Josh Work Professional Organizations Trip Reports Conference Report: 1999 Advanced Technical Workshop

Tuesday, November 9, 1999
Adam Moskowitz <adamm@lionbioscience.com>, Facilitator
Nick Stoughton <nick@usenix.org>, Scribe


Profiles

Tuesday was the Advanced Topics Workshop, hosted and moderated once again by Adam Moskowitz. The 30 or so of us went around the room doing introductions (our names, companies, numbers of users servers and gigabytes of storage), discussed our environments, and mentioned some of the problems we were seeing.


Discussions

Hiring seems to be a common theme this year. People who changed employers this year generally took a 10% or so raise. Increased benefits — some companies are working harder on improving worklplace (more coffee machines) and better incentives/benefits. This has previously been a rathole, but why has it come back?

Another common theme is fast growth. Freenix/Linux has not yet really discovered large scale; they still think in the Windows mentality of single systems, not in terms of clusters.

These are linked... the growth in systems requires more human resources. Hiring itself is not fixing the problem. The question was raised if there is a Y2K impact? No... most of this is pure growth. Lack of certification ("I'm NT certified... I want to learn Unix") and lack of competence are the biggest problems. Not just pure technical skills (what commands do what) but other skills such as change management, project management, and so on are what's missing. Pure technical skills (measured in certification) are not enough; it is the soft skills — knowing when to do something rather than what to do — that is the hardest thing to find.


Predictions

The afternoon session of the Workshop included some predictions for what we think will be coming in the next year. Numbers in square brackets indicate the number of people present who agreed with the prediction.

  1. Wireless LANS (in next 18 months) 50% of attendees have some form of Wireless. Integration with cell technology. Wireless anywhere [17]

  2. Panic about Security for roaming computing Security (authentication, encryption) [17]

  3. Better Hardware/Software for reliability — e.g. load balancing. Things are here now, but in their infancy. [6 think it will be better in next year]

  4. Wider use of LDAP. This was a prediction last year, and hasn't happened yet. [14]

  5. Resurgence of Kerberos. [100% think we'll be talking about this again next year]

  6. Widespread corporate adoption of Windows 2000 will NOT happen because of security and directory architecture. [100% agree]

  7. Are we ever going to see IPv6? Need to have widespread adoption on the Internet backbone (i.e. Cisco), on Sun and on Microsoft Windows. IPv4 will live on for another few years. What do we do to prepare for when IPv4 dies?

  8. Widespread Videoconferencing. H323 gateways. Need cheaper servers (<$10k) and more bandwidth. [6]

  9. New levels of supply side caching. E.g. AKAMAI. [19]

  10. There will be a major (24 hr) DNS outage in the next year [100%]

  11. No More Top Level Domains [100%]

  12. 1/1/2000 will come and go with very little disruption in the US. [92%]

  13. By 11/9/2000 we will be in a major recession [4]

  14. Widespread adoption of Gigabit ethernet in server room (not to desktop) [19]

  15. Counter prediction — fiber channel will replace gigabit ethernet in 2 years. [2]

    ATM is used primarily in WAN environments, failure in LAN.

  16. More specialist appliances. Physical problems (floorspace and power) limiting factor today. [26]

  17. Generally available Web enabled Consumer products (fridge/toaster/light switch etc), probably connected to home entertainment system. [10]

  18. Transmeta will reveal what they are doing. At Comdex they will announce when they are going to announce what they are doing. []

  19. Company Intranets are growing out of control... companies will start to admit it in the next year. Ineffective management etc. Management will start to think that security is important in the next year. No longer be solely concerned with periphery security, but require smaller units of control.

Lest you think that we're omniscient — or that we even consider that as a possibility — we also looked at our success rate from the previous 4 workshops. We were right about some things, dead wrong on others, and 1-4 years ahead of our time on still others. So take these predictions with a grain (or bushel) of salt.


Specific Problems

Finally, we wrapped up the workshop with a discussion of some problems we're facing (a VMS to Unix transition in one place, the administration of customers' router passwords in another, and so on), with possible solutions bandied about. We also mentioned some interesting or cool stuff we'd done in the past year. Other than Y2K Remediation and documentation of policies and procedures, I hadn't done a lot.



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Last update Jul16/05 by Josh Simon (<jss@clock.org>).