Posted May 20, 2011 14:58 UTC (Fri) by mrjk (subscriber, #48482)
Parent article: Scale Fail (part 2)
I used to buy hardware at the level (or above) that is kind of derided in this article, and I'll defend it. Just throwing in a bunch of hardware works a tremendous amount of the time for several reasons.
First it can be capitalized with no arguments so is moved off the books for expenses. You can do this with software and consulting too, but not without wrangling. This isn't a technical but it is a real organizational issue.
Second it is mostly immune to staff changes. If you actually apply thought and put in a smart caching system and perfect redundancy, when you leave and your wonderful documentation leaves with you or some background knowledge is lost, I as your thickheaded successor will have gaps in my knowledge of the system. They will bite back at some point. That is how single points of failure creep in over time. With just a cursory look at some of the most obvious issues many many applications will live in a big chunk of hardware, if the hardware is 90% unused, so what? It will likely be less overall cost, because the unthinking apps just roll along without all the manpower needed to maintain them.
Third it actually makes the IT department more resilient. They are always putting in some new server or moving applications to a new one. This to me, is really more important to disaster recovery than staged tests. The Systems folk and the DBA's know directly what is going on and where stuff is. This also gives slack for growth and the ability to ride the technology wave forward.
The fact that systems might be more standard (except in areas directly worked on) and not smart saves a bunch of time and when you do get the boss with the bright idea, it isn't going to crush what you have.
The thing is, the cost of computing power has crashed and killed companies (hi Sun ...) over the last 20 years. This goes back decades. I remember looking at our major database server footprint around 2005 and realizing it was 20 times bigger and ten times cheaper than it was in 1994 ... When that is true and consultants are no cheaper ... I think the "dumb" throw hardware idea made and still makes a lot of sense.
Not that bad settings shouldn't be corrected and decent modeling of scale and flow shouldn't be done!