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Don't Be a Server Hugger! (Video) 409

Posted by Roblimo
from the old-stewball-was-the-most-loyal-server-horse-we-ever-done-had dept.
Curtis Peterson says admins who hang onto their servers instead of moving into the cloud are 'Server Huggers,' a term he makes sound like 'Horse Huggers,' a phrase that once might have been used to describe hackney drivers who didn't want to give up their horse-pulled carriages in favor of gasoline-powered automobiles. Curtis is VP of Operations for RingCentral, a cloud-based VOIP company, so he's obviously made the jump to the cloud himself. And he has reassuring words for sysadmins who are afraid the move to cloud-based computing is going to throw them out of work. He says there are plenty of new cloud computing opportunities springing up for those who have enough initiative and savvy to grab onto them, by which he obviously means you, right?

Robin: I am Robin Miller for Slashdot. And who do we have with us today?

Curtis: Hi, I am Curtis Peterson. I am with RingCentral, and I am the Vice President of Operations.

Robin: You know, I heard you guys tossing around the term ‘server huggers’.

Curtis: Yeah.

Robin: What does that mean?

Curtis: Well, you know, they are a dying breed of IT guys that in all legitimate phases actually built a good career around putting in infrastructure for companies and businesses where they ran their local apps. They put their files storage in there, they put their email application on premise, they usually took over a broom closet or a leftover refrigerator storage room and converted it into a pretty nice little server room. But the world’s changed—we’ve gone cloud, we’ve gone network, we’ve gone application, quick integration. The server huggers are the guys that won’t give up their little rooms and keep hugging their little servers.

Robin: Aha. So now you are saying that network is the computer—I heard that once.

Curtis: Yeah, I heard that once too. I have to admit that I’ve been around long enough to know both ends of that cycle.

Robin: Okay now, here’s the thing that gets me—when we say the cloud, aren’t we really saying some space on somebody else’s hard drive and a blade server or else a virtual server somewhere?

Curtis: Yeah, of course. At the end of the day, there are still CPU or processors, there are still spindles, there is still memory, there is still power and network and things moving around. But it is not on premise anymore. It is collocated in the larger data center for the efficiencies of scale are more green, the efficiencies of scale are easier to run and operate. For customers it is more about reliability and uptime.

Robin: What you are saying is that my friend Joe with his little hosting service—what about him? Where is he going to go?

Curtis: He goes out and he brings collocation space and he puts services in there and he provides them either over the top in the internet or with direct connectivity or secure links out to the businesses that use Joe’s services that he hopes.

Robin: Yeah. Actually he is. He controls the servers themselves. But he is in a big facility, you know, he has got a couple of cages in Northern Virginia. So how about him? What does he do when he takes your stuff? Is he in the cloud? What is he?

Curtis: Yeah, sure. He is in the cloud, but there is more than just having servers in a collocation center to make up a cloud. The cloud is a design concept to an application. It means that that hosted service is accessible anywhere in the world, not just in that one network for that one customer. It is usually persistent across multiple devices, so I can get my hand-held smart phone or my iPad or I can work on my computer I can do it from Starbucks, I can do it from my office. And I am seeing the same persistence of data out there. So if your friend Joe designs applications that way, and is hosting it in a data center with really good internet and backroom connectivity, then sure, he is typically meeting the definition of a cloud occupation.

Robin: And has for many years, for that matter.

Curtis: I am sure a lot of years ago we were calling this an ASP, so in the late ‘90s and early 2000s there were application service providers. The big difference between that time period and kind of where we are now is the application service providers typically deployed single tenant based systems in the infrastructure inside the cloud. So each customer had their own set of servers, their own set of networks, their own applications instance. What we have done in the last few years is realize that the scalability of that model and the operational expense of that model is really not different enough from just putting that service inside the company to really make a compelling scale cloud argument. Cloud also includes this concept of multi-tenancy which then brings in that ASP model up to the modern age.

