Networking

Poll: Will the cloud make traditional network admins obsolete?

Lew Tucker, vice president and chief technology officer of cloud computing at Sun Microsystems, foresees applications that are entirely self-sufficient. What does this mean for the traditional role of the network administrator?

Lew Tucker, vice president and chief technology officer of cloud computing at Sun Microsystems, foresees applications that are entirely self-sufficient. Humans will be able to set boundaries, of course, but will no longer be needed to turn servers, or anything else for that matter, physically on or off. It is important, he says, that these applications be unified and driven by a compatible set of protocols in order to create a global cloud of clouds.

How will the clouds ability to administer itself affect the duties of the network administrator--who was has been traditionally focused on managing physical equipment and applications? Will the cloud create a need for fewer network admins? Will the role of network admins shift from management to design and implementation? What do you think?

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Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

28 comments
maclovin
maclovin

So, we're just basically going in this cycle. Mainframes/thin clients...to the personal computer....BACK to thin clients.... NICE!!! Also, yes, who will maintain them??? One other thing, we still have bloody places in the US that can only get dialup, and Comms providers that can't coexist...and we think that the cloud concept is a remote possibility in our lifetimes??? Hell COUNTRIES still can't get along. We have a better chance of running into another advanced civilization in the Milky Way in that time frame. Let's face it, our network infrastructure on this planet just isn't ready to handle the bandwidth requirements.

john3347
john3347

NO!!! Cloud will only, as so many "technical advances" do, create more need for network admins because it makes things more "complicated" on the user end, and requires maintenance on the cloud end. While certain duties may slightly change, the quantity of "hands on deck" will only increase.

etaoinbe
etaoinbe

china makes american traditional network admins obsolete, much cheaper then your cloud software

tewalsh
tewalsh

Out of every cloud comes a few drops of rain......don't rain on my parade....

AmitThakur
AmitThakur

i agree to a certain level it will make there job less but to we do all have managers to manage the manager right. There job profile will definately take a switch from current role.

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

You hear of the "cloud" and how it is going to change everything, but as far as I can see, in house data centers are still king in a majority of places. I even know of one hospital in Memphis that went with a "cloud" for their EHR and are now having connections issues. Issues you wouldn'r have if you had the datacenter in a business controlled environment. I think the cloud is nothing new and that the IT media has latched onto this new cool word for something we have actually been doing for years, and now are spelling doom and gloom. For what reason? I have no idea. The "cloud" is just hosted services, right? Nothing spectacular in that.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

Someone will have to take care of this system. "Lew Tucker, vice president and chief technology officer of cloud computing at Sun Microsystems, foresees applications that are entirely self-sufficient" Entirely self-sufficient? Personally I don't see that. Impossible? No. But not very likely.

kraterz
kraterz

No one in their right minds would trust the "cloud" with confidential corporate data. We sure as heck don't. We just didn't get that level of confidence with google apps to even consider trying them out. Even if it cost us a whole lot more to maintain our own servers, the data is under lock and key in *my* server room and nowhere else. No matter what EULA / NDA you sign with a "cloud" compute provider, what prevents their admins from peeking at your data, and worse still, how would you even find out? It may work for small companies who can't handle the infrastructure requirements, for a short period of time, but for any real business, best get your own servers if you value privacy of your data.

melias
melias

They conveniently forget all the hidden costs that go along with all these wonderful new concepts. Deadly Ernest has it right. For that matter, so does G-Man and Tony. :)

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

see any advantage from cloud computing seem to be those with a vested interest in getting cash out of you by providing the services or the applications you need to use the cloud. Now back to the main point here. lew spoke about 'you' setting up the applications to suit what you need as a client - that sounds awfully like the network admin doing that work. Also the NA will still be needed to make the internal network operate and handle the greatly increased load such a system uses. Personally, I still see the cloud computing concept only being useful at a corporation level for setting up and running as an in-house cloud operation similar to a thin client. In such a case having a self-servicing server able to take over extra server resources as required can be useful, otherwise I see it as a great way to pay a lot more money than you need as most people won't know how to set it up properly. Any way you try to slice this issue you are talking about needing resource, either people and computers, or money to operate your computing system. The current system is you have hardware and software that has most of the work done at the local user computer and the data is stored in your own company servers in a server room or farm. This has minimal load on the network. The next option is to have ALL the work done on the servers with a huge load on the network as data is sent back and forth between the local user system and the server. This also requires a huge increase in the capability and cost of the servers, the network load, the routers, and any external link lines used. Going to an external cloud service will save you on the direct server upgrade costs but will still cost you as the service provider will provide the high capability systems and charge them for you as part of the monthly service charge (probably costed over two years) and your external network costs will blow out due to the huge increase in load on the Internet connection, as well as increasing your internal network load and needs. Both the above cloud computing options herald a much greater need for network admins to see the daily work gets done, due to the increased network operations and load.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

who is managing the internal network that all the worstatiosn use to connect / update / AV / apps / upgrades?

