• United States
IDG Enterprise Consulting Director

A haunted Dibbuk

Feb 13, 20046 mins
Data Center

We’re after the same rainbow’s end,

Waiting round the bend,

My Huckleberry friend

Moon River and me.

“Moon River” lyrics by Johnny Mercer

Dear Vorticians,

It’s not unusual (as Tom Jones crooned) for me to begin this newsletter with an unusual item plucked from the news or, to be more honest, from the many strange and wonderful messages that find their way into my e-mail inbox from friends and acquaintances. I’m certain your inbox is also filled with such oddities. In fact, I’m sure more than half the bandwidth of the global Internet is consumed in transmitting the trillions of bits and bytes that make up such things as, oh, say, the Miss Piggy parody of Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl “appearance.”

In that vein, I want to share the following eBay listing for a “Dibbuk haunted Jewish wine cabinet box,” which was sent to me by a Network World colleague – VPN expert Tim Greene. Tim’s message was along the lines of “Hey, I know you love horror stories, you’ve gotta check this out!” (In addition to writing about the network industry, I write horror fiction in my spare time. Is there a connection? You be the judge.)

What’s the horror story here? Classic Pandora’s Box tale. Guy buys antique wine box at an estate sale, brings it home, opens it up and all sorts of really bad stuff starts happening. Read the intriguing and, frankly, kind of chilling tale.

In case you’re wondering, Webster’s says “dibbuk” is a term from Jewish folklore describing a spirit that jumps into someone’s body and takes over (a sort of paranormal midlife crisis). Do you dare to open the dibbuk-haunted box? Do you? Well, forget it. More than 50 people bid on it and the winner(?) grabbed it for less than $300. That’s a steal for a cursed treasure, comparing quite favorably to the Hope Diamond, which is worth many, many millions of dollars.

I have treasures of my own to share, none of which is cursed. In fact, I have been blessed with the riches of feedback from readers who continue to share their thoughts on the future of the IT industry. In my selfless way, I will spread these gems on the table before you for your pleasure.

Vortician Lynn Nye wrote the following about my concept of the New Data Center. “John, I’m a recovering entrepreneur, returning to consulting after founding and running a software start-up for five years. I’ll offer up this perspective about the New Data Center that will be a foundation of a white paper (I’m writing).

“Overall, the themes are the right themes, but as an industry we seem to continue to undervalue the system architecture.  Back in the old days, there was this thing called SNA and, although proprietary, that architecture scaled, achieved very high end-user performance and provided unparallel visibility.

“As the computing evolution continues, the struggle to align ‘the business of IT’ is only getting worse for IT organizations of all shapes and sizes.  As an industry we are failing our customers as we continue to throw products and politics at what is clearly a lack of strong leadership in architectural standards.

“Overall, that’s what has drawn me to focus my new practice on application performance management because it’s basically a religion to me and such a fundamental issue for every IT organization. I look forward to . . . nudging the industry to resolve core issues that will enable the potential of the New Data Center.”

Welcome back, Lynn. We need all the help we can get.

Vortician Doug Ashton added this: “John, your perspective is useful because it ties together so many disparate parts of what is happening. That’s why I like the concept of the New Data Center. The landscape is getting confusing with all the terminology, something that is creating barriers to growth.

“My guess is the media is generally far behind this curve and, unfortunately, that will allow less ‘ethical’ managers to portray themselves in a more positive way than should be the case. The tech industry is a bastion for those bent on manipulation and it continues to this day. In general, the Wall Street analysts don’t know enough to call them on it.  What is needed (is work) that ties everything together but such pieces are not what most vertically and sub-segment-focused analysts are good at. 

“It is a key time to get industry participants on some kind of path for explaining the changes that are taking shape and your outline does that well. Also, it seems to me that if part of the downturn was based on the major changes that you talk about, there has to be a period of introspection and re-systemization before we can lurch forward. I believe, as I think you do, that just such a process is slowly being put behind us.”

Finally, this from new Vortician, but longtime colleague, Jim Metzler of the Ashton, Metzler and Associates consultancy. “John, I wish you had called it ‘The New IT Model’ or something like that.  I say that in part because then you could include the fact that there is a lot of change going on in terms of the appliances that access applications.

“Some of these changes you allude to in the white paper; i.e., the movement to wireless. But other changes include the proliferation of differing types of devices as well as the simultaneous convergence of functionality.  By that I mean having a phone that is also your PDA; having a PDA that is also your phone. Not only is there a question of which devices (and, hence, which companies) win, but what type of functionality needs to be in these devices.  And, as you certainly know, there has been speculation for a few years now that the PC will die away as fast as it came into being.  Talk about a major change in how we do computing!  Talk about a major change in terms of vendor success.

“When I look at your diagram (for the New Data Center concept), I respond as would anybody who was raised to salute the OSI Model. By that I mean that I mentally saw an arrow that indicated that information flowed into the top of the diagram and then down through each layer in turn. 

“But that is not how it happens in reality.  Somebody sitting at a PC wants to input a sales order.  They type in something meaningful and hit ‘Return.’  The PC sits on a LAN and so the info transits the LAN.  The info hits a router which routes the info over the WAN to another router where it is routed to a server on which resides the application.  This application may well request info from a database server that resides on a SAN.

“Bottom line: An OSI mindset does not describe the New IT Model. (Did you notice how I cleverly snuck that in?)  It would be fun to try to construct a model that talks of info flow in the IT infrastructure of the 21st century.”

Yes, Jim, clever indeed. Thanks to Jim and Doug and Lynn. I’ll be back next week. Bye for now.