Robin: Let’s talk about small businesses. They are either just getting on the internet, they are still some out there who aren’t.

Curtis: These are the same guys waiting for the yellow pages book to show up every year, right? You know, I worked with a small business not that long ago that actually had a security breach inside their building. They used internet only sparingly. It was some casual email, mostly with the younger staff. A small business, family owned. It was in the printing business. An attacker got inside their system, encoded all their files and demanded fifty grand to unlock the files. This is not a new story. So I had a conversation with the gentleman that owned the company. I said, “Don’t pay off the guy but what you need to do right now is you need to put your storage in the cloud.” That way you could have your on-premise files, and you have this backup out in the cloud where you are not going to get exploited for those images back, twenty years of his work to be precise.

Robin: Yeah. No doubt you found somebody who could undo, who can decrypt anyway.

Curtis: Yeah, well, we won’t get into that side of it, but sure. Small businesses, you know it is already a struggle. I have worked with small and medium businesses my entire career and people have a hard time realizing these guys work 18, 19, business days of the month which is typically 20, 21 days. And that just covers their expenses. That last day is the only time that family makes money. And if you are spending all that money on this super smart guy that you need to protect your data, or to run a 24x7 IT shop, it is really a strain on your finances. But not only that, you put a lot of load usually on a single individual. Presumably, he wants to take a vacation one day. He needs to leave your shop for a couple of weeks. And that’s where cloud scale can really make a big difference.

Robin: That’s really a good point. Now here is the question: Slashdot readers tend to be that IT guy. Whether for a small business or in the bowels of Citibank, we’ve got them. All that is a lot of programmers. Maybe more programmers. How does this move to the cloud affect the IT guy? How should he manage his career in light of it?

Curtis: Oh I mean this is actually, the server hugger IT guy should be celebrating this move. This is a huge opportunity to improve their skill set and to grow in their career and become even more valuable. Look, a company that puts a couple of applications, on a couple of different servers in a closet and still maintains a backup on paper or has an accountant on the side, when they put all their eggs into the cloud basket, you know, they really need a network that performs all the time—class of service clearly set up, network performance that is well understood, great internet connections, sometimes even backup internet connections on there.

And then the next part of their service is they can become what they originally were. You see, 20 or 25 years ago, when the IT explosion hit when the ability to buy a clone IBM server even really a regular IBM server for under ten grand and put it in a business. The IT team became the Holy Grail in the company. They could automate something quicker than anyone else. You didn’t have to go to an outside firm to re-engineer an entire process line. Somebody could code it up real quick. There is a new era coming where you can start taking applications from one piece of the cloud, from another piece of the cloud, start gluing them together and putting together really awesome business processes. So that IT career is going through a little transformation cycle but I think actually the better days are ahead.

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Don't Be a Server Hugger! (Video)

Comments Filter:
  • Wrong concern (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2014 @03:56PM (#47011887)

    I don't think most admins are worried about losing their job, I think they are worried about cloud services going down or disappearing and having nothing they can do about it, let alone information security and other factors.

  • by xlsior (524145) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @03:57PM (#47011909) Homepage
    Whenever you see "in the CLOUD!", mentally replace it with "using someone else's server" -- all of a sudden it looks a whole lot less appealing. Yes, you gain some flexibility, but you lose a LOT of control. Case in point: gamespy's recent announcement that they're closing up shop, and all of a sudden hundreds of major games from big-name software houses will lose their online multiplayer abilities. How's 'the cloud' working out for them?
  • not news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2014 @03:57PM (#47011921)

    Breaking News! Someone selling cloud services says anyone not using his type of product is backwards. Details at 11.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2014 @03:57PM (#47011923)

    The NSA killed cloud computing.

  • Yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2014 @03:58PM (#47011929)

    Fuck off.

  • Great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZorinLynx (31751) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @03:58PM (#47011937) Homepage

    This is a wonderful idea! Placing control of your mission-critical infrastructure in the hands of others is DIVINE!

