Article featured in PA Chamber of Commerce, The Catalyst, Summer 2019
In Cloud Computing, ubiquity isn’t just a business model, it’s everything. Compute, Networks, Data Storage, and the entire stack are literally everywhere and all at once. Your business no longer needs a physical data center, nor a specialized IT staff. You can focus on what matters to you, your business. And no other company has conceived this trend and birthed more acolytes than Amazon and its Cloud Computing platform, Amazon Web Services.
If you have an Amazon account (and who doesn’t), you not only have the power of the world’s largest retailer at your fingertips, but you also have the ever-growing horsepower of AWS that constitutes a matrix of data centers throughout the world. In these data centers, known as Availability Zones within what are termed, ‘Regions’, Amazon has evolved a function meant for their internal use, and pointed this capability outward, placing it into the hands of anyone with an Amazon account.
Amazon – genius in its simplicity, formidable in its ubiquity.
True, Cloud Computing puts the technology stack in the hands of those whose business ideas would otherwise not be within reach of their IT needs. Or should I say, AWS puts the ‘AWS’ technology stack in those hands. However, is it enough to know AWS without knowing the underlying tech that not only drives Cloud Computing behind the scenes, but also helped usher it into being in the first place? Is knowing DevOps in the Cloud the same as knowing DevOps on-premises?
Go to the annual AWS re-Invent ‘global summit’, and you will find yourself a small fish in a massive and shallow pond indeed. Become certified as an AWS Solutions Architect Associate or another Associate certification variant. And after that, go for your Professional Certification equivalent. As an Associate certificate holder, you can talk the talk, but as a Professional certificate holder, now you can strut.
But strut to what?
AWS has done more for the technological capability of business than any other technology overlay. However, it’s when this overlay is peddled as IT dogma rather than a mere function of a broader IT understanding, herein lies the danger. AWS, inadvertently or not, when presented to a generation of IT ‘professionals’ as a layer of abstraction purveys ignorance of IT rather than nurtures the art and skill of IT. AWS flattens the IT stack, and in so doing flattens true knowledge of the underlying tech that drives Information Technology. And this new generation of IT professionals will have developed neither the depth of technological understanding nor the breadth of real-world experience that are at the very core of Cloud Computing itself. As a result, the art of innovation may be impacted, or more to the point, some strange variant of innovation might take its place as a function unto the Cloud. Vendors like VMware may fail to innovate, and instead struggle to define their place in a playing field where they were once the exception and not the rule.
Isn’t competition a good thing? Companies striving to innovate is a core tenant of a free and open market. And if these companies fail in their endeavors, how is this any different than the automobile to the horse and buggy, or the transcontinental telegraph to the Pony Express?
The sheer impact of Cloud Computing, and AWS in particular, cannot be overstated. Information Technology is power, and Cloud Computing wields this power masterfully. Yet, we cannot afford to become solely dependent on what Cloud Computing dictates Information Technology to be, all the while it leveraging an IT stack of traditional tech as its underpinning. Such a future may, if you will, usher in a new age where all things IT become proprietary, keeping us in the dark, and blind to what’s truly behind the veil.
Oh, and did I mention the cost?
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