Locking-in Wiltshire Council

When a government has to implement a solution from M$ in a hurry, you know something is wrong.

They had to combine all kinds of disparate units into a whole and used facilities in “7” to do that. They had to reduce the burden of password resets and used facilities in “7” to do that. They had to implement a VPN and used facilities in “7” to do that. They plan on saving “£85 million over 25 years” thanks to pouring £millions into M$’s coffers every few years? M$ saw these suckers coming. “Generally speaking, Microsoft’s involvement meant they were writing software amendments for us as needed. They were very committed and very responsive to our needs.” except they could not monitor their systems in real time but only got to see logs from yesterday, in the interests of efficiency…

Twits. They could have done all those things for free using GNU/Linux, the flexible OS.

Instead, by assuming that other OS will be involved, Wiltshire Council nails itself to the cross of M$’s lock-in, making future freedom all the more painful.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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15 Responses to Locking-in Wiltshire Council

  1. Contrarian says:

    “Managing/observing the system caused it to bog down.”

    No it did not. There was a concern that arbitray reports run against the database might detract from overall performance, so the reports were not allowed to access the database in that way. Rather, reports had to be run against archived data. MS has offered to provide some reports to meet needs for monitoring in real time that would be constructed to avoid the problem. That is done a lot.

  2. I would bet M$’s salesmen offered a discount for testimonials… We’ve had similar things from a few schools, GoDaddy, and others. M$ has to pay people to use its stuff.

  3. see TFA. Managing/observing the system caused it to bog down.

  4. oldman says:

    “So, M$ has supplied a system that does not work for Wiltshire Council and must be tweaked. It does not scale…”

    And your qualifications for making this statement are…?

  5. Contrarian says:

    I would say that the lesson to be taken away here is that, despitethe minor problems initially found with the system and scheduled for correction, the customer is well pleased and willing to give an enthusiastic testimonial in regard to their overall experience and satisfaction. If you want to point to this as an example of Microsoft incompetence or misadventure, go ahead, but you are not improving your own understanding of reality.

  6. So, M$ has supplied a system that does not work for Wiltshire Council and must be tweaked. It does not scale…

  7. Contrarian says:

    “It pains me to see people making it difficult for themselves.”

    #dann, rather than being pained, you should go about helping them do things in a better way. It would be quite rewarding financially for one thing. It seems to me that you and #pogson could create a tidy little business together that would solve your problems financially and benefit others to a great degree.

  8. Contrarian says:

    “What kind of a database cannot handle queries in real time???”

    That is not the correct question #pogson. Rather, it should be in regard to how to optimize database performance. I have a great deal of experience in doing that and I know that a poorly designed query that is used in a report can severely imact database performance for other connections. If you have experience with databases that contain tables with millions of rows of data, such as may accumulate quickly in a city wide environment, you would have to agree that is a potential problem.

    “It demonstrates a lack of scalability in M$’s way of doing things”

    Can you qualify as an expert on this subject to the extent that you could credibly say such a thing? Microsoft and other companies, such as Oracle and IBM, routinely supply complex and comprehensive data base solutions world-wide and they get and keep thousands of customers who remain sufficiently satisfied with that service so as to maintain their business relationships.

  9. Dann says:

    “There is then the opportunity to design a canned report to ensure that long running quieries are avoided and so performance is not adversely affected.”

    Or you could mirror the database strictly for running information requests on the health of the database AND backups. It wouldn’t be a problem for GNU Databases such as Firebird to mirror for a $0 cost excluding hardware.

    Sadly, many databases, especially the larger ones, have gained a lot of cruft over the years and poor design decisions in favour of shotgun functionality has made them unmaintainable. When a database gets too large, it should be split up. Things should be modular. Use SSD’s for data that is mostly read-requested.

    It pains me to see people making it difficult for themselves.

  10. What kind of a database cannot handle queries in real time???

    “if I want to know, in real time, how many priority 1 calls were fixed within a particular timescale the team would have difficulty providing those statistics as the information could be over 24 hours old”

    That’s laughable! Use a sequential log file. Make the real-time scans of it as needed. Enter stuff in the database from the logs. This is not about a hot database but quality control of a computer system. It demonstrates a lack of scalability in M$’s way of doing things, something evident since the earliest releases of that other OS. M$ does things for its convenience and to Hell with the users.

  11. Contrarian says:

    “The point is Wiltshire Council is the one solving the problems. M$ is getting in their way with stupid restrictions on examination of current logs.”

    I think that you are misreading this. The article states:

    “Reports are run against the archived database, so if I want to know, in real time, how many priority 1 calls were fixed within a particular timescale the team would have difficulty providing those statistics as the information could be over 24 hours old. Microsoft knows about it and says improvements are on the way in the next release.”

    This is a common reporting issue for large database systems. If a large number of connections are being made to a database for recording of data in near real time, is is poor design to allow for read accesses to that database to interfere with the update process. The technical solution is for reports that may cause “long running queries” to occur, such as may be the case with consolidated operations reports, to be run against an archive copy of the data. This is not the simplistic “examination of current logs” that you assume it to be.

    An accomodation is apparently being made for some reports that are useful for analyzing up to the moment conditions such as task activities that may need review in order to make priority change decisions. There is then the opportunity to design a canned report to ensure that long running quieries are avoided and so performance is not adversely affected.

  12. Vapourware on the time-payment plan?

    I guess oldman or someone else who knows how wonderful “7” is will have to tell us. It could be the reduced manpower for resetting passwords, or thinking about choices or spending the taxpayers’ money. I don’t see anything in there that FLOSS could not do for them for a lot less money. Perhaps M$’s salesmen told them what the savings would be over the most expensive option from M$.

  13. Richard Chapman says:

    I smell a rat. They will save “£85 million over 25 years”? Why the long time? Why not say they will save £3.4 million in the first year? Can anyone imagine Microsoft installing Windows 3.1 somewhere in 1991 and saying in will save “£85 million over 25 years”? I doubt Windows 7 would fare any better.

    Oh, I get it. Microsoft is saying that amazing advances in future technology will bring new savings to the project. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  14. The point is Wiltshire Council is the one solving the problems. M$ is getting in their way with stupid restrictions on examination of current logs. Wiltshire Council could have solved the problems with GNU/Linux in a similar period of time and been free to examine their logs any way they wanted. Munich is not a comparable migration because they changed the client OS as well. It may well have taken Wiltshire Council longer to change the OS but there are lots of ways that could have been accelerated. My advice would have been to switch to thin clients and to use a networked OS so that all applications are network-transparent. All the problems vanish. “7” is a roundabout solution to the real problems of getting multiple units to work together. M$ is creating solutions to problems M$ created. Why not just avoid the problems?

    I have migrated systems from XP to GNU/Linux. It can be done on the weekend and Extremadura is still going strongly with GNU/Linux.

  15. Contrarian says:

    “Twits. They could have done all those things for free…”

    That may be the root of the matter, #Pogson. If they are twits, at least in the sense of not being competent IT administration planners, they might very well seek a turn-key solution from various vendors. Who shows up to service their request? Microsoft, obviously, since they got the nod here. What other companies were contacted and what did they propose? That is the real story.

    Eight years ago, Munich city council set out to do what you recommend and they are still at it. Free is not all that it is rumored to be, it seems. Of course the project was smaller, but Wiltshire has “5640 staff” so they might have as many workstations to implement.

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