% fortune -ae paul murphy

Misinformation as reality

There are talkback contributors whose thoughts are almost always well worth reading carefully -Anton, Carl, Eric, No_axe, Richard, and Yagotta come to mind in that context. In contrast frequent contributor "devconvegas" often doesn't seem either well informed or well meaning, but you know what they say about stopped clocks being useful some of the time - and today that's who I want to quote.

Here's one of his contributions to my celebration, yesterday, of Sun's latest open source announcements

also one more thing

the sun x86 server costs 16 grand.

compared to my PC with Windows which is a couple of hundred bucks. Hell, I could even get a laptop for less than a grand.

SQL Server $49.
VC++ $49.
You can download all other SDK's for free from Microsoft.

If you had the server edition of Windows which costs about $799, you'd get ISS (web server) and all other goodies.

With this you are all set to go.

If you give $2.5K for an MSDN subscription Microsoft will give you unlimited software (the entire MS software stack from SQL, VC++, .Net and all other languges .....

Okay, he left out the bit about hammering out a Fortune 500 production quality ERP/SCM package before breakfast, but other than what he says is pretty much what a lot of people believe. Indeed I've heard broadly similar nonsense from CFOs in Canada's top 100 companies, from senior partners and academics in accounting, and from hundreds of junior, middle, and senior managers - including some getting paid from the IT budget.

It's a big problem - say "Unix" to one of these guys and their response is colored by the last big server they were involved in buying as a junior in the eighties or ninties, say "Windows" and their pricing assumptions are colored by the drugstore insert from today's newspaper.

For the record:

  1. The cheapest Sun machine that comes pre-loaded with Solaris 10 and all the goodies is the Ultra 20 (actually an Opteron 144, not an Ultra at all) with 512MB, an 80GB disk, ethernet, and a DVD drive for $895 at list.

  2. The cheapest Sun server with Solaris and everything else pre-installed is the SPARC based V100 at $995.

  3. The cheapest x86 based server is the Model X2100 with 512MB, an 80GB disk, a DVD drive, dual ethernet ports, and Solaris 10 plus all the other software on DVDs at $1,039.95 list price.

  4. You can spend $16K on an x86 - but that gets you a pre-loaded four core model 275 with 16GB of RAM and four 73GB, 15K disks.

Those prices and configurations are real, but Defcon's opinions have a different reality: many, if not most, of the people not working in IT have similar beliefs.

This is a perceptional issue that marks the people involved as out of touch with reality but our problem is that we have to deal with them anyway - and those beliefs, although deluded, color their responses to our work, our successes, and our budgets.

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.