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Why won't companies track Windows downtime?

© May 2008 Anonymous

The author of this post requested to remain anonymous because he still does work for companies mentioned here.

I have worked with Ericsson for 4 years followed by Cisco Systems for 6 years. Both companies were very advanced users of hi-tech. Both insisted on extremely accurate time reporting for every imaginable task, both refused to open tracking items for PC wows. The sort of thing like you arriving the office and need to reboot your PC 3 times before it get onto corporate network ( e.g. 30 min lost). Or PC (almost) hangs or becomes very slow as it has run out of memory and you have important docs open so you you spend the next 40 min slowly closing every open application to ensure a safe shutdown. In Cisco all PCs were spec'd for email and internet use. However over 50% of staff were engineers in the field and we all got the same crummy 512M of RAM. Smart engineers went and bought their own.

No effort was ever made to track time for now applications to calculate the actual cost of introduction in terms of lost productivity. It allowed IT departments to hide behind sloppy products they supply to their clients. Sure, outsource your whole IT to Bangalore (Cisco) But at least allow everyone to track how much time they waste attempting to explain so some half English speaking indian what your problem is.

I think if more companies like IBM did trials with Macs and accurately recorded the user non-productive time due to not having full PC availability then you would see big wigs suddenly wake up. Microsoft has been so successful because they have hidden behind the vested interest of IT departments refusing to expose just how much time their clients are losing because of MS Windows. Its called saving your own asses.

I would estimate that while working with Win XP I would spend minimum of 10% of my productive time solving WinXP issues. On a Mac maybe 1-2%. At least when a Mac crashes it just goes down quick and hard! but Apple have basically stuck to the Unix principle of keep it small and simple and let the combinations of different flexible programs tackle your problem.

All this is a huge hidden cost for companies who would be aiming at 500k-1000k $USD per employee in terms of revenue. They should wake up and smell the coffee..

p.s. I'm suffering on Mac without a good ssh client.The only reason I run Parallels is so I can continue to use SecureCRT. I have hundreds of machines to maintain and there seems to be nothing for Mac that allows good complete telnet/ssh/Sessionstorage/logging/password storage/Key strorage and generation. Any suggestions?

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-> Companies refusing to allow users to log time against PC problems.


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Wed May 7 10:04:32 2008: 4176   TonyLawrence

Of course support costs also are high. I've seen that every time a client switches from a Unix system to Windows - support goes way up, almost always requiring hiring new people.

I can see it right here in my own home: my wife uses an XP box, I'm on a Mac. She regularly has to reboot or suffer slowness..

Windows is a lousy OS.. That's about all there is to say.

Wed May 7 17:08:54 2008: 4179   drag

"p.s. I'm suffering on Mac without a good ssh client.The only reason I run Parallels is so I can continue to use SecureCRT. I have hundreds of machines to maintain and there seems to be nothing for Mac that allows good complete telnet/ssh/Sessionstorage/logging/password storage/Key strorage and generation. Any suggestions?"

You have access to the best ssh client ever made... OpenSSH client.

At my work I manage it manually using ~/.ssh/config and just use aliases for the various usernames and hostnames. That way instead of the big blahblah@blahblahblah.com or whatever I just refer to everything in 3 or 4 letter aliases.

I use ssh-copy-id for copying my public ssh key to new clients. If I am the only admin I disable password access completely. If I am not I just use a very long password and forget about it. Combined with ssh-agent (never setup a keypair without password protection) this gives me effectively a sign-sign-on solution for accessing my remote machines. This is used for easy file transfer, remote gui, and automation.
This is integrated into my Gnome desktop by default. Same thing with other types of keys. With OS X you should effectively be able to do thing with ssh-agent and screen.

Of course your dealing with hundreds. I am dealing with dozens. So maybe there is a scalabity issue here. IMO GUIs for this sort of thing is a bad thing. When dealing with something like SSH mice just slow things down and lead to a higher likelihood of RSI.

Keep in mind that your problem is not a unique one. There are a few programs that provide a way of having a pleasent interface for sending out commands to dozens or hundreds machines at once and keep track of failure or success statuses and stuff like that.

I know of one tool that does that. Provides a ncurses interface. It's for Linux, but it's going to be based on the GNU stuff and be command line so it should work on your OS X without much effort.

Trouble is that I forgot the name of it. I am running out of time right now, but I'll see if I can find it later. So stay tuned.

Otherwise check out freshmeat.net for this sort of stuff...

Wed May 7 17:41:01 2008: 4180   TonyLawrence

Of course you are right, Drag, but I assumed he was looking for terminal emulation with it.. but if not, then right: no reason not to use OS X ssh.

Wed May 7 18:26:06 2008: 4182   drag

Ya. OpenSSH kicks-butt.

I found a couple programs to deal with large numbers of ssh administrative tasks. Not quite teh application that I was thinking of, but these are pretty close..

One is enchanter for doing scripting..
Python.. Ruby.. Java Bean.

And a ncurses application for multiplexing ssh connections.
Looks cool.

Of course I don't like the idea of using it to edit multiple file simultanously. That's bad news.
Better off using a configuration engine thing like Puppet.

Some configuration engines like CFEngine can support Windows too.. of course AD is probably better for that task.


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