxes in the garage rafters. Once again, warranty service or moving. Indefinitely.

I suspect there are two kinds of people: active electronics churners who resell regularly to fund their latest purchases (and I know Robert is one), and the rest of us who think we might get around to it some day. (However, I did just sell some 20-year-old Adcom audio gear for $200 (original price: $2000), and I had all the original boxes. I can die happy with that accomplishment.)

For giveaways, the 2008 VMworld VMUG leader playing cards go to Nir Malik and Andrew Miller. Congrats! This week’s giveaway is a RUN DRS shirt from last year’s VMworld, size European XXL (which is smaller than US XXL). Just shoot me a reply and a random person gets it.

We won’t be in Barcelona for VMworld this year, but am looking to get out a bit this year yet, with an eye to AWS re:Invent. Will you be there? Let me know. Also if you have a favorite AWS learning resource to share, I will be happy to pass it along.

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