[LINK] Cloud Computing Services in Australia?

grove at zeta.org.au grove at zeta.org.au
Mon Nov 7 11:25:59 AEDT 2011

What is conncerning me, as someone directly in the cone of influence 
of "The Cloud", and as one that watches restructures end people's careers on a 
seemingly more common basis, is that it is being used as an 
"operational reason" for the reduction of onshore IT jobs and outsourcing of 
systems admins, and so on.

Universities ultimately will be heavily affected by this and at <some uni>
"The Cloud" is already making an impact in our area.   I am seeing more 
and more of my role swallowed up by committees that choose to use external
vendors for "support" where once my role was responsible for anything 
from a bare metal server build, to compiling a stack for an Apache/Tomcat
platform, or whatever.  But with the wonderful "The Cloud" comes the 
Great Dumbing Down.

The advent of the "Lights Out Datacentre" has made "The Cloud" practical 
and possible.   Once you do not require your admins in the DC to service 
equipment, with most "soft" activities now available remotely, 
it is then possible to outsource the servicing or maintenance of hardware 
via vendor contracts or service companies.   Then these businesses will 
hire barely trained staff to replace the fan tray, disk unit, etc of a 
hardware device or other piece of equipment.

Where once it was the role of an admin/engineer to take these jobs on, 
they are now replaced by faceless avatars of the vendor, who actually 
end up having more access and knowledge of your DC layout than you do.

Once the admins are comfortable with the Lights Out ideal (and it is 
really a good idea up to a point), it is trivial to argue that you 
can do the same with your whole DataCentre and outsource it as well.

Then you no longer own your DataCentre, or the endpoints in and out of it.
You are then beholden to the T&C's of the DC vendor.  But, it is argued, 
they have to supply the 5 nines you paid so much for.

It is then only a small step, if it has not already been done, to 
Virtualise, so that you do not even have to own the hardware anymore, but just 
the virtual platforms running on it. You just lease the boxen 
from the vendor and pay a support cost.  The argument for keeping qualified 
and experienced sysadmins changes at this point - they are not allowed
into the DC, cannot make changes to the hardware and there's not much 
to do on the Virtual side, if it is a "Buy Not Build" app scenario.

So, the qualified sysadmin is now reduced to a virtual button clicker, 
shifting VMs and zones from point to point, until you install a "virtual 
centre" and then set the load params and so on until you only need 
a network guy to trace bottlenecks and a perhaps a junior to 
check log files etc.

As for hardening the systems, security, general admin - it's all in the 
box now.   Outsource your firewall rules so that the network team 
reduces it to a spreadsheet that can be submitted to the vendor weekly 
and you do not need most of your security team any more.

As such, I foresee a shortening of my career as a UNIX sysadm/hardware 
person.  I've mitigated this by studying up on Identity Management,
IOS programming and so on, to see if I can keep going for a few more years.

The mobile devices mean The Cloud has opportunities there, but if you 
are in its tractor beam, as a sysadmin you'd better be looking for another 
job within 3 years until the bubble bursts and it all comes in house again.
And jobs in "The Cloud" won't be viable.  Unless you are a founder 
member of the business, or the nerd that architected everything, you 
will be too expensive to hire.

The Cloud does have silver linings for businesses that think that IT has 
grown beyond a support value and when they consider it not to be 
"core business", but the upshot is that if you work in IT in a full on 
technical role doing hardware/sysadmin, you are not as indispensible as you 
used to be.....


Rachel Polanskis                 Kingswood, Greater Western Sydney, Australia
grove at zeta.org.au                http://www.zeta.org.au/~grove/grove.html
    "The perversity of the Universe tends towards a maximum." - Finagle's Law

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