Good news about a bank

We often teased the shyest member of my family by reminding her of the bad joke about the kid who didn't speak a word until he was eating breakfast on his 7th birthday when he said, "My porridge is cold!" When asked why he never spoke before, he said, "Up until now everything has been alright." This is how I felt about the silence which followed my work on a project which installed and provided support for over 7000 opensource JDS desktops at a bank.1 We called the customer occasionally to see if everything was O.K. We helped them through one upgrade which was necessary because the Linux kernel needed to be upgraded to support modern hardware but didn't have a stable ABI so the entire application stack also had to be upgraded. After the upgrade, one of our customers gave us some upgrades/minute statistics that were well beyond what is possible given network bandwidth limitations so I'll just say that the upgrade went well.

Shortly after the upgrade, we helped solve a peculiar focus bug whose root causes were spread across gtk, Java, Firefox and Star/OpenOffice. But overall things were very quiet. Sun was also quiet about this deployment, first of all because we hadn't yet finalized the disclosure agreement and later because Sun decided to drop our Linux-based desktop product and focus on OpenSolaris. So between our "are you still there?" pings to the customer's 2 person technical support staff, I was left wondering if no news is good news?

Then when I gave my presentation at the Irish Opensource Technology Conference, I noticed that two knowledgeable IT managers from this bank were giving presentations on their opensource desktop (a.k.a. JDS) roll out. I finally had the opportunity to be the "fly on the wall" and hear how things really went. I don't have links to their presentations, but these gentlemen said that the project was a success, that the deployment saved money and IT support costs compared to traditional Microsoft Windows based desktop solutions. They said the project completed ahead of schedule and under budget and that they were telling other banks the secrets of their success. I don't know if the other banks were paying attention to the potential savings in deploying opensource alternatives back when easy money was still flowing, but I would think they should take a hard look at such cost-effective alternatives now. In any case, it seems likely that the number of successful cost-saving "invisible" opensource deployments is understated.

"The art and science of interface design depends largely on making the transaction with the computer as transparent as possible in order to minimize the burden on the user" -- S. Joy Mountford

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic!"
-- Arthur C. Clarke.


1 The deployment was of Sun's linux based "Java Desktop System." If we were to do it now, the obvious choices in Sun's product portfolio would be Solaris 10 or OpenSolaris. Since the customer's network is now fast enough to support Sun Ray over WAN, we could potentially save them another $500,000 in annual electricity costs by deploying their desktop via Sun Ray clients instead of X86 PCs.
Comments:

Hi Brian,

Thanks for the post. If you ever manage to track down their names or links to the presentations please post them...looks like an interesting case study!

Posted by Ché Kristo on November 24, 2008 at 05:18 PM GMT+00:00 #

Intrigued by this comment:
"Sun decided to drop our Linux-based desktop product and focus on OpenSolaris."

Being a prolific user and promoter of OpenSolaris I see this as an excellent point, 2008.11 is in large part "as good as" Ubuntu for the typical business user, yet has all the power of ZFS, zones, SMF etc. etc.

However, why oh why does your latest Sun Ray Server Software (SRSS 4.1) not work "out of the box" on this system?

Discuession on the SRSS forums gives the impression that this is not a priority, yet in reality it is the users "desktop experience" that will massively benefit from this action.

Do not underestimate the power of:
pkg install SunRayServer

Posted by Sean Clarke on November 25, 2008 at 02:04 AM GMT+00:00 #

Ché Kristo, here is a link to the Irish OpenSource Technology conference but the last time I checked they were still only streaming a few of the Summer 2008 speakers:

http://iotc.firstport.ie/speaker/26/

Posted by bnitz on November 25, 2008 at 02:10 AM GMT+00:00 #

Sean, I agree with you. I've always been frustrated with the fact that SRSS releases aren't aimed and timed to be available immediately when Solaris/OpenSolaris Desktop releases. I think the real problem is that it takes time to integrate and QA SRSS+OS200x.xx so that it is ready to be deployed to tens of thousands of desktops.

Posted by bnitz on November 25, 2008 at 02:19 AM GMT+00:00 #

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