    Sorry, but I think we'll retain control of our own stuff. At least when we have downtime then we can DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, rather than whine helplessly to tech support.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2014 @03:59PM (#47011953)

    Oh look a condescending dickbag who labels people who don't buy into his business model.

    Fuck you Dice, fuck you and your sponsors.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2014 @03:59PM (#47011955)

    Ad disguised as a troll. These are getting more common here.

  • by prestonmichaelh (773400) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @03:59PM (#47011965)
    Has anyone checked out Adobe Creative Cloud in the last day or two?

    How is moving everything to the cloud working out for those users?

    You can take my local servers from me when you pry them from my cold dead hands.
  • Re:Wrong concern (Score:5, Insightful)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @04:02PM (#47011989) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, this is a reasonable approach(unlike some other more fallacious arguments). Some of us are even bound by law to maintain the integrity of certain classes of information(personal, medical, financial). Yielding physical control to another organization, no matter what their reputation, removes your ability to perform due diligence.

  • by Lumpio- (986581) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @04:05PM (#47012019)
    And no matter how much marketing jargon you spew at people, "the cloud" is still just a bunch of servers. Stop lying.
  • by parlancex (1322105) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @04:08PM (#47012061)
    There's never been a better time to get into the cloud! Get all your data into your favorites service(s) just in time for your ISP to hold it hostage from your cloud service providers.
  • Re:Wrong concern (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ravenswood1000 (543817) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @04:11PM (#47012091)
    I like my data to not be in the hands of someone else. I don't want it examined, copied or accidently Googled. Fuck this Curtis Peterson
  • by swb (14022) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @04:11PM (#47012099) at 11.

    Why would I ever buy into any idea someone is selling who is in the business of selling services based on that same idea? Isn't this just a sales pitch with a smart-ass insult thrown in to gain some kind of attention?

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @04:15PM (#47012145)

    Is physical access... which is impossible with cloud services which means they are inherently insecure.

    If I don't control the actual machine that has my data on it then I don't control the data.

    Talk to a bank... any of them using cloud services? Yes... but with their own cloud with machines they control.

    That is how the cloud should be in the corporate world. The company you buy the cloud from wants to sell it as a service. That's great for them but unacceptable for many customers because the customer often must maintain control over the software, the hardware, etc. For various reason... maybe you want reliability. Maybe you want security... there are lots of reasons.

    This cloud argument he's making is also self contradictory because the cloud operators themselves own and operate large server farms. So what they're saying is that THEY should have servers but you should not.

    This is nonsense.

  • Mod parent up! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim (1285) <> on Thursday May 15, 2014 @04:20PM (#47012199)

    First off, who cares what "Curtis Peterson says"?

    Person who works for company producing X says everyone needs X.

    If I move to "the cloud" then I have the ADDITIONAL worries of:

    1. YOUR connection going down.
    2. MY connection going down.
    3. Getting access to YOUR facility to troubleshoot a problem. Physical / remote / whatever. Why isn't that server booting?
    4. SOMEONE ELSE at your facility annoying the government so that the FBI / CIA / NSA / whatever takes ALL the servers.
    5. How do I know that what I legally have to keep private really is private?
    6. What happens to my systems when all of your CxO's decide that they need more yachts so they jack up the pricing?

    Fuck you, Curtis Peterson. RingCentral is the LAST place I'd put my data. You don't even understand why people are avoiding "the cloud" but you're happy to make up stupid insults to describe them.

  • by Arker (91948) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @04:26PM (#47012275) Homepage
    "And the vast majority of companies don't have those hyper-specialized needs. Hospitals: yes. Lawyers' offices: no."

    For electricity? Perhaps.

    But the need to maintain control of their own documents is no less for a lawyer than a Hospital, as any lawyer would tell you.
  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @04:28PM (#47012291)

    Attention, this is a public service announcement...

