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Doug's Mailbag: Business in Foreign Countries, Windows Upgrade Plans, More

With Google out and Microsoft staying the course in China, Doug asks whether a company should adhere to the laws and protocols of a host country. Here are some of your responses:

It is a privilege to provide another country with our services.  Google accepted and followed the business rules of China.  China, in turn, did not respect their business.  Had China respected Google's business, they would have taken action against the hacker (yet perhaps it was the Chinese Government). 

Business is based upon an agreement between two entities.  Google held up their end of the bargain, yet China fell short on theirs by failing to care about such a vital matter that provided a great service (especially since they were able to censor the searches).

So, in essence, it is respectful to follow the rules of another "household" when providing a service for them.  Yet, when those rules jeopardize the very core of who you are (the core of Google's whole business in this case) and what you stand for, do as Jesus instructed his disciples to do and "shake the dust from your feet in protest against them" (Acts 13:51 NIV) and move on.  Money isn't worth jeopardizing your entire business.

In the article where Microsoft vows to play by China's rules, they are not any better than Google.  Just wait until the core of their business is hacked and it will be very interesting to see how they respond.  It's coming; it's just a matter of when.

In case you are not aware, the USA owes China trillions of dollars. They buy our Treasury notes and bills. They effectively loan us money. Lots of money. They are keeping us afloat as our national operating deficit continues to mount.

Their economy is growing at a faster rate than anyone's. Their combination of communism and capitalism is unique, but is apparently effective. They have a right to run their country however they decide.

So, if your company wants to do business with the fastest growing economy in the world, then it would behoove one to do all one can to follow their rules of engagement -- their laws as a sovereign nation -- to stay in their good graces to make some serious profit. The Chinese are running things in the world, economically speaking. They have a strong balance of trade, compared to the U.S. They deserve our respect.
- C. Sam

Bully for Microsoft. It appears that they are making some right moves.

If they are operating on Chinese soil, it's a little like civil disobedience.  You violate the law at the risk of having to pay the consequences -- and in a place like China, those consequences could be pretty severe. 

I think what Google did was courageous -- but in the long run, the right choice.  Since the "Tiananmen Square" demonstrations (years ago now) and since China decided to open its markets to the West, the days of blatant censorship have been numbered.  Slowly but surely, the Chinese people have begun to stand up to their government and the government's control over information is slipping away.   

Every act of resistance, even from the outside, serves the long-term interests of the people of China and, indirectly, people everywhere.   
-C. Mark

I think the sovereignty of each country needs to be respected. It is about time countries stood up for their own rights and not be dictated to by people with vested interests.

There is no such thing as real democracy (even in the U.S.).
- Rocky

Here are some of your responses when asked about Windows OS upgrade plans:

We finally got 80 laptops updated to a standard Windows XP image nine month ago.  We plan to upgrade those laptops to Windows 7 either fourth-quarter 2010 or first-quarter 2011.

I don't plan on updating any servers until they are either migrated to our new blade center or until they die.  Several servers are going off physical hardware to virtualized environment on blades and will have their OS upgraded to Server 2008.  The database server will move to Server 2008 R2, coming from Server 2003 R2 64-bit.
- Greg

No Windows upgrade plans at all.

Whatever version of Windows an existing machine has, it'll keep; any new equipment will keep whatever Windows version it comes with.

Unless, of course, I decide it might be worth installing an Ubuntu distribution, in which case it'll be dual-booting.
- Fred

One reader wrote in to enlighten Doug on what exactly BizTalk does:

I work for a Electricity distribution company in Canada.  One of our guiding principals is that we buy software before try and custom build it.  The result is we have a standard assessment procedure and have purchased a third-party work order management system.  These two systems need to be able to "talk" to each other but are unable to do so natively.  Both of these systems have their own interfaces and use different technologies to do so.  In the case of SAP, it will communicate with other systems using IDOCs, RFCs, BAPIs and Web Services. The Work Order Management system communicates with other systems using a File System or MQ Series Queue.  Not only do we have a communication gap, but both of these systems are speaking their own language.  Each system uses different data formats and message formats.  Without some sort of middleware, both of these systems are on islands.  We use BizTalk to bridge these two systems, provide a traditional Enterprise Application Integration and manage a Business Process.
A real world example of how we use BizTalk is the following use case:

    1. Customer calls in to let us know that their power is down
    2. Contact Centre agent looks up customer record in SAP
    3. Contact Centre agent creates a trouble ticket in SAP
    4. SAP sends this IDoc to BizTalk
    5. BizTalk receives IDoc using SAP Adapter (included in BizTalk)
    6. BizTalk will transform this IDoc into a "Create Event" for the work order management system
    7. Create Event is dropped onto MQ Queue so it can be retrieved by work order management system
    8. Work order management system will then dispatch to a power line technician in the field
    9. As the power line technician works on customer issue, order updates are sent from work order management System to BizTalk
    10. BizTalk will then transform work order management order updates into SAP IDoc updates and send to SAP
    11. Contact centre agents can view order updates in near real time
    12. When the job is complete, the power line technician will close the order and include any materials used to complete job
    13. BizTalk will receive close job message, transform that message into two messages; one to close the order and one to record materials used
    14. BizTalk will send both the close order IDOC and materials IDoc to SAP
    15. SAP now has a complete record of all events that occurred for that job.
Finally, a reader shares another satirical article from the Onion:

Saw this recently, and thought you/Redmond readers may get a chuckle out of it.
- Scott

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Posted by Doug Barney on March 31, 2010 at 11:53 AM