Internationally Renowned Analyst...
Interview by Stephen
This week, Stephen Ibaraki, ISP, has an exclusive
interview with, Trevor Eddolls, an internationally-renowned senior analyst,
author, lecturer and consultant.
Trevor’s many talents include authoring
VM Performance Management by McGraw-Hill; Introduction to VM by NCC Blackwell;
and ASO: Automated Systems Operations for MVS by McGraw-Hill. He has written and
produced user surveys such as MVS Automated Operations Software and The Help
Desk in Practice. He has chaired numerous seminars, and lectured extensively in
the UK, Europe, and the Middle East. Trevor also edits Mainframe Week, a weekly
on-line publication containing technical information. Plus, he edits
publications like AIX Update, DB2 Update, MVS Update, CICS Update, and News IS
for Xephon, Europe’s premier IT market watcher. I caught up with Trevor in the
UK, his base of operations for his worldwide
Q: With your busy schedule, I appreciate
you taking the time to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your insights
with the audience.
A: No problem, always glad to help.
Q: What do
you see on the horizon that businesses and IT professionals “must” be aware of
to be competitive?
A: The biggest problem that companies are facing is a
seriously aging population of people who really understand how mainframes work.
There are plenty of younger people who understand Windows (in all its forms) and
its associated software. They know how to achieve Microsoft’s push into larger
Enterprises. There are also large numbers of red-hot UNIX gurus who can make
those platforms (Linux, AIX, GNU, SCO, etc) really achieve terrific results.
But, and this is a really big “but”, there is a very large number of banks,
insurance companies, and other major companies that have the bulk of their core
business run on mainframes. It’s important that younger people are fully trained
to understand these systems.
Besides, many of the problems that people
are facing on other platforms were solved 20 years ago in the mainframe world.
It’s a waste of everyone’s time re-inventing the wheel!
the theme, one of the easiest budget items to cut when times are hard is
training. I think companies have got to realize the importance of their
investment in training. And, I think they should be doing more of it at this
Q: What do you feel are the top five hottest topics of interest to
both businesses and IT professionals today and what will be the topics in two
years and in five years?
A: Security, performance, pricing, mobility,
connectivity. Now, tomorrow, and five years’ time!
Let’s unpick that a
little. There are always “religious” wars about the right technology to use –
UNIX versus Windows, Java versus .Net, COBOL versus C++, and Symbian versus
Windows CE – however, I think that the whole industry is maturing in a way that
makes these discussions important only in the way that things are delivered. In
fact, all software within industry sectors is developing to offer broadly
compatible features. It’s now down to the technicians to use their product of
choice. For management, we are getting to the stage where they don’t need to
worry about the underlying software. Whatever is chosen will deliver the same
So let’s say a few words about each of these areas that
I’ve identified. Security is always an important area. You’ve got to make sure
that the person who appears to be paying for the goods is the actual person
making the payment. And you’ve got to make sure that those details can move
across the Internet without being “received” by anyone else. All the other data
security things are still important – such as making sure your data can be
accessed only by responsible and authorized people, and the data can be
recovered if it becomes corrupted in any way.
And, of course, there is
the perennial problem with viruses, etc. It is important that steps are taken to
ensure that these are prevented from entering a site’s
Performance is a continuing issue. Just when mainframes have
become so big that they can satisfy user response time demands, we find people
using dead slow PCs. Just as PCs get big enough to handle workloads at speed, we
find people are constantly using the Internet. And now the performance issue is
getting data across the Internet as quickly as if you were working locally.
Broadband offers part of the solution, but now people are working with PCs and
handheld devices that are wireless. They need high-speed connections on the
train, at the café, in the office, at home, etc. Enter wifi – and all the
performance implications that poses.
Looking at mainframe performance, we
are definitely going to see more software like DB2 that has the ability to
identify when it is experiencing a problem and fix itself. I predict more
software with this kind of capability.
Pricing is still very important to
the success and survival of a company. While earlier I kind of dismissed what
software you chose to use as not too important, the price you pay for it is!
Unlike your local PC store, IBM has been notoriously reticent to produce a price
list. It is important to be prepared to negotiate with your software suppliers.
In a way, it’s up to them to convince you to use their software as opposed to
one of the alternative strategies available. Pricing is an important weapon in
making the sale. The more you are going to have to pay, the greater the
discounts you should be able to negotiate! This clearly makes your company more
Mobility is the current task facing many sites.
People want (or are encouraged by their organizations) to work anywhere. They
also want to work on small devices that don’t spoil the shape of a pocket when
put away. I can remember going to conferences and seeing people arriving with a
briefcase full of documents, and a second very large bag slung over their
shoulder containing their PC. Nowadays, people turn up with slimline PCs or
PDAs. These contain wireless (wifi) network cards. This “ideal” scenario is
spoiled at the moment by the number of places where no network is available and
by the variety of network providers that exist. Watch this problem grow and
disappear over the next five years! I guess that also covers the connectivity
Q: Who/what do you think are the winners and losers in IT in next
five years? [This could be companies, technologies, …and so on.] What advice
would you give to enterprises in their adoption of technologies in the next five
A: IBM will still be with us. They avoided imploding a few years
ago and will continue to be a solid reliable company producing good-quality
hardware and software.
