What is your viewpoint of the "The Cloud"?

DrTed

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I'm a 42 year old, currently unemployed, sysadmin who revelled in building large, geographically dispersed systems. I've built them with various combinations of Windows, Linux, AIX, FreeBSD & others - including Tru64 at one point.

What interviews I've had, I've expressed mixed opinions of the cloud. Personally, I'm shocked that any company would allow their data to be housed somewhere they literally cannot point to on a map, with the fact that the business pays the bills and can do what they want with their data.

Last year, I was working for an MSP and they & all their clients used all sorts of cloud services. Office 365 should have been called Office 347 for the amount of serious downtime it had last year. Plus, major secret project data held out in cloud servers:oops:. I mean, handy... when it worked. But with less functionality. Especially with Exchange365. You deleted your email longer than 2 weeks ago? Don't have 3rd party backup? Sorry.
When I worked at one company, we had our own simple internal cloud, with VPN syncing a central file server which was replicated to all the local sites. It worked great. I duplicated that method at another job to centralise the file servers while keeping local access quick.

I'd like to hear what other sysadmins think of "The Cloud". Is it something to be embraced? Avoided? A compromise?

I view my position as sysadmin as protecting company data is job #1 and every other task has to keep that idea in mind. If something doesn't or cannot be assisted to made to, it has to be discarded and another solution found. Perhaps I'm missing the knowledge of those tools on the Cloud. My own experiences with AWS and Telus (in Canada) have been disappointing.

Thank you for your input.
 

Sevendogsbsd

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My company uses cloud (MS Azure) for authentication and office apps. The authentication goes down a few times a year and is annoying at best, simply because me being logged onto my company's portal is not necessary for me to work, just to check company email and do my timecard.

As for cloud in general, I use it. I don't keep anything personal other than photographs in "large" clouds. My email provider does have cloud services and I do keep my keepassxc file there so all of my devices can get to a backup copy of it. I don't run it from there though.
Cloud is incredibly convenient, depending on your use case. It does bother me that it is an amorphous storage container, which is why I don't keep anything sensitive there, but having said that, this is almost impossible to avoid: Samsung and Google both use clouds to store account info and I use Samsung hardware and Google account services. I am not going back to the IT stone age simply to avoid this; I just do my best in limiting exposure to my sensitive data.
 

PMc

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I'm a 42 year old, currently unemployed, sysadmin who revelled in building large, geographically dispersed systems. I've built them with various combinations of Windows, Linux, AIX, FreeBSD & others - including Tru64 at one point.
Okay, that figures. Similar here, I enjoyed building things like high-availability infrastructures etc.
The idea I got from "The Cloud" is that most of the things we used to do are now done by "The Cloud", and systems management skills become more or less superfluous.

I think this is the great feature of the Cloud: business people, just like all greedy people, fear what they don't know. And they don't know systems management, so they fear it and want to get rid of it (and of the people doing it). There the Cloud comes in as a great offer: you can get rid of all the systems management, you can fire these annoying sysadmins, because all that is now cared for by "The Cloud".

Eeuwige Bloemenkraft!
 

Sevendogsbsd

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To me, I see the cloud as storage only. For applications, I am still old school as in I like web applications running on servers, or VMs and that use a tiered architecture: reverse proxy, web server, app server, db server. That's probably because I don't understand how cloud based applications work. Given my line of work, I really only need to understand the communications between the client and web server, and web server and other app components; I don't really need to understand the infrastructure, but it would be nice someday to learn this. There are just so many technologies out there, it gets a bit overwhelming sometimes.
 
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DrTed

DrTed

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I use cloud storage, DropBox in particular, for transferring files to people quickly. I do have a similar service with my web hosting provider, but it requires the other person to have a logon and it's usually too much of a pain in the ass. Risk vs reward, as it were.

I'm not totally opposed to the cloud, I just don't like how much control it takes out of the people resonpsisble for keeping the services running. All of a sudden I go from having to answer why is the system down, with a concrete answer of "this application failed. We are rebooting the services now" to "Not quite sure... we are still narrowing down where the failure is occurring"

When I first heard my then CEO talk about "the cloud" my first thought was to get my resume ready. That was 2010. He wasn't able to do what he wanted, because putting 250tb of data on cloud storage was hilariously expensive (and its what he wanted to do).