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

At the OpenSource World event in San Francisco, Lew Tucker, VP and CTO of cloud computing at Sun Microsystems, foresees applications that are entirely self-sufficient. What does this mean for the traditional role of the network administrator? Will self-provisioning and self-healing applications make the traditional network admin obsolete? http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=914

bryantwalley
bryantwalley

Back in the 80's and early 90's we had this cloud thing only we called them mainframes. We connected to them with thin clients and all of the work was done on the server. We did it then because we didn't have anything better to use. They were high maintenance. Same amount of admins to run if not more. Can't imagine going back to that even internally. There are currently no clients that I deal with even remotely intrested in putting their data outside of the organizations control.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Gartner style drivel work in the real world. I f'ing hate panacea merchants, there you are with a full head of pubic hair, and even sad f'kers with combovers are laughing at you.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

"Personally, I still see the cloud computing concept only being useful at a corporation level for setting up and running as an in-house cloud operation similar to a thin client." Why don't we hear more about that? That makes a lot more sense to me. It doesn't necessarily have to mean mainframes, thin clients, etc. Just a different server, workstation mix maybe.

mkoelsch
mkoelsch

You are so right about this. This is the latest fad, and I am sure it will largely pass. The people pushing the cloud idea are the folks developing and selling it. The place it might work is within a company/organization. I do not think I would trust my organziation's data to an external cloud. I am also not sure if my orgs customers, aka patients, would like their healtcare info floating in a cloud somewhere.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

What he said! Or will we all magically connect to the internet utilizing IPv6? Just plug all those hundreds of pc's into unmanaged switches and hope for the best.

evanmathias
evanmathias

I think your missing the point. Cloud based computing is in its infancy and is heavily dependant on users bandwidth. Up the bandwidth and private clouds, instead of WANS represent a logical progression. In essense SQL Server / Exchange / SharePoint etc.. are automatically provisioned up and out to servers without need for bodies on the ground to put hardware in place, install it, back it up and maintain it. Business will manage it's Active Directory, but all the farming and new enterprise software can be automatically upgraded... Software as a service based on cloud hardware usage and software licences. So less hardware admin, less software admin and more sharing... Need to use your imaginations a little more, since IT is a fast moving tortoise.

curtis
curtis

Obviously not, in fact it's a stupid question. Clouds still connect to physical switches and routers and they're still hosted on physical machines. Workstations, whether thin-client or no, still plug into a network and branches will always have WAN connections. IP phones still need to connect to CCM or whatever phone system. Somebody will always need the expertise to keep everything talking, regardless of how many of the servers are virtual. All that changes is the skillset of the network admin to be more cloud-aware.

seanferd
seanferd

"Self-healing", self-basting, and whatnot. I'm not buying it.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

away with a network admin would need a system admin who knew a lot about networks. Same sh*t different role, heard it all before. Replace all your web developers with this handy danady tool. All your BAs with this shelfware. All your programmers with this suite of cookie cutters. It's bollocks, he knows it, you know it, and anyone else with an even vague appreciation of IT knows it.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

are those who want to have you pay them monthly fees to use their applications and servers, not just sell you a once only income set of applications to use yourself.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

on an external system to save money when doing their assignments, low start software costs.

mlemay
mlemay

People who think we can create systems that are completely self healing and will run themselves have never administered a network. Maybe someday in the distant future systems could become reliable enough to operate themselves but I think it's still a "movie goers" fantasy that systems like "Eagle Eye" or "SkyNet" will ever happen in our lifetime. Especially if the government has anything to do with it. No, I think us tech geeks will be locked into the harness for a while.

jeff_campbell
jeff_campbell

I agree Tony. Yet the sad thing is that such an appeal to most business will be taken up with a business case justification based on these poor assumptions. Of course once a business makes a decision it is rare to admit mistakes so all those jetissoned at great cost to the shareholders and personal cost to those involved will be re-employed elsewhere with a different title doing the same work. The management effecting the change will be promoted and praised. No one will think that these decisions are the worst example of waste in IT. No one will ever be charged with gross incompetence. No one will learn in readiness for the next great snake oil sale in IT.

jck
jck

Who sets up the rules for the "provisioning"? Who adjusts the rules when the provisioning goes awry? Who monitors the provisioning to make sure it's proper? Same smell, different pile of $hi+.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Long term incompetence can be disguised by short term cost savings. Not IT specific either, I mean look at the winners and losers in the banking crisis. Million dollar golden handshake for getting the tax payer to foot the bill for 'you' being a f**kwit. Oh the hardship.....

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