commoditisation

June 26th, 2015

On hardware commoditisation:

The IT industry has turned into a commodity business of high volume, lower margin products and services. The days of selling a $250,000 system for $1,000,000 and passing around big commission checks are gone.

True; now, particularly in the communications space, it’s a $25,000 system — including any R&D costs, and more on those later — for $90,000. (Look up the major listed vendors’ margins, all of which are public.)

Even these 60% to 70% margins are soon to be a thing of the past. When all you’re doing is, bluntly, a form of assembly, claiming high-value, high-margin is disingenuous at best.

As the market moves to Intel servers, anyone can become a big player. […] The quality of “services” is so terrible right now the market is hungry for a better provider.

Substitute Intel for, say, Broadcom or Marvell, and you’ve got the trending state of play in the Ethernet world. Even ‘specialist’ switching platforms — the ones that supposedly have a lot of R&D baked into them, justifying higher pricing — are getting to a point where they’re all based on the same merchant silicon, implying that any point of differentiation relies on either having something smarter above the hardware (i.e. software), or providing some service that others cannot.

And with open source software — OpenDaylight for example, as one of the reasons vendors give for relying on merchant silicon — this means that services alone become the differentiator.

The “good” thing about this is that it reduces RRPs of the tin, as there’s less R&D to justify a higher price; the bad being that it means one vendor’s black box is basically the same as everyone else’s. Which, of course, is the very definition of a commodity.

Even though, in the networking world, we’re only part-way there, customers already realise this trend is underway, which is why — in the absence of any real value-add — they invariably ask for (often steep) discounts. And they know they’ll get them, because if they don’t, they’ll go to the next vendor down the road who will oblige.

bigotry and government

June 25th, 2015

We’ve had legislation that equates to the racist bogan bumper sticker, “Fuck off, we’re full,” for some years now.

It occurs to me that the proposed amendments to the Citizenship Act equate roughly to that other favourite for the back of V8 Holden utilities (generally found on those with Chevrolet badges replacing the Holden insignia): “Love it or leave.”

law of unintended consequences

June 24th, 2015

More bad law amendments.

This one — without recourse to natural justice or judicial oversight — strips dual citizens of their Australian nationality, for the simple act of vandalism of Commonwealth owned assets.

Or, for possessing a ‘thing’ connected to terrorism. No definition of ‘thing’ in this context, exists in the amendment.

Any revocation can only be appealed after the fact; a fact that the affected person may not even be aware of.

Given that this Government includes people who would strip citizenship from someone acquitted by the courts, now does not seem to be a good time to be a dual national.

on content blocking

June 24th, 2015

Australia now has an Internet filter.

Moreover, it’s one which gives the courts the right to determine the method of and scope of a block, and deny anyone other than an ISP the right or ability to challenge this.

The net effect of this: if the court orders a block based on, say, IP address, then any innocent websites that happen to be collocated with the target become collateral damage; a fact that these impacted websites have no recourse to. Only an ISP can do so.

We’ve been here before, and apparently learned nothing from it.

Remember this when it comes time to vote again. Remember, too, that both the Labor opposition and Coalition government waved it through in this form.

unhinging

June 22nd, 2015

Something has to give.

We have governments throughout the western world busily invoking austerity, and specifically austerity in ways that uniquely disadvantage the already disadvantaged.

We have more surveillance than ever before. We have Internet censorship and monitoring, courtesy of Western governments who routinely criticise other nations for the same — and from governments whose political leanings should suggest less, rather than more, government oversight.

We have governments selling our future down the river: proposing in a Green Paper various ways to charge for public schooling (while, it needs to be said, managing to find money for well-to-do private schools); destroying renewable energy programmes — using questionable logic, at that — in favour of non-renewable energy; spending millions of dollars of time and effort — possibly illegally — on pet programmes while simultaneously claiming that there’s no money available for more essential public services; increasing the basic service charges on essentials while simultaneously claiming a lowering of costs (something that is true for above-average power consumers; people who tend to be better off).

Equality be damned. The trend is well away from anything of the sort, which in the longer term is anything but good for any of us.

energy

April 2nd, 2014

With the news that BP is shutting its Brisbane refinery, it’s worth pointing to this article by Neerav Bhatt:

What would happen if the Australian national electricity grid collapsed or a war broke out in the Asia-Pacific, blocking cargo ships carrying liquid fuel from reaching us?

A new NRMA commissioned report about Australia’s Liquid Fuel Security reveals that we face the real risk of not having any domestic oil refineries by 2030, which would leave us wholly dependent on foreign liquid fuel supplies.

This is, as it happens, as good as any reason to look to diversifying our sources of fuel.

internet censorship

February 2nd, 2014

The Australian Government is once again pushing legislation to censor the internet. And the sky is up, the grass is green and there’s nothing new under the sun.

This time, Canberra is angling to appoint a new e-safety commissioner and create new legislation in a supposed crusade against online bullying. To that end, the Government is proposing new powers for the rapid takedown of offensive material published on social media networks.

It should barely need to be said again: you can assume that you’ll be as successful in censoring the Internet reliably, as you can be in censoring individuals’ thoughts reliably.

This ain’t 1984.