Open Source Survey

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As previously reported in this magazine, Microsoft Corp. and Novell Inc., a manufacturer of open-source software platforms such as Novell NetWare and Linux, announced late last year a set of business and technical collaboration agreements to make Novell and Microsoft products more compatible. The two companies also announced an agreement to provide each other’s customers with patent coverage for their respective products.

We wanted to know what IT professionals think about this somewhat eyebrow-raising announcement (which was itself followed by some bickering between the companies in question).

So, we put the matter to our community forums, asking: “What are your thoughts on the recently announced agreements between Microsoft and Novell? What do you think they mean for the future of open source?”

Forum regular masterssullivan was the first to respond, with a thread titled: “no one cares.”

“This shouldn’t be affecting anybody really, so why make an issue out of it? As long as we keep our jobs, this should be satisfactory. As far as shipping more jobs overseas go, we can’t keep doing that with mergers, etc. Just my two cents.”

New member deuterium2h20 offered a more enthusiastic take on the arrangement.

“To be honest, I have never used SUSE. I have mainly used Red Hat 9, Debian and BSD. But I have great respect for Linux and UNIX and the open source movement. With that being said, I think the relationship between Novell and Microsoft is going to push Linux or at least SUSE into an office environment faster than what has been seen in the past.

“Will open source applications suffer? I believe so in the short run or at least for SUSE (possibly), but long-term effects will balance that out. IT has trends, and open source is going to stay around. The trend of implementing open source into a production environment will peak and dip, but it will always stay around. Will the cost benefits of implementing a Linux-based solution outweigh the time and resources needed to field a help desk team and support members? I do not find this relationship dangerous, and because we are all in IT, we love the dynamic environment. With that in mind, has anyone seen what I did with my DOS 6.22 disks?”

General Discussion
The IT industry is stereotypically dominated by men. There is likely a range of theories as to why this is, and regular community contributor masterssullivan, in a thread titled “Certification and women,” posted his own take on the possible reason:

“This question is just for the men out there: Have you found that getting certified increases your rate of being successful with women? I met my wife after I got certified, and I don’t know if it was the extra money or confidence that certification gave me, but I’m pretty sure they’re somehow related. Anyone else?”

Also in our General Discussion board, in a thread titled “W2K server – High System usage,” new member NJBob had a question for all you tech support people out there.

“Has anyone ever had or heard of the following problem? I have a W2K server SP4 — all hot fixes — it’s an Intranet and WSUS box. This has been running great, then about a week ago, I noticed the response time was slow. I went to task manager and saw the ‘system’ usage was 90 percent to 100 percent. I reboot the server, shut it off, reboot in safe mode without network support. No matter what I did, it was still running high ‘system’ usage. I ran performance counters and saw that the problems were pointing to problem drivers and hardware. How would I know exactly what is causing high system usage? Ninety percent to 100 percent is not good news. The system does not have a virus and is behind a Cisco firewall. All help is appreciated.”

In our storage community forum discussion board, regular member Wayne Anderson explained his background and poses a question in a thread titled “Experience with the NACA.”

“I have fairly deep experience in systems engineering, particularly in the Microsoft space. More and more often these days, enterprise implementation of MOSS, Exchange, various SOX products, SQL Server and DFS requires a little bit of hands-on experience working with the underlying SAN- or NAS-based storage and some of the technologies that allow for storage clustering and backups. To this end, I chose to pursue a storage credential as one of my next focuses.

“The company I work for partners with Network Appliance and as a result, we have access to the NetApp University training for NACA, NACP and NACE credentials. I want inquire if anyone has experience to share on the content and applicability of the NetApp Certified Associate (NACA) credential.”

Another regular member, ceadmin, responded: “The only storage certs that I have heard are worth a darn are the SNIA certs and the EMC Proven Professional (but I want to let you know I work there). Who cares if you are getting the classes free because it’s more training and learning, and if you pass, it’s another acronym to add to your long list. If you have to pay and want a storage cert, then I would recommend something from those two above.”

Career Development
Recently, we heard from a new forum member just starting to get into IT, DaViD. MiLIEr, who posted a thread asking, “How Do I Start?”

“I am employed in building construction, but I want to work in the IT industry. I don’t have any experience, but I have done some studying and have gotten my A+ certification. Now, I am working on my Network+. Can someone tell me what I need to do or what would be the best way to pursue this?”

Another new member, tkillham, replied, indicating that he or she empathizes.

“I’m in the same situation, looking for a career change. Computers have been an interest of mine for about 15 years now, and I am looking to turn this interest into a career. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get an IT job unless you have a degree, certifications and formal experience. I’m taking classes to prepare for the A+, Network+ and MCDST certifications (I should have these certs completed in the next couple months) and am working toward a degree. To solve the experience problem, I have been doing as much computer-related volunteer work as possible. Also, I’ll be starting on a help desk internship when I complete the certifications.

“I would advise finding some kind of volunteer work. At least that gives you some computer-related experience that you can put on your resume with your certifications. You can do a Google search for volunteer coordinators in your area. If you don’t have a college degree yet, it would also be a good idea to think about getting one. Check with community colleges — some of them will give college credit for IT certifications completed. You also may be able to test out of some of the general education classes by taking CLEP exams. Unfortunately, I don’t have too much other advice to give because I’m new to this myself. I hope it helped. Good luck on your career change!”

CRM & e-Commerce
Last year, we hosted a discussion in our CRM & e-Commerce on preferences in Web site design, asking, “What design elements do you think make for a visually appealing Web site? Is it lots of immediately visible functions or something stripped down and easy to navigate? How about layout? Colors? We’d love to get everyone’s thoughts on this …”

In a more recent posting, masterssullivan offered this addition to the dialogue:

“One of the most important factors of Web design is what developers like to call the FEIUE, or Front End Impact on User Experience (pronounced “Fooey” or “Foo-E”). Many Web sites will have a great database and content retrieval system coded and in place, but all that is as good as a fart at a rodeo if the front end is negatively affecting user experience. Ideally, a good Web site will be as ‘Fisher-Price’ as possible, giving

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