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Businesses

Technology Buying Slump 398

mgcsinc writes "According to this Yahoo article from Reuters, IT buyers are continuing a trend of cutting costs, favoring utility over cutting-edge effect. Market researchers are estimating continuing doldrums in the industry and enterprise businesses see more 'bang for the buck' from making improvements in software as opposed to investing in new infrastructure. This is not necessarily awful, however, for those who hope businesses will start looking toward open source options as the cost effective alternatives..."
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Technology Buying Slump

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:05PM (#6328150)
    Who would've guessed? Picking something that works over something that makes you say "Cool."
    • by r84x ( 650348 ) <r84x@@@yahoo...com> on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:27PM (#6328266) Homepage Journal
      I don't know how you fellows make a decision, but when I go to the store to buy something, the coolness factor is always huge. For instance, buy the Cheerios that I know will satisfy my breakfast hunger, or go for the Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs, with the awesome toy? I will often go with the latter, even though I know better. (apologies to Calvin for stealing his cereal)

      The point I am getting to here is this: Americans have always, and will always, go with the shiny new "cool" object, even when they know better. This "slump" as with all slumps, is temporary. Americans, myself included, will come back to buy the product with the bells and whistles.

  • News Flash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:08PM (#6328167)
    The party is over. What we now consider "doldrums" are here to stay. It's the new normal. Do you ever think businesses will return to extravagant spending?

    Even when the economy heats up again (let it come soon!), people will point to the late 90s dot coms as the prime example of why they should not spend money on equipment that provides no immediate ROI.
    • Re:News Flash (Score:5, Insightful)

      by miu ( 626917 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:15PM (#6328197) Homepage Journal
      Do you ever think businesses will return to extravagant spending?

      Sure, it may be another generation, but a new "next big thing" will come along and wild optimism will once again be in vogue.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )
      Even when the economy heats up again (let it come soon!), people will point to the late 90s dot coms as the prime example of why they should not spend money on equipment that provides no immediate ROI.

      Say it using an ex-pets.com sock puppet for that extra special punch.
    • by Vandil X ( 636030 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:44PM (#6328358)
      There hasn't been a single sys admin (or engineer in the pre-IT era) who didn't get financially clipped at some executive or corporate level.

      It's a humbling gesture that keeps sys admins in their place and makes them come up with functional miracles with existing equipment purchases (think of Scotty from Star Trek).

      Having been in the IT industry at all levels of the IT ladder, I've had to come up with my own fair share of miracles with existing equipment.

      Basically, the rule is: Only buy when it's no longer cost-effective to rig something together with existing purchases.

      This keeps bottom lines more realistic and prevents rogue sys admins from making their workstation into Pimp.Rig with company cash that could have been spent better elsewhere.

      It's frustrating as hell, especially when no personal gain is intended, but such belt-tightening keeps companies afloat these days.
      • It's a humbling gesture that keeps sys admins in their place and makes them come up with functional miracles with existing equipment purchases (think of Scotty from Star Trek).

        So you're implying that Scotty accomplished his miracles with the warp engines simply to avoid downsizing by Starfleet.

        • by Hittite Creosote ( 535397 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @06:50AM (#6329433)
          So you're implying that Scotty accomplished his miracles with the warp engines simply to avoid downsizing by Starfleet.

          Well of course. That and having to work with a minimal number of assistants. Starfleet were big on downsizing, even if they disguised it rather better than we did.
          20th Century - "You've been downsized. Here's a box, fill it with your stuff and leave"
          Star Trek - "We're transferring you to security. Here's your red jersey, put it on and beam down to the planet with the captain"

      • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @01:16AM (#6328665) Homepage Journal
        Only buy when it's no longer cost-effective to rig something together with existing purchases... ...but such belt-tightening keeps companies afloat these days

        Therein lies the crunch: Very few people actually do the math. I worked in one organization where we had 3 basically desktop systems in the field running antiquated processors: For months they had several programmers working on optimizing the code to allow it to run effectively on this underpowered hardware. The total cost to replace the hardware with machines 3x as powerful was around $6000 (and was necessary for further expansion plans), while refactoring the code came in at at least $24000. These sorts of idiotic refusals to do the cost analysis are common, and it's how many organizations spend far more by spending less.

        As a sidenote, am I the only one that finds the Microsoft commercials running right now to be absolutely hilarious? In one of them you see an IT department apparently learning to dance between Windows 2003 makes life so much easier and "saves money". What they apparently fail to see is that the cost savings in manpower savings, and they're lambadaing themselves some pink slips. I'm all for efficiency, but that commercial just amazed me in the paradox of the message.

        • you dont understand corperate economics.

          The programmers are already employed. they cost nothing as their salary is already part of the operating expenses...