A friend of mine explains it as "there is no cloud, there is only 'Our computers' and 'Other peoples computers'. If you are comfortable with your data on other peoples computers, that's a risk you need to sign off on. Otherwise, we'll make it work in house."
 
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DrTed

DrTed

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Okay, that figures. Similar here, I enjoyed building things like high-availability infrastructures etc.
The idea I got from "The Cloud" is that most of the things we used to do are now done by "The Cloud", and systems management skills become more or less superfluous.

I think this is the great feature of the Cloud: business people, just like all greedy people, fear what they don't know. And they don't know systems management, so they fear it and want to get rid of it (and of the people doing it). There the Cloud comes in as a great offer: you can get rid of all the systems management, you can fire these annoying sysadmins, because all that is now cared for by "The Cloud".

Eeuwige Bloemenkraft!
I'm glad I'm reaching out to other like minded people. The cloud I think can have its purpose, but outsourcing everything to it just sounds like doom.
Do you remember the software company Quark? They used to be the pinnacle of DTP software. Their crown jewel was the Quark Publishing System - a database that allowed newspaper/magazine editors, writers, whoever, to check out and update their stories all in real time. For early 2000's, it was astounding.
Then they outsourced everything. Programming, testing, QA, to various firms overseas.
Quark no longer exists. I've been out of publishing for a while, but I haven't heard of anything even from Adobe that rivals what QPS could do.
 

Sevendogsbsd

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One other thing about cloud that bugs me is that someone else holds my data hostage. I had dropbox before and loved the functionality but realized I didn't share much and dropped the service. I bought my own NAS and set up backups for my FreeBSD box, and the wife's Mac, to the NAS. I still have my free dropbox account so if I HAVE to share something, I can.

For office technology, I personally shun the cloud. This goes for both Google docs and Microsoft "office". I only create and use documents locally on my FreeBSD workstation. I could use the cloud apps for this (Google, not Microsoft), but find I never have to share a document. My brother shares spreadsheets with me from time to time and I just use Google docs to view them. I absolutely refuse to pay Microsoft for Office "365", or any other version for that matter, for way too many reasons to list here, plus it would be far off topic... 😝
 
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DrTed

DrTed

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To me, I see the cloud as storage only. For applications, I am still old school as in I like web applications running on servers, or VMs and that use a tiered architecture: reverse proxy, web server, app server, db server. That's probably because I don't understand how cloud based applications work. Given my line of work, I really only need to understand the communications between the client and web server, and web server and other app components; I don't really need to understand the infrastructure, but it would be nice someday to learn this. There are just so many technologies out there, it gets a bit overwhelming sometimes.
Yeah, see I'm a big fan of virtualization. I've used VMware extensively since 2005 and even got into PowerVM with IBM System p in 2010.
You can do A LOT with loads of little VMware servers.
Internally, it's excellent. I'd have my production app servers on a higher priority and the development servers in their own pool of limited resources, so they didn't bog down day to day operations.

I guess out in the cloud, that doesn't happen. Everyone gets all the resources they want <tra-la-la-la-la>.
 
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DrTed

DrTed

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One other thing about cloud that bugs me is that someone else holds my data hostage. I had dropbox before and loved the functionality but realized I didn't share much and dropped the service. I bought my own NAS and set up backups for my FreeBSD box, and the wife's Mac, to the NAS. I still have my free dropbox account so if I HAVE to share something, I can.

For office technology, I personally shun the cloud. This goes for both Google docs and Microsoft "office". I only create and use documents locally on my FreeBSD workstation. I could use the cloud apps for this (Google, not Microsoft), but find I never have to share a document. My brother shares spreadsheets with me from time to time and I just use Google docs to view them. I absolutely refuse to pay Microsoft for Office "365", or any other version for that matter, for way too many reasons to list here, plus it would be far off topic... 😝
I'm totally on your wavelength. Stuff I put on dropbox isn't critical. It's just a simple way to transfer files. I don't even have my resume on there, even though a lot of job applications will ask to get to your dropbox resume.
 

Crivens

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Cloud? Isn't that what your data (and business) look like after some server you don't own goes up in flames?

