Careers: Interviews
Trevor Eddolls: Internationally-renowned Senior IT Analyst, Author, Editor, Trainer, Lecturer and Consultant

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, ISP, has an exclusive interview with Trevor Eddolls.

Trevor’s authoring credits include: VM Performance Management; Introduction to VM; and ASO: Automated Systems Operations for MVS. He has written and produced user surveys such as MVS Automated Operations Software and The Help Desk in Practice.  Moreover, he has chaired numerous seminars and lectured extensively in the UK, Europe, and the Middle East.

Trevor’s editing credits include: Mainframe News, Mainframe Week, Mainframe Month, AIX Update, DB2 Update, MVS Update, CICS Update, MQ Update, RACF Update and TCP/SNA Update.

His articles and papers have appeared in a wide selection of periodicals. To find current information about Trevor’s activities go to, http://www.itech-ed.com/, a company Trevor founded in 2004 which provides writing and editing services, as well as training and Web site development.

Discussion:

Q: Trevor, thank you for sharing your considerable talents and wisdom with our audience.

A: You’re welcome – it’s always a pleasure.

Q: What is happening with Xephon and where you see them heading into the future? Will there be a return to conferences?

A: Xephon has a very exciting future. Having returned to its core products for a couple of years and having moved the head office to the USA, it is now ready to take off again. The Web site has been completely revamped and will be launched soon – this reflects the new dynamism of the company. It will be very easy for customers and people just browsing the site to find exactly what they want. There probably won’t be a return to organizing conferences in the immediate future, but there is a likelihood of new publications. Xephon is an exciting company to be working with.

Q: Since the journals you edit contain News Sections, provide recent updates that are especially compelling for IT strategists, business executives, and IT professionals:

A: I’m often amazed at how venerable products are able to embrace the latest trends. In particular, I’m thinking about IBM’s CICS – 35 years it’s been with us, and the recently-announced CICS TS 3.1, which not only includes Java and links nicely with WebSphere, but it also seems designed to make SOA (Service-Oriented Architecture) available. SOA was the must-have acronym of 2004. It’s basically a way of letting a user kick off an application from a browser on one platform and have the work done on a different platform.

A second area of development that’s quite exciting is with DB2. DB2 UDB V8.2 came out in September with expanded self-managing or ‘autonomic computing’ capabilities. This is important because DB2 databases can get very big and complex which makes them difficult to manage. These new autonomic features are meant to be able to reduce the time spent on administrative tasks by up to 65%; having software that looks after itself is a major step forward.

I also like the fact that VoIP actually exists now. Skype did a great job and in the UK, BT has a system that allows you to call actual phones, not just other computers.

I’ve been using WiFi, which is great, but I’m concerned by the growth of “evil twin” spots – where you think you are connecting to one system but you’re not – it’s another system, probably with criminal intentions.

I applaud the growth of RFID. This is the technology we all need. I’m not bothered about every item in the supermarket having it, but I would like the TV remote control and pairs of glasses to have it; that way I would be able to identify where someone had put them. I also read recently about the huge numbers of laptops and mobile phones that are left in taxis and on trains. Again, it’s a way of tracking them down. And if you could only install them in your children…

Q: Trevor, with your long history of considerable achievement and successes, you are ideally situated to prognosticate about future trends and provide recommendations. It’s time again for your yearly top list of the “how,” “what,” and “why” of things to watch. What should be on the radar of businesses and IT professionals?

A: Mainframes aren’t going away – although low-end VSE users will probably migrate to other platforms. Airlines, banks, and insurance companies are going with mainframe technology. IBM’s new models might not be named after dinosaurs in the future. We all enjoyed the joke of calling them T Rex and raptor, but it might be time for a change.

Linux is everywhere – from phones to big iron. This is driven by two different engines. First, there are the people who like Open Source and sharing any good piece of code they’ve written. Second, it’s fuelled by the anti-Microsoft people. I’m just disappointed that Nokia is still using Symbian as the operating system on its phones.

And talking of phones, the most exciting development is the new Nokia 7710. It is a phone that does everything. It’s what Apple’s old Newton could only aspire to! And, apparently, it can receive certain types of TV signals.

