Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.
Friday, December 03, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
The curtain comes down for yet another 80’s era pioneer. Novell is finally throwing in the hat (not a Red Hat mind you) and selling itself off to Attachmate for the ungodly sum of US$2.2B. There are a couple of interesting questions about this acquisition but first a moment of silence for an historic old ship that has run up on the shoals of competition. At one point they were as hot as Google. But like Sun and other companies of my youth they didn’t keep up and will soon be no more.
Why sell now? Because Novell is obviously not going anywhere. At one time they had the number two PC server operating system, have the number two server Linux and generally were number two in a many things. You can’t be number two without eventually ending up on someone’s shoe. So, if someone offers you enough money to float a missile cruiser, you take it. That’s being responsible. Or maybe the rent’s too damn high. (Caution: Sound is too damn high in this web site).
Why US$2.2B? Got me. I mean that’s not that much of a premium over Novell’s market cap but it’s a lot of money for a company that is a shade of its former self. Part of why that number is so high is because Microsoft (through CPTN Holdings LLC) dropped US$450M into the pot. They have a lot of cash. For them, this is like buying a pack of gum. Still, I have a hard time seeing this pay off for Attachmate. Unless it’s not about paying off for Attachmate per se. (I love foreshadowing…)
Who? Attachmate? I know what you mean. Who the heck are these guys that they can go out and buy Novell. That’s like Meritline (a purveyor of cheap Chinese electronics) buying Best Buy. Seems backwards. Attachmate has a product portfolio that looks like a hodgepodge of data center management products. The deal makes sense from a product point of view in that Novell has their own hodgepodge of data center tools and technology. So, depending on what stays with Attachmate and what goes to Microsoft, you will have a company with a huge collection of somewhat related technology. Combine them into certain combinations and you have a bunch of companies. The funny thing is that Attachmate is nearly as old as Novell but you don’t think of them like Novell. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.
Attachmate is owned by a group of private equity groups. That, plus it’s product portfolio mélange, makes it look like a rollup. Rollups keep going by rolling up more companies and selling them off in combinations. It’s like cooking – a little of this, and a little of that, a pinch of something else and Voila! you have a dish you can sell to investors. That might be where the pay off is.
Why should we care? Really we shouldn’t but we do. Whenever a company with a history like Novell’s gets absorbed and turns into little more than a brand it’s sad. We really should if something bad happens next like SUSE Linux goes away, reducing competition in the Linux market. But really, I doubt that will happen and if it does there’s still OpenSuse, right? If you’re a Novell customer of course you care. You don’t know what these guys at Attachmate (or Microsoft) might do and that has to mess with your head. Otherwise, it’s not a game changing acquisition.
So, what does happen next? My guess is that they package up SUSE Linux with some other stuff and spin it off to investors or another company. If I’m the folks in Redmond I want the identity management IP. That would go along way to creating online services and backend software for trusted Internet environments. Attachmate absorbs the rest and moves on its merry way. Depending what it gets for the other pieces of Novell (like SUSE Linux and ZenWorks) and what it can combine with its own products and sell off, it might make money on this. This is not about product engineering. It’s about financial engineering. And in this type of financial engineering one plus one can equal three.
I wave my hat to Novell as it rides off into the sunset. We’ll miss you amigo.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
- Apps are smaller, originally designed to run on very low resourced devices. This puts more responsibility on the back-end to get things done. The positive aspect is that you can build PC type devices that are less expensive, faster, and have longer battery life.
- They are sold through the Apple App store. There is a back to the future situation. In the very far past of the computer industry (before my time) you only bought software from the hardware vendor. When my Dad2 wanted software for his IBM System 3, he bought it from IBM. Even if it was sold by a third party, IBM was involved in the purchase somehow. Microsoft and Intel screwed that up for the industry. With an open platform, anyone could make and sell software and you didn’t having to give a pound of flesh to the platform vendor. Apps return us (at least briefly) to the old model that was quite lucrative for platform vendors. Each mobile phone provider has it’s own store and likes it that way. It can’t stay that way but I’m sure the client platform providers3 will try.
- Apps are cheap. Partly because they are subsidized by subscriptions and ads and partly because they don’t do anything, Apps sell like webware – for little or no money. This also must change but I think they will stay relatively less expensive than traditional client applications.
- Most of the processing shifts to the bank-end infrastructure, cloud4 or internal, while user experience stays on the client platform. This sets it apart from webware and traditional client-based software.