          The $6000.00 expendature is a direct hit on cash flow and the operating budget. it makes the managers and other look bad to spend that $6000.00 while using existing personell to save $6000.00 makes them look like heros.

          the real fact of the money spent is not an issue with management. In fact they will poo-poo you if you bring it up.

          Right now they a
    • Re:News Flash (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:48PM (#6328373) Homepage Journal
      I agree. The "tech boom" of the 1990's was a pretty sad piece of history, but thankfully it didn't create another Great Depression.

      It didn't help that Wall Street took these con jobs "hook, line and sinker". Everyone got too greedy, and there was too much pressure that what little resemblence of ethics that people had collapsed.
      • Re:News Flash (Score:5, Insightful)

        by darkov ( 261309 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @01:11AM (#6328644)
        I agree. The "tech boom" of the 1990's was a pretty sad piece of history, but thankfully it didn't create another Great Depression.

        Don't speak too soon. Debt is at record levels (not seen since the depression) and people are making noises about deflation (the big killer in the great depression). Japan's had it for a decade, Germany looks like it might slip into it and rates of inflation are falling in the US. Greenspan had made deflation "enemy number one" but 13 rate cuts and negative real interest rates haven't stimulated the economy. We've had a 3 year bear market and we're not out of the woods yet.

        My advice: if US property prices collapse, which is not too likely, but if they do: run for the hills.
    • Re:News Flash (Score:5, Insightful)

      by beta21 ( 88000 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:48PM (#6328375)
      Its not ROI that the dot coms burned ppl on. It was badly informed not well researched investments.

      Pfizer spends hudge amounts of money on equipment that will not have an immediate ROI. I'm sure Viagra took a while to develop and quite a bit of money.

      Its just that stupid ppl were oohhhed and aaahhhed into buying absoulate crap that did not and would not fit into their business model.

      Rather than avoid infrastructure/software upgrades make an informed decision..rather than a blanket statement
    • What we now consider "doldrums" are here to stay

      Not to be a Nazi or anything, but it's that kinda "here to stay attitude" that led to the crash. I beleive the Simpsons put it best.
      "But it's a golden age for the repo industry. One that will NEVER end."
    • Yup, it only looks like doldrums because it comes after the dotcom bubble where spending was irrational.
    • Re:News Flash (Score:5, Insightful)

      by stinky wizzleteats ( 552063 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @01:10AM (#6328640) Homepage Journal

      Do you ever think businesses will return to extravagant spending?

      Well, I've been in the IT industry for a while now, and I certainly hope not. What made the 90's bad was not the technological advancement and optimism, it was the avarice, the exploitation of the ignorant, and the mercenarism. People bought solutions because it sounded good while bragging on the golf course, or because their absurdly overpaid consultant recommended it, or because their ridiculous sustained growth pressured sales reps forced it down their throats. People and indeed very large companies made a lot of money with no meaningful work ethic nor valuable good or service to provide the customer. There were a lot of jackass cert mercenaries job hopping in the 90's, making 6 figures a year, who soundly deserved to get their asses fired, and I for one, was grateful to see them go. (Many good people lost their jobs for no reason, however. Such is the price of the elasticism of boom and bust.) And I don't think we even need to make the obvious corporate parallel to my individual example.

      I am proud that IT consumers are figuring out they don't have to pay Microsoft every two years for the honor of using their crap. I am proud that technological efforts are directed toward useful result instead of name recognition or bragging rights. I am proud that the IT megacorp and consultant establishment is being questioned, and that in house IT specialists are being listened to (they are!).

      I care about what I do, and I care about my customers. I find in these times that those qualities are in very high demand. From where I am sitting, the industry has never been better.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:09PM (#6328171)
    At my company we're going all open-source. We're using OpenLDAP, JBoss, and eventually we'll migrate from Oracle to MySQL.

    ac
    • eventually we'll migrate from Oracle to MySQL.

      I'm not sure if its a "open source = cool/better" but this move sounds more like a "cut the front end costs and put it on unpaid OT on employees".

      I don't know what the application is for, but Oracle -> MySQL is a step backwards.
      • by G-funk ( 22712 ) <josh@gfunk007.com> on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:47AM (#6328563) Homepage Journal
        I don't know what the application is for, but Oracle -> MySQL is a step backwards

        A step? Oracle -> SQL Server 2000 is a step backwards. Oracle -> MySQL is like replacing your Ti80 with an abacus.
        • A step? Oracle -> SQL Server 2000 is a step backwards. Oracle -> MySQL is like replacing your Ti80 with an abacus.

