Internationally Known Analyst: Trevor Eddolls
This week, Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P., has an exclusive
interview with, Trevor Eddolls, an
internationally-known analyst, author, lecturer and
senior consultant. Trevor is author of VM
Performance Management by McGraw-Hill; Introduction
to VM by NCC Blackwell; and ASO: Automated Systems
Operations for MVS by McGraw-Hill. He has written
and produced user surveys such as MVS Automated
Operations Software and The Help Desk in Practice.
He has chaired numerous seminars, and lectured
extensively in the UK, Europe, and the Middle East.
Trevor also edits publications like AIX Update, DB2
Update, MVS Update, NT Update, Oracle Update, CICS
Update and News IS for Xephon, Europe’s premier IT
market watcher. We caught up with Trevor in the UK,
his base of operations for his worldwide activities.
Q: First of all, thank you for agreeing to this
A: No problem – always glad to help out.
Q: Having established your renowned expertise to an
international audience through your writings, and
lectures, what does your wife Jill and your two
daughters think about you being a noted
A: They manage not to let it get in the way of their
day-to-day activities. In fact, sometimes I don’t
think they notice at all.
Q: With your background in teaching and an arts
degree, what led you into computing?
A: It was actually while I was teaching that I was
invited to spend two weeks in industry. I visited a
company called Scicon, which was a computer bureau.
I liked the look of the kind of work they were doing
there, and, over lunch on my last day, they offered
me a job.
Q: How did you get involved in writing? Looking
back, would you do anything differently?
A: I’ve always liked writing – short stories and
poems, as well as technical writing. I’d written
lots of instructions for Operators and Ops Analysts
at Scicon. I wrote a number of training courses for
Protocol, who I worked for next. It was while at
Xephon, where I’d written articles and user surveys,
that I had a meeting with Jay Renade, who invited me
to write a book for McGraw-Hill. I wrote that and
two others. I still regularly contribute articles.
I don’t think I’d do anything differently.
Q: What do you feel are the five hottest topics of
interest to IT professionals today and what will be
the topics in two years and in five years?
A: In a way, the hot topics are the same all the
time, only the name changes. Performance of the
hardware and software is critical to a company
staying in business. The other vital ingredient is
‘delivery’ – making sure that your customers get
what they want, as quickly as possible. I think that
in many ways the focus is going to turn back towards
IBM. People are going to realize that the banks and
insurance companies never got rid of their
mainframes. Installing a mainframe is going to be
the solution of choice for many companies –
especially now that a mainframe doesn’t look a lot
different from any other server and you don’t need
water cooling equipment, etc. I think the IBM
products like DB2, WebSphereMQ, and the Tivoli range
are going to grow in importance.
There will also be a growth in Web Services, .Net,
and SOAP, as well as J2EE. People expect fast and
accurate delivery on the Web.
I foresee that more software will be able to “heal”
itself. It’s the final stage for automated
operations! Large applications like CICS and DB2
will monitor what’s happening and be able to pre-emptively
take corrective action. This will allow 24 by 7
working. I think lots of software will be moving in
Lastly, I see Linux appearing everywhere. It will be
the Web server, database server, and application
server platform of choice for many companies. It
will also start to appear more commonly on office
workers desktop. And in five-years’ time it will be
totally unremarkable to see it in the home. It will
also be the preferred operating system for PDAs and
other handheld devices. And, of course, IBM is
delivering Linux on mainframes.
Q: Who/what do you think are the winners and losers
in IT in next five years? [This could be companies,
technologies, …and so on.] What advice would you
give to enterprises in their adoption of
technologies in the next five years?
A: There are going to be two big losers in the next
five years, in my opinion, Sun and Microsoft. Sun
will just disappear because everyone will choose an
alternative. The Sun ONE model will not gain the
critical mass it needs to continue.
The imminent death of Microsoft has been predicted
many times (over the years), but, due to nifty
footwork and the rewriting of history, it’s never
happened – in fact it’s always been the reverse. I
don’t see Microsoft disappearing, I see it having
negative growth. This will be caused by the growth
of Linux-based PCs and the spread of StarOffice and
other software doing the job of Microsoft Office,
but for free or sensibly priced. I see Microsoft’s
push into the middle and large enterprise space
being stopped by people’s growing reliance on
Linux-based servers and IBM mainframes. I don’t see
the .Net part of Web services being industrial
I think the winners are going to be companies making
combinations of PDAs and mobile phones. Something
small and compact with all the features of SMS (texting)
and diary, memo etc is going to be too convenient a
device not to catch on – especially when the price
drops. It would be nice if voice-recognition
technology were to become available on such devices.
I also see people who write games for these little
devices selling millions of copies at very low
Q: Where do you see the following evolving in the
next five years?
A: Java will be very important and will be appearing
in industrial-strength products such as Java 2
Enterprise Edition, and other facilitating products.
.Net, SOAP and Web services will be appearing soon
in the Microsoft SOAPToolkit and VisualStudio.Net.
Web services will grow hugely in importance and .Net
will grow with this. But the big question is whether
Microsoft solutions really scale for
XML as a standard has a lot to offer, and we can
expect it to pervade the whole of computing. Every
piece of software will access or write XML. But
there is a downside – currently there are a number
of specialist versions of XML, eg CML for the
chemical industry or FinXML for the financial
Wireless will be taken for granted in five years’
time. A mouse, if we’re still using such a device,
will be cordless. Your phone or PDA will synchronize
with other people’s using infra-red. And any
airport, train station, or café (like Starbucks in
the USA) will allow laptops access to the Internet.