- Apps won’t muscle enterprise applications off the corporate desktop. They will, however, become an adjunct to enterprise applications. Not everyone needs all the functionality of massive applications that SAP or Oracle puts out. An employee needs a limited view of their PeopleSoft applications and a salesmen on the road needs more limited CRM functionality. Both might prefer a lightweight App that works on his notebook and mobile phone platforms.
- Yahoo Widgets used be be Konfabulator. I liked the old name better. It was sort of steampunk. Now it’s just a generic name.
- Yes my Dad was a computer geek before he retired and my son is in school becoming a computer geek. We are thinking of starting a guild.
- I noticed I used the terms “client platform provider” and “client platform” a bunch of times with out defining it. In this case, a client platform is whatever device the software runs on (PC, Mac, Smartphone, pad device, shoe phone), The provider is who you get it from such as Microsoft, Apple, or Verizon. There is some overlap there I admit. Really, it’s who you will be forced to buy Apps from or through.
- Let’s not get into any “what is a cloud” arguments in the comments. When I say cloud here I mean an outside provider of virtualized computing resources. If it makes you happy to say IaaS be my guest.
- “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin. Charlie really knew what he was talking about.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Caller: “Hi, is Tom there?”Me: “Um. This is Tom. Can I help you?”Caller: “Don’t you want to save money on your personal hygiene needs and help abused farm animals at the same time?”Me: “What the ….?”
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
- Are technology executives of such low moral fiber that they keep getting into trouble with women other than their wives?
- Is Hurd just so good that Oracle is willing to deal with the inevitable lawsuits?
- If so, was HP just that stupid for letting him go?
- Can you really sue someone for something they might do but haven’t yet done?
Friday, August 27, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
- 3Par would have eventually hit the wall. The hardware industry is a game of numbers. Big volume plus low cost equals great margins. You need market share and manufacturing prowess for that. A company the size of 3Par would have eventually gotten eaten alive by the big boys.Or faded into irrelevance. That would have been the slow death.
- The deal provides a nice Return on Investment for 3Par investors. I like it when people make money in startups. It provides fuel for more startups and gives hope to the rest of us entrepreneurs. Now, if you all want to swing some of that cash my way…
- I bet Dell really wants 3Par. 3Par could have gotten bought up by someone who just wanted them out of the way. That would have been sad for the industry. There is a better chance that some of what makes 3Par unique will continue to live on at Dell. It’s nice to be loved.
- 3Par employees can get great deals on Alienware computers. I’m just speculating but wouldn’t that be cool. Those babies are hot! If that’s not in the term sheet then amend that puppy now.
- US$1.15B is a lot of money. Dell is going to have to sell a lot of storage to make that back. That’s especially hard to do when the 3Par message has often been how you could buy less storage at a cheaper price to get the same functionality. I get the “less is more” messaging for a startup but you all have to make back a big pile of money now.
- Dell’s bought a lot of storage companies but still doesn’t have a cohesive storage message. This is actually a good-not good thing. On the one hand, you don’t think of Dell as being in storage the way you do, say, HP or EMC. They’ve bought up a boatload of storage companies but it’s like Yatzee - all tossed in an incomprehensible pile. On the other hand the scrappy 3Par people are really good at new marketing. If they stick around (and Dell should make it worth their while to stick around) they could have a positive effect on Dell’s overall storage marketing. If they’re allowed to which brings us to…
- They can’t use what makes 3Par special. People think that companies like 3Par are about technology. Not really. They are about ideas. The simple audacity of 3Par is part of what makes it successful. That rarely translates well in a big company. Just because Dell wants 3Par doesn’t mean they know what to do with them. The impact of the creative folks that have been driving the company will be diluted once they are just a cog in the Dell machinery.
- On some level, this has to annoy EMC, Dell’s big storage partner. The more meat Dell adds to the storage stew, the less tasty it is for EMC. I keep wondering how long EMC will put up with this. Dell clearly wants to create a business that competes with EMC. An ugly breakup would be bad for Dell since EMC could probably crush them in the enterprise storage segment. My guess is that the only reason this has yet to happen is that Dell has not gotten it’s act together enough to really get in EMC’s way. Maybe this is what EMC needs to go buy a server company and finally become the full service provider that they should. Some of those Taiwanese computer companies have good SOHO servers that would fit in well with Iomega and Mozy. Just sayin’…
Monday, August 09, 2010
|The Sticker Licker!|
|Everything about the tasting room screams the Magic Hat brand.|
- It provides a point of reference. When you see an HP computer you know it’s an HP because of it’s design elements. This is why monkeying around with your logo is a dangerous thing. Not just the logo either but colors, shapes, packaging, the whole tragedy.