    The way "The cloud" works.
    A Cloud or SASS provider will schedule meetings with your management and give a flashy presentation bragging about their up-time, reliability and how your company will no longer need to maintain software or even have an IT department! They'll even migrate you to their servers FOR FREE! Yay!

    You company will sign a 3 year contract and brag about all the savings the project will lead to. It will be fantastic!

    You'll begin the migration project and quickly realize that the provider outsourced the conversion project to a random IT team from their "Trusted Partners Network" that consists of 2 people (1 manager, 1 employee) that are clearly located in some other country but refuse to admit which one. Having worked with competent people from other countries before you'll shrug this off as not that big of a deal.

    Shortly after that they'll start stalling and delay. You may or may not get finished with the project before your management goes back to the Provider and demands the "Free" migration... only to find out the contract stated something to the effect of "Migration Assistance" and by that, they meant you have to do it with the help of those people on the phone you couldn't understand. Your management will resign itself to just getting it done so they can start saving money and dump it all in your lap.

    Liking your job, and knowing that managements on a "Lets save money!" kick you'll do it without complaint. After all, once it's done, its done right?

    Unfortunately, once it's done is when the problems will start. Since you did most of the migration work the provider will quickly move to blame the problem entirely on you. You'll start to realize that patching together their garbage product with bubblegum and duct tape might not have been such a good idea. But, you have a good reputation, you logged all the previous issues you'd had, and you eventually win management over and they realize that the product is garbage and you'd better start thinking of long term alternatives. But you're stuck in a 3yr contract so you have time to plan.

    Then you get an update from the provider: "In an effort to improve server reliability and security we are deprecating ODBC/SQL connections to the database in 6 months" You'll question this and the provider will come back to you and say "Fear not! We've created our own API! It's great! It even uses our own proprietary version of SQL!!!"

    So you'll start reviewing this and find out that their "new" version of SQL differs from the only version in 2 ways: 1. you can't do table joins. 2. you can only retrieve 10,000 rows at a time

    You'll take this to management and explain that once this happens, moving your data off their servers will be nearly impossible. Migrating to another product will be very difficult. So your mangement will bring this concern to the provider who will say "If you need help migrating, we have a team that can help you! They only charge $200/hr!" and they'll send you right back to the 2 people that failed in the original migration.

    Eventually the products customers will all realize it was a giant scam, and start dumping it. The products parent company will shut down the product, buy a startup that does the exact same thing, re-brand it and start all over again.

    Rinse and Repeat.

    Ask me how I know this... :-)

  • by Zeromous (668365) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @04:28PM (#47012301) Homepage

    ...But no one said you couldn't move to a private cloud if there is business value in doing so. Cloud is not a scam, the marketing is. Cloud is not a swiss army knife.

  • by aaronb1138 (2035478) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @04:33PM (#47012347)
    The uptime from various cloud vendors is pretty poor. Sure the server is up, but some networking or SAN component is sketchy a lot more than in-house managed servers. Cases in point:
    1) I've worked with several virtualized storage architectures on Amazon AWS and we've had instances lock up due to brief, hard to track down SAN drops.
    2) I had a customer have to force shutdown 2 VMs in CBeyond's cloud because their SAN latency went up enough that databases started dropping offline. It took CBeyond 2 days to get their SAN back to full operational status.

    I do wish the cloud providers would modify their storage model a bit. When starting an instance / VM, use the SAN to copy the whole image to an available server's LOCAL storage array. This fixes a great many latency problems and does not make the servers that much more expensive to build / operate (just a tad more storage in RAID 10 per server). The only drawback to this is for big data users who need beyond a couple dozen TB for a server in the cloud. Most of those situations are already using clustering software that is resistant to failure of a few nodes.
  • by khasim (1285) <> on Thursday May 15, 2014 @04:39PM (#47012411)

    Use "the cloud" and in addition to the LAN you need connectivity between your LAN and where ever the server might actually be.

    And if you've ever had to work with vendors when there's an outage you will know how bad that is.

