[OT] Why did "enterprise" crap seem to win? (re: Virtualization, Java, Microsoft, Outsourcing, etc.)...

Polytropon freebsd at edvax.de
Fri Oct 6 08:37:21 UTC 2017

On Fri, 6 Oct 2017 00:25:17 -0400, Alejandro Imass wrote:
> On Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 12:29 AM, Polytropon <freebsd at edvax.de> wrote:
> > Allow me a few comments. It will be mostly statements from my
> > very limited individual point of view and experience.
> >
> >
> > On Wed, 4 Oct 2017 10:10:04 -0400, Alejandro Imass wrote:
> >> Why did C++ and Java seem win over C and shared object libraries?
> >
> > Java is the new COBOL, 'nuff said.
> >
> [...]
> >
> > The reason is simple: Good work doesn't pay.
> >
> Seems that now I have a lot of work to comb through this thread and
> pick out the gems in all the great feedback, but this one in
> particular struck a very strong chord with me.

It's interesting that (1st) I'm not the only one to notice,
and (2nd) the problem isn't specific to Germany...

> This email from which I'm writing is from a moribund company which I
> founded around 10 years ago in which we developed some amazing
> technology for a few companies, some of which went on to be pretty
> successful, although our humble little company failed in the end.

YOu mention something that I think is worth emphasizing:

Just because you have a good product / service / idea, it doesn't
imply you can make money with it.

A typical conclusion:

You can make money with crappy products / idiotic services / stupid
ideas as long as you find someone willing to pay money for it. In
the corporate context, this means that excessiv advertising and PR
has to be added, and of course you need the ability to "shift down"
the costs, which means that a final costumer (not neccessarily yours)
has to pay the full price.

When you walk around the world with open eyes, you'll easily
recognize where you (as a private person) pay the bills to kepp
all those bullshit companies alive, and this is because you have
no choice. You cannot say "I'll deduct 20 % from my utility bill
because you're using highly expensive shit software, and I don't
want to pay for that." And guess what you Internet access really
costs? Not more than 10 % of what you're actually paying.

> The fundamental reason we failed is because nobody was really willing
> to pay for great work. Our business model was flawed from the start
> because we gave our customers a lot more than they were paying us, and
> the competition would deliver mediocre crap (at best)  for more money,
> and our customers didn't really care either way.

That exactly is an important statement. Our typical wage is just
a fraction of what our boss makes with the results of our work.

Let me add something:

Efficient work isn't honored. As I said before, employees (even
programmers who are sometimes thought of as "creative minds")
are expected to be "do what you've been told" kind of persons,
push the button, turn the screw, write the value into this field,
don't ask questions. Nobody says: Don't make yourself (or your
coworkers) superfluous, but that's probably also true.

Just imagine a task is "timed" to fill 8 hours of work. But
you find a way to do it in 1 hour. Will you get a reward! No,
you'll be punished for "not engaging" with "the goals". Now
let's make this less harsh: Let's say you do the 8 hours work
in 6 ours and want to leave. Hell no! You cannot leave! There
is work to do! What kind of lazy and unsocial person are you?!
But your coworker needs 10 hours for the same task. Look how
passionate he is! He identifies with the company philosophy
and does excellent work! Now guess who gets promoted. :-)

As good work obviously does not pay, in conclusion: What would
be a reason to actually _do- good work when mediocre work is
fully sufficient? Now you could say: As an engineer, I have
certain standards I _personally_ adhere to. And you will say
this maybe for some months and years. But finally, "corporate
culture" will have drained all your self respect, and for the
peanuts they pay you, you'll finally crank out all the crap
they want - but keep your standards, quality, creativity and
enthusiasm for your side projects.


Yes, it is that simple.

If good work would result in good pay, we'd see better software
around, especially in the enterprise world where money never
really is a problem.

> They never really understood our passion and elegance, and in
> retrospect, I get it now. How could they really "get it"? For example
> when I would talk passionately about FreeBSD and mod_perl and 6,000
> concurrent requests per server, the answer was like "well what do you
> think about WSO2, I heard some XYZ company from Wall Street uses
> that"... shouldn't we be moving towards that architecture?" Honestly,
> what can you answer to that? where do you even begin to explain? I
> mean, what part of 6K request per node didn't you get?