          Remember....many (most) companies who only needed word processing were buying $2500+ machine to put on people's desks not too long ago. Maybe this guys company did the same thing with back ends and are finally coming to terms with that fact (and the fact that they can't just expect their cusomters to shell out for Oracle licenses on top of their software and need to cut costs to lower
    • Wouldn't Postgres be a better opensource example?
    • Oracle to MySQL? Whomever is your CTO needs to be fired. Yes Open Source is great, yes open source solves some budget issues - but a migration of data from Oracle to Mysql along with the associated training and support (yeah support still ain't free) is likely to cost you more than you're saving.
  • That Explains Alot (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dirkdidit ( 550955 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:10PM (#6328176) Homepage
    Well that would explain why at work I get a new 17" iMac instead of one of the new G5's. I knew my boss was cheap and thought I was worthless but I was only asking for a lousy $2,000 computer! It would also explain why I still use the keyboard I spilled soda on over a year ago, even though they supposedly ordered a new one last December.
    • But you still have a job, yes?
    • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:14AM (#6328462) Journal
      Do you ...correction.. they need a G5 mac?

      Does a G5 bring a bigger return for them in productivity?

      If not then your boss is right. Not to sound like a jerk or anything but the idea of a computer is to be a tool.

      Unless you run extremely complex photoshop sessions that take several minutes to complete its just not needed. For simple page editing a G4 imac is fine.

    • by deadsaijinx* ( 637410 ) <animemeken@hotmail.com> on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:17AM (#6328470) Homepage
      Cheap? He doesn't have to buy you more than is necessary to get the work done. If it's only a lousy $2,000, why don't you pay for the G5 you seem to want so much? Because $2,000 is a lot to spend.

      Keyboard got soda spilt on it, okay. Does it still work? You've been using it for 6+ months, so I'm going to say yes. So there is no reason to replace it then. Furthermore, keyboards are pretty cheap, and since you spilt the soda on it, you should pay for it.

      And seeing as how you still have a job, you really can't do much complaining.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I get a new 17" iMac instead of one of the new G5's

      I still use the keyboard I spilled soda on

      That explains a lot.

  • by Tyler Eaves ( 344284 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:11PM (#6328179)
    Maybe this is because companys have been burned enough times by "upgrades" that only cause downtime and break other apps?
    • I think it's more like they're not able to afford to get burned. It's like when you're down to ten bucks, you buy the dollar bread, not that oat-nut stuff you like, because it gets the job done; it holds your sandwich together, and it doesn't cost so damn much. This is just what open source needs, another push. Using FOSS in your project means that unless you have to do a lot of adaptation, things get considerably cheaper, and the savings are greater the more you sell. Oh sure, it makes it a little harder t
    • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:20AM (#6328482) Journal
      I think its due to y2k more then anything.

      This is what really started the .com hype. Since many corporations had to upgrade old code, it made sense to upgrade everything else at the time and integrate them together. Now its done.

      If you were a CEO and spent $40 million to upgrade your whole IT department why would you need to upgrade again? Another 20 million? I don't think so. Many of the systems upgraded were over 20 years old. If it took 20 years to get them in it will take 20 years to get them out.

      My guess is the 2038 crises might cause another rise but that is just a theory. Corporations are cheap with good reason. It was reckless spending and unaccountable earnings pressure that started the whole DowJones nosedive. They learned their lesson and unless an emergency pops up they are will not upgrade.

      Yes upgrades cause problems like you said but they are also expensive even if they do not cause any problems at all.

      • Y2K was the mass paranoia that brought computer purchases into Q4 lockstep. Rather than seeing purchases spread across the year, there is a residual purchasing due to the Y2K "upgrades."

        It could be argued that Y2K also changed IT thinking from "wouldn't it be cool if..." to "OMG we'd better check the numbers." Once people started to check the date in all systems, they began to refocus on numbers elsewhere.

        Enron fell. Worldcom fell. Others fell. USA went to war. Now wireless telecom is the new new th
  • The right tools (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:11PM (#6328180) Homepage Journal
    IT buyers are continuing a trend of cutting costs, favoring utility over cutting-edge effect.

    This is the reason we are investing in OS X. In general to be productive, you use the tools that best help you to accomplish the job at hand. Yes, Linux and other open source solutions are often a part of this, but when one desktop system can replace several others including Wintel and traditional UNIX workstations such as SGI and Sun, all while running the same *NIX apps as before right along with productivity applications such as Photoshop and Office, it saves money and increases productivity, making it an easy decision.

    • Re:The right tools (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Surak ( 18578 ) * <surak.mailblocks@com> on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:27PM (#6328261) Homepage Journal
      I'll probably be modded down for this, but let me candid here.

      Well, certainly OS X wouldn't work where I'm at, where we deal with high-end CAD/CAM/CAE systems. They just plain don't write this stuff for Macs. And they never will.

      The trend now is to Windows and (hopefully with the pending release of Pro/E for Linux) to Linux systems. I think a lot of non-open source, non-in-house developed UNIX applications probably won't ever be ported to Mac OS X because it's not taken seriously by folks who write these kinds of apps as a viable platform.

