Inefficiency by Cloud Design
When I started to play this game, back in the early years of this century, we had system administrators on staff.
System administrators were hardcore. They would replace your 500 failing lines of Personal Home Page code with a single line of Perl and a slap in the face. They would compile Linux kernels whilst explaining the true nature of anarchism. And they would keep your business on the Web from a single dusty old server in the back of the office.
Then came The Cloud.
Walk dreamlike on the cushiony layers of virtual machines, said The Cloud, all for a push of a button. And a credit card, but dont worry about that, your company will pay. No, don’t concern yourself with the underpinnings, with the system updates, with the resource sharing, we’ve got you covered.
Aren’t you clever, said The Cloud, you’ve written 500 lines of Personal Home Page code! Slow? You just need more CPU! Press this button. No, no, don’t worry about it failing, we’ll just restart the machines for you, automagically. Your pretty face need not concern itself with memory leaks. Look, here is a button, just give it some more memory! 4, 8, 16 gigabytes, who cares? You’re not footing the bill, and the machine will restart less.
What’s that dusty unkempt thing in the corner? No, not the server, we’ll get to that, the lump in front of it? A Sys Admin? How 20th century…you’ll need to get rid. Luckily I’ve just invented a new word, DevOps, which will see to that.
Trust me, I know it seems like a lot, the bill, but it won’t cost the same as the Sys Admin.
Which is true.
And this is how the owners of The Cloud now ride spaceships as a hobby.
But all that resource is costing more than money. It represents energy being burnt at catestropic rates. Amazon’s carbon dioxide emissions as reported by them for 2018 were 44.4 million tons. That would represent around 15% of the entire UK for that year. And they are not, in this post pandemic world, getting any smaller.
So, if we programmers want to contribute to the solution to climate change, we need to get less DevOp and more SysAdmin.