- It attracts people. Consumers need to know about what you have to offer. Branding helps cut through the white noise of the marketplace. It doesn’t matter if it’s the whimsy of a beer company or the messaging of an OEM tech company. Folks need a reason to listen to you. Your being there isn’t enough.
- If coupled with great product, it builds loyalty. The ultimate goal of branding is to associate your product with some set of emotions that makes them want to keep in touch and consume more. And to tell all their friends too.
Friday, August 06, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
- Use mean stereotypes. A recent Storwize video portrays a a storage administrator - an IT professional and presumably a customer - as an overweight, sweaty guy dressed in a white short sleeve shirt and tiny black tie. In other words, he’s Dilbert. He even gets abused by his data storage. A true loser. This has just got to insult IT people. And overweight people too. Lovely, a twofer. I did check with some sysadmins/IT pros I know about this. They were not amused.
- Being ironic. As in hipster ironic not real irony. Advertising that is full of snarky, insider jokes never works. Inevitably, someone doesn’t get the joke. Tech advertising can be like this. You try to be funny but it comes across as geeky. It’s all the internal references and acronyms folks. It doesn’t play well with the people who have to write the checks or the end users. Now, reduce it to a twitter Tweet and you get a lot of “Huh?” reactions. If your ad is making a play on the word iSCSI, it will have a small audience.
- Complex messages. Geico’s ads work (just like the Budweiser frogs) because the message is straightforward. Technology advertising tends to be a tad more complex. As in incomprehensible. How can you be funny when you jam several technical and business messages into 3 minutes? You can’t. Even if you start out funny, you are soon mired in Dullsville. Keep It Simple! When Dell ran a serious of ads full of colorful laptops being created to the song lollipop, it was cute, delightful, and humorous. It also got the message across that a laptop was a treat, something you enjoy and not just a tool. You ruin funny when you add complexity.
- No message at all or no connection to the product. Lots of these abound, especially in print. No pictures or mention of a product. Something cute and funny that grabs our attention and then… nothing. You have to connect the good feelings that the humor gives you to something. Otherwise the arousal is lost in space.
- Overdo it. One of the few places Geico blew it was when they overexposed the Cave Men. A whole TV show devoted to them was quite over the top. When you see or hear something repeatedly, you start to like it more. After a certain point, however, it gets overexposed and you begin to like it less. Psychologists have known about this behavior (called the Familiarity Principle) since the early 1960’s.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
I have noticed a lot of bloggers coming clean about how their blogs are influenced by who they work for. One of my favorite bloggers, Marc Farley (aka 3PARFarley) recently published his statement. To say I was not in the least surprised to find that 3PARFarley worked for 3PAR is a bit of an understatement. His tongue and cheek blog can be found at http://doiop.com/mfmotives
Never to let an opportunity go by to get some traction from the work of others, I wish to add my own transparency statement. Here it goes:
Unlike so many other bloggers, I can honestly say that my blog is not influenced by any company. That’s because I am not part of any company. It’s not what I would choose but it gives me the opportunity to say “No one tells me what to do (other than my wife)!” For the right money I’m willing to change all that. Not the part about the wife. I would never change that. Love ya honey.
I write what I write because I think it’s right. Or maybe because I’m a blowhard who likes to hear himself talk. Perhaps it’s so that I don’t have to find meaningful employment and can call myself a blogger instead. It could be a mental illness such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Who knows. Or it could be that the aliens tell me to write. Good thing they don’t tell me what to write because then this would be one big horrible lie. I couldn’t live with that.
I don’t like to admit this but this has not always been the case. Not the part about aliens silly. They’ve always been there. No, the company part. I have blogged for companies that I worked for and it surely influenced my personal blog. Not in the form of shilling for the company (that’s what corporate blogs are for) but in staying away from certain topics or companies so as not to offend someone who contributed to my livelihood. The unfortunate accident of my current situation frees me from that worry. I am now truly free to annoy anyone I choose… unless I’m interviewing with them. Then I have to wait until they stop calling back to use them as a piñata. Just kidding about the piñata part. No really. No worries. But next time get a non-disclosure…
My problem with transparency statements (mine and Marc’s excluded of course) is that they assume that we are all too stupid to figure out that most blogs are sponsored, paid for, or otherwise influenced by a corporation. Come on folks! What ISN’T manipulated by a company these days? Please don’t act like anyone is hiding something. Gosh, what was the giveaway? The corporate logo on the top of the page? How about the bio that starts with “I work for (insert company name here)”? I’m not cynical, just realistic. Even most of the so-called private blogs say things like “These views do not reflect the views of my company.” The heck they don’t. Let’s have someone lambast the CEO and see if the disclaimer saves his job. Of course it won’t so you stay away from certain topics. That’s influence. See the advertising on the blog? Do you think that comes without strings? Sorry but no. The first time you lose an advertiser because of what you write you learn quickly not to write that again. It might not even be conscience but it’s there all the same.