      Don't get me wrong -- it certainly is. OS X is about as nice of a desktop UNIX as you'll be able to find in open or closed source UNIXes. Apple hardware is nice. But the guys who run UNIX at the high-end of the spectrum don't see it as a UNIX, it's a Mac, and it's nice for graphic designers and desktop publishers, and maybe even has some room for people doing surface modeling for design purpose, but it's not a CAD workstation, and it's certainly no server.

      • The last time I read that I chased down the companies the guy was touting and out of three firms, two of them were requesting comments on the idea of porting to Mac OS X. Today, you're correct that some serious CAD/CAM applications are not available on Mac, especially 3d apps but don't kid yourself that these companies have an allergy when it comes to the platform. If they can make money they'll port in flash.

      • Re:The right tools (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:43PM (#6328351) Homepage Journal
        They just plain don't write this stuff for Macs. And they never will.

        Actually, there have been a number of companies bringing their high end specialized *NIX code to the Mac including apps for molecular modeling, bioinformatics, GIS etc....

        I think a lot of non-open source, non-in-house developed UNIX applications probably won't ever be ported to Mac OS X because it's not taken seriously by folks who write these kinds of apps as a viable platform.

        Funny, I have had just the opposite experience.

        But the guys who run UNIX at the high-end of the spectrum don't see it as a UNIX, it's a Mac, and it's nice for graphic designers and desktop publishers, and maybe even has some room for people doing surface modeling for design purpose,

        I use OS X at the "high-end" of the spectrum to perform computational molecular phenotyping, manuscript preparation, creation of presentations, porting code, surfing the web, experimenting with performing reconstruction using yes, CAD software etc...etc...etc.... and....

        and it's certainly no server.

        Hosting several web [utah.edu]_sites [utah.edu].

      • You might well see a number of high-end apps like the ones you are talking about ported with the introduction of the new G5 systems. There already is interest, and if enough customers request they will port, or if the platform can provide a lot of bang for the buck it's also a great reason to port.

      • Now I never used OS X or Darwin but it was my
        impression that they had some sort of Linux
        compat mode (Fink ?). So if people port to Linux
        it will likely also run on Macs at essentially
        native speeds, esp. if these companies can be
        persuaded to compile for PPC Linux flavors.
        Do you think these companies will refuse a market
        if all it takes to get there is a compile
        switch or two?
      • Rumors (Score:3, Interesting)

        Catia and pro-engineer may be doing a MacOSX port to panter next year.

        This info was from an Apple employee who posted here so take it with a grain of salt.

        The problem for the companies that make the products is ..
        a.)No X support.
        Apple talked to the Unix vendors and already has a beta version of X tuned just for the mac. It will be included by default to panther.

        b.)64-bit support.
        Most mathmatical packages have hard coded long long int in c/c++ for to handle large numbers and to obtain better decimal place
    • Re:The right tools (Score:5, Interesting)

      by krray ( 605395 ) * on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:36PM (#6328322)
      This is exactly why we are doing the same. I did have to replace one IBM Thinkpad (Win2K) that was stolen recently. Putting 512M memory in it and a CD-RW drive along with a hard drive upgrade easily put it in the $2,300 - $2,500 range which was exactly what I paid a couple of years ago for the original.

      I now have about a 50/50 mix of OS X Powerbooks (about $2,600 in cost) and some Thinkpads, Dell's, and a few other personally purchased, but company supported laptops (TP's were what we supplied). I always seem to hear from the Windows users all the time with misc problems which usually resolve back to the OS screwing up somewhere again. The Mac users literally never call.

      I personally rolled Mac's out first to field guys who never really touched a computer before (no bias to fight). At the same time it was replacing home systems for the top management.

      Wait six months and watch the trickle down happen. The CEO, President, VP of Operations, etc -- all had no issue when as systems were depreciated (ANOTHER concept Microsoft seems to not understand :) they are being replaced with Mac's where it makes sense.

      Unfortunately I haven't come across the Linux or OS X based CAD application that can be seriously considered against AutoCAD. Ironically it's the engineering department that is drooling the most over the new G5's -- and as it stands right now will be the last to see them.

      Personally I go home to Linux in the basement (and BSD and Netware for testing work configs :) with the Mac used as my main desktop/GUI system. Heck, 99% of my Linux/BSD based work can easily be done through the terminal and most of the applications can be compiled/tested directly on OS X as needed.

      As soon as the economy allows and/or a server truly dies (3 years left to depreciate :) the next incoming server WILL be a X-Serve as it stands now. Currently I've never allowed/wanted/needed a Windows server with the core network being run on Netware with Linux and BSD being used more heavily recently. I never understood companies that got Windows servers when their Netware was running just fine. Personally I had one Netware 3.12 server that finally died last year sometime after running for over a DECADE non-stop 24/7 with really no issues other than dust.

