Re: Emerald management

Greg Boehnlein ( )
Mon, 10 Mar 1997 21:27:23 -0500 (EST)

On Mon, 10 Mar 1997, Marc Elbirt wrote:

> Dale:
> [deleted]
> This message is also directed to Computech's management. Although Emerald
> is visionary and its utility unquestionable, unless you dedicate more
> resources to it and to your customers, we will grow continously more
> unhappy. Please do something; my business depends on you.

I would just like to say that there are many points in the last message
that I agree with. It is great that we can talk to Dale on the list. It is
wonderful that we can call him and get questions answered. It is nice that
the software has a vision and someone that knows it intimately.

What happens if Dale becomes incapacitated? (Stress induced holiday for
example..) Who will manage the source code? Who will answer the technical
support questions? Who will address the fixing of the "Creeping Featurism"
bugs that Emerald is a victim of?

In a private mail to Dale, I addressed these very same issues. I feel that
he is overworked, and spread far to thin between supporting the products
and writing the code for it.

As an example, let me point out the specific problems that I see with

1. Lack of documentation. I can't really hand anything out to my Staff to
usr as a Reference on a Day to Day operational basis. The documentation
that exists is out of date, wrong or just plain incomplete. When we
purchase a product such as Emerald, for the price we pay for it, we
expect to have some sort of documentation to RTFM. I can't tell my
staff to "E-mail to Dale". Heck, we paid for a Support Contract and
I'm not quite sure what that gives us, but I'd sure love to KNOW! Heck,
even Microsoft software comes with a manual!

2. Program frequently crashes and apparently has no Crash Recovery built
into it. For example, try entering incomplete RADIUS information under
the services Tab (Framed-Route w/ Nothing) and then hit the Save
button. You will get a very undignified "Error" dialog and then the
program disappears. There are only a couple of fields that I am aware
of that provide Field Based Error checks.

3. The program is difficult to setup and extremely un-intuitive. While
using an SQL backend is fast and flexible, it means nothing if we spend
2-3 months learning how Emerald works (without any documentation). It
does not provide any advantages if it requires someone w/ 2 years of
MS-SQL experience to administer and fix.

4. The program is in perpetual beta testing. There is no "ship date" that
I am aware of, nor a reccomended "stable" release.

These are just some of the larger concerns that I am pointing out, having
purchased Emerald. In my letter to Dale, I expressly stated that I do not
see Computech or IEA being able to support this program in the long run
without some sort of Support / Maintenance / Documentation / Programming
staff and strategies. Please take this as a strong strong suggestion from
your customers that we would like to see more in these areas.

The concept is great. Dale's work up to this point has been as good as can
be expected from someone with the responsibilities that he has. There is
major potential here for much future business... If you can work out the
issues that I have addressed here.

I have a client looking at the possibility of using Emerald to
authenticate a college worth of students. They are in a "wait and see"
holding pattern until we can show them that the product and support are on
the level that they expect. As a consultant, I have to choose the best
software for the application, and while I believe Emerald has the
potential, I am not quite convinced of the other areas yet.

Greg Boehnlein

--      President of New Age Consulting Service, Inc.  Cleveland Ohio             SLIP/PPP/Unix Shell   28.8k / ISDN / Leased Line    (216)-524-8414