IT infrastructure has come a long way and that’s just in the 25 years I have been in the industry. I still remember my father’s stories about working on mainframes that took up a whole room and tape reels that were rather large and took two people to change. Now if a data center takes up more than 6 racks it is considered large.
When I stepped into the IT world back in the late 1990s, we had transitioned to what we now call three-tier. We still had mainframes but they only took up 1/4 of a rack or less. (I ripped a Sun mainframe out in 2017 so not that long ago.) For 2 decades I built my career on three-tier. Maintaining servers, storage, virtualization layers, other tools, networking, and the list could go on and on. I spent many nights and weekends doing break-fix on hardware or racking new hardware for upcoming business initiatives because my days were filled with either fulfilling end-user server and VM requests or testing new tools to try and make my life and the life of my teammates more streamlined. At this time IT staff was also seen as overhead, we had some of the lowest pay, and worst work hours, on top of that literally, no one cared we existed until the business was down or they needed something. (That scene in the IT Crowd where they are ignored is entirely true.) For almost 20 years this is what I did and I was successful, but I still had no little personal time and vacations usually involved answering emails or random calls from my teammates.
Around 2014 my manager at the time brought in a bunch of new vendors to try and streamline the data center and our work lives. On top of it, we had extremely large SQL databases that were now underperforming as they were on old hardware with multiple hops to get to the storage layer. We met with multiple vendors a lot of them before they were purchased by larger companies. We had multiple POCs as well, some of those had to be set up by myself or my team in our minimal free time. We had vendors I walked out of the building for feeding me a pipe dream that I knew wouldn’t work. But at the end of the day, the decision wasn’t mine and while I would have kept doing things the way I had for the past years, a new player was brought into the data center, that player was Nutanix’s HCI solution. (continued in part 2)