      The only case where I can see using Windows and be more productive than on any other system is with CAD as mentioned. Otherwise it's OS.X hands down for now. I know the only why I'll pry the lowly G4 450Mhz Cube from my brothers hands will be with a G5. I personally started on that Cube and was my first Mac purchase to go after OS.X in the BETA time. Before that (OS 9 and prior) I had absolutely no interest in the Mac.

      I was running Linux at home. :)
    • Re:The right tools (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Perdo ( 151843 )
      You are a Mac Zealot troll.

      You just can't say enough about your platform of choice.

      You have to put your little two cents into every article that is even vaguely a place where you can tout your platform.

      Consider: Linux on AMD.

      $500 systems instead of $3000, Office compatibility for $0 instead of $325, Photoshop work-a-like Gimp $0 instead of $600.

      8 PCs instead of 1 Mac.

      Yes, one desktop better replace several others, eight of them to be precise.

      I admit the gimp comparison is a bit thin, so leave the mar
  • by sammyo ( 166904 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:15PM (#6328196) Journal
    Well for small companys that provide quality, truely inovative products that solve REAL problems. The CA's and Peoplesofts that ship a product that require 2-3 years of independant consultants to get 'right' will be ancient history.
  • From the article;

    "Standardization is the order of the day,...""

    And then they go on about how big monolithic companies like MS will win.

    Its not that they don't want to pay for software, its that they have to show and justify results quickly. MS has more slick ads/sales people to push their products to managers than open source.
    • Its not that they don't want to pay for software, its that they have to show and justify results quickly. MS has more slick ads/sales people to push their products to managers than open source.

      Quick results [slashdot.org] from the hardware you already own.

      I'll do it for you [hillnotes.org].

  • Open source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrWa ( 144753 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:23PM (#6328232) Homepage
    The article is about IT becoming a part of businesses that must justify new expenses in terms of ROI. This goes along with the previous mentioned articles on /. about IT being an investment [slashdot.org].

    One could make the leap to believe that this means companies will embrace free, open source! software. Maybe. Or one could look deeper and see that companies are looking to standardize - something that open [kde.org] source [gnome.org] software [slashdot.org] doesn't seem to doing.

    There may be places in businesses that open source software will be able to make good progress in - I hope so - but it reads like IT managers are looking to the old standards (IBM, Microsoft, SAP, etc.) for the near-term fixes that they need and any new, whizbang ideas (e.g. wi-fi) will be met with strong resistance...

  • Optimisitic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by calebb ( 685461 ) * <slashdot@nosPAM.benefiel.net> on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:26PM (#6328255) Homepage Journal

    "We have a common strategy. It's common, bulletproof infrastructure with standardized PCs, standardized networks and (security), standardized servers,"

    Isn't that what all IT coordinators desire? I think that this is another way of saying they are looking for a longer useful service life on computer systems (due to the slower economy & lack of necessity); Technology (processor, motherboard IO chipsets, storage, etc) is still changing just as quickly as it was in the 90's when we saw the change from MFM -> IDE -> EIDE drives, 8 bit -> 16 bit -> 32 bit buses, 12MHz ram -> 266MHz ram, etc ...
    however... I believe that if you take a last-generation system - a P4-1.5GHz for example - It is powerful enough to have a much longer useful service life than a 386sx-16MHz did back in the early 90's;
    i.e., in 2003, $50,000 will purchase many more last-generation PC's than it did in 1992 & they will remain useful equipment for a longer period of time due to the current level of technology.

    Then again, I could be living in a dreamworld & P4's could be obsolete to the point of uselessness in 3 years...

    • Re:Optimisitic? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )
      P4 is still current-generation for a desktop system regardless of clock rate. I think you meant P3. P3 is still quite capable of getting most work done. You don't need a high-power system if you're just doing office documents and web development.

      However, take a look at intel's timeline [intel.com]. The 386 came out in 1985. Arguably, it's the Pentium that finally put it to death - It didn't come out until 1993. The Pentium itself, and by this I mean the P54C, not the P55C (Pentium MMX) is still doing good work for qu

  • Let's see, late 90's we had the internet bomb where everyone was throwing money at anything with the word "net" in it. You didn't need a sound business plan, just a good domain name to be worth billions.

    And to top it all off we had the Y2K craze, where the Y2K bug was basically an excuse to totally upgrade everyone's infrastructure. You had people cashing in on that one big time, you could even buy Y2K steak knives.

    So is it any surprise people aren't spending as much IT money today?

    It'll bounce back up,
    • Re:No, really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:40PM (#6328340)
      Most computer parts are good for about 5 years tops... if everything was replaced in late 1999, what's gonna happen in 2004?
    • So is it any surprise people aren't spending as much IT money today?