A company I worked for once upon a time wanted to get stuff to the cloud. One branch manager reminded them to make 2 weeks of space in their appointments because that breach of NDAs would trigger some customers to show great interest at a little chat about stuff. The plan was shelved and that manager fired.

And yes, there is no cloud. Only other peoples computers. And data is either sufficiently backed up or soon lost.
 

PMc

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I'm glad I'm reaching out to other like minded people. The cloud I think can have its purpose, but outsourcing everything to it just sounds like doom.
:) Well, I can afford getting a bit cynical. One needs to apply a bit of business sciences and a bit of life sciences to the matter to get a broader view - only, if I do that, then conclusions tend to appear which are not to the liking of the professionals...
I think that stance of Your friend hits the nail quite precisely
A friend of mine explains it as "there is no cloud, there is only 'Our computers' and 'Other peoples computers'. If you are comfortable with your data on other peoples computers, that's a risk you need to sign off on. Otherwise, we'll make it work in house."
I have no objections against putting my stuff on other people's computers. But I have great objections against people running computers and not being really competent to maintain and fix them, respectively, having their machines maintained by the cheapest bidder (who then again has the actual work sourced out to some sub-sub-contractor somewhere in youdontwannaknowwhere)...
 

unitrunker

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Cloud services make sense for small businesses that lack the staff and infrastructure to self host. I've seen some health care entities use out of state hosting specifically to avoid the medical privacy laws of their own state.

Knowing the cost of in-house vs. cloud based services (for the same function and availability) is useful to make sure someone's little IT empire isn't bleeding the company.

In very large corporations, this can keep budgets and internal billing honest.
 

Lamia

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I am seriously interested in co-locating servers. Anyone here doing it? I would prefer to use ARM devices though. But one of those devices in the above URLs could be used in the meantime.
 

roccobaroccoSC

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For companies that cannot invest enough in IT, external cloud solutions are a sensible options. It's better to have your data in the cloud than risk it being lost due to insufficient backups or a virus infection.
Larger companies should probably be looking into owning the cloud service themselves or a more traditional landscape. But it comes at a cost.

Also, when you buy software from others, it's similar - you trust the software vendors that they won't wreck your data. When using cloud services - you trust the cloud provider to not wreck your data.

I'm a 42 year old, currently unemployed, sysadmin who revelled in building large, geographically dispersed systems. I've built them with various combinations of Windows, Linux, AIX, FreeBSD & others - including Tru64 at one point.

What interviews I've had, I've expressed mixed opinions of the cloud. Personally, I'm shocked that any company would allow their data to be housed somewhere they literally cannot point to on a map, with the fact that the business pays the bills and can do what they want with their data.

Last year, I was working for an MSP and they & all their clients used all sorts of cloud services. Office 365 should have been called Office 347 for the amount of serious downtime it had last year. Plus, major secret project data held out in cloud servers:oops:. I mean, handy... when it worked. But with less functionality. Especially with Exchange365. You deleted your email longer than 2 weeks ago? Don't have 3rd party backup? Sorry.
When I worked at one company, we had our own simple internal cloud, with VPN syncing a central file server which was replicated to all the local sites. It worked great. I duplicated that method at another job to centralise the file servers while keeping local access quick.

I'd like to hear what other sysadmins think of "The Cloud". Is it something to be embraced? Avoided? A compromise?

I view my position as sysadmin as protecting company data is job #1 and every other task has to keep that idea in mind. If something doesn't or cannot be assisted to made to, it has to be discarded and another solution found. Perhaps I'm missing the knowledge of those tools on the Cloud. My own experiences with AWS and Telus (in Canada) have been disappointing.

Thank you for your input.
 

kpedersen

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The cloud is not new and "other peoples" computers have existed since the creation of the world's second computer ;)

Would I store important stuff on a secure server under my control (and preferably offline)? Yes.
Would I store important stuff on my grandparent's livingroom PC or a server run by Microsoft? No.

Basically, neither my grandparents nor a consumer desktop software company like Microsoft can guarantee safety of my data.

Would I chuck a load of old cat photos on my grandparents computer or Microsoft's servers? They are already there ;)
 

tingo

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Compromise. "The cloud" = cloud services won't go away anytime soon. So you better learn to use them, and do so in the right way. Which you know already: reliable backups, never put all your eggs in one basket, make sure you have control of your data (well, enough copies of it), learn how to do security the cloud way. This also means stuff like learn how to move your services from one cloud provider to another and so on.

