I must be crazy because I like to make products that take on the hard and thankless jobs in IT. Its not glamorous, but someone needs to do them.
Analogies are required when explaining what I do to most people. For them, I’m not a specialist in physical data center operations, I’m an Internet plumber who is part of the team you call when your virtual toilet backs up. I’m good with that – it’s work that’s useful, messy and humble.
Plumbing, like the physical Internet, disappears from most people’s conscious once it’s out of sight under the floor, cabinet or modem closet. And like plumbers, we can’t do physical ops without getting dirty. Unlike cloud-based ops with clean APIs and virtual services, you can’t do physical ops without touching something physical. Even if you’ve got great telepresence, you cannot get away from physical realities like NIC and SATA enumeration, BIOS management and network topology. I’m delighted that cloud has abstracted away that layer for most people but that does not mean we can ignore it.
Physical ops lacks the standardization of plumbing. There are many cross-vendor standards but innovation and vendor variation makes consistency as unlikely as a unicorn winning the Rainbow Triple Crown.
For physical ops, it feels like we’re the internet’s most famous plumber, Mario, facing Donkey Kong. We’ve got to scale ladders, jump fireballs and swing between chains. The job is made harder because there’s no half measures. Sometimes you can find the massive hammer and blast your way through but that’s just a short term thing.
Unfortunately, there’s a real enemy here: complexity.
Just like Donkey Kong keeps dashing off with the princess, operations continue to get more and more complex. Like with Mario, the solution is not to bypass the complexity; it’s to get better and faster at navigating the obstacles that get thrown at you. Physical ops is about self-reliance and adaptability. In that case, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from Mario.
If I’m an internet plumber then I’m happy to embrace Mario as my mascot. Plumbers of the internet unite!