      Look on this as a return to normality. As the article says, it is things like re-engineering the procurement process that bring the real benefits. Trouble is, during the years of hype, there were plenty of snake oil salesmen around saying that if you focused on that boring, hard-to-do stuff, then you'd miss out on the magic benefits from black magic technologies (crazy shit like personalization servers and anything with the word exchange

  • by lawaetf1 ( 613291 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:33PM (#6328305)
    No, seriously. Gamers aside, the average home or office user can get by just fine with technology from 2+ years ago. I have a p3-800 at work as do my 30 odd users and for email, web browsing, mp3s, terminals, etc it handles the work just fine. Sure a newer system would be nice but its impossible to justify the cost when things purr along smoothly as is.
    I think the same applies for servers to a lesser extent. Unless you're anticipating a heavy load chances are good the job will get done fine with a box rustled out of the closet.
    Unless the fundamental ways in which we interface with the computer change then the non-power user will have longer and longer periods between upgrades.
    • You are right, there's nothing wrong with the hardware.

      The average small office, however, has an awful mix of M$ OS. A typical set up will have an assortment of win98 and XP desktops and a "server" of some sort from M$. The desktops are clogged with legacy shit, sometimes carted in from home, spyware and all need to be "rebuilt". Microsoft's tools are so inadequate for sharing work that versioning problems plauge all work. The server might be used as an inferior mail server that ends up blacklisted bec

  • The sky is still blue.

    Cheap : Managers :: Dumb : End Users

    Seriously, though, companies don't have to spend too much on IT stuff nowadays. They only have to go pick up the latest and greatest from some dead .com from eBay. (Witness my purchase of a 36gb 10K RPM FC drive for $30 recently, and my watching a 72gb 10k RPM Ultra/320 SCSI drive, hotswappable (SCA) go for $55)
  • Man I have been loading linux boxes right and left. The longer the economy is in the dumps the easier it is to sell linux solutions.
  • Hardware (Score:5, Informative)

    by somethinghollow ( 530478 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:42PM (#6328348) Homepage Journal
    I think we are getting to a point where hardware is "ahead of it's time." That is, when I was doing design work on Adobe Photoshop 5, I had a 266 MHZ PII and I remember thinking: This is all the computing power I will ever need (which is something I'm sure most of us said, accept Bill Gates, who apparently never that ;). Well, 6 years later, we have 3 GHz processors, and I wonder how long it will take business type applications to tax those processors like Office 2K with Windows XP taxes my old 266. It's the poor performance with later versions of Photoshop, etc, that convinced me to upgrade my system four years ago.

    Basically, the buying slump (hardware wise) might be because everyone's hardware does what they want at a good speed with plenty room to spare. If corperations want hardware sales to go up, they'll have to wait for more complex programs (or more wildly inefficient --a.k.a. poorly programmed -- programs) to come out. And Longhorn is right around the corner, coincidentally enough.
    • Re:Hardware (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ender81b ( 520454 )
      Exactly true. A few years ago, around 1999, the upgrade cycle for the university I work for was 3 years. You got a new computer every 3 years, and that last year was a real bitch trying to get along.

      This year we switched to a 5 year upgrade cycle on most computers and a 6 year upgrade cycle on "low use" - i.e. secretary computers. It makes sense when you think about it. 5 years ago it was 1998 and the fastest chip out there was a 350mhz (iirc). Today, a 350mhz CPU will do just fine running office 2k, windo
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:43PM (#6328353) Journal
    In the late 1980's during the last recession, IT purchasers began to view computers as commidities like today. Some even questioned the increase of productivity of a pc compared to a typewriter. Instead of buying 386 and 486 systems they bought 8086's and 286's with only 1 or 2 megs of ram and cga and even monochrome video cards to save money.

    At the same time they scaled down on large machine purchases. This was when SCO was mediocrely hot since a 386 server running Xenix or Openserver was cheaper then a mainframe.

    Turns out the systems were not powerfull enough and caused more headaches when software evolved faster then the hardware. OS/2 and WIndows 3.0 came out and brand new things called Unix servers from Sun could provide the performance of a big mainframe for a fraction of the cost. (Back then it was mainframe/VAX or micro ).

    Turns out it costs corporate America billions over the next decade to fix the problem.

    Analyists today think history is repeating itself and the market will grow again. Ronald Reagan started this massive conservative business climate where tax cuts fueled stock prices and into profits. Same is happening again with an even more conservative president. But I think they are wrong.

    The pc revolution is over!

    Today a pc based file server running Linux can easily outperform most Sun's for a fraction of the price. A low end pc is just as fast as a high end one for basic office use. SGI is almost dead since a Windows box with a good video card can outperform them.

    So unless a new technology on the horizon comes in I say the decline will continue.

    What maybe next is bandwith and mobile computing improvements.

    The desktop == mainframe. They are no longer where the industry is and the embedded/pda/cell phone is the next IT revolution. They are still evolving and thats where I guess the new market is.