Microsoft will still be with us. It will still be
claiming it invented the Internet, and not getting any of its software right
until Version 3. By which time the software will be killing the
Linux, like Java, and companies that are supporting and
selling add-on products will thrive for the next two years. After that, it will
be survival of the fittest!
Any company that is moving “wanted”
technology onto mobile phones will do well. People are downloading games and
ring tones, but people are also synchronizing to do lists and diaries. My phone
has a camera and video facility; I know some have torch and thermometer
facilities. Many came with radios; I’d like an mp3 player on mine. And my ideal
phone would understand voice commands. I can already dial home and work (and a
few others) by saying their name. What I want is a port of IBM’s ViaVoice (or
I think Sun will disappear. I think the Microsoft Tablet
will be put in a draw with Betamax video and eight-track cartridge players.
Think about it, the only time I write is on an illegible Post-It note and to
sign credit card slips. Why would I suddenly want to re-learn to write? Why
would I waste time teaching software to recognize my scribbles? Wake up
Microsoft, there are already two well established ways of entering data – one’s
a keyboard and the other’s a mobile phone keypad (using your thumbs).
Intel Centrino mobile technology is set for a great future. It offers something
that people are going to want to have.
Lastly, XML (plus even more
subsets) will turn up absolutely everywhere.
Q: What would be your
recommended top ten references for the business professional? And what would be
your recommended top references for IT professionals?
Whatever you want to know you can find the answer from Google. The
downside is that it throws up 2000+ answers to the simplest of queries, but the
answer is out there – as they say.
If you haven’t got time to sift
through all those pages then try the following URLS:
Not exactly 10, I know, but certainly
the best place to start.
Q: What are the top ten challenges facing IT
departments in the next five years and what are your recommendations to
meet/overcome these challenges? Please provide specifics…
A: The number
one challenge for most companies is finding, training, and retaining good
quality staff. Staff have got to understand the technology they are using, but
they also have to understand the business of the organization they are working
for. IT departments are there to provide technical solutions to the business
needs of the company.
Other challenges include:
• Spam and e-mail
overload. Something has to be done because professionals are spending too much
time going through e-mails that end up in the bin. Spam busting software is
getting better – it needs to.
• Adware. Products like Lavasoft’s Ad-aware
quickly show how much of your PC’s time is spent sending information back to
sites that you only briefly or inadvertently visited. It will delete cookies set
by these sites. Without products like this your computer will fill up with
rubbish which will ultimately affect performance.
software. I’m talking about MQSeries and Websphere – perhaps DB2 UDB – software
that lets you run things from one platform on other platforms. Your Enterprise
can be made up of a complete mixture of proprietary systems. Software that makes
them seem like one big connected platform has got to be good.
Following on from the last point, where you have multiple platforms, you need
monitoring and controlling software. Watch out for more developments in this
• VoIP (Voice over IP). If you’re sending data using Internet Protocol,
why not use it for voice communication as well? It’s coming, just more slowly
than people thought.
• Broadband as an issue is almost over. Most
companies have it installed or are about to. Those without will notice how many
“big” files are coming their way from people who are used to the delivery taking
• Back-up and restore. There needs to be enough storage
space, but, more importantly, there needs to be a way to get that important data
off PDA-type devices quickly and easily. As salesmen and others use small
handheld devices to note down client requirements, that information needs to be
almost immediately sent to central site.
Q: If you were doing this
interview, what four questions would you ask of someone in your position and
what would be your answers?
A: That’s quite a tough question… I suppose
I’d want to know:
Q1 Why should anyone take any notice of your
A: I’ve been working with computers for a very long time, and
I’ve been commenting on developments since 1986. My role means that I am
informed immediately of new products and new developments, and I have plenty of
opportunities to see how well they work in real life (as well as on the original
presentation). I get articles from users of products and hear real-life stories
of what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully this experience gives me a certain
insight – but your readers will be the best judge!!
Q2 What would you
recommend every company who reads this to do next?
A: I would recommend
that they immediately check all their procedures and ask themselves whether they
need to do that! It’s so common for procedures to be adopted, and then modified,
and then blindly followed because they are “the procedures”, even though
circumstances have changed and they could be removed completely or reduced.
After eliminating all the things that don’t need to be done, ask whether the
things that are being done could be done better. And if they could, change them.
And, perform this activity regularly. I’d also identify where staff need
training and make sure they are trained.
Q3 What’s the quirkiest
computer-related idea you’d really like to see happen?
A: Apart from
voice-activated technology, which I’d really like to see everywhere, I’d also
like the automated house you see on some sci-fi movies. I’d like to phone home
and say put the kettle on, and arrive five minutes later to find a cup of tea
waiting. Plus it would be nice to have house “mice” that appear at night to
vacuum the carpet or polish the floor. And a device that cooks, and washes up,
and dusts, and makes beds, and everything else round the house and garden. And
all controlled from a PC with a voice interface.
Q4 What’s your favourite
A: As well as my own, there’s Mainframe Week
(www.mainframeweek.com) for mainframe-related information, and of course Google.
Google is a great start to finding information from music to medical. Apart from
the millions of weaker Web pages that show up, you can find some absolute gems.
Q: Thank you for sharing your valuable insights with us today and we
look forward to reading your books and articles; and seeing you at your
A: You’re welcome. As always, it has been a