Internationally-Renowned Analyst: Trevor Eddolls
Stephen Ibaraki, ISP, has an exclusive interview with, Trevor
Eddolls, an internationally-renowned senior analyst, author,
lecturer and consultant.
Trevor’s many talents include authoring 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 Mainframe Week, a weekly on-line publication containing
technical information. Plus, he edits publications like AIX Update,
DB2 Update, MVS Update, CICS Update, and News IS for Xephon,
Europe’s premier IT market watcher. I caught up with Trevor in the
UK, his base of operations for his worldwide activities.
Q: With your busy schedule, I appreciate you taking the time to do
this interview. Thank you for sharing your insights with the
A: No problem, always glad to help.
Q: What do you see on the horizon that businesses and IT
professionals “must” be aware of to be competitive?
A: The biggest problem that companies are facing is a seriously
aging population of people who really understand how mainframes
work. There are plenty of younger people who understand Windows (in
all its forms) and its associated software. They know how to achieve
Microsoft’s push into larger Enterprises. There are also large
numbers of red-hot UNIX gurus who can make those platforms (Linux,
AIX, GNU, SCO, etc) really achieve terrific results. But, and this
is a really big “but”, there is a very large number of banks,
insurance companies, and other major companies that have the bulk of
their core business run on mainframes. It’s important that younger
people are fully trained to understand these systems.
Besides, many of the problems that people are facing on other
platforms were solved 20 years ago in the mainframe world. It’s a
waste of everyone’s time re-inventing the wheel!
And continuing the theme, one of the easiest budget items to cut
when times are hard is training. I think companies have got to
realize the importance of their investment in training. And, I think
they should be doing more of it at this time.
Q: What do you feel are the top five hottest topics of interest to
both businesses and IT professionals today and what will be the
topics in two years and in five years?
A: Security, performance, pricing, mobility, connectivity. Now,
tomorrow, and five years’ time!
Let’s unpick that a little. There are always “religious” wars about
the right technology to use – UNIX versus Windows, Java versus .Net,
COBOL versus C++, and Symbian versus Windows CE – however, I think
that the whole industry is maturing in a way that makes these
discussions important only in the way that things are delivered. In
fact, all software within industry sectors is developing to offer
broadly compatible features. It’s now down to the technicians to use
their product of choice. For management, we are getting to the stage
where they don’t need to worry about the underlying software.
Whatever is chosen will deliver the same key features.
So let’s say a few words about each of these areas that I’ve
identified. Security is always an important area. You’ve got to make
sure that the person who appears to be paying for the goods is the
actual person making the payment. And you’ve got to make sure that
those details can move across the Internet without being “received”
by anyone else. All the other data security things are still
important – such as making sure your data can be accessed only by
responsible and authorized people, and the data can be recovered if
it becomes corrupted in any way.
And, of course, there is the perennial problem with viruses, etc. It
is important that steps are taken to ensure that these are prevented
from entering a site’s computers.
Performance is a continuing issue. Just when mainframes have become
so big that they can satisfy user response time demands, we find
people using dead slow PCs. Just as PCs get big enough to handle
workloads at speed, we find people are constantly using the
Internet. And now the performance issue is getting data across the
Internet as quickly as if you were working locally. Broadband offers
part of the solution, but now people are working with PCs and
handheld devices that are wireless. They need high-speed connections
on the train, at the café, in the office, at home, etc. Enter wifi –
and all the performance implications that poses.
Looking at mainframe performance, we are definitely going to see
more software like DB2 that has the ability to identify when it is
experiencing a problem and fix itself. I predict more software with
this kind of capability.
Pricing is still very important to the success and survival of a
company. While earlier I kind of dismissed what software you chose
to use as not too important, the price you pay for it is! Unlike
your local PC store, IBM has been notoriously reticent to produce a
price list. It is important to be prepared to negotiate with your
software suppliers. In a way, it’s up to them to convince you to use
their software as opposed to one of the alternative strategies
available. Pricing is an important weapon in making the sale. The
more you are going to have to pay, the greater the discounts you
should be able to negotiate! This clearly makes your company more
Mobility is the current task facing many sites. People want (or are
encouraged by their organizations) to work anywhere. They also want
to work on small devices that don’t spoil the shape of a pocket when
put away. I can remember going to conferences and seeing people
arriving with a briefcase full of documents, and a second very large
bag slung over their shoulder containing their PC. Nowadays, people
turn up with slimline PCs or PDAs. These contain wireless (wifi)
network cards. This “ideal” scenario is spoiled at the moment by the
number of places where no network is available and by the variety of
network providers that exist. Watch this problem grow and disappear
over the next five years! I guess that also covers the connectivity
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: IBM will still be with us. They avoided imploding a few years ago
and will continue to be a solid reliable company producing
good-quality hardware and software.
Microsoft will still be with us. It will still be claiming it
invented the Internet, and not getting any of its software right
until Version 3. By which time the software will be killing the
Linux, like Java, and companies that are supporting and selling
add-on products will thrive for the next two years. After that, it
will be survival of the fittest!
