back to article IT admins: we don't need no stinkin' servers

Here's a newsflash. A company that rents server capacity for a living and who hosts such questionable customers as El Reg has commissioned a poll of IT shops and found that half of them wish they would never have to buy another server again. Everybody calm down. With that kind of talk, cloud computing could just turn out to be …


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  1. jake Silver badge

    I got your newsflash right here ...

    "A company that rents server capacity for a living and who hosts such questionable customers as El Reg has commissioned a poll of IT shops and found that half of them wish they would never have to buy another server again."

    In my estimation, over 95% of "IT shops" (whatever that is) wouldn't understand what a "server" (whatever that is) was if it hit 'em in the pocket-book.

    Of course they don't want to buy another server ... Most of them have no idea what hardware is, much less how hardware works ... and judging by what I read here on ElReg, most of 'em have even less of a clue how software works ...

    Me, I'll continue rolling out corporate data centers the old fashioned way, no clouds need apply ... at least until IBM, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo are all swapping "cloud-space".

  2. Mark Monaghan Silver badge

    This sounds familiar

    I know a company where the IT Manager suggested disposing of the servers and "repurposing" their room on the grounds that he had "never seen anyone using them".

    No true BOFH would ever consider disposing of hardware unless they were upgrading (or had a cash buyer).

  3. Pete 2 Silver badge

    One to file away

    The desire for serverless computing has all the hallmarks of the paperless office, nuclear fusion, colonising the moon and artificial intelligence (and maybe Linux dominating the desktop <fx: author ducks>). Some applications make sense in the cloud - just like I get a small benefit from not having paper bills posted to me. However, I can't shake the feeling that this concept is still in the "optimism" stage - soon to be followed by disillusionment, panic, search for the guilty, punishment of the innocent and finally rewards for the people who got us into the mess in the first place.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I look forward to LoudHouse's forthcoming survey

    about attitudes to Christmas amongst members of the genus Meleagris

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    can we have an icon for this sort of story

    either one of the Pope conducting a mass or that bear from the advert for toilet tissue.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Yes, let's get rid of it all!

    I can see the "Cloud Computing" deal as being useful for smaller businesses where maintaining a server and hiring someone to watch over it would be expensive, but otherwise I'm not impressed with the whole idea.

    For one if everyone signed on it would mean consolidation of of data, with control of the centers coming down to a handful of companies. What would be the incentive for manufacturers to make better servers if they have only a few dozen customers who want 90,000 copies of Model A? And call me paranoid, but I like the idea of keeping data in house where you can keep it. If one of these companies folds or changes hands, your data goes with it.

    The other thing about the cloud is ALL it does it take management of your servers and data and gives it to someone else who manages a bunch of other people's servers and data. Yet I've met more than a few hippie/liberal/green types who seem to think the data just magically goes into a literal cloud---I guess just bouncing around the pipes of the Internet, and it's somehow cleaner, greener, and smarter. The only savings I can see is in economy of scale, but try to explain that to someone who just downloaded some kewl app for their iPhone that they think is going to revolutionize the world.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Steenking serverz?

    Are steenking servers because they are steenking servers yes?

    Ain't no IT admin staff gonna say:

    Take dee steenkin server and poot eet sum plaice else. We wanna hire some server space ov dee cloud.

    Maybe newer organisations might say:

    vee doo not vaant any steenkin servers. We will hire space of zee cloud yes?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Can't figure it out? I can.

    Have we figured out the privacy problem yet? No? Well, there you go.

    While I'm quite sure many an executive neither understands nor cares about it, they'll make very different noises when all the ``IP'' that keeps the business model afloat and assorted numbers and data collections otherwise pertaining to the company accidentally end up out in the open. Cloud servers certainly don't help keeping data in-house.

    That next to inertia, job security, that sort of thing. Obviously.

    I don't mind servers much at that, really. Bad hardware (anything wintendo for a start), bad software (the `w' in wintendo, obviously) mean that there is a hard cap on how good the setup can become, I'd estimate somewhere around the 40% mark. Add unrealistic expectations from essentially illiterate ``users'', many of whom have, and abuse, decision making power, and you get a good fail cocktail. The inertia there is quite stiffling. The software is easier to fix, though linux hasn't risen much above "mediocre" itself. But then, it's the bulk of the people that make up the mediocre mean.

  9. Doug Glass

    Really? Wow!

    Re: "said that 26 per cent of their IT team's time was spent on troubleshooting server issues."

    And a large portion of Ford motor company's maintenance staff work on cars and trucks that have problems. IT in a corporation = maintenance department pure and simple.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a load of bull...

