Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Itanic according to Doug Rady...

I guess not too many of you know Doug Rady, but he's one of those guys who can understand very technical stuff, write so that it can be understood by others than Einstein, yet remains open to new ideas and knowledge.

He has worked in several companies, but especially in Oracle Development, and he knows people and reasons for things heading the way they are.

He's also a member of the OakTable. His mailid is drady@willcode.com ...

Here are his thoughts about Itanium (which I call Itanic) and I thought the clarity of the whole argument deserved to be known outside a small group of friends:
Regarding Itanium ... unless you NEED the ability to put 2TB, 4TB or more of RAM on a single system managed by a single O/S ... AND/OR ... you need to have more than 64 or 128 processors on a single system all running within a single O/S ... DO NOT BOTHER with Itanium.

Itanium cannot compete with Opterons (or most Xeons) for
integer compute operations as Jeff described. For the most
part, Oracle lives in the generic integer and branch prediction units of a processor. Currently, this (along with the HyperTransort memory i/f) means the Opterons will give you the best Oracle performance at the processor level.

Itanium does not compete well on integer.

If you need LOTS of memory and can wait a bit, the Opteron boards are finally getting to the point having enough DIMM slots. Still, back in 1995/1996/1997, Intel was telling Itanium "partners" that they should plan for 16GB or RAM per CPU.
Most are just getting to that level today with dual-cores Itaniums coming soon.

Unfortunately, the memory i/f hasn't changed, so that will become even more of a choke point. [for some reason, a lot of cpu/system folks don't scale up the memory i/f when they scale up the cpu speeds/counts. and then wonder why customers complain when the "new" stuff goes slower!]

For further amusement, go back and look at the history of how Intel has positioned Itanium. It has gone from being the end all be all replacement for x86, to being a server-only chip, to being an enterprise-server chip, to being a database server
chip, to being a high-end HPC server chip that can also do DB.

There aren't many niches left for them to corner Itanium into. Then consider the string of delays that have been part of the Itanium life-span so far. Merced was late and still-born. McKinley too was late and has not kept up. Montecito has been
re-vamped & delayed. The follow-ons have been pushed out.

While Itanium is not (yet?) a 432 ... it doesn't seem to have any hope of being a 860 or 960. How long will Intel keep sinking ca$h into Itanium with so little ROI?


Outsourcing is OUT

Yep, not exactly the fun, technical topic you'd all dream about.

But this is what Gartner suddenly said in Cannes towards the end of last year, and it has met with massive silence from - surprise - the OUTsourcers:


The funny thing is that Gartner have been saying 'Outsource, outsource, outsource' for the last many years.

One of the important points in Weinberger's books about being a consultant (thanks to Jakob Hammer-Jakobsen for introducing me to him) is to ALWAYS suggest the opposite of what the client is doing.

Don't be surprised if some of you will have lots of things to do in the coming years due to insourcing, knowledge transfer to newly hired people, and all that.

A couple of observations regarding outsourcing:

1. If you give your iron to somebody else, you don't have the control anymore. Whether you like to be able to control your own iron or not is a matter of taste.

2. If you let another party take care of Change Management, you will soon discover that it's the Mother of all Horrors. It's way more Management than Change. You will find yourself unable to act upon business-critical issues, and you will discover that it's possible to waste unlimited resources (time, money, people) on CM.

3. You will be one of many. Chances are, you'll be small compared to all the others. Guess what that means in term of being unique. Guess what that means in terms of being focused on.