    Even with a single vendor the discussion usually goes like this:

    Are you sure it isn't YOUR equipment?
    We don't service YOUR equipment.
    No one else is having a problem.
    We aren't showing any problems on your line.
    Have you tried rebooting your CSU/DSY and/or router?

    Once you add a second and third vendor (the "cloud" vendor and whomever they use for their connectivity) you'll end up with a mass of denials.

    It doesn't matter that your business is down for a day. They'll be happy to refund you one day of the cost of their service.

    And once it FINALLY comes back up everyone involved will deny that any changes / repairs were performed on THEIR network.

  • Re:Wrong concern (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @04:39PM (#47012415)

    I hug servers for the same reason you do. But in fairness, if you want to use "the cloud", you can always encrypt stuff you put in it.

    Me, I'm more worried about the internet going down, and my stuff becoming inaccessible.

  • Re:Great idea! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Richard Elmore (1118249) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @04:52PM (#47012569)

    I think the idea that organizations may want to keep control of things that are highly sensitive makes a lot of sense (from a security perspective) but from an reliability perspective I don't know that I buy it. People seem to have this built in sense that "I'm safer when I'm in control" but that is not always the case, or perhaps it's more a case of "you never actually have as much control as you would like to believe".

    Example: If you look at deaths per billion kilometers traveled; Air, Bus & Rail (modes of transportation where control has been handed over to someone else) are all substantially safer than travel by car (where you are in control). I know that you can slice and dice these numbers different ways (e.g. deaths/journey or deaths/hour) and get somewhat different results but even when looked at in those ways bus and rail are still _always_ safer than car travel so, in this case at least, being in control does not improve safety.

    I'm not saying that the cloud is the right solution for everything but I would really like to see more data on how up-time for cloud based services compares to on premise solutions before jumping to any conclusions.

  • by Threni (635302) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @04:53PM (#47012573)

    > Whenever you see "in the CLOUD!", mentally replace it with "using someone else's
    > server"

    Those of use in Europe already think "one of the US Government's servers". The difference is negligible.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2014 @04:56PM (#47012625)

    In all honesty I would have thought Robin would have asked some pointed questions. The way this comes off it's nothing but an ad for clouds.
    How do you handle HIPAA data, how much are your staff being paid, what's the average time staff are employed for before leaving/getting fired, tell me about your security staff their background and how you keep everything nice and secure...

  • Re:Wrong concern (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2014 @05:08PM (#47012749)

    Yep, we run multiple in house servers, no hard drive that might have accessed those servers is allowed to be thrown out or anything other than destroyed. It means that when the power is out we might not be able to do anything, but the servers are based where they are needed, which makes it a non issue, and it means that even when the net is out or overloaded(I work very hard to keep it so there is some space for everyone) we can continue to function without issue. Trying to get multiple governments and utilities to agree to allow data to be hosted on any cloud service would be impossible, let alone getting them to agree to pick ONE; Besides, if we only have cloud servers where are we going to hide the deathmatch and minecraft boxes? Yet more reasons not to move to cloud, no franken boxes running servers that no-one "knows" about, no more tweaking the hardware until it runs better, or being able to walk over and sit down and fix it locally when someone F***s remote access of every kind.
    Yes, some data needs to remain in very much locked down networks and servers, much of that data is related to keeping your lights on(doesn't matter where in this case, the data comes from around the world).

  • by Oryn (136445) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @05:18PM (#47012839) Homepage

    What is "The Cloud"?
    A symbol on a network diagram? - I'm sure that's how it started.
    The way I see it "The Cloud" is just a name massively over-hyped by marketing folk for a hosted server that you have no clue about where it is.
    I totally get the concept of being able to access your data everywhere and it's a great concept. It doesn't always work. Usually failing when needed the most.

    There is a Cloud Computing Concept that I do trust It's called Private Cloud Computing. There is really nothing new about it. We have all been doing it for ages.
    Its just simply running your own server. Most business do this and you can do this your self with your own server plus the aid of today's modern high speed internet connections.
    If your internet fails you still have access to your data.