    May 1999 RIP. This is a permanent trend unless something pops up that requires new purchases that corporate American or even Joe sixpack can not live without.

    • That's one really good thing that came/comes from the AMD Intel price war. They've so marginalized the price of CPUs that PCs have an insane amount of power for a mere pittance of price. Heck I could take a $100 bill and upgrade any of my boxes into the Athlon era (CPU, motherboard, and memory included) - then use that box as a competent server. Its almost scary that for a few thousand bucks you actually COULD build a decent server closet.
    • by pi_rules ( 123171 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:12AM (#6328452)
      The desktop == mainframe. They are no longer where the industry is and the embedded/pda/cell phone is the next IT revolution. They are still evolving and thats where I guess the new market is.


      Nah, it's another history-repeats-itself problem. We're going back to the thin-client environment. PC support costs are growing out of control and managing all the problems involved in deploying corporate apps on them are getting higher and higher. We're going to hit another thin-client connects to "mainframe" environment pretty quickly.

      Bandwidth across frame relays will become more and more neccessary and client machines will become more disposable. You'll get a base OS with your neccessary applications that are 'stock' on it anything special to that corp will be served up via a web-services type interface on a dumbed down client app or browser. No more pushing upgrades to systems -- you just update the logic at the backend and viola -- new app.

      Just like when you'd hook up to the IBM mainframe ala 3270 terminal emulation and enter your work into a COBOL app -- which was before my time. It's rather exciting to me, as I've been thinking thin client apps since I started programming seriously, circa 1998 :).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:45PM (#6328361)
    The article dovetails nicely with Nicholas Carr's Harvard Business Review article IT Doesn't Matter [nicholasgcarr.com] in which Carr states that:
    • IT is now infrastructure technology and a commodity item,
    • the cost of failing to maintain the IT infrastructure is extremely high (i.e., IT is a basic requirement of doing business; losing your IT infrastructure for even an hour may be very costly),
    • most companies in any given industry have the same IT, and thus
    • IT no longer confers any strategic advantage.


    Carr claims that for the above reasons:

    • IT should "be boring",
    • CIOs should *avoid* adopting the latest technology, since statistics show that early adoption confers no advantages,
    • CIOs should concentrate on minimizing risks instead.
  • by L10N ( 458520 )
    Three years ago I routinely purchased computers, parts, expansions, software, and so on. Though I still by software and maintenance supplies this is the longest I have gone without purchasing a new cpu, more, better vid card, or new computer. I have no plans to do so in the near future. I am currently hunkering down and getting the best out of what I got right now. This is speaking as a consumer. I believe other consumers, and perhaps businesses are in a similar mode right now.
  • jobs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rabbits77 ( 453747 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:55PM (#6328394) Homepage
    This is not necessarily awful, however, for those who hope businesses will start looking toward open source options as the cost effective alternatives..."
    Those looking for jobs, however, will continue to deem the situation to be awful.......
    • This is not necessarily awful, however, for those who hope businesses will start looking toward open source options as the cost effective alternatives..."

      Those looking for jobs, however, will continue to deem the situation to be awful.......

      Sure, if you want to keep on keeping on with the derailed wintel upgrade train, pound sand.

      Those providing real upgrades [hillnotes.org] might do better. The typical small office has been needing Unix like services for years. Microsoft's ever more abusive licensing and pricing are

  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:00AM (#6328411) Journal
    Despite what everyone else is saying, I happen to like the slump... Computers are now cheaper than they've ever been. Walmart's $200 computer's look like overpriced cheap crap compared to what you can buy elsewhere.
  • by TallEmu ( 646970 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:02AM (#6328421) Homepage
    OK, so take the challenge. Which Open Source applications (client and server) can *really* be used in place of other expensive solutions.

    Remember, companies like their Outlook for Calendar, contacts and email - hooked up to an expensive Exchange box running on Win2k.

    Then we need a web server, say, Apache, but unfortunately the existing content may be written in ASP or Cold Fusion.

    Of course, this is probably all connected up to SQL Server or MSDE.

    What about backup utilities (remember boys and girls, there's still Windows on the desktop) and we need Antivirus too.

    Now, suppose that I am the manager of a company and I want to do all that, to SAVE me money, but I want everything I had before. Unreasonable? Nope, I am a typical customer.

    Question is, can it be done??
    • Now, suppose that I am the manager of a company and I want to do all that, to SAVE me money, but I want everything I had before. Unreasonable? Nope, I am a typical customer.

      Question is, can it be done??


      I don't know enough about enterprise-level applications to properly answer your challenge, but I would like to make one point. There are two possible ways to interpret your challenge: as a Forced upgrade or as a Non-Forced upgrade.

