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back to article Enterprise IT's power shift threatens server-huggers

It's not that the role of enterprise IT is dying. It's just that it's changing so much that it may soon be virtually unrecognisable from its golden age of installing servers and managing data centres. As more developers take on the task of building, deploying, and running applications on infrastructure outsourced to Amazon and …

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Stop

Users get what they want?

Since when does this happen? In the spirit of true BOFH's everywhere users will continue to accept what they are given, and say thank-you-very-much for the pleasure.

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Anonymous Coward

But they're in control now.

Because, like, they outsourced their servers to the cloud, and their developers to India, and the helpdesk too, and, you know, they all chose that entirely by themselves. Well, their managers did that, but if the users complain they too get outsourced along with the IP that makes up the secret sauce that's supposed to spin money for the company. Progress, see?

I've seen Matt drift ever more into this cloud thing, to the point that he really should be upgrading to a space suit soonish. In that, he's probably very in with the hippest of the silly valley brass. But what it's got to do with Getting Stuff Done while keeping your secrets, well, secret, he hasn't managed to make very clear to me.

If there's an upside to this, it's that there'll be good monies in selling bandwidth, and maybe caching appliances that keep up appearances while the cloud's out, where before there'd've been the same hardware running the service locally. Buzzword compliancy, it's serious business, I'm telling you.

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Space suit...purchased!

I had it made in the cloud. :-)

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Bronze badge

Deja vu

This sounds a lot like the early days of PCs: IT pushing clunky old mainframes, individual workers and departments discovering they can do a lot of the work more efficiently for a fraction of the cost on machines they buy for themselves. A decade or two later, the mainframes are all out of the window and the IT department's grabbed control of the PCs, shackling them all to expensive servers - so the users are discovering they can do a lot of that more efficiently for a fraction of the cost with SaaS they buy for themselves. I suppose the "private cloud" agenda would be IT departments fighting back and trying to stay relevant.

It's been interesting watching this in a large organisation (a university, in this case): IT people grabbing ever more money to maintain baseline services, while departments increasingly found all they really need from the central IT department is essentially an ISP through which to access Internet services. When budget holders start asking why we need to pay them £100 a year for a domain costing under £10 commercially, why it costs £10 and takes a day to retrieve a file from tape when Dropbox does it free in a minute, why a six figure annual e-mail hardware budget can only give tens or hundreds of megabytes when commercial providers give more than that for free...

No, they aren't entirely obsolete - but I think they need to evolve dramatically. Whittled down to the bunch of guys who re-fill and un-jam the printers? (Which, here at least, is a departmental role not central "IT".) Maybe that's why they grabbed control of the access switches in the last few years.

The alternative would be "each building's got a piece of fibre that comes into that big Cisco box there, and it's got an Internet connection we pay (big telco) for ... this whole department exists to babysit that one box". Not really the sort of thing that gets big budgets or enables empire-building.

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Anonymous Coward

There IS an awful lot of really bad IT out there.

Been not really watching another university trainwreck from afar, where the departmental IT got sanitized away entirely and every computer-y device got put under centralised control, classified as one of three flavours of windows desktop install. 'Sright, non-desktops don't exist outside central IT. The CS dept. didn't mind, which told me nothing I didn't already know from the days I actually walked around there. Departments like physics had a bit more trouble. What sort of windows desktop class is your old electron microscope, or your old super, or any old research-class lab equipment, really? So they quickly reinvented the "DIY" class, for the now-nonexistent local IT to sort out.

They'd also deprived the departments of their own sub-domains (that had been in existence since, well, ever) basically because they couldn't make sexchange to DTRT with it. Yes, really, that's what "technical reasons" means over there. This a well-known "technical" dot-nl university.

Anyhow, there are still Good Reasons why you'd want to have IT departments, and SaaS, cloud, whatever don't change that. Though some will have grabbed control for the heck of it, just like there are IT depts. that do every desktop install entirely from scratch and that do not understand DNS, much less are able to run an internal server, most will have done so because they got sick and tired of yet another done-it-themselves misconfigured desktop install and the associated whining that clogs up the ticket queues. Alright, maybe SaaS and cloud will manage to make the first level IT bod entirely unable to fix the problem, leaving him no more leverage than getting into shouting matches with your friendly SaaS/cloud provider's FAQ AI^Wsmall shell script, or whatever.

