There was a time when technicians had to don a white lab coat in order to even be allowed to enter the data center. It was kept meat-locker cold so the multi-million dollar machines would not cook. Entire teams of people were required to keep the operation running including HVAC technicians, power technicians, tape operators, console operators, Service Engineers from the various equipment manufacturers, and more. Fast forward 30 years and you don’t have to look far to find similar rooms still in use at most companies. What has changed is that many of these rooms are only sparsely filled, and many companies have chosen to eliminate the data center space altogether.
As with most evolving technologies, refinement, specialization, and consolidation have completely changed the landscape. Powerhouses like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon have built acre-sized buildings packed with enough capacity to cover the computing needs of practically everyone on the planet. This is really good for the consumer who can easily gain access to nearly unlimited capacity for their personal files, photos, and email. It also means cheap capacity for any organization willing to figure out how to run their applications in this plethora of capacity known collectively as ’the cloud.’ Great, right? Well, that depends on how you go about making use of this cloud.
Some providers like Amazon Web Services will let you commit to a very small footprint and price, and allow your needs to grow ‘elastically’ as needed, paying only for what you use. This elasticity stings when it snaps back at you, if your applications utilize more resources than you expected they would. Other providers let you contract specific capacities, but make it difficult to shrink if you ever need to. Still others require that you use their software stack exclusively. It is enough to make your head foggy when contemplating the cloud. Then, there are the small and mid-tier cloud providers who will sell you ‘blocks’ of virtual machine capacity measured in ram, disk, and GHz of processor capacity. There’s a lot of overlap in this business, so don’t be surprised if your mid-tier provider is offering you VMware capacity that is actually running in an Amazon datacenter. Virtualization makes some very peculiar things possible. This is not a bad thing, for business or the planet. Those acre datacenter buildings are extremely modern, efficient and secure. Very little is allowed to go to waste in such an environment.
So how is one supposed to figure out how to navigate this cloud thing? My advice is simple: start with a trusted partner who deals with these questions every day. MNJ Technologies sales and technical staff have decades of experience designing, deploying and servicing technology solutions whether they are provided directly by us, or through one of our many industry-leading partnerships. Our goal is to match your needs to the best possible solution.