The People Eaters
February 1998

The Clinton administration is seriously considering opening the gates to a huge increase in H1-B immigration permits starting this year. Why? Because the high-tech industries, particularly those companies that are highly leveraged in PCs, are desperate to find talented, well-educated workers. At least that's their story.

The real reason for all this hustling and schmoozing for special considerations is because computers, particularly Windows-based PCs, have a dirty little secret that almost nobody outside of IBM foresaw: as the number of PCs in an organization rises, the management costs rise exponentially. To a company that has failed to standardize on an enterprise-capable system like OS/2, that is indeed a frightening prospect.

As consultant Mike Stephen explained in a *WarpCity* commentary, WindowsNT just can't handle the workload that Warp and WarpServer can. If it takes ten times as many Windows machines to perform the duties of one WarpServer, as in Mike's example, then management complexity is now on the order of one hundred times more difficult and expensive for Windows than for the OS/2 choice. As a company continues its growth pattern, that complexity margin will continue to grow as well.

Since the imported workers -- mostly college fresh-outs and students -- are not Cobol veterans, the issue here is not a Year2000 problem. What industry wants and needs right now, and desperately so, is fresh meat for the People Eaters, Windows95 and WindowsNT. Fresh, young minds to be put to work trying to figure out Windows problems. Fresh, young bodies able to work extra hours, without the need for high pay scales or worker benefits.

So in their mad rush to downgrade to NT, upper management has reached a point of diminishing returns. At the epicenter of the debate about tight labor markets, increased immigration quotas, and perma-temp workforces is the technological decision between OS/2 and Windows -- a decision that for political reasons is often simply rubber-stamped. The People Eaters are running out of fresh meat, while companies that have standardized on OS/2 are able to manage their networks comfortably with minimal workforces. The OS/2 advantage will continue to grow as the numerical size and the transaction rates of networks continue to grow.

Who knows? Maybe in a year or two, some of these companies will wise up and dump NT, before it's too late. This is not the kind of problem that throwing cheap labor at is going to fix.

Most recent revision: March 13, 1998
Copyright © 1998, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.