Problem solving is an inherent skill for most engineers and it can be a great source of satisfaction when a problem is diagnosed and corrected. Sometimes however, the timing of the problem can easily change that challenge into a frustration. Such was the case last weekend when my printer refused to print a single page document at the conclusion of a lengthy task. Resolving the issue invoked many of “the knack” skills mentioned in my last blog – disassembling the related hardware and software environments and putting them all back together again. Sadly, it was a reminder that many pieces of complex hardware and software playing nicely together is still as much a goal as it is a reality.
Now Apple users have an app for that – I should have bought a Mac. Indeed, many people prefer the model that companies like Apple and Unisys employ to deliver an integrated stack of hardware and software. While generally offering fewer options at an incremental cost, many people willingly accept those factors in exchange for the added advantage of things, well, playing nicely together.
As I write this, MCP 13.1 is in the final stages of release. Many people view the “MCP” as a whole – they receive an MCP release, install, qualify, and run it as a single entity. In reality, the MCP is composed of over 125 different software products including the operating system and software for database, security, communications, networking, transaction processing, application development, system management, and other major system functions. While there are other Unisys and 3rd-party products that are available to augment the MCP environment, the major system-level functions are integrated and released by Unisys as a complete package.
When products are designed, built, and tested together, many of the issues of “getting along” are either non-existent or ferreted out before the product goes to market. It also provides the opportunity to optimize the components so they not only play well together, but do so efficiently.
The value of this speaks to the 24 x 7, mission-critical requirements that thousands of ClearPath customers bet their businesses on every day. It also speaks to a superior return on investment due to simplified licensing, procurement, installation, qualification, operations, and maintenance. And let’s not forget what happens when something goes wrong – having a trusted partner for one-stop, world-class support cannot be underrated.
Another example for this topic is peripheral support. I am often asked why we don’t offer more connection choices. While it would seem that a disk is a disk and a tape is a tape, the devil is in the details that the code in the controllers and the operating system conveniently shields us from. From our end, the effort to do peripheral adapts and qualifications is significant, and it boils down to the choice between a bunch of lightly qualified peripherals or a focused set of highly qualified ones. Are we making the right choice? Would you accept the tradeoff of less assurance and support for more choice and maybe less cost? Would you bet your business on it?
The lessons here apply not only to our product model, peripherals, and yes, my printer, but many aspects of our daily life as well – getting along rarely happens on its own; it takes effort and commitment and there are tradeoffs. It’s often not the easy choice, but it’s usually the right one.