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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • 2004, huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    I guess their editorial cycle is really long. For instance, hasn't "utility computing" been around as long as the computer (and I don't just mean the electronic ones)? They say it is "Pay only for the processing power you use."

    Well, back in the Day, when DEC was strong and I was using VMS at government labs, I saw accounting numbers for how many cycles I used and how much that would cost our group.

    This is just another example of my notion, which I hope to turn into an idea, that so-called utility computing is just one side off the swing of a pendulum. This pendulum ossicilates between people who want to control everything on their desktop (so they can install, run, whatever anything they want), and people who want someone else (MIS, IT, geeks down the hall) to manage it for them.

    Often times, these two groups of people are the same. They have everything on their desktop so they do all their own support, then they realize that they are doing all their own support, so they get someone else to do it. After a while, and by my unscientific observations, this time is 5 to 7 years, they realize they cannot do everything they want because someone else controls the computers, so they bring it back to the desktop.

    Why are things like ColdFusion and PHP so popular now? Because Perl was popular before. It will come around again, maybe with a different language or technology, but people swing back and forth between flexibility and ease. How long ago was COBOL created?

    Now, the real trick is to time your business cycle to know when the oscillation is going to happen (i.e. figure out its period). Different places are slightly out of phase, and some places even have different phases in the same company. Big companies may have different departments at different places in the flexibility/ease oscillation.

    But, figuring out when this is going to happen is clouded by the fact that hack "computer journalists" think every development is a new thing. Ask people who have been around a long time, or someone like Ziggy who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of computing starting somewhere around the invention of the papyrus scroll, and you will see that almost nothing is new. Indeed, this is one thing that James Burke's Knowledge Web could elucidate.

    If you beleive the hype, you will end up chasing the next "new" thing just in time to catch it and start chasing the new next "new" thing. Indeed, I think the article looks like jjohn's MarkovBlogger than a serious article on what's happening in 2004. :)
    • Great reply. I only have one teeny side comment:

      Why are things like ColdFusion and PHP so popular now? Because Perl was popular before. It will come around again, maybe with a different language or technology, but people swing back and forth between flexibility and ease. How long ago was COBOL created?

      I think the example of COBOL weakens your argument. Consider the era in which it was created. New language technologies weren't coming around the way that they are now and COBOL had no serious competi

      • I was not trying to make a comment on COBOL itself, but rather the notion that a natural language, executive friendly language was the way to go. Now that I think of it, that's SQL too.
  • TCO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ovid (2709) on 2003.12.03 14:49 (#26270) Homepage Journal

    Interesting quote listed in the article:

    People are voting with their hearts, not their heads. The total cost of ownership of open source is open to question. It is a bit like the move from mainframe to server-based computing: it may cost less to buy, but in the long-term, it may cost more to manage and maintain.

    This is the bugaboo that open-source software has to overcome, but it frequently succeeds. From personal experience, I can tell you that I would much rather administer Apache than IIS. IIS has this annoying habit of "binding" functionality in such a way that changing one setting can silently reset others. No such problem with Apache.

    That illustrates why I think the TCO argument is flawed: these products will get cheaper to manage and maintain when enough people use them and they have a chance to mature. If people refuse to take risks because something is unknown, it will probably remain unknown and immature. Windows wouldn't be so easy to use if no one had used it.

    • The "cheaper to manage and maintain" argument is a bad one. I hate to use the IIS vs Apache example, but I will. You could argue IIS is cheaper to manage because it has a pretty GUI that an unskilled (and thus lower salaried) person could figure out, with Apache you need to hire somebody that knows what they're doing (though they could manage more servers). This ignores the amount of money that you lose when your network goes down when the next Code Red/Nimda/etc hits.
      • That is a bit simplistic though. I have seen a lot of IIS installations. They take a couple hundred Dell rack-mountables to keep everything moving. I think the numbers would come out very different in a full computation.
  • I'm dismayed that all discussion of open source revolved around the monetary costs of purchase and TCO, and not at all on the less tangible costs of having software that you're powerless to modify. Even if MS dropped prices, even to zero, they'd still have a big battle against free software.