Everyone Can Have a New “Datacenter” Right Now, Even You!

Randall Ross

Randall Ross

on 29 October 2015

A (new) datacenter? Me? Really? Why would I want that?

Answer 1: Because if you’re an individual, you have problems to solve that cannot be solved by consuming one more app from a store.

Answer 2: Because if you’re a company, you have problems to solve that cannot be solved economically (if at all) by your current datacenter, which is probably out-moded, out-dated, and brittle.

Recently, I’ve been having discussions with people who follow tech (but who don’t make it a full-time job) and one thing I’ve been hearing and sensing is that a lot of people don’t quite get “cloud” and “OpenStack”. I could even add Open Source to this list, but I’ll save that for later. This is not a slam, or a criticism of them. It’s an observation, and it’s a shame that it’s this way.

These are bright people with real work they need to get done and real problems they would like to solve. They need to get on with things without additional cognitive load and with minimal expense. But, when they hear the constant drone of cloud jargon, their eyes glaze over and when they see that complexity they think they’ll need a small army of consultants to help.

In the spirit of “Amplify(ing) the Signal”, what is the source of this noise and how can we filter it out to find the information, the signal?

The noise: I mostly blame the tech (marketing) industry for creating and perpetuating confusion and thinking that’s acceptable behaviour. With a few exceptions, this is an industry that makes no attempt to simplify technical jargon and to describe solutions in easy and obvious ways. To do so would be to allow people to get on with their lives and simply “get things done”. Horror of horrors!

But in this often “messy” world, there are a few beacons and heroes; people that are really trying to make the world better and to bring technology to everyone, without bias or prejudice.

This is exactly what initially attracted me to Ubuntu. Ubuntu brought the promise of free and open computing to me. With Ubuntu, I didn’t need to spend hours or days configuring kernel this and driver that and typing gobbledegook on command lines. I simply popped in a CD, and was on my way.

Eleven years later, and Ubuntu has done it again. Allow me to present the signal.

Computers are no longer just your laptop, your desktop, your phone, tablet, or gadget. Computers are now collections of machines that are interconnected. Software is no longer an “app” that runs on your device. Software is a collection of programs that run on many computers, some of which you touch and hold and own and many of which you don’t. Take your blog for instance. It’s likely running on someone else’s machines and consists of at least a front end (content management system), a database, and maybe some load balancing.

Cloud: A collection of computers that you don’t own or manage and that you control by issuing simple commands. In return, it provides computing services to you.

Sounds a bit like what we called a datacenter years ago, right? That’s because it is. But, it’s an improved datacenter. Simpler, more reliable, more scalable, more versatile, and much cheaper. These new datacenters are capable of running modern software. These datacenters can be in your home, your garage, your company, or in a building somewhere else in your city, or a faraway place. The can be in a combination of more than one of these places.

OpenStack: A popular “flavour” of cloud computing that is free, open, and available to all.

We have reached a point in history where it is now possible for you to have a solution to your problem in your own datacenter that is based on an OpenStack cloud. If someone has already installed servers for you, then you can have your solution ready to go in less than 30 minutes.

Please watch Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, show you how it’s done. It’s worth watching the whole video, but if you only have a few minutes, then watch it from the point below where Mark sets up a blog hosted on an OpenStack cloud in less than one minute, with Juju (timecode – 41:13).

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