    So let's see... they questioned less than 500 peoples (too few) and turn out that being available 24x7 is the biggest issue (doh!). Maybe because it forces peoples to answer the phone at the wee hours of the night? The greatest time-consuming activity is "general server management"... that is excactly... what? And what the hell is "strategic/value added activities" and how does that differentiate from "other"? Do you mean that IT peoples hates spending time reading logfiles and applying patches to keep the scriptkiddies out of their servers? I agree with that, but unfortunately, is unavoidable.

    Rackspace claims that "hassle of managing servers" is one of the greatest challange to the department, but looking at the numbers (and not knowing the other questions) it looks like "cut spending" is the greatest challange and obviously the "normal maintainance" have to slip if they won't pay overtime anymore.

    And what keeps companies to outsource and go "cloudy"? Only one thing apparently: there is no fscking evidence that it saves money or provides better service for anyone! In fact, there are quite a few evidences of the opposite.

  11. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    What do you mean "....could just turn out to be something real"`

    "Everybody calm down. With that kind of talk, cloud computing could just turn out to be something real,...."

    FFS, Timothy, some have already Conquered and Set Up Stealthy Communications Networks InterNetworking ZerodDay Insider Trading Secrets, in Relevant XSS and Relatively Transparent Steganographic CodeXXXX for Real Unashamed DODgy Business Advantage in its AIMODified StrataPhysical Layers aka Live Operational Virtual Environments. After all, you just can't have any Tom, Dick or Harry stealing Shared Phishes and Phorm Secrets with IMPunity and thinking they have Immunity and Dandering about as if they owned the Place and ITs Spaces/the Fun Palace and ITs Immaculate Graces.

    And if the truth be told, and server records are checked/trawled/analysed, will you discover that you have been hosting comments on it for ...... oh well, already ages now, but seeing and trying to understand IT is obviously not quite the same as simply believing IT....... but then IT at such Levels is more than a Tad SurReal.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    "a surprising 14 per cent [of the IT team's time] was spent working on Other"

    This being the 14% of time spent in unproductive, non-value-added meetings to decide what the other 86% of time should be spent on.

  13. Mutant

    we don't need no stinkin' servers

    So just what do these respondents think their jobs should entail? What will they administer? My porn??

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    down with the cloud

    I agree with what the author said at the end of the article. Fewer servers means fewer people managing those servers, so you'll see your IT staff cut to about a half. That looks alright if you're looking to cut costs, but of course, outsourcing to a different company means you'll still need to pay for their servers and IT staff, as well as accommodate their not-so-modest margins. No gain there.

    The only upside is, when something goes wrong companies will be able to point the finger at other companies, so the buck doesn't stop with them. A petty reason, imho.

    I'm strongly against this cloud business on an ethical level as well, and I honestly believe it's a bad and possibly dangerous idea in the long-term.

  15. the_madman
    Thumb Up

    I'm one of those people

    ... That loves server management and website design. No, I don't understand it either. Why can't they just find someone passionate about websites, online services and the internet in general? O.o

  16. Nate Amsden

    what would they do?

    If they didn't have servers? Maybe they need a better OS if their current one in a PITA. I've been managing servers for 15 years and don't feel that it's a PITA. Of course most of my systems are almost completely fully automated. I even run my own servers at a co-location facility to host my own email/web sites etc.

    I rarely deal with the 'physical' aspect of servers anymore, but I still deal with power/space/cooling/etc.

    My company priced out Rackspace managed hosting, along with the Amazon and Terremark clouds for our customer facing applications. Just the basic cost of the infrastructure - Amazon was 2x more, Terremark+Rackspace was about 3.5x more than what we could do ourselves. Not to mention the lack of agility when dealing with a managed service, or even a cloud for that matter. About the only thing a cloud can offer that is agile is on demand capacity. And even that isn't very agile. Everything else about it in my opinion is less agile.

    I know of a company in the area here, small startup. They launched in the Amazon cloud. Due to reliability, performance and agility issues with it they are insourcing their app and spending upwards of a million $ to do it.

    I think that this article is a good description of clouds -

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Here We Go Again

    Just like MainFrame "rented" hosting from decades ago this will seem wonderful until companies discover how much control they are giving up.

  18. Justin Thomas

    Datacenter Ops != IT Admins

    In most decent sized companies, there is a distinction made between Datacenter Operations (i.e., those who manage physical servers and plan accordingly) and System Administrators (i.e., the folks who manage the operating systems and above). As someone with some experience managing both company-owned servers and cloud hosted infrastructure, I can confidently say that the overall experiences (as a sysadmin) are very similar. Cloud hosting only solves the physical challenge; all the requirements of managing the OS and applications remain the same. From that perspective, having a solid DCO capability provided by the cloud at their back is a real boon for sysadmins.

    M experience is based on Amazon's EC2; ymmv.