      Consider a Non-Forced upgrade. Unless you're willing to accept significan
  • Clueless... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SmurfButcher Bob ( 313810 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:12AM (#6328454) Journal
    Slump? Or finally figuring out that we do not, and never have needed to "upgrade" every 5 weeks...
    • Re:Clueless... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fatboyslack ( 634391 )
      Personally, I think its because todays computers are fast enough for most office applications required, however up until even a few years ago in the sub-500MHz speed range computers would struggle with many day to day tasks (especially as the majority of computer used MS... and still do) My old PII-266 would struggle running more than one decent app at a time and squeal at four. Now I can listen to music, surf the net, have a document/email I'm playing with etc. with no drop in performance. I'll try to make
  • by pariahdecss ( 534450 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:29AM (#6328506)
    Not really large scale IT purchasing related but on a personal note my low end P4 system is simply not stressed by any of the current games or applications that I use. Mr Carmack will probably single handedly determine when my next upgrade will occur in lieu of the release of Doom 3. I think a lot of PC makers and graphics card manufacturers have their fingers crossed that Carmack and Valve will drive PC and hardware sales for the 4th quarter of 2003.
  • by ondasmom ( 677343 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:30AM (#6328508)
    Much of the technology spending that happened in "the spending blow-out of the 1990s" was investment in infrastructure that IT people justified as preventing total collapse from Y2k. That stuff is just starting to wear out now, and it will be replaced gradually, rather than in another spending spree.
  • by indros13 ( 531405 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:31AM (#6328513) Homepage Journal
    How often do people think "cool" when they buy a toaster or a washer/dryer? Electronics are becoming commodities as they become efficient and cost-effective a few basic tasks that people find entertaining and useful.

    As it is so often mentioned on Slashdot, the average American just wants to word process, check email, and surf the web on their computer. Their cellphone can customize rings, play some games, and give them free long distance--fine.

    If I can get the former for $700 with a monitor and printer and the latter for $40 a month, I'm pretty satisfied.

    These aren't the killer apps you're looking for...move along.

  • Bucking the trend (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:51AM (#6328581)
    I'm posting anonymously because I relate some obscure details of my company's network.... Our company is in the student loan financing business, and as the economy gets worse and more people return to school, we find a larger market to do business in. We're experiencing growth at a time when most companies aren't doing major upgrades and changing their network.

    This year alone, we're upgrading desktops for a department, rolling out another 150 new ones for a new department ongoing through December, upgrading our achingly old/slow NT 4.0 domain to a (hopefully) easier to maintain win2k3 domain, and replacing our aging nightmare AS/400 with a spiffy new linux application server delivering said app through a web-client written in java.

    This year, we hired another guy--an engineer, not a lackey--and we may hire a technician in September if our new team grows as rapidly as we anticipate. Plus, we're building a new data center and populating it with 75% new equipment. The company is quite profitable, and we've never been in better shape.

    Sure, there are companies cutting back, but some industries (like mine) are growing. Anybody else experiencing any kind of growth or major $ projects this year?
  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @01:21AM (#6328690) Journal
    Something is wrong, here.
  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @01:29AM (#6328707) Homepage Journal
    I order new computers when we have new positions or old ones fail. I upgrade computers when I have an option to make a signifcant performance (or function) increase without hitting one or more other bottlenecks too hard (RAM mostly, CPU possibly, video card theoretically). If the economy slows and no new positions are created, then PC spending slows approriately. If the economy picks up and new positions are created, new PCs are purchased. Why is this enough of a surprise to justify an article?
  • by Wansu ( 846 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @03:05AM (#6328983)

    This is not necessarily awful, however, for those who hope businesses will start looking toward open source options as the cost effective alternatives..."

    It doesn't seem to matter how many people they've laid off or how tight their budgets are. They keep reachin' fer th' M$ brand. They still don't view M$ as extravagant. They will scrimp on office supplies and cutback perks and benefits but M$ spending is like a sacred cow. We're bombarded with one email borne virus after another and they are unfazed. M$ prices remain high and it's license terms onerous, yet they are unmoved. I just can't imagine how much worse the downturn will have to get before they "start looking toward open source".
  • Technology != IT (Score:3, Insightful)

    by krysith ( 648105 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:28AM (#6330542) Journal
    I realize that it's about as useless as complaining about the press referring to crackers as hackers, but:

    Technology != IT !!!!!

    Those of us who work in technological fields ~outside~ of computing/telecom get a little annoyed when people use the term "Tech sector" or "Tech spending" to refer to only the IT sector. If you mean "Information Technology", call it that, or use the handy term "IT". Please don't co-opt the word Technology to only mean your little bits and bytes. Rockets, airplanes, oil-wells, nuclear submarines and medical breakthroughs also involve a little bit of "Technology" too, and it's annoying when analysts refer to the companies who make these things as not being "Tech companies". We can't help if the press is stupid, but this is Slashdot - we are Techie nerds and should know better.

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