VMWare Support – that’s how it should be! Makes a lousy admin happy!

I am amazed. Really!
Last weekend I bought VMWare Fusion 6 Professional for a course I am attending.
Unfortunately, the lab setup explanation only covers Windows XP (oh my god) and VMWare Viewer. Those poor Mac users are on their own. And the whole setup is kinda special. You need a NAT configuration with a fixed IP and a nonstandard subnet for a Linux client and server installation.
I had VMWare Fusion 3, but that does not let you easily configure other NAT networks, if at all, but Fusion 6 does just that, so I thought. As I have said about a hundred times before, I hate admin work – hence the Mac – and I am not good at it (that’s why I am following that course) and I am biased towards KVM (made usable by Collax for common mortals) as a virtualization product (Yeah right, no client based virtualization from KVM, I do know that). That was the starting position.
After installing Fusion I loaded the ready to use VM’s and configured the NAT as requested. And as expected, it did not work. After fiddling around for a while I decided to contact VMWare Support. After all, you get 18 month (that’s eighteen! Not some lousy 3 or if you are very nice 6 month) complementary support – which means „by email“. The first 2 days that support portal just did not work and the self-help knowledge base let’s you go in circles, because it opens often the same page which you just came from (by clicking on a link promising more explanation, that is). Got a tiny bit angry there, but I could have used the phone. On the third day, though, the web tool worked. I expected some email conversation but surprise surprise, I got a phone call from a very nice Indian fellow. Normally I only get phone calls with Indians on the other end, from Microsoft, informing me that my Windows sends messages about a virus around. Last time they called me, I responded with „Microsoft Security Department, how can I help you?“ That blithering idiot called me a dam liar, figure that. That from somebody who could not look in the mirror in the morning, without being sucked in and sent to hell for eternal helpdesk work. Unfortunately they have stopped calling me. I became a fun game to make them run up the walls and calling me names. Just to find out I had a Mac, took them several minutes and that hopefully saved an old granny from being ripped off by those lower life forms.
Not so with VMWare’s support personnel. After explaining my problem, we got to work and using Teamviewer were trying to figure out, how to have a configuration, that I can use the VM’s as expected. I don’t know why VMWare decided to contact me by phone (they don’t use Notes, do they), but it is a nice gesture and naturally lots better than email. Took us two days to make it work, actually. VMWare got out of its way and tested a few things, while I was sleeping.
The only thing that makes working with VMWare Support a bit difficult is, that my Indian friend was … you expected that … in India. Fortunately I work a lot from home, but doing that stuff when the kids are around, makes it less amusing. When they get hungry, they start chewing on the carpet.
I am a happy camper now and that is thank’s to VMWare’s exemplary support … apart from the knowledge base, but they probably know that. That network configuration will be sent to my course management and hopefully will help others.

Since I am in the yellow bubble, I can not help it, but compare it to my IBM’s support experience. When IBM introduced Lotus Foundation, they had an outstanding support (the old Nitix support in fact). Call or send an email and somebody would jump to the occasion to help you. It went down the hill, when that support was integrated in the standard workflow of IBM’s support.

And now the best part: VMWare gave me an email address to use, if I have any problems in the future. No more web portal for me, ha! That’s how I like it.
Now I can go back in my corner end weep silently, after Emirates Team New Zealand lost the ol‘ mug.

What is IBM missing? Larry Ellison!

You may like the man or not, he is extremely successful and does not like to loose at all. He might got used to it, in the last few days, because the Kiwis (Emirates Team New Zealand) are making mince meet out of Team Oracle, but the America’s Cup isn’t over, yet. But he did something right. He made Oracle THE NUMBER ONE in the RDBS market. No doubt there. IBM is trailing far behind with DB2. There is no question, both products are excellent, but IBM lacks a Larry. 
When you look back the last decade or so, you feel how IBM is slowly but steadily going down. It’s like a ship that every time you see it, looks a bit more beaten and nobody cares to do maintenance. A bit of colour here and there is all that is applied. The cook was let go long ago, to be replaced by vending machines. The engineers do what they can with a swiss army knife, because the tool box was sold to honest Joe, a car dealer in a distant port. The teak deck chairs were replaced with plastic ones from China and the nice woollen blankets with the ships name stitched on them, were sold to the paper mill. Why is this happening? Because the owners, a bunch of people not stepping on board ever, because they get sea sick, just want a continuos flow of cash. The captain is between a rock and a hard place. The last captain served his term and left the ship to the then first officer, in a already rather poor state. The new captain got to the helm with the clear order to keep money flowing, no matter what. What goes around comes around. 20 years ago, that ship run aground, low on fuel and overloaded. To make it float again, they got one of the best captains around, who threw half the staff and a lot of cargo over board (on the shallow side) and looked for new ports and work to do. The owners cheered and let him do it. After getting afloat again, a new captain came on board and suddenly this greed of the owners popped up. The rest is history. All that is left to the new captain, is go as long as possible and then run it on a sand bar, before it sinks completely. Then they call Half-Leg-John with Lora I-Like-Your-Finger the parrot and repeat the history of getting afloat again, but that will cost. It will cost a lot more then bringing the ship in the dry dock now, fix it and walk in all the hotels and companies, either small or big, in the area to bring in new passengers and cargo.
What has Larry to with it? He owns Oracle, not in terms of shares, but in terms of personality. It’s like Steven Jobs or Bill Gates or others. Companies flourish much better, if they have a boss who IS the company. IBM had that till the 60’s. Can you imagine Gini Rometty going with IBM as a sponsor of something like the Americas Cup? Just because she wants to win that old mug? Or keep it for the matter? Sure, Larry owns quite a bit of Oracle, but there is the same bunch of greedy owners, he has to deal with. But they follow him, because he IS Oracle.
Looking at the ship, what is really amazing, is the fans it has. Even in his present battered state, people love it, like no other ship. Unfortunately the owners don’t care a lot. More and more the fans feel the rejection. 
Have there been famous parties on the ship in the past, you may get a free pack of chips, if there is some outdated stock left and you ask nicely.
Or in other words, the recent development about the different conferences that are organised by a bunch of highly respected members of our community makes me sad. IBM gets a almost free ride and does not get on board. Oracle certainly does not have this kind of community and the IBM of today does not a lot to deserve it and it starts to show. I was shocked about the comments on the blogs that announced the opening for the Connect 2014 registration. Way too many said they don’t go. Apples developer conference is sold out in 17 seconds and IBM will probably have to fill seats with students. Once this was one of THE tech conferences, today it is just another one, and not even a sexy one.
There are just too many things I don’t get. Keeping the stock value high does protect the owners investment, but if this is just a new coat of paint, the rust underneath continues to grow. In the end, the ship falls apart despite a lot of shiny paint.
If the captain says, „that ship must be essential to the passengers“ I think he overestimates the importance of it. That only works if you want a monopoly. That would mean he has to sink the competition first. The passengers are essential to the ship! That is how it works in a normal world (I do remember somebody from that ship talking about locked-in problems with other vendors and how IBM will not do that).
A few decades ago, that ship was the queen of the seven seas, today it is just a ship among others and if the latter just do a better job in getting passengers and are nice to travel agents, don’t be surprised if nobody wants to board it.