  19. Jake 4

    Well well well

    That was certainly exciting! Server Administrators who get paid for ADMINISTRATING servers, don't like their job. Well the surely they should of moved jobs? They get paid money for this and no matter what you do there is always going to be maintenance.

    what would you rather have;

    A server in house that you have COMPLETE control over


    A server in Rackspace that you have limited control over?

    I would prefer the first, control is critical!

    My rant over,

  20. JimC

    The only trouble is

    that the one thing that's worse than dealing with servers is delaing with idiot ******y outsourcing companies...

  21. Red Bren
    Dead Vulture

    Beancounter's paradise

    No UK hardware or software. No UK employees. No UK property, except maybe an office for the CEO, Head bean counter and lawyer. Customer Services outsourced to India, Corporate functionality outsourced to China. Welcome to the UK's Knowledge Economy, where the brand, isn't the most important thing, it's the only thing.

  22. Merton Campbell Crockett

    Spirit in the Sky

    I'm an Old Fart who has spent 35 years working with DoD and MoD.

    Her Majesty might be a pretty nice girl but she, definitely, doesn't want me placing any of her data in the clouds to be managed by the Spirit in the Sky. Hell, she won't allow me to allow access to the servers to server admins employed by our IT subcontractor that, also, provides IT services to our UK subsidiary.

    Paranoia runs rampant in governments. Companies aren't much different.

    Who is going to use this "Cloud Computing"? Given the recently reported vulnerabilities of Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Rackspace, etc. Why would anyone consider moving their government and corporate data to an organization offering software as a service?

    If your business is to survive, why would you trust your data to someone who's only motivation is money and growth?

  23. Goat Jam

    A load of bollocks

    If the "Iron rarely fails" and "admins hate administering the OS" then how exactly does Rackspace and the cloud vapour industry intend to alleviate this problem?

    Oh, that's right, take away the "iron" (which rarely fails) and provide us with remote administration tools so that we can administer the OS (which we hate) remotely (which we hate even more) .

    Great work guys. Way to shoot yourselves in the foot.

  24. charles uchu

    the iron-y not lost

    loved the wrap up paragraph. left wonderig what percentage of IT people think there are computers running the "cloud"? ..or maybe it's just simple magic with a control panel.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Cloud computing - 1970's revisited

    We had cloud computing back in the '70's, only then the servers were called mainframes, the service was call a timesharing bureau, and the network was called a HDLC modem. Funny how it all comes around again. Whatever happened to PCs on the desktop? Oh yes, they have been replaced by network appliances or browsers, all of which sounds like a dumb (albeit graphical) terminal to me.

  26. Jeremy Chappell
    IT Angle


    Err, Servers are hardly a problem - are they? What I hate are PCs. Oh! And users, OK strike the PCs comment - can we get rid of the users? I think that would be dandy, with no users I think everything would run far more smoothly.

    Can we do that?

  27. Anonymous Coward

    I can do that!

    Gissa job!

  28. b166er

    Yeah but

    Still gonna have to administer it, even if it's in the cloud. The advantage of cloud serverage, is it scales easily, administration is still the same game. No?

  29. Crazy Operations Guy


    I would also like a world in which users didn't break things, we had 100% reliability on our $10 a month 100gig internet connection that also happens to have <1 ms latency.

    But none of those thing will *EVER* happen in our lifetime. Neither will 'cloud computing' catching on.

    1. The legal department will have a stroke if you even suggest moving all of company's data somewhere out of you control

    2. users will bite your head off when they realize that everything they do will have *at least* 100 ms latency

    3. The company that is hosting your 'cloud' can charge whatever they want and know they will get it, also you are now on their schedule, they'll fix it whenever they feel like it.

    4. HR will be on your so quick the second the internet connection goes down and they notice that they are paying for people to sit on their thumbs until the connection is restored

    5. Your budget will be eaten up by your ISP and network device reseller, since you will now have to transport EVERY PIECE OF DATA that needs processing.

  30. Pirate Dave

    A hassle managing servers?

    Huh? As the Network/Datacenter admin, that's MY FREAKING JOB. I get to stay in the datacenter, far insulated away from the lusers, and play with, err, I mean "manage", my servers all day. Take the datacenter away, and I'm nothing more than a washed-up ex-programmer with poor people skills.

    I'd think these survey respondents aren't true BOFHs, but are the spawn of "Business Schools" who just happened to get a foot into the IT door somewhere and are wanting to climb ladders and schmooze. Us "real" admins just want to be left alone in our man-caves.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Mischievous me?

    Heh heh heh ....

    1 - get Apple hardware

    2 - get an Apple network

    3 - get Apple software

    4 - get Apple maintenance contract

    5 - get Apple cloud space


    Seemplz! Yes!

