[Beowulf] SuSE 9.3

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Wed Jul 13 10:29:04 PDT 2005

At 07:23 AM 7/13/2005, Lombard, David N wrote:
>From: Mark Hahn on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 5:27 PM
> >
> > > Corporate users and ISVs don't want to see the OS revised more than
> > > a year.
> >
> > which is sad, really.  they've been so traumatized by the dominant
> > platform that they expect that changing anything will break
> > the very concept of a standard, let alone an interface standard (ABI)
> > is foreign to this mentality.

Aside from compatibility issues, there's a not-insignificant cost to 
rolling out a change to thousands of desktops, some small fraction of which 
WILL break for one reason or another, no matter what OS you're 
running.  Say you're a corporate IT manager responsible for 10,000 desktop 
machines.  If 0.1% of those machines break (which is a very small number), 
you've got to handle 10 calls, each of which probably costs you somewhere 
between $500-1000 (staff to handle it, the lost productivity of the person 
who's machine broke, etc.).

Say you roll out the change in the daytime.. there's going to be some 
disruption of what's going on with each desktop.  Say it costs 15 minutes 
for each user.. times 10,000 users, that's 2500 work hours, conservatively 
well over $100K worth.  Assuming all goes well. If some fraction of those 
users decide to call the help line because "something weird is going on 
with my PC", you've just radically increased the cost of the roll out.

So, you say, roll it out at night.  Then, some fairly significant fraction 
of the machines won't get the update because the user has turned it off 
(despite broadcast messages and exhortations to "please leave your computer 
on tonight").

This is more a manifestation of having thousands of machines in the hands 
of unsophisticated users, than any particular OS choice. By the way, 
sophisticated users are actually worse: They notice that something weird is 
going on and call to ask; They're more likely to have changed the "default 
configuration" of the system; They're more likely to have installed some 
other software, outside the official configuration management regime.

So, moderate to big shops tend to want to avoid willy-nilly rearrangement 
of the computing configuration.  Once a year is nice.. You budget $500K or 
so for the rollout and its costs (pretesting, support, organization, etc.) 
and you're done with it.

James Lux, P.E.
Spacecraft Radio Frequency Subsystems Group
Flight Communications Systems Section
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mail Stop 161-213
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
tel: (818)354-2075
fax: (818)393-6875

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