The world is changing (this is nothing new - it has always been so); you adapt or you will be left behind.
 

Eric A. Borisch

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At least in one arena (HPC), the cloud introduces scalable compute power available via an API. Have a large problem that you need to solve (and a way to solve it that scales)? Programmatically fire up a bunch of nodes for a short period and do it. If you don't have a consistent workload, but a sporadic and time-sensitive one (you want the solution fast due to some external constraint) it can make a lot of sense vs. keeping the compute capacity on-line in house.

In other areas, it just makes things much more convenient, especially paired with mobile devices. I can have all 100k+ photos in my collection available to me just about anywhere...
 

BSD User

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Big chunk of "The Cloud" is network virtualisation too. Traditional networking is shifting to SDN. Clouds are everywhere and there's no escape :)
 
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DrTed

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Compromise. "The cloud" = cloud services won't go away anytime soon. So you better learn to use them, and do so in the right way. Which you know already: reliable backups, never put all your eggs in one basket, make sure you have control of your data (well, enough copies of it), learn how to do security the cloud way. This also means stuff like learn how to move your services from one cloud provider to another and so on.

The world is changing (this is nothing new - it has always been so); you adapt or you will be left behind.
You speak much sense and it is a viewpoint I'm trying to embrace - or at least come to terms with. I think my next tactic and personal mental exercise is to be able to give my misgivings about cloud solutions, but provide answers of how to mitigate them.

One place I worked for (this was ~2011) wanted to go cloud because they thought it would be cheaper. They had no budget and had requested internal IT to source them 160tb of storage space. We, well I, said "That's nice. That's more than we have in the whole company; SAN, servers, desktops, laptops. What's your budget?"
They had no budget and decided they could afford this pipe dream if they went to THE CLOUD!
I sat in on one vendor meeting where they were quoted something like $45,000/mo, just for storage. My manager and I played our best poker faces in our lives when dude said that number.😝
 
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DrTed

DrTed

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One place I worked for (this was ~2011) wanted to go cloud because they thought it would be cheaper. They had no budget and had requested internal IT to source them 160tb of storage space. We, well I, said "That's nice. That's more than we have in the whole company; SAN, servers, desktops, laptops. What's your budget?"
They had no budget and decided they could afford this pipe dream if they went to THE CLOUD!
I sat in on one vendor meeting where they were quoted something like $45,000/mo, just for storage. My manager and I played our best poker faces in our lives when dude said that number.😝
That department was hilarious. They were the CEO's brainchild and managed by half-wits.
That initial 160tb number, we quoted them something like $200,000 for a SAN storage device big enough for their needs plus ability to expand. Their computing requirements, we could handle - think 2 blades were going to be purchased. Nothing too serious.
They shit their pants at that number, many people would. Then, they promised they'd go back and redo their calculations to bring down that 160tb number.
We had another meeting 2 months later. I sat and listened in all earnestness and professionalisation, because I wanted them to get this done. I'm a storage nerd, having more storage to tend to, and 160tb for a mid-sized company in 2011 was big stuff.
But then, while I was taking my notes, the number 2 of the department was telling of projects and their space requirements. When he finished, the total storage requirement was 220tb.
I asked "Do you have any budget for this yet?"
The director answered "No. I don't think we will."
I then asked "You initially asked for 160tb. Now you are asking for 220. Do your people know how to do arithmetic?"
The scowl I got back was enough. M.Sc's in computer science do not like to be asked if they can do basic mathematics.
(This was before I was diagnosed with severe depression, acute anxiety and this job actually also later gave me PTSD.)

I'd probably be a bit more diplomatic about that situation now, but holy balls was my manager laughing his ass off for days about that. He HATED that dept.
 

OJ

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Large amounts of data can be sent via courier, but day to day data transfer will need a reliable and usually fast Internet connection. Fast is generally not hard to get in an area where most businesses will be located, but I've noticed that even beyond my ISP the big telcos don't seem to be able to keep things going all the time. This can be mitigated, and may or may not be an issue, but the Internet itself is a limitation.
 
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