    Otherwise hardware says it is software related and both say it might be something to do with the network. Network people say they've pinged all that they can and can find no fault but will send in a team of technicians. If the fault arises from network then it will be covered otherwise they will willingly share the details with hardware/software/maintenance people (inhouse or outhouse) but it will have to be invoiced at full rates as it was not their problem.

    Been there?

  32. Campbeltonian

    Small businesses

    For a small business it's not necessarily the cost and complexities of keeping hardware running that is the problem with providing 24/7 services, because the server is yours to control. The real problem is that if your internet connection goes down, your servers are effectively offline and there's nothing you can do about it until the problem is fixed by either BT or your provider.

    The company I work for had an experience like this, so now we run our customer-facing services on Amazon EC2. It doesn't matter so much if our office goes offline now, as long as our services are still available to our customers.

  33. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    HMGCC gets ITs Act Together ?*..... for Prime Non State Actor Pro Active IT

    ""Spirit in the Sky" ... Who is going to use this "Cloud Computing"? Given the recently reported vulnerabilities of Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Rackspace, etc. Why would anyone consider moving their government and corporate data to an organization offering software as a service?" .... By Merton Campbell Crockett Posted Sunday 15th November 2009 21:22 GMT

    It, Cloudy IT, that is, is a perfect Place for AIRight Royal Shadow Governance Facility, Merton Campbell Crockett, which wouldn't need any pretty nice girl to expose any of her assets to DoDgy MoDified Old Farts.

    And that makes ITs Clouds an Immaculate Space for Palace Players and Courtesans. And PreResident Nymphs and Satyrs will be Delighted to Swing by to Welcome and Direct them to their Places/Prepared Stands/Pleasant Quarters.

    "loved the wrap up paragraph. left wonderig what percentage of IT people think there are computers running the "cloud"? ..or maybe it's just simple magic with a control panel." ... By charles uchu Posted Sunday 15th November 2009 22:17 GMT

    When maybe it's just simple magic with a control panel, would make the control panel a valuable tool and resource, charles uchu. And simply complex would hardly describe it well enough to do it proper justice, I'd imagine/warrant. It would certainly be adequately classified Enigmatic/Colossal/Titanic/Astute .....QuITE BiZarre and SurReal.

    * A Question Posed to Link with the Lack of Evidence Available in the Sad and Sorry Present Secret State of Right Royally Abysmal Affairs.

  34. /dev/me
    Paris Hilton

    Knowing the parts from the whole

    I think I see a tendency to push responsibility for things we don't understand away to *companies*. Just so you know who to blame. The matter that they don't seem to give a fsck doesn't matter.

    See? Even in the 21th century, most think of computers as magical devices and ... oh dear oh dear ... as long as they work we don't have to think about them and when they stop working we want to call someone who will just say that everything will be fine in a couple of minutes. Just grab yourself some coffee, your machine will be back online when you return to your desk.

    I guess most of the people who read El Reg are not the people who think 'computers' are magical devices. We do not think of 'servers' as being complicated. They are just parts of a system that as a whole does things predefined by us because we think it should work like that. With the cloud, you hand over that level of control.

    In fact, with the cloud comes obscurity. Once you've put too much of the services in the cloud, even for us professionals, the machines start becoming magical again. And with that I mean, we no longer know why it's doing what it's doing, because we're no big part in defining how it is supposed to work anymore.

    As I said, if there's a problem on the fileserver I gladly sort it out while you're getting coffee. Network problems? I can handle. I know the parts of my system, I know what they do and I know how to fix 'em in 99% of the cases.

    But if we move to the cloud. I dunno the parts of the system anymore. So I don't know the system as a whole anymore. Luser can't access documents? Is it a network problem? Is it a server problem? Something wrong with the VPN? Caps lock on? Heh

    Paris, she knows her parts from her hole

  35. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    What's the performance SLA on that?

    Paris - because she might host some videos on one

  36. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    IT Man talks Perfect Common Sense ..... and World Collapses into New Order.

    "In fact, with the cloud comes obscurity. Once you've put too much of the services in the cloud, even for us professionals, the machines start becoming magical again. And with that I mean, we no longer know why it's doing what it's doing, because we're no big part in defining how it is supposed to work anymore." ... By /dev/me Posted Monday 16th November 2009 12:25 GMT

    Precisely, /dev/me. Virtual machinery takes over the Reigns and Sub Prime Pimping humans don't get to F*** things up with their Petty Pathetic Power Plays and Grisly Great Game Gambles.

    And IT Guarantees Beta Progress and Equity for All, too.

    Do you think/imagine that you have any say in the matter, other than ok, f*** it, let's give IT a GO?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Maintenance isn't for Joe Average

    "Us "real" admins just want to be left alone in our man-caves."

    Right! This is the spirit!

    Maintenance (any maintenance, not just computers) needs special type of people and fortunately there are some of us.

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