    I personally don't trust "The Cloud". Think about it for a moment. You are putting your data on a server and you have no clue as to where it is. You have no clue about who else is able to see that data and you have no clue about who is watching as you access your data and probably no clue if that server is up to date on security patches.

    Yes its cool that you can access it everywhere accept oh.. There's no cell coverage here and oh the free wifi might not be secure and oh I've been hacked.

    Cloud backups? yeah right. I wonder how long it will take to backup my 3TB of videos to the cloud? I wonder how long it will take to restore them if a HDD should fail. I wonder if cloud backups count towards my broadband data cap? Large numbers of ISP's operate data capping the average is 100Gig per month. At that rate it would take 30 months to backup your data and 30 months to get it back.
    What if the cloud backup gets hacked, how do I know my data is safe?

    The short answer is you don't know if your data is safe. If you have sensitive data, its best not to put it on a server connected to the internet.
    So Yes I may be a server hugger, but I know where my data is. I know where the backups are and I know my secure data is and its not stored in a place directly accessible to the internet.

  • by epyT-R (613989) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @05:23PM (#47012891)

    As long as I'm accountable, I want the hardware and software under my control. That way when something goes wrong and my boss calls and says 'wtf', I can give him something more than "Well I called amazon and left a message with our account representative".

  • Re:Wrong concern (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rainer_d (115765) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @06:34PM (#47013543) Homepage
    Have they thought about how they could get back the data from amazon, if they decided to switch back or if amazon raises prices?
    If you spent 100m/y on hosting - couldn't you do that cheaper yourself?
  • Re:Wrong concern (Score:5, Insightful)

    by barc0001 (173002) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @06:48PM (#47013657)

    > However being it is suppose to be the cloud company key job to keep it running.

    Yes, supposed to be, and actually do are two different things. And most of the time you don't find out about the cloud host's deficiencies until far too late. One cloud company I had a personal linux server with got hit with a DOS attack and their response was to ignore their customer service email and phone for almost a week while trying to clean it up. Needless to say I bought another VPS elsewhere, restored by backups and cancelled my account at the original place as soon as their systems settled down enough. I couldn't possibly imagine leaving my business systems vulnerable to those kind of shenanigans.

    > also with a proper contract you can squarely blame them for any mistake

    Are you truly that naive? If you have an SLA with *your* client to uphold it doesn't matter if you have someone to blame or not. Your client will blame *you*. It's your decision to go with a service company that has caused you to miss your SLA so it is your fault. Period. Say that SLA violation costs you $100,000. I can bet you your annual paycheck that the agreement you signed with the cloud provider will only see you getting refunded hosting costs during the outage and not a nickel toward your actual losses. So yeah, you lost $100K on the SLA violation but good news! You're getting $250 off your cloud bill. Sweet! Er. wait...

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @07:33PM (#47013931)
    I've never "used" a mainframe. I used a terminal to remotely control a mainframe. I don't know where the cloud mainframe was, but I remotely controlled it. I've seen a cloud. It was a server. One was even an actual mainframe. IBM still sells "cloud" services on actual mainframes.

    A cloud is a computer. You can run your home PC as a "cloud" (people that play WoW on their tablets through remotely controlling their computer are "cloud computing").

    Mainframes were the original "cloud". A cloud is a computer (or group of computers). Yes, I know now people think that a cluster of computers, virtualized is somehow different than a mainframe. Denial doesn't make it true.
  • Re:Wrong concern (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @09:13PM (#47014439) Journal

    On top of that, you then require a much fatter pipe to the internet, as opposed to keeping your file servers and such in-house, where you can run 100BaseT or 1000BaseT and get high speed connection to your servers.

    Nah, my experience has been management decides not to get a bigger pipe to the internet, because that cuts into the cost savings, and the company just learns to live with sluggish response. And the money lost from this is not counted against the gains, because it comes out of a different account.

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.