Personally I wouldn't mind playing ISP of sorts, though on the understanding that this means providing connectivity and no more; I won't fix your SaaS, nor your cloud, nor your computer. I'll just turn off your port should my abuse phone start ratting on you. If all I have is building granularity, then yes, the entire building will go. For if I don't, my upstream might turn the entire site off, which would be worse. Thus the need for someone who can deal with that sort of thing locally arises.

Then again, I'm not much of an empire builder. Empire building merely means the chiefs aren't thinking of the entire company, meaning they're not doing their job. That makes it a failure of management, of the brass even, and failing IT support is but a scapegoat. Should've put the right people in the right places; chiefs who know how to get their indians what they need, be it IT support, the right information to provide that IT support, or whatever else they need.

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Of course we'll still need IT

It's just that the nature of it will change. That's one of the things I was trying to communicate (clearly not very well). Thanks for reading and commenting.

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Anonymous Coward

The changing nature of IT

Where we used to say "we have an ETA of X for Y service to be recovered, and the initial analysis of the failure points to Y as the root cause"...

We now get to say "our vendor finally confirmed there is a problem with X, they didn't tell us what their techs are seeing but we have an ETA of Y for the next update, and once the outage is over it will be Z days before we get an RCA".

The cloud does not change life's basic tenants - like shit happens, and you get what you pay for. I can, at least, say with confidence that we have made informed decisions about what we've moved, to where, and how... but I doubt most companies that have made this move have done so.

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FAIL

and ITIL load for process droids is reduced how ?

Matt should have a look at the big enterprise outsourcerers. These "institutions" are indeed infested with process oriented "staff". It takes weeks to do what the old internal IT staff did in days or minutes. Yep, clouds are so much easier, right up until the outsourced network company has a switch upgrade fail, DNS stuffup or a simple backhoe incident down the road. Lastly, the privacy rules are easy to manage when the servers are in the basement room, behind 3 or more security controlled doors. In a cloud, who has access to the hardware and where is it ? If one works for a cloud provider, servers have access control protection, except the PHBs never allow for the cost of physical guards or escorts, so fixing hardware becomes difficult. Multiple redundancy helps the cloud provider to a point, but eventually even a raid z6 with multiple hot spares needs a server engineers love.

We who are results oriented are fleeing IT, precisely because it is so hard to do a good job thanks to the process droids, babbleware and the latest fads. Clouds are the old bureau by another name.

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Trollface

This is the road to hell

User thinking they will get "what they want" by pushing into the cloud is like left-leaners thinking they will get more "equality" by pushing for bigger government.

Excuse me while I fix up this script.

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Anonymous Coward

Due diligence

One question.

Who is carrying out due diligence of their "cloud" providers ??

Are the "cloud" providers providing sufficient information to their customers for the customers to be able to demonstrate that they've carried out due diligence when (not if) a data leak occurs from "the cloud".

To say nothing of due diligence over the resilience of the chosen provider.

I know the answers to these questions, and it's a train wreck waiting to happen.

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pwl

merry go round

i hereby predict & coin the "IT reaggregation" trend of 2017-2020, where organisations "Precipitate" data and apps back from the cloud into central systems. the motivation will be partly security, but mostly for speed of service, efficient interaction of the widely-dispersed business apps & data, and improved control of the information environment for user groups frustrated with the huge number of disparate saas providers.

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This is news?

This article seems to be more of a sales pitch for Amazon than a look at the impact that the cloud is having on Enterprises. Cloud really meaning hosted in someone else's data centre. The key point that being missed is lack of trust and business knowledge that keeps services in house. Most large enterprises have what is essentially an internal cloud which they have control over.

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Facepalm

Nobody ever reads the fine print in the cloud..

Do you really want to trust box.com with your data when this took about a minute to find.

"Box is in no way liable for loss of customer data. Under no circumstances will Box be held accountable for any loss of customer data. By becoming a Box user you, the customer, acknowledge that you forfeit the right to hold Box accountable for any and all technical errors, including loss of user files (customer data)."

At 1 in the morning, when your data is gone, and you have no tapes and nobody left in IT because you dynamically put your stuff in the cloud, who you going to call? Box.com? Try finding the number for tech support on their website.

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Unhappy

inconceivable !

Not suggesting Matt is cruising for a bruising are we ? Definitely a reaction, none of it supportive.

