The high tech industry raves about how “the cloud” will save the world, give us completely automated IT infrastructure, and obviate the need for talented system administrators. However, I would make a contrarian claim that this move to IaaS public clouds (e.g. EC2) will generate more demand for system administrators within the organizations using these clouds, and maybe even spawn a new breed of MSP that solely focuses on management of public cloud infrastructure on behalf of end customers. Here’s my reasoning:
- If we need 3rd party software to manage it…it ain’t there yet – I have no idea what kind of revenue companies like Rightscale generate, but the fact that they and other companies like them have filled a market need for an additional monitoring management layer on top of public clouds suggests that this cloud stuff is actually harder to operate than the hype would make one believe.
- People still make decisions, not computers – Monitoring and management tools rely on user-defined thresholds in order to execute pre-determined actions. CPU of a server goes over 70%? Spin up another instance. CPU of a server goes below 30%, spin it down. No amount of additional monitoring data or additional monitoring tools will change that core limitation. You still need a person to define those thresholds and a person to define those actions. And that person needs to be able to troubleshoot when those thresholds and actions don’t produce the desired result. There is still no substitute for a smart sysadmin who knows their sh*t.
- IaaS is still new, and there is a significant knowledge gap – Let’s face it…these cloud platforms are still in the initial phases of adoption. This means there is going to be a big skills gap for many years ahead (look at virtualization – a good VMware admin can demand top dollar because there are still relatively few of them – and ESX has been around for at least 7 years) and that gap means that companies will need to look outside for help. I also regularly see posts for developers as well as sysadmins who have EC2 experience.
Would you work with an MSP to help manage your EC2 deployment? Are there any well-known companies with large EC2 deployments who have farmed out at sysadmin duties to MSPs?