Thursday, February 28, 2008

Web 2.5

Few hours ago I had a conversation with a Sharepoint administrator I know about the new Google Sites service. He told me that their announcement was the talk-of-the-day, and couldn't go unnoticed. We talked about what threat could the new service be for MS Sharepoint or Office at all.
For those of you who are familiar with organization/enterprise oriented portals, the idea of Google Sites is not new: an individual, a team or an entire organization, can build up a site around an idea (a project, a shared point of interest, etc.) simply, quickly and without having to write a single line of HTML. Afterwards, they can add to this sites, lists of objects, such as documents, pictures, spreadsheets, calendars, task-lists, etc. This is done very easily, and with full integration to the user's desktop applications (MS office, OpenOffice, Web-based office, etc.).
Now for the exciting part. Google's product might not be better than the competition (yet) in the organization level. BUT, they are the first to bring such a polished, full-featured product, to the Internet. Now, everyone can create sites around ideas, projects, shared interests, etc. Using the same tools they are familiar with: Google Docs, Picasa, Youtube, RSS feeds and such.
I like to call this new level of services: Web 2.5. Why? Because in Web 2.0, the control over the content of the web, was passed to the individual. Now, the control over the content is passed to group of individuals – collaborating. Imagine how powerful it might be for a team of students, working on the same project, to collaborate using such tool, and share their results with the client (lecturer or a real client, doesn't matter). This is the evolution of Wikis.
Of course there are limitations: 10MB per file, integration with GoogleTalk yet to be made, workflows around documents aren't possible, and a lot more. But hey, we can call it Web 2.49 until then.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

SysAdmins who write code

At work, under my team's responsibility, there's a dozen or more systems, which have few dozens development environments. This adds up to a large number of servers (with many virtual servers) which runs variety of enterprise software. Managing all this software, requires each sysadmin to be expert in our favorite language: Perl. Also, since all the servers are Windows, some cmd scripting knowledge is required. Rarely, for our internal development, other programming languages are used, such as C# or PL/SQL. Today i read, on the only Microsoft blog I read, that in Windows 2008, sysadmins who write code would have full power. This means that PowerShell will allow us to do what we already do very well, and enable us to do that for MS products (never wrote a Perl script to administer IIS).
According to my experience, this PowerShell technology exists for a year-and-a-half, and yet I haven't written a single PowerShell line of code. As for the MS products we administer (Windows, IIS, etc.), we just don't write complex (more than cmd) scripts for them. I only hear the Exchange guy crying about MS removing functionality from the Exchange administration GUI, and that now in order to do simple stuff, he has to use PowerShell. Brutal marketing that is.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of finally being able to control the rest of our systems using scripts. It's just weird that the way to do this was to remove functionality from the GUI and to wake up that late (who knows when we will upgrade to Win2k8 with the new IIS, etc.). I'm all for .NET technologies (I use mono at home), but I don't see how I'm going to replace "du -h" (we use MKS/cygwin) with "get-childitem | measure-object -property length -sum" (taken from wikipedia), especially if one day I'll replace a Windows server with a Linux server, and all my scripts would mean nothing.