People will just expect it to happen – have a coffee
and check your e-mail, or look up something on
Security is going to remain a very important issue.
If people are carrying important data around on a
PDA or laptop, how is that data going to be
protected, for example, if the device is stolen or
when files are uploaded or downloaded in public
places (eg cafes). There’s also the concern of
backing up, restoring, and synchronizing the data on
such devices. And on top of that, you have the worry
that people will be writing viruses to attack PDAs
or phones, or whatever. People in the security
business can look forward to a long and steady
Q: Can you describe three projects that you have
worked on and lessons you have learned from these
A: I am unable to speak specifically about actual
projects – however I can say that I have learned to
believe what they always tell you on project
management training courses. Always plan thoroughly,
always talk to people and listen to their views as
part of the ongoing management, and always review
afterwards to see what could be done better next
time. Oh, and always allow at least half as much
time extra as you originally thought necessary!
Q: Where do you see your career heading in the next
two years and five years?
A: I don’t want it to seem that I have no aims, but
I see myself doing much the same sort of thing in
five years’ time. The technology I will be using and
learning about will be different and better, but
I’ll still be finding ways of using it more
efficiently and writing and telling others about it.
Q: What would be your recommended top ten references
for the IT professional?
A: In the past, I guess the answer to this question
would be a list of books. Now, I suppose it’s Web
Q: What are the top ten challenges facing IT
departments in the next five years and what are your
recommendations to meet/overcome these challenges?
A: The number one challenge is finding and retaining
quality staff. In a way, IT departments grew up on
the enthusiasm of people for the new technology. But
now, it is as much about management – finding out
what those “good” people want from their job, and
trying, as far as possible, to provide it. Once
you’ve achieved this, you’re in a position to
overcome the other challenges. It’s also imperative
to find staff who understand business needs as well
as understanding the technology.
These other challenges are:
- Getting customers to YOUR Web site when
Google (etc) throw up 2000+ possible sites for
customers to visit;
- Choosing the right technology, and not
developing in a technological cul-de-sac;
- Getting the price right for products;
- Speed of delivery – people want everything
at Web speed;
- Scalability – ensuring what works in a test
environment can work globally;
- Training technical staff to understand your
company’s business needs;
- Broadband (or better) for all – slow 56K
modems will become a thing of the past (like
- Getting good COBOL programmers;
- Migrating to IP Version 6 - Internet
Protocol Version 4 is running out of address
spaces, IPv6 solves problem, plus it provides
benefits for multimedia applications, Quality of
Service, and mobile networking;
- Voice over IP (VoIP) – although currently
linked to IP6 take up and with service quality
issues, it still offers a considerable advantage
to those companies who take it up at the right
- Agent technology – the Web is getting
bigger, the amount of available information
that’s stored is growing exponentially, agent
technology is going to be the only way to
survive in this environment;
- Storage – very high density and very small
devices offering very high speeds are what
everyone is aiming for;
- E-commerce – you’re just going to expect to
securely purchase anything from a Web site,
whether it’s food or books, or whatever.
Q: If you were doing this interview, what four
questions would you ask of someone in your position
and what would be your answers?
A: Tricky one – how about:
Q1: Why should anyone else take notice of your
A1: I’ve been working with computer technology since
1979, and been commenting on developments since
1986. I’ve seen companies and ideas come and go.
Hopefully that experience will help me make
judgements on what is happening now.
Q2: What’s the quirkiest computer-related idea that
you’d like to see really happen?
A2: I like the Star Trek voice-activated computers.
I like the idea of a computer that’s so small you
can put it in your pocket. The screen is a pair of
light-weight glasses you wear, with a small
microphone connected to an ear-piece for you to talk
instructions and text into.
Q3: What’s your favourite Web site?
A3: Apart from my own, I guess Google has got to be
my favourite – simply because it is the doorway to
so many other interesting and amazing places on the
Q4: What hardware and software do you typically use
in your everyday work environment?
A4: I have a couple of PCs running Windows ME. I use
IE6 to browse, Word and Excel for word processing
etc, and PageMaker for DTP. I also use Paint Shop
Pro and Corel 10 for pictures. I like Serif’s
DrawPlus for producing photo collages. I’ve recently
been using InsaneTools 3D Flash Animator. This is
really quick and easy for Flash animations –
definitely worth a look.
Q: It’s a blank slate, what added comments would you
like to give to enterprise corporations and
A: Without wishing to appear too presumptuous, I
would recommend that they regularly evaluate why
they are carrying out a particular procedure. Over
time, ways of doing things get established, and
gradually incorporate all sorts of changes. It is a
good idea to regularly ask “why are we doing it this
way?” and “is there a better way?” Without a doubt,
there will be a number of things that can be done
more efficiently. This will free up staff time. It
will also save the company money and make resources
available for doing something else. That something
else could be making more money.
My last piece of advice for enterprise corporations
and organizations is, don’t believe everything that
so-called experts tell you. Like weather
forecasters, they have been known to be wrong!
Q: Thank you for sharing your valuable insights with
us today and we look forward to reading your books
and articles; and seeing you at your
A: You’re welcome, it has been a pleasure.