This fits the "don't care" indoctrination. No own thoughts. But
refering to Wall Street companies is always "good". They cannot
fail! They prosper! (No further thoughts of if this is right,
or why this is.) Solutions aren't being searched within the
own potential (provided by qualified and motivated personnel),
but instead in external products and services. I think this is
because nobody really wants to take responsibility, and with
a pile of external dependencies you hardly understand, it's
always easy to blame somebody else...

> We were the underdogs, selling something that nobody really wanted to
> buy: great work.

It was the nonconformant people, the tinkerers, the thinkers,
the dreamers who created all the technological innovation that
society takes for granted. It was not the suits, the "looking
good man", the yes-sayers, the bean-counters or bone-heads.

> In the end customers don't really care about good technology or
> elegant systems. All they care about is eye candy and buzz words.

Yes. And strangely, this always seems to work. Even if you don't 
have a product that matches the customer's needs, you'll be able
to sell him crap with good talk, colorful documents, a nice
"Powerpoint" presentation and fake recommendations. I didn't
believe it until I saw it myself. More than once.

So in the end, the customer's employees have to work around all
the problems that the software solution includes. Those who
decide about what software to use aren't the ones who are
going to use it later on.

There are also cases where no decision is possible due to idiotic
regulations. For example in schools. The government issues a
list of "approved" software and "certified" service contractors.
Those solutions are expensive, prone to break, heavily insecure,
and more or less belong to a museum (or country fair horror show).
You'd be surprised how many pupils (and few passionate teachers)
you'll find in local school computer clubs who could do a much
better job for fewer money (as no external "service contractors"
are needed), but they aren't allowed to even touch the "certified"
solutions. So while software in administration and classroom
permanently bluescreens, data gets lost or stolen, the parasites
get money. Their contracts say things like "if something breaks,
it's your fault, and we are not liable for anything."

Those kinds of "approved solutions" can be found in many other

> So I
> finally gave in, and sold what was left of our team to one of our
> customers that did really well, and we continue to do the best work we
> possibly can, but sadly limited within the realm of "enterprise"
> system development, and out of all things in f-cking Java.

I've recently dealt with an installation where a working environment
consisting of mainframe + skilled programmers is to be replaced
with "query generators" written in Java on local PCs - introducing
a complexity of O(n) for administration -, and those who are
aware of it already predict two significant problems: (1st) the
speed of resolving customer queries (often quite complex) will
rise, and (2nd) for changes (happens very often), the external
company supplying the Java solution needs to be addressed, as
of course they only serve binary blobs to be used locally on
the individual PCs. Until now, you simply needed to call one of
the programmers and tell them what you need, and they would write
a program for you and send the output. I have no idea how complex
it will get now after being "modernized" to Java...

> Warmest regards to all! And a heartfelt thank you for confirming that
> I am not the only one frustrated about all this.

Definitely not. We who suffer are a silent majority. :-)

Related war story, happened this year when the "Wannacry"
et al. crypto trojans caused problems:

2:30 in the night, phone rings. Big boss: "You must come in
immediately, out while production has stopped!" I say "Okay,
I'll be ready in 30 minutes, don't touch anything" and collect
my equipment and am being picked up by the production supervisor
himself. He says: "I'm so sorry we have to wake you up. Did
the boss tell you already? Production stopped. Somehow our
system got infected by some crypto trojan. Maybe you can find
out who is responsible." Arriving at the site, getting production
system up again. Checking the office installation: All PCs
re-installed cleanly (user data lost, of course, as the
server and its local backup were also reset). I ask: "Has
someone been here before me?" Big boss: "Oh yes, we have a
consultant for that. He's very qualified and has lots of good
certificates. He's my neighbor's son. He's good with PCs, you
know? He does PC all the time!" After I explain to him that
all possible evidence from the PCs has been lost now (and also
the firewall and logging mechanisms have been wiped!), I
cannot tell him what actually happened. His reply: "But I want
to know who I can fire for this outage! Tell me who did it!
I must act!" (Sometimes, morons seem to think IT is magic.)
The production supervisor said that he objected the wiping
of the office PCs, but is told "Shut up! That is not your
responsibility! Go back to your machine park!" by the big
boss. Luckily, I don't have to deal with the surprised faces
of the office personnel that arrives next morning when they
see their "pictures" are gone (term applies to desktop 
background _and_ files they are working on), as an intern (!)
is their actual IT staff. Poor soul.

So: Now guess who got paid properly! :-)

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

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