NDS LEFT IN THE TRAPS
I'm a big NetWare fan. However, the company I work for is asking itself if it wants to go down the NT or NDS route.
Despite the fact that we have loads more NetWare than NT and trained staff in NDS, it is increasingly looking like we will be going NT. Why?
Mainly as a push from management but also because NT has appeared over the years as part of intranets and a handful of applications servers.
Novell is screaming about NDS for NT. This is great if you have a large NDS environment. We are mainly NetWare 3x and NDS is in a mess. We know that NDS works well but it would take so much work to put it right. So here's another account they've lost. In my opinion there are four things Novell should do.
1. Create an Application Server that works with NDS and don't call it NetWare, so that NetWare environments aren't forced to buy in special NT servers. It doesn't matter how powerful NetWare is, people still associate it with File and Print.
2. Kill its marketing department and get a new one. It needs to be going to its customers and encouraging them to upgrade. One thing it can thank Microsoft for is people now accept that directory services are the way to go but they're waiting for NT 5. Novell needs to show them that NDS does this already.
3. It needs to make its products easier to develop using standard tools like VB etc. and make this known.
4. Finally, the majority of consultants and a large amount of companies specialising in outsourcing deals roll out NT by default, probably because there's more money in it. It needs to encourage these type of companies to either switch to NetWare or start making more unbiased decisions based on existing NOS in the target company.
Imran Iqbal, Via the Net
FIGURE IT OUT
Mr Wanduragala isn't perhaps the best possible advert for the IBM consultancy and its attention to detail (HP claims 99.9% uptime, 22 September PC Week).
My rough calculations give 99.9 % of 365 days to be 364 2/3 days, i.e. eight hours downtime, and 99.9999% uptime comes out at about 30 seconds per year down time. I wonder if IBM works out its chargeable hours with the same accuracy?
Ed Blunt, PassGo Technologies
YOUR DINNER'S IN THE PC
I was surprised to read that Barclays is going to combine its home banking service via microwave ovens (15 September issue). Is this a joke?
Seriously, there is a growing trend to embed PC functionality into consumer appliances, without any attempt to consider what might be appropriate.
So we have visions of Windows CE running on wristwatches and microwave ovens. But Windows CE is also being touted as a replacement for 95/98 on low-powered desktops. This is embedded bloatware. Even Java (as a platform) has many built-in classes that are of little or no use to devices with restricted displays or network access.
What we need are devices which add real value to specialised applications.
For example, a scheduler with alarms set for various appointments is most useful if you carry it with you all day - the obvious place is inside your watch. There is also a need for an easier way of accessing Email for technophobes and those who wouldn't pay the price of a PC for this alone. The device needs a keyboard, a display capable of showing about a dozen lines of plain text and a connection to a telephone socket. It does not need to open file attachments or handle HTML formatting. And it certainly doesn't need to be able to defrost your dinner.
Stephen Shephard, BT
Mr Down (Letters, 8 September PC Week) proposes that employees be required to agree to reimburse employers for training required - a suggestion which I have seen repeated many times over the last decade.
The implications of such a strategy are not complimentary to the staff who are subject to it and suggest a negative attitude on the part of the employer. Staff who are capable of undertaking training are clearly already in possession of an important quality, namely that of being able to understand and implement the skills they acquire through training. Thus rather than being viewed as the lucky benefactors of free training provided by a benevolent employer they are instead partners in the process of improving the business by combining an employer's capital resources with their own intellectual abilities.
To suggest that those who are required to undertake training for their employers benefit should sign some form of indenture to bind them to that employer is demeaning and reflects an attitude still visible in many areas of business that regards IT people as technicians or mechanics and therefore only just human.
Such behaviour is both inappropriate to the last part of the twentieth century and absurd in an area of employment where serious skill shortages exist and will continue to exist for the foreseeable future. In the majority of professions training has traditionally been rewarded both by increased status and financial rewards and I can see no reason why such a system should not be in operation within the IT community.
Training increases the value of a member of staff, but in the majority of situations it is only the employer who benefits from this increase in productivity. In such circumstances the only way the employee can realise the potential gains made by their investment in training is to change jobs, finding a position where their enhanced productivity will be recognised by a commensurately enhanced salary, and consequently the former employer loses both the value of the training they have paid for and the benefit of the employees particular experience of that company.
It seems obvious to me that the solution is to increase salaries in line with training received, pound for pound. If a member of staff completes a #500 training course, give them a #500 rise.
Hire someone at #18,000, give them #4,000 worth of training and take their salary up to #22,000. If somebody wants to poach them now, they are going to have to pay firstly the enhanced salary your valued employee is now receiving, secondly the premium usually required to tempt someone to change jobs and thirdly all the usually recruitment costs.
This should make prospective poachers consider the prospect of training their own staff slightly more seriously. IT staff are on the whole intelligent and creative individuals; do not try to treat them like serfs by tying them to the land.
They are the architects of the future of business and should be respected and rewarded as such, not despised and threatened.
Fraser James, Whitstable
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