[RndTbl] Attempted murder of sysadmin

Trevor Cordes trevor at tecnopolis.ca
Mon Jul 17 02:49:42 CDT 2017

On 2017-07-13 John Lange wrote:
> But sure, some Admins will insist that they can still do more with a
> horse and buggy than a newfangled truck, and truth be told, horses
> and buggies stuck around a long time after trucks were first invented
> so existing Admins will be around for many years to come.

Ah, the old fallacious ridicule/peer-pressure argument.  Who would want
to be the horse-riding luddite?  Heaven, not me!  No different from the
"right side of history" (non)argument that is overused in similar

Cloud, or whatever it's renamed during the next hype-phase, cannot ever
replace all on-site servers (let alone desktops).  The reason is it is
mathematically impossible for the cloud providers to sell their service
cheaper than the raw costs dictate.  This especially applies in the
instance where one needs a constant amount of resources over a long
period of time.  If I need 12 cores & 64GB steady for a project, and I
am (or have on payroll) a computer expert, there is no way AWS or
Azure can per-minute me that box for less than I can buy & run it

In fact, I'd be extremely curious to see what multiple of (hard!) cost
the cloud providers are using to determine pricing.  For instance, if
said box is $3k and has a usable life of 3 years, it's easy to add in
A/C, etc., to get a TCO.  Then figure out what cloud charges for the
equivalent of said box.  I would not be surprised if it is 2X, 3X or
more.  Of course it'll constantly be falling (as long as no
mono/duo-polies arise) multiple, but it can never be less than 1X.

Granted, my scenario assumes a high level of local talent, and assumes
a smaller (micro) level of scale.  I'll gladly admit that cloud has its
(small, albeit growing) niche, and excels in there.  However, to
say that niche will become as trucks are to horses smacks of
over-optimism.  Cloud's niche will grow to a certain level then
stabilize.  It will never be 99% of the computer market.  It'll never
be 99% of the server market.  It'll never even be 99% of the web server
market!  I'll bet real money on that on any timeframe you wish during
which we'll still be alive.

Also, any conversation about pie in the sky (get it??) technologies
must be candid about the effect of geography and scale.  A lot of us
have learned that what works in Silicon Valley, New York and Toronto,
don't necessarily apply to Winnipeg (or any smaller, lower cost of
living, lower A/C costs, locale).  And what applies to medium/large
business does not apply to small/micro business.  Adam mentioned the
same thing: works great for Netflix, not for my local micro-retail
customer.  If you don't need quick-scaleability or high
time-variability, or capex->opex, then I see very little value to cloud
at all.

Additionally, and purely personal, cloud takes away the "fun" factor.
I'm sure there's very few MUUGers who don't still get a kick of
spec'ing and building a DIY workstation or server and firing it up.
There's a sense of satisfaction.  It'll be a sad day if/when we lose
all sight of the actual hardware.

On 2017-07-13 Adam Thompson wrote:
> I’m at least a decade past the “hey, it’s new, therefore it’s cool,
> therefore let’s use it!” stage, and well into the “yeah, sure, prove
> it” stage of life.  Until someone can convince me that the New Ways
> Of Thinking actually represent an *improvement*, not just a *change*,
> over the old ways, I’m going to continue to regard them with extreme

Decade?  Perhaps, for us, closer to two :-)

> skepticism.  Because I *was* one of those young turks who agitated
> for change, convinced that newer always meant better.  Enough
> experience finally taught me otherwise.  Especially when I note that
> we’ve basically gone right back to 1970-style Mainframe Partitions
> with semi-intelligent terminals; the problems we’re dealing with
> today on the web are EXACTLY the same problems we were dealing with
> in the early ‘80s with IBM/Amdahl mainframes and IBM 3270-style
> terminals… just with rounded corners and alpha transparencies.  I
> honestly don’t see a lot of actual improvement in many (not all!)
> areas.  “Everything Old Is New Again.”  I’m tired of that
> hamster-wheel.

That's an astoundingly good commentary.  Cloud is the same model as
time-sharing: sure, vastly more powerful, but still the same model of
grabbing a tiny slice of a monolithic hidden beast.  Love the "rounded"
and "alpha" (neither is on my box!).  I can't think of one single actual
UI improvement on the desktop in over a decade, save tabs in
browsers. :-)

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