Back in the Day

Published on September 2, 2013 by Filip Van Tittelboom

When doing the things I do now, it’s funny to reminisce about my first job as a system administrator. I worked for a small company that managed servers and networks for small businesses. They also did colocation.

A typical scenario would be to get a call from a customer: “We’d like to move our web application from our office to a proper datacenter because our userbase has grown”. We’d discuss the needed specifications. So I’d pick up the phone and call the server supplier. “Yeah, I need a 1U pizza box with <insert numbers with GB and GHz and cache and RAID cards and other stuff I’m not familiar with anymore> ASAP!

After 2 business days a package would arrive. I’d hook up the brand new server in the lab, insert a Linux cd-rom and began the installation. Usually, the most time consuming part would be the RAID card. We always tried to order the same card, but there were always small differences in chipsets which required a kernel recompile or some other driver update. Major pain in the ass. Sometimes a disk or ram chip would be DOA, so I had to backorder the part.

Next day, I would load up the car with the new server and drive to the datacenter in Brussels. Mount the server in the rack, connect the network cable, connect the power, testing, call the office to check if remote connection was possible, get back to the office, call the customer to explain he’s ready to deploy and Bob’s your uncle!

Today, I run a couple of a scripts and I can start up as many Amazon instances I need in the cloud. I can scale up or down (or horizontally) whenever I want, with limitless possibilities. No need for initial investments and commits. And that’s a cool feeling.

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