I wonder what is creating the appeal about handing your IT stuff to semi-anonymous providers out there. Is it another manifestation of fear of responsibility so pervasive in the ruins of the West ?

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Anonymous Coward

I don't think so

"We're currently in the midst of a transition to fully outsourced infrastructure"

You might be, but any company that wants to carry on existing rather than die in an Amazon outage will be managing theirs in-house. UBS (London) outsourced their IT infrastructure people (not hardware) in the early part of the decade and did a pretty bloody quick about-face when they realised outsourcing just doesn't work - you certainly don't get a more responsive function!

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Cloud - Use on demand utility

The adoption of the cloud will take a rocky road but it will eventually win the day.

Many will claim it will be the economies of scale, highly specialised staff catering for all aspects of application support, deployment and security but I believe the major reason why it will win the day is the large cloud providers are publicly accountable. Amazon went down for 3 days a few months ago and as a result it will learn, recover and you can bet Jeff Bezos retirement fund that the lessons learnt have been absorbed quickly.

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Anonymous Coward

That's called "projection".

It's a rather nefarious kind of wishful thinking. You're saying amazon will learn because they will want to avoid losing custom through embarrassing gaffes, essentially because you believe they should. That is actually quite an assumption there. It's also worded wrong; they're private companies even if they're traded in public. They're not accountable to the public. "Face" works only as well as it is valued, which isn't all that much outside Japan.

Maybe amazon will learn, though they've already shown they've quite a lot to learn yet, especially for something their size which to me indicated the cloud operation started out as and largely still is a corporate hobby of sorts, but I've also seen cloud-y providers like google have repeated outages without any sort of redress whatsoever. And that's not just the free parts of gmail, either.

More importantly, if "cloud wins the day" then there will be a proliferation of fly-by-night cheaper outfits that plenty of start-ups will use, some of which will grow and perhaps find they've unwittingly handed over the crown jewels and can't get them out again. Perhaps they'll learn the consequences of that the hard way, should the provider go bust, say.

But before that your business continuity planning now must include a trustworthyness assessment of your cloud provider based on your best guess as to what they believe their public standing should be and how much effort they're willing to put in making that happen through dilligent care for the technology that hosts your data, under their control. Assuming it is under their control and not, say, outsourced again to the cheapest on-line bulk storage provider. Personally I prefer MTTF figures to guesstimate with, but maybe that's just me.

Sysadmins have learned the hard way to not trust anything that isn't backed up by something they do trust--to the point that "slightly paranoid" is what the job *needs* you to be. That something might be tape, or it might be contracts and a small army of lawyers. Though even the latter cannot bring back your data if your cloud provider forgot to use the former.

And then there's the thing that even if "market forces" will manage to make it all good (for the usual industry standard mediocre value of "good"), the process to get there will include plenty of painful gaffes, spectacular data losses, embarrasing goofs, and other lows. From a business continuity PoV, at least I would like to avoid betting the company on all that.

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Pirate

Outsourced

"as a result it will learn" ..... trouble is, amazon don't want to employee techies either. They will also outsource their stuff, all the way down the line; until it will be just one outsource company employing lots of contract managers and a couple of ex-techies with 'architect' and 'manager' in their job title.

They will in turn employee an IT contractor called Ben who will hopefully (if the architect specified it right) recover your data.....

Fortunately my colleague, Ben, is very diligent and will forever remain the IT / Data monkey.

…. and if the data has permanently gone, sack the contractor

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K
Bronze badge
Coat

LMFAO....

No denying that the "cloud" has it place, we're even going to be shutting down our Colo and moving our sites to one, but "cloud hugging hippies" like these leave me p*ssing myself with laughter...

I remember 6 years ago, the exact same people saying that virtualisation and server consolidation will massively decrease the IT foot print, decrease capital costs and staffing required.

Instead we had the exact f*cking opposite - People rushed out and purchased substantially more powerful servers, more networking equipment, "enterprise" class SAN's and then to ensure it was all managed we required more staff!

As somebody who manages the Network is an SME, I can tell you now, there is no chance on earth that I could allow our company to start using any of these suggested services.. if they went tits up, bust or hacked, the liability and recourse is non-existant.. then to top if off, as an FSA regulated company we'd be shut down.

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FAIL

Eggs and baskets

Putting the Western world's eggs in one basket is a dream for hackers. Instead of DDoS one site at a time, they can take out thousands! Oops, PHB didn't think of that.

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