Any company that is moving “wanted” technology onto mobile phones
will do well. People are downloading games and ring tones, but
people are also synchronizing to do lists and diaries. My phone has
a camera and video facility; I know some have torch and thermometer
facilities. Many came with radios; I’d like an mp3 player on mine.
And my ideal phone would understand voice commands. I can already
dial home and work (and a few others) by saying their name. What I
want is a port of IBM’s ViaVoice (or equivalent).
I think Sun will disappear. I think the Microsoft Tablet will be put
in a draw with Betamax video and eight-track cartridge players.
Think about it, the only time I write is on an illegible Post-It
note and to sign credit card slips. Why would I suddenly want to
re-learn to write? Why would I waste time teaching software to
recognize my scribbles? Wake up Microsoft, there are already two
well established ways of entering data – one’s a keyboard and the
other’s a mobile phone keypad (using your thumbs).
The Intel Centrino mobile technology is set for a great future. It
offers something that people are going to want to have.
Lastly, XML (plus even more subsets) will turn up absolutely
Q: What would be your recommended top ten references for the
business professional? And what would be your recommended top
references for IT professionals?
Whatever you want to know you can find the answer from Google. The
downside is that it throws up 2000+ answers to the simplest of
queries, but the answer is out there – as they say.
If you haven’t got time to sift through all those pages then try the
Not exactly 10, I know, but certainly the best place to start.
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? Please provide specifics…
A: The number one challenge for most companies is finding, training,
and retaining good quality staff. Staff have got to understand the
technology they are using, but they also have to understand the
business of the organization they are working for. IT departments
are there to provide technical solutions to the business needs of
Other challenges include:
• Spam and e-mail overload. Something has to be done because
professionals are spending too much time going through e-mails that
end up in the bin. Spam busting software is getting better – it
• Adware. Products like Lavasoft’s Ad-aware quickly show how much of
your PC’s time is spent sending information back to sites that you
only briefly or inadvertently visited. It will delete cookies set by
these sites. Without products like this your computer will fill up
with rubbish which will ultimately affect performance.
• Interoperability software. I’m talking about MQSeries and
Websphere – perhaps DB2 UDB – software that lets you run things from
one platform on other platforms. Your Enterprise can be made up of a
complete mixture of proprietary systems. Software that makes them
seem like one big connected platform has got to be good.
• Control. Following on from the last point, where you have multiple
platforms, you need monitoring and controlling software. Watch out
for more developments in this area.
• VoIP (Voice over IP). If you’re sending data using Internet
Protocol, why not use it for voice communication as well? It’s
coming, just more slowly than people thought.
• Broadband as an issue is almost over. Most companies have it
installed or are about to. Those without will notice how many “big”
files are coming their way from people who are used to the delivery
taking 30 seconds.
• Back-up and restore. There needs to be enough storage space, but,
more importantly, there needs to be a way to get that important data
off PDA-type devices quickly and easily. As salesmen and others use
small handheld devices to note down client requirements, that
information needs to be almost immediately sent to central site.
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: That’s quite a tough question… I suppose I’d want to know:
Q1 Why should anyone take any notice of your opinions?
A: I’ve been working with computers for a very long time, and I’ve
been commenting on developments since 1986. My role means that I am
informed immediately of new products and new developments, and I
have plenty of opportunities to see how well they work in real life
(as well as on the original presentation). I get articles from users
of products and hear real-life stories of what works and what
doesn’t. Hopefully this experience gives me a certain insight – but
your readers will be the best judge!!
Q2 What would you recommend every company who reads this to do next?
A: I would recommend that they immediately check all their
procedures and ask themselves whether they need to do that! It’s so
common for procedures to be adopted, and then modified, and then
blindly followed because they are “the procedures”, even though
circumstances have changed and they could be removed completely or
reduced. After eliminating all the things that don’t need to be
done, ask whether the things that are being done could be done
better. And if they could, change them. And, perform this activity
regularly. I’d also identify where staff need training and make sure
they are trained.
Q3 What’s the quirkiest computer-related idea you’d really like to
A: Apart from voice-activated technology, which I’d really like to
see everywhere, I’d also like the automated house you see on some
sci-fi movies. I’d like to phone home and say put the kettle on, and
arrive five minutes later to find a cup of tea waiting. Plus it
would be nice to have house “mice” that appear at night to vacuum
the carpet or polish the floor. And a device that cooks, and washes
up, and dusts, and makes beds, and everything else round the house
and garden. And all controlled from a PC with a voice interface.
Q4 What’s your favourite Web site?
A: As well as my own, there’s Mainframe Week (www.mainframeweek.com)
for mainframe-related information, and of course Google. Google is a
great start to finding information from music to medical. Apart from
the millions of weaker Web pages that show up, you can find some
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
A: You’re welcome. As always, it has been a pleasure.