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They Might be Giants

By John | September 21, 2007

Did you ever see the move They Might be Giants with George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward? It is a great movie.

George C. Scott is a retired judge who believes that he is Sherlock Holmes, and Woodward is a psychiatrist who has been hired by Scott’s family to declare him insane. Woodward travels with Scott through the streets of New York City for a few nights while Scott tries to track down the sinister Dr Moriarity, proclaiming Woodward to be his dear Dr. Watson. This brilliant movie draws from Don Quixote’s famous battles with those windmills that he has mistaken for giants, on which Scott comments,

“He (Quixote) carried it a bit too far. He thought that every windmill was a giant. That’s insane. But, thinking that they might be… Well, all the best minds used to think the world was flat. But, what if it isn’t? It might be round. And bread mold might be medicine. If we never looked at things and thought of what they might be, why, we’d all still be out there in the tall grass with the apes.”

In my Quixotic fight my own windmills (ESM), I always try to look at things as they might be. So, while having breakfast with the famous BSM blogger Doug McClure, we talked about what if Google were to get into ESM. At the OSCON 2007 in Portland this year, I attended Chris Dibona’s presentation on “Google’s summer of code.“ During the presentation, I asked Chris a few times why Google won’t open its ESM tools. The first time that I asked, Chris answered that Google’s infrastructure was too complicated for most organizations. Then, I stood up and flashed my worn, ten-year-old Tivoli tee-shirt and said, “I beg to differ,” pointing out that some of my customers, ISP’s, Banks, and Federal Agencies, have extremely complex infrastructures. After a few rounds of banter, Chris proclaimed that we will never see Google open source ESM code! Near the end of the presentation, Chris asked the audience if anyone was looking for future open source projects. I couldn’t resist. I stood up, and, before I could get a word out of my mouth, Chris said, “Ah, my Tivoli friend.” Then, I responded with my plea. I noted that, when I first saw that Google was getting into open source, I thought it would be a no-brainer that it would open the code used to manage its infrastructure, i.e., Google’s ESM. I told him that I was extremely disappointed to find none of the open source code that it produced had anything to do with ESM. The reason, I thought, was that Google could really change the game if it opened up its ESM code. At that point, he said to me, “If you really want to change the game, then come to work for Google.”
In the end, I guess, I never did figure out whether Chris was saying that Google thinks that ESM is just a commodity like electricity or the Holly Grail of what makes Google’s IT work. I am pretty sure you know where I fall: I think that Google’s windmills might be giants.

Ok, I’ll admit I have gone way over board with that video…

Topics: 451, barcampesm, bmc, bsm, esm, gartner, google, groundwork, groundworkopensource, hp, hyperic, ibm, nagios, netcool, opennms, opensource, oscon, thegooglescream, tivoli, zabbix, zenoss | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “They Might be Giants”

  1. My Top 17 Favorite Posts of 2007 at John M Willis Says:
    December 15th, 2007 at 7:35 am

    [...] They Might be Giants [...]

  2. People Over Process » IT Management Podcast #001 - barcampESM, Monitoring, The Cloud, 2008 Predictions, and more Says:
    January 11th, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    [...] talks about his attempts to get Google to tell him about their IT Management technology and practices are as sort of an answer to his question of the role of the IT department when everything’s [...]

  3. John Says:
    January 13th, 2008 at 4:50 am

    Check out BarcampESM sessions

    Cloud Computing – Where does ESM fit in? (John Willis, – How is cloud computing going to affect ESM? What should ESM vendors be doing today and what will the future look like? Google if you a listening … I am calling you out … If you really want to help “open” then please come and lend a hand.