I have serious doubts about Microsoft’s Mainframe Migration Alliance (MMA). There are a number of companies that have joined the Alliance to help organizations migrate from mainframe technology to Windows servers. It’s true that it’s becoming uneconomical for low-end mainframe users to stay with the mainframe, but when they do move to another platform, they are more likely to choose Linux than Windows. There are various estimates about the comparative reliability of Windows and Unix servers, but most people I speak to would not choose Windows. Although of course, there’s Longhorn (the next version of Windows), and that might change the playing field all over again.

I do think that companies will be mixing the technology they use. Everyone seems to want a Blackberry at the moment so they can check their e-mail from anywhere. This affects how people view the performance of the IT department. Then there are the remote laptop users, the in-house users and others who want to access a company’s computing power. All this has to be managed. I think this will cause a number of headaches.

Interestingly, Oracle has recently decided to reduce the number of data centres it has round the world to just one. In fact one very large one, which I thought was very much like having a mainframe!

Q: What are your views on the big names in technology?

A: IBM is currently following a very successful strategy. It is selling more hardware and making larger profits.

Microsoft is getting better all the time. It’s very hard to buy a new laptop or desktop that doesn’t have Windows on it. That is a marketing department’s dream!

Oracle is going to have all sorts of problems with their PeopleSoft merger and SAP are going to have a very good year picking up disaffected PeopleSoft clients. Oracle will be no better than second in the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), the CRM (Customer Relationship Management), and the SCM (Supply Chain Management) markets.

Amazon, eBay, and Google will continue to be the three best-known Web sites on the Internet among the ordinary public.

Dell will continue to sell mail-order PCs successfully.

Hewlett-Packard doesn’t need to sell a product to make lots of money. How is this possible? It’s simply that so many people have HP printers and the print cartridges for them are so expensive that HP makes a small fortune out of people needing to print their documents and photos, etc.

Sun will become less of a force in the Unix world – even though Solaris 10 is given away free.

SCO will be bought by IBM to make the code problem with AIX just go away. It’ll be cheaper than its current legal bill!!

Q: Who [which individuals] are the movers and shakers that we should watching and why? What will be their impact?

A: You know, this is a very hard question to answer. Ten years ago, there were clear leaders who were driving their companies forward. Now some of those people are still around, but decisions seem to be more corporate and less by the individual.

Let’s start with Steve Jobs at Apple. Here’s a man who helped create the company by building PCs in a garage and selling them (or so the story goes). He created the expectation among users of the way using a computer would look and feel (even if it did borrow heavily on the work of Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center). And although Apple still sells computers that are a major alternative to the Microsoft paradigm, the company is best known for the iPod music player.

Then there’s Oracle’s CEO, Larry Ellison, who’s still heading the company. He is still doing the keynote presentations, but is currently tied up with the PeopleSoft acquisition because it’s the only way that his company could get to be number two in a particular industry sector. It doesn’t seem as dynamic as actually creating the software and going out and selling it.

Bill Gates at Microsoft is a headline figure, but the company has problems with its next release of Windows – code-named Longhorn. It’s getting harder and harder to convince users to upgrade their software. Admittedly, the first three versions of any Microsoft product are a bit buggy, but after that they are usually good. Which means, do you need to upgrade from Version 6 of Word to any of the later ones? You’re probably using only 20 percent of the product’s capabilities at the moment. And, for products like the Office suite, there are free alternatives – Staroffice, etc. Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft isn’t struggling for cash, but when you’ve conquered most of the world, what do you do next? How do you sell yet another product? How do you come up with the big idea for something that everyone will want to rush out and buy? They must be kicking themselves they didn’t launch the WinPod!!

Then at IBM there was Louis V Gerstner, who really turned the company around and got it back on track. But he retired in 2002. The man at the helm now is Sam Palmisano. Now I’m sure he’s a good man but he doesn’t seem to be that well known outside of the industry.

I suppose what I’m really saying is that there are some well-known figures, but they don’t seem to be driving the business forward like they used to be able to. Maybe it’s because the business is really maturing and there are more men in suits sitting on corporate boards making sensible business decisions. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any younger people who stand that tall in terms of leadership and excitement.

Q: Trevor, it is always a real pleasure having you share your valued experiences with us. Thank you!

A: You’re welcome.

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