Designing for Cloud Native; no blinking lights needed

Designing for a cloud native environment from day one is a lot like trying to drive your car with your eyes closed. While you might think you know the roads, the turns, the traffic patterns and construction sites, something always crops up out of nowhere and derails you. Trust me, it’s a given. With that being said, why are we so hesitant to move away from the blinking lights, the power cables and fiber trays we so earnestly built our careers on?
The answer is partially easy to see and that answer is simply because we built our careers on it and we are creatures of habit. For example, a server isn’t responding in the data center so what should you do? Well you might try to login with a KVM tool like Raritan or iLO, ping the server and look for a failure on the link or a combination or both. Worst comes to worst, you physically go into the data center and start pulling cables, get into the cabinet and start troubleshooting. To me, this is very manual, prone to problems and isn’t automated. In a cloud-native world, infrastructure is immutable and application logic isn’t baked into a server but baked into a database that is built for redundancy from day one (think DynamoDB at a region level).
The second part of the answer stems from the belief that if we continue to stay on the beaten path and convince ourselves that “it’s not too bad, going into a datacenter helps prove my worth” that everything will be okay. WRONG!!! I have seen and known many a network or system admin that thought the best part of his job was to justify his existence to upper management by physically being in a datacenter or logged into a management console performing troubleshooting steps. Ever wonder why a utility based model helped put meter readers out of business? As soon as the electric company was able to automate that task, the meter readers were out of job. Still following me? Now, fast forward to 2016 and the meter reader is now the network or system admin and the utility company is your line of business or any number of cloud providers. Does that frighten you? It should IF you aren’t prepared to start embracing change in how you and your company consume resources, track cost and expenses across business units and treat risk along with mitigation.
The days of wondering if the blinking lights, power cords and fiber cables are working are long gone. As soon as you and your company start to embrace this the sooner you will realize operational flexibility, ease of use and simplified management along with unlimited scale and reduced downtime. Are you the meter reader of 2016?

R.D.

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