Ninety Percent of Everything is Crap

So everybody’s writing a blog these days. “Write a CTO blog!” Oren told me, “Everybody does.” Why? Do you really need to share your thoughts with everyone out there? Says who? I’m afraid someone out of my inner conscious will know my thoughts…especially my colleagues / employees / partners / investors / competitors in the industry.

Man, that won’t be such a good thing for me. ‘Cause honestly—I really don’t think highly of our industry these days. Like Sturgeon’s law states: “90% of everything is crap.” Well, probably not everything. I mean Google makes my life a lot easier although I’m starting to get really terrified of the control they have over information, and VMWare/Xen – these guys did a hell of a job! I have 50 Linux servers working on five simple Intel machines that cost me all together 5K… This is a revolution in front of our eyes. We are returning to the mainframe days…Kids, do you know what a mainframe is?

I guess I should introduce myself: my name is Lanir Shacham, 32, father, husband, friend, surfer and CTO and founder of Correlsense. I started out with computers when I was seven playing on an old Sinclair, then Commodore (and Atari), Apple 2E, IBM PC (I was 13). I wrote my first program using BASIC, and I still remember how proud I was when I embedded a machine code procedure for drawing bricks that my brother wrote for me in my first self developed “BRICKS” game for Apple 2E. I was 10 years old.

At the age of 18 I was recruited to the Israeli Army Computer Science Academy and started out my career. This is where I worked on mainframe machines writing PL1 programs using DB2 executed with JCL jobs, later on I worked on Digital (remember them?) Vax VMS servers (the best ever) with Oracle 6/7 using Forms 3.0 and Fortran/Pascal using SNA gateways to interact with a mainframe over WAN, then writing C/VB/Dev2K/PLSQL code for Win95, moving on to C, C++ and MS DNA framework (1997), then using Java and J2EE using Weblogic 2.0 (no WebSphere yet) and all of that before I was 23.

I initiated and managed Israel intelligence corps’ information system as a young officer, designed together with my partner and friend Oren Elias, which is Correlsense’s CEO, and with some more colleagues and friends from the performance management industry, guys from Precise (today Symantec) , Quest Software, SAP, Oracle. Many top executives and founders of gorilla companies such as SAP, EMC, BMC, HP Mercury ,Checkpoint, Amdocs, Comverse and more came from the same school I grew up in.

Many of Israel’s most successful software companies seeded out of ideas thought by bored programmers in the Army. I spent six very long years in Israel’s intelligence force IT department but I can surely state that it was, and still is, by far the best school in our industry. Since then I did a lot more stuff, probably working on every existing platform to date—I dare you to surprise me—I can compile code in any programming language, and if I’m not familiar with it then give me an internet connection and a couple of hours and you’ll get what you asked for. My last position was an IT Architect for IBM Global Technology Unit, consulting about architecture and middleware for the entire Israeli based software vendors.

In Israel, we have the second biggest population of hi-tech companies after the Valley, so I got to meet almost everyone, and I learned even more. I hold a B.Sc in Computer Science and M.Sc in Physics from Bar-Ilan University, both I accomplished while working full time. Kids—don’t try this at home—if you want to go to college or university, best to work only part time during that period or not to work at all!

I was a young officer with a budget of millions when I was 21, and I bought applications / middleware / hardware from all the vendors. Later on I developed applications and was part of young companies trying to sell software, then I was the gorilla that everybody comes to listen to, but they don’t know that his products hang and crash (except MQ Series which is a fine product, right Sam?), or maybe they do know but just don’t care enough because nobody gets fired for buying Blue. And don’t think that Red from Oracle is any different—it’s NOT.

WOW—that was a lot babbling about me, but no more, it was just so you will show some respect and appreciate what I have to say, because when I speak badly about our industry, it is only because I AM the industry. I know it inside out.

I just read this morning an article about this guy David Platt, who is one of Microsoft’s “software legends” or something like that. Anyways, this guy is giving presentations these days in conventions and the topic is—drums—“the software industry sucks!” Programmers are lazy, unprofessional and produce terrible code! Well that was refreshing! I couldn’t agree more, and this is the point I want to make today.

Why the hell are we as users are willing to work with no good products?


Well you can tell me that Windows was embraced by the mass, by I’m not talking about the mass. I’m talking about the products WE as an industry are using – our databases, app severs, system management tools and so forth. Almost all of them are hard to install, have terrible UI, terrible logs and never behave as written in the manual. They disrespect us—the professionals who make this world tick. Applications tend to crash, hang, suffer from slow response time and poor performance, CPU jumps to 100%, memory gets fully used, disks fully utilized and what do we do? Carry ourselves with a dumb look on our faces as we wait for the system to reboot and hope for the best. Well I got really sick of it during my years in the Big Blue, and don’t think for a moment that IBM is any different from all of the other top vendors—CA, HP, BMC, Microsoft, Oracle—they all sell very bad products, and everybody are buying them. Why why tell me why??

Because they are GORILLAS selling to other GORILLAS and closing deals in the golf course instead of the lab. Well I am a goddam freakin’ monkey, and proud of it! And I want us monkeys to overthrow the slow, lazy, banana-eating gorillas who are inflating our daily jobs with mediocre experiences.

This is exactly the reason I founded Correlsense three years ago. I wanted to make a difference, or at least to try. And of course make a buck if I can while doing it. Making a difference is by creating high quality software—the kind that you know is high quality from the moment you touch it. Making a difference is about solving problems to IT staff, it’s about educating your colleagues, your partners, your customers, and now you—on how you can become a better man in your job—by knowing what is bad practice and what is good, how to think when developing and maintaining an application, how you can solve hard performance problems instead of banging your head in the screen in front of you. I will tell you stories that will make you laugh and cry; I will make fun of those that deserve it and praise those that are worthy; I will expose the truth about code and architecture, about fuzzy algorithms that never work, about investors and top execs that try to look smart but just turn out dumb in the process, about arrogant programmers that don’t have a clue and much much more coming soon to a theatre near you.

You are right—I am terribly obnoxious. But I promise to be honest and at least tell the truth as I see it. No more, no less. See you next time (if you dare)-