Monday Apr 25, 2005

Sun "Kit"

Have you noticed the increasing use of the term 'kit" to refer to a hardware vendor's products? Articles will refer to, for example, Sun's "kit", when discussing our latest servers or storage and desktops.

I really like that term - because it drives home the point that when you are in the market to purchase "kit" from a product vendor, you sign up to be the kit builder. And for the hobbyist out there, that can be really fun and educational, even thrilling to some degree.

Many of us grew up building kits. I \*loved\* building ships, trucks, airplanes, tanks, cars, rockets, etc. It was a blast, and possibly contributed to (and/or was because of) my engineering mindset. The sense of accomplishment of building highly realistic, detailed and customized models, from a bunch of bare parts, is quite rewarding.

However, most IT shops I work with are less interested in the process of constructing their own unique one-off configurations from collections of parts (kit). I applaud clients for their increasing demand for solutions built from established patterns and reference implementations. I applaud IT vendors for their increasing portfolios of pre-integrated and hardened solutions.

Kit building is a great weekend hobby for kids (and adults). But when it comes to running our businesses and defending our country, we need to leverage, as much as possible, the experience and factory integration of trusted IT solution vendors. For some, it is hard to give up the thrill/challenge of the IT equivalent of "junk yard wars". But there are even more interesting and higher-valued challenges and rewards awaiting those who free up their time from the tyranny of the "nuts and bolts".

The following is a great weekend hobby project. But you don't need to let your IT projects look like this...

Saturday Apr 09, 2005

Project Lifecycle Cartoon

While this is intended to be funny, it's a little too close for comfort in many cases. But due diligence up-front VOC (voice of the customer) needs assessment interviews, and a subsequent translation into well-formed and reconciled SMART (1, 2) [Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Attainable, Realistic/Realizable, Traceable/TimeBounded] Requirements, along with an ongoing Risk Log, would have made this a very boring cartoon. A lesson we would be well advised to remember in many contexts.


Friday Apr 08, 2005

Stocks: SUNW -vs- IBM, HPQ, MSFT, ORCL

In the following graphs I've compared Sun Microsystems (SUNW) to some of our competitors and/or partners: IBM, HP, Oracle, Microsoft. The charts look at the five companies all the way back to the late 80s, and back just five years. In the first graph, you clearly see the "exuberant" six year ramp that SUNW experienced starting in 1995. That's the year we launched Java and the UltraSPARC processor. I also joined Sun that year :-). The post Y2K dot-com implosion hit us pretty hard, but after a two year slide we've settled down and ended up a significantly better long-term investment than some. In hindsight at least.

The second graph looks at the same companies since Y2K. It's interesting to see that we all declined (at various rates) until mid-2002, at which point we all found a plateau that we've pretty much sustained for the last two and a half years.

I don't know about you, but I think the market is primed to move again. The IT industry landscape has changed a lot since the Y2K peak. Pressure is building. Innovation has been occurring all along. Which of the five will break out of the horizontal? My bet is that it'll be those companies that successfully combine targeted innovation and exceptional services.


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