To the folks who cry about transparency and journalistic integrity I have this to say: This is not journalism. It’s commerce. Most blogs that don’t come out of a new agency are a form of advertising. I would make a Fox News joke now but I hear they have mean lawyers. Just kidding. I love you legal guys.
Most people get that. It doesn’t mean there isn’t value in what the blogger writes but it is, at least partly, marketing. If you can’t tell if someone is selling you something then assume they are. Even me. I’m not but it’s better that you assume I am if you aren’t sure. Trust me on that.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this pledge:
I’m not selling you anything but truth. I’ll NEVER sell you anything but truth. Remember that when I go to work for a big company. I’ll never change. Not even then. I’m just like that. You can take that to the bank.
At least for now.
Author’s Note: Ask about our convenient sponsorships. You too can reach a targeted audience of high worth individuals through blog ads. Inquire with the author. Reasonable rates.
Thursday, July 01, 2010
For quite some time, a great number of people have told me that I should turn commenting back on for this blog. Some made it sound like I needed to turn commenting on. That the world would be destroyed in 2012 and it would be my fault for not turning on commenting. And the Mayans. Don't forget the Mayans and their stupid calendar.
But seriously, I listened and I responded. I turned the comments back on and guess what happened?
That’s right. Almost no comments. Talk about feeling unloved. Worse yet, many people didn’t even realize they were back on. What’s horrible about that is that I wrote a blog entry on it. That probably means that no one is reading my blog. Sigh…
It’s like having to come to terms with your mortality. It leaves you with a sense of your insignificance in the universe. This is the problem I see with commenting. You either are inundated with flaming chaff or deadening silence. The great democratic community of rational thought that Internet commenting was supposed to create has never really materialized. It didn’t happen when the action was on forums and news lists. It didn’t happen in AOL chat rooms. Other action happened in AOL chat rooms but we don’t need to go there.
I have a theory as to why this is. It has three parts.
- People only want to have in depth conversations with people in person. Over the phone or even through IM, but not in an anonymous forum or comment page. It’s too impersonal.
- Humans are social creatures who need real interactions with people they know. You want to know the people you interact with. We want to talk with Joe Smith not weirdtechguy25. A Twitter feed or a blog is a form of publishing. The one talking to the many. When it’s one to one or a small group like commenting is supposed to emulate, you want to know the people you are dealing with. Otherwise how can you judge what they are saying. The context is wrong.
- The jerks, flamers, spammers, and other social misfits do not follow the rules of polite society. They are the Internet equivalent of the guy standing in the middle of Times Square shouting gibberish at his hand. We instinctively move away. When this happens in comment pages and forums, the rest of the population moves away from them and they are all that’s left. Yelling gibberish at their virtual hand. Not pretty. The meek may inherit the Earth but the weird will inherit the comment page.
This, by the way, shows the genius of Facebook. Whether Zuckerman and crew realized it at the time they had hit upon the real way we want to interact with people in cyberspace – just like we do in real life. We only want to converse and share pictures with people that we know and like. Not anonymous strangers but folks we know on some level. In that environment, not unlike in person, social pressures keep people from acting like asses. We don’t mind inviting a friend of a friend either. But someone has to vouch for them and their behavior.
So there you have the problem with comments and forums. Once you remove the need to adhere to social norms, once you eliminate the need to act like a civilized person, some number of people will revert back to animals. It’s like pulling the control rods out of the reactor. Soon or later, things get out of control and BOOM!
Here’s my solution (listening Blogger?) – let bloggers have to “friend” people before they can comment. Let us toss them if they act out of line. Don’t moderate the comments, moderate the people. Only let people into the party if they have an invitation.
With that in place, comments will be something worth having. Of course, that assumes that anyone is reading the blog in the first place. I can dream.
One quick note to my international readers. If you want to post comments, please do it in English. I know that is terribly provincial of me but if I can’t read something it is summarily dismissed. Sorry, but that’s the way it has to be. Thanks for understanding.