Click here to close now.


Linux Containers Authors: Tim Hinds, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Flint Brenton

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

The IT Professional's Industry Almanac

Industry commentary from the IT trenches

The IT Professional's Industry Almanac by Eathen Anderson takes no prisoners. A 10-year veteran of the IT industry, Anderson has written an honest and critical commentary from the trenches. His audience: the fearful and unemployed IT workers. His main preoccupation: the dysfunctional interface between technology and business. Neither is spared, but his analysis leads him to an unexpected conclusion.

First he explains why IT pays so well - because it's boring, and Americans have "itty-bitty" attention spans while needing everything now. Technology, even as it develops rapidly, requires patience to understand and use correctly. Anderson suggests that the dot-com boom/bust of the late '90s led directly to the outsourcing fad favored by corporations today. Somehow we IT folks overpriced ourselves and are now paying with fear and redundancy. This is fair enough, and many fortunes were made during the boom, but I remember it was business that started the gold rush and the biz dev guys were the first to get fired.

Now, it's true that programming and support services are going overseas - nominally because it is cheaper, but really because corporate executives do not have to interact with foreign geeks or worry about five years down the line. Anderson is particularly scathing about the poor treatment of the help desk, which is most concerned with human management of technology. The problem with American business is that it is more interested in making money than saving it - homework for the first chapter will bring a smile to most IT faces.

It's not just business philosophy, but marketing and the media that overhype products. Anderson claims that 50% of software and hardware products do not work to the manufacturer's specifications. He has much experience with Microsoft OS's; if you buy a new PC loaded with Windows 2000 it will need 27 critical updates and service packs.

There's a brief commentary about boot camps and certification. Anderson explains why MCSAs are more popular than MCSEs (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator and Engineer, respectively). He also mentions both the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) and Linux+ certifications, but I suspect without knowing much about them, and there is the dire warning, repeated several times throughout the book, that Unix is cryptic. The chapter "Hackers, Viruses and Security" is weak - the bottom line is that the hackers (or should that be crackers?) have better tools - most of the top five hacker tools seem to specialize in Windows OS's, which figures, I suppose. But the idea of a global Internet cop shop is just silly; the U.S. Government seems to be doing a sterling job making e-commerce safe for the rest of us.

Enter Our Hero - the network admin, a role that bridges the gaps between software and hardware, end users and geeks, and ultimately business and tech. It should come as no surprise that this is the author's speciality, and Chapter 4 - "The Strategy Chapter" - is an illuminating and detailed case study of the trials and tribulations of one such person.

In the final chapter Anderson features some survival cases, one of which depicts the rather enigmatic fate of a certain network admin. There is a novel in here somewhere. The book is self-described as "a computer novel with a serious attitude," but it really is what its title suggests, an almanac full of lists and laws, useful tables, and sage advice. I hope it gets upated annually.

The lists get better as the book progresses. My favorites are the six end-user personalities (Grinch, Flower Child, Engineer, Annoyer, Savvy Annoyer, Uber Talker) and "A List of Common Childhood Values That Should Be Rethought Before Entering a Corporate Environment." The laws vary from the obvious - The Law of Finality, whereby an expensive solution/product is bought and has to be used, however horrible - to the esoteric, such as Eathen's Equation, actually several equations and a spreadsheet based more on experience than theory and all the better for that.

Anderson expounds at length on his preferred management method, a combination of R&D and ROI analyses. The R&D aspect is particularly important in such a rapidly changing environment as tech: one must avoid "redundant and frivolous tech reading, seminar hopping, or exuberant gadget play" and be able to calculate both the necessity and severity of need for new tech. The example he uses is the installation of a Lindows environment in a 35-person company. This has to be a reaction to years of frustration with the Microsoft OS's - ME and XP both make it into his Top 10 Over-Hyped Technological Inventions of the Nineties list, while Red Hat Linux (no version) makes it into the Top 11 Technological Inventions of the Last Ten Years list (along with Windows NT 4.0 SP6A and Novell 5.0).

Anderson's not a true believer in Linux and open source. Perhaps he's just not tried installing, say, a recent Novell SUSE LINUX distribution, which detects peripherals better than XP and defaults to an eminently usable GUI. Having said that, it is important to separate his legitimate concerns from his Microsoft-marketing-will-prevail cyncism. In fact, his concerns seem to boil down to three:

  1. Unix is a rigid system that does not play well with proprietary software (try telling that to Pixar).
  2. It's not really a GUI so simple stuff takes longer and is not user friendly (first is not true - Command Line Rool! - and the second is, well, not true either).
  3. The open source OS is not immune from viruses, which is true, but as a Perl hacker once said, a closed door is preferable to a locked one.
If you're down in the trenches, slapping your fellow grunt's back is okay, but you shouldn't be afraid to look over the parapet or maybe just up at the wind blowing the clouds. Happy minds create beautiful (and useful) things...back to cynical reality. There are some contradictions in this book, stemming from the author's desire both to give survival advice to IT folks - "Let managers manage" - and his critique of existing business practice. He concludes correctly that the MBAs, which lead to CXO (CEO, CIO, COO, etc.) roles and high incomes, should not displace the real business experience that we mortals understand and practice every day. Of course, unfortunately they do.

In the final chapter, "The National IT Dilemma," Anderson details corporate wages from the front desk to the CEO. He is not so much against the pay differentials for different roles (when the company is making money) and in fact feels it necessary to deny he is a socialist (why are Americans so worried about this label?). However, he ends with a final theory - Passive Unionism - and two recommended URLs: and Anderson sees himself as a cop, an aggressive linebacker worried about national security and waste. But I think ultimately he'd like to be part of the Union.

More Stories By Tony Kirman

Tony Kirman discovered Linux at the same time as the Internet, and has never looked back. He has worked as an itinerant programmer in the content management field for many years, watching as expensive solutions come and go. He is a firm believer in open standards and free software, free beer too when it's available. He has a website - - untouched for a while, and can be reached at [email protected]

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk was on IBM Cloudant, Apache CouchDB, and ...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical to maintaining positive ROI. Raxak Protect is an automated security compliance SaaS platform and ma...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound cha...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.