[LINK] Cloud Computing Services in Australia?

grove at zeta.org.au grove at zeta.org.au
Tue Nov 8 11:31:22 AEDT 2011

On Mon, 7 Nov 2011, Bernard Robertson-Dunn wrote:

> On 7/11/2011 11:25 AM, grove at zeta.org.au wrote:
>> 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.
> <the rest snipped>
> <personal opinion>
> Rachel,

Hi Bernard, I wrote a long reply yesterday that was lost to the storms,
so here is another go.....

I want to agree with you on most things, but will give my viewpoint from 
the Cloudface (thunderhead, storm front?!), as a worker, employee etc....

> My view is that "The Cloud" is not so much a replacement technology as a
> new way of structuring technology.
> The two major aspects of cloud technology are
> a) virtualisation
> b) standardisation


> Virtualisation has taken off in a big way in IT departments, the major
> benefit being to increase the average utilisation of servers and to
> allow for rapid resource allocation to/from applications. The Cloud just
> happen to make a big use of it.

Yes - especially in the MS realm.  What we have where I work is a case where 
practically all MS systems are now virtualised.   All the systems run on 
Linux backed VM machines each with 4-6 MSW nodes serving all kinds of apps.

On the UNIX side, virtualisation is still rudimentary, but catching up,
as we use SPARC which only has limited VM options and virtualisation 
is about a generation behind.   SPARC platforms come with their own 
kind of redundant protection etc, though.

You can see where the MS systems will end up.
The UNIX ones will take a little longer.......

> Standardisation is the elephant in the room. If you look at two of the
> larger players in the field, Amazon and Microsoft, their standardisation
> in the infrastructure  architecture space is new and different from any
> sort of current infrastructure or platform models. In other words, the
> cloud providers are saying: change your application architecture to suit
> our product/solution/service and you can use our product/solution/service.

Agreed - in the MS realm, we have standardised to the point where we no 
longer host our own student email.  Staff email is on the way to the MSCloud 
as well and Sharepoint will not be far behind.   I believe ultimately
4 people will have to find new jobs or reskill elsewhere.  In the UNIX realm,
there is a move away from an enterprise OS to Linux, which will lead to 
a similar virtualised environment as above.   Once the virtualisition 
is complete, the UNIX admins will be in a similar position.

> This means that moving existing applications to a cloud environment is
> not a simple case of moving files. It's a complex re-write.

Unless it's an MS app you're talking about, then it is already
sanitised and standardised.   I work in a "Buy not Build" environment,
which is anathema to someone like me with a hackish tendency, 
who believes in being able to do it yourself, up to a point.

But it makes it easy to adopt methods that ultimately lead to outsourcing
and consultant housing.   I believe certain newish approaches like
JSON can make gluing such apps together possible, without the huge
complex rewrites, but of course no one wants to try this.  The complex rewrite 
justifies hiring a bevy of consultants, so "operational reasons" can 
be used to dumb down those areas until you do not need them anymore.

When you point out that the $250,000 app can be equally substituted for 
180 lines of Perl, you do not make friends with the people who 
make the purchasing decisions.   "Operational Reasons" are used 
all the time, to invoke a consultant or an external resource,
when it is equally possible fully trained and capable people 
could do the same job, within their salary cap.   But the mentality is 
that IT is not "core business" therefore any interest in it 
should be divested as much as possible and outsourced.

> There are some specific areas where The Cloud may have a significant
> impact on enterprise ICT, email and web-hosting being examples.

And as mentioned, the kool-aid is drunk and the mail and sharepoint 
fly out to The Cloud.   In the UNIX world, it has been more complex
for them, which is why they do not like UNIX.   The fact we have a mega 
SAN and so on, is only two steps away from The Cloud as well.

We already outsource the management of our Student facing services 
to an external resource.   I built the NAGIOS platform the vendor runs 
in their NOC but I have no longer any reason to login to the 40
or so systems they admin on my behalf.   It gives me more time 
to read the SMH in the morning, but is not my desire.   This is 
only one step away from all that being sent out the door 
and we will recover several frames of rack space.

We recently got a new Director - you might want to look up 
his previous achievements, which indicates to me the direction
we will be heading in our own workplace.

> The upshot is that existing ICT environments will continue, maybe
> gradually shrinking in absolute terms, but definitely shrinking in
> relative terms as new applications use The Cloud. A bit like the
> mainframe world. There's many a mainframe systems programmer and COBOL
> programmer still out there maintaining and modifying existing systems.

Yes, I foresee a career for the next two years, urging along the Legacy 
systems, that will be replaced by inferior options, not in our control
in the Cloud.    ;)

> The IT department is not going to disappear real soon now.

Hmmm, that is not not what I am being told will happen at <some uni>. 
There is much excitement about being able to virtualise, then 
standardise right out the door!

As someone who takes workplace matters like this quite seriously, 
I am actually concerned.   I am a huge advocate of technology, 
but things like "The Cloud" make it too easy to call on "operational reasons" 
to artificially wreck careers, dumb down the workplace and reduce IT 
to a service desk with no guidance except what is fed to the management.....


> </personal opinion>

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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