Saturday, May 12, 2012

Why I don't fear for work in I.T. Due to the "cloud"

Hi Guys

It is very very rare that I do a "social commentary" post, I am and forever will be an Engineer (SP), but the ability to make a living doing what I love (Engineering, be it networking, storage, servers, whatever) or rather, the possibility that something might make jobs harder to find always worries me, hence I want to spend a bit of time talking about "The Cloud."

With this in mind I would like to quickly talk about the fear mongering around "cloud" services, the word itself is enough to make many people roll there eyes, and I couldn't agree more, the term itself is just a marketing buzzword, the concept behind it (that is, services or infrastructure over a network) has been going on for ages, if anyone ever asks me to define cloud, I normally point them in the direction of Xbox Live as a suitable example of a "cloud service"

Anyway, If the FUD is to be believed, more cloud services will lead to the end of your job in IT, all to be outsourced to the "cloud' which, using the economics of scale can cover every possible computing situation you could ever need with a total of four employees: A CEO to "align our services with your business needs and quantify the cloud as an ROI investment", a Sales guy, a super cheap but very bad "engineer" to look after it all and a janitor to clean up the mess.

(Ugh, Excuse me I just threw up a tiny bit, Is it any wonder I love engineers who perform tangible services, they BUILD things, rather than MBA types who talk about "quantifying" things)

Let me help you put this fear to rest guys using a simple example of history, IT has been struggling with scale since day 1. Here are some examples of scale in IT:

We didn't have enough disk space and our disk's where not reliable enough, so we invented RAID
RAID was good for a time, but not efficient and not as scalable, so we invented SAN's, still disks where not fast enough so we created SSD's

Our CPU's and memory are obviously constantly expanding, we have actually reached (or are close to reaching) the limit of how fast we can clock CPU's, so to scale we added more cores, we still couldn't get enough and we wanted to ensure we used it more efficiently, so we invented virtualization. We STILL needed more scale! So we invented blade chassis's to increase computing density

The Damn internet itself was invented so researchers could pool resources!

Are you seeing a trend here? Scale. 

Cloud is just a natural progression of that scale, and as we build more "cloud" services, all that will happen is that the demand will increase.

Look back at some of the marketing material for some of the technologies above, they are all advertised with a mantra quite similiar to that of "cloud":

  • Do more with less!
  • reduce your operating expenses!
  • Spend less time maintaining Systems!
  • Reduce capital expenditure!
And, to be fair, each technology HAS accomplished those goals, but only for a short period of time, then suddenly people want MORE computing, MORE resources, and we have to scale up and scale out AGAIN! (The main method of achieving scale that we are fond of in IT it seems is abstraction, abstraction leads to scale)

Please trust me when I say your IT Jobs are not going anywhere, the demand for IT will never ever cease, the demand for more and more computing will simply not stop, there will never be a time when we turn to each other and say "yep, that's JUST ABOUT enough computing resources for us! Let's call it a day."

In conclusion, I think that when you realize that the cloud is just a natural progression to help us address scale because there is just SO MUCH DEMAND for IT resources, it is easy to see that IT has a bright future, and hey if I am wrong and we are all going to be replaced by the massive self-maintaining, self-programming (yep, didn't even MENTION the fact that obviously this stuff all still needs to be programmed ;)), self-cleaning and self-healing benevolent cloud at least us network engineering guys will be the last to go, after all you gotta be able to connect to the "cloud" somehow ;).


  1. Hehe, I loved your brief description of an engineer an that of the MBA type. Could not agree more with you.

  2. This hold true till now..good analytics.