I've Drunk the Kool-Aid

OK.   I admit it.   I doubted that enterprises would really move to “the cloud” as much, if not more, than the next systems guy.   No matter how the numbers were run, on-premise server systems were cheaper.   I could buy a SAN, the server blades, and all of the software licenses I needed for less money, in the long term, than running the same number of virtual servers in the cloud.

Last year, I moved over to a position in a team that has always been “cloud first.”   Upon getting there, I was handed a slew of virtual machines to take care of, some cloud-based databases and services, and a very small on-premises production system at a colocation facility.

What has made me actually drink the Kool-Aid?   It’s very simple, actually.  About a month ago, I went to a VMware User Group meeting, and I was sitting in a room of about 200 engineers from around Cincinnati.   The keynote started, and the VMware guy talked for about 45 minutes on backups.    That’s right, backups.    I left that room afterward and went to a quick meeting regarding flash storage systems.    Then I went to the vendor floor and found it full of people pushing SSD, thin clients, and “software defined” stuff.

You know what I realized?   Most of the vendors in there will still be in business in 10 years selling stuff to someone.   However, most of those 200 engineers won’t be working with the stuff those people are selling.  The people worrying about flash storage arrays and all those things are going to all work for the cloud vendors behind the scenes, and only a few of the guys in this particular VMUG will move on to work for them.

For a year, I haven’t had to worry one bit about anything the vendors in the room were selling, and yet I know I use most of that stuff indirectly every day.   I haven’t once had to figure out a way to squeeze more power out of a SAN or expand my infrastructure to handle extra VMs.   I haven’t had to concern myself with zoning a SAN to get storage to a server.   I haven’t had to worry about how to get a VM to a particular VLAN on the network.

What have I been doing?   I’ve been doing all the other stuff a Windows Server guy is supposed to be doing.    Setting up and making sure Active Directory works.   Making sure my backups and security-type things are taken care of.   Maintaining the actual software that rides on the server VMs that I have in place.   Working hard to keep up with other services, like Azure AD domain services and Security Center, as they are released to preview, so I can jump onboard and get some value out of them the day they are made GA.

THAT’S WHAT A SERVER GUY IS SUPPOSED TO BE DOING!   Bringing value to the business by spending time taking care of the software the business runs, and making sure that the data is safe, secure, and available all the time.

If you’re a server guy and haven’t jumped into the cloud, do it.   You need to do so now, because if you wait much longer, you’re going to be looking for work.   The cloud just makes things work.    Back to my first point, is it cheaper to do things in the cloud?   If you’re looking at direct costs, I don’t think it beats on-prem yet.   If you’re looking at all the indirect costs that are hidden in the on-prem systems, though, I think the cloud becomes more favorable.

Written on December 18, 2015