If You’re Saying Goodbye to Your Server, Bring Some Tissue

Rarely do I come across blogs or commentary on IT subjects that cut to the heart of the issue, touch on some human aspect and leave out all the technical jargon. To me, that’s the best type of writing of which our industry could use more.

So I must praise Dan Woods, chief technology officer and editor of Evolved Technologist, a research firm focused on the needs of CTOs and chief information officers, for his sharing his personal feelings in a Forbes article about departing with a server he’d been using at his company. Yes, a server, not a puppy or a wife or even a beloved and well-worn college jersey.

It was a Linux box that he’d been using to run his company’s Web site and wiki. “This reclamation ended an important chapter of my life,” says Woods, in the piece.

Aww; what a softie! Woods says that the staff that took his box off the rack “will never know how it hosted a wiki that helped write more than 10 books, and that hundreds of people used the processor, memory and disk during the writing process. The people who strip this server down for parts won’t have any idea that the Web sites powered by this server took my company, Evolved Media, through several stages of evolution.”

Woods says it “pains me in a way to have nothing to say good bye to,” although he acknowledges that, like the Google Apps services he uses, that server, which he bought it in 2006, could very well have become virtual without him knowing. “What this means for a sentimentalist like me is that something important is disappearing,” says Woods. “The range of abstraction is growing. For a technologist, no longer having a specific server is like giving up owning a car and always using a taxi or a car service.”

But wait; there’s a silver lining to Woods’ tale of woe. In exchange for his old server, which went down for a week, he received peace of mind from storing his data on a new Rackspace server.

“As the world becomes more part of the cloud, those of us that did engineer our own computing infrastructure are saying goodbye to a hands-on era,” he says. “I suppose that’s what is really bothering me. I’m no longer controlling the knobs and dials of my server as I once did. There is no thrill to getting it working and keeping it going. Google, MindJet, Rackspace and the other cloud vendors just do all the work for me.”

I highly recommend checking out the full article. I was impressed with how Woods talked honestly about his feelings of loss. He could be any one of us in the IT industry, as we transition from an age of internal servers and IT expertise for building and maintaining servers and networks…to the age of the cloud. “When you finally accept your deeply sentimental and nerdy nature, it becomes OK to voice such thoughts,” says Woods. Bravo!

Saying goodbye to your server, however, does not mean giving up every aspect of control over your computing needs. On the contrary, more control becomes necessary – because it’s out of your hands. Even in today’s cloud environment, vigilance is required over things like uptime, outages, and website transactions. And you need quick, responsive alerts to inform you of brewing trouble.