Sysadmins love infrastructure control, and I have to say that there was a time when root access gave me a high. It wasnâ€™t until I moved to web operations team (and gave up my root access) that I realized that I was more productive when I wasnâ€™t dealing with day to day hardware and OS issues. After managing my own EC2/Rackspace instance for my blog for a few years , I came to another realization today that IAAS (infrastructure as a service) might be one of these fads which will give way to PAAS (Platform as a service).
WordPress is an excellent blogging platform, and I manage multiple instances of it for my blogs (and one for my wifeâ€™s blog). I chose to run my own wordpress instance because I loved the same control which I used to have when I was a sysadmin. I not only wanted to run my own plugins, configured my own features, play with different kinds of caching features, I also wanted to choose my own linux distribution (Ubuntu ofcourse) and make it work the way I always wanted my servers to work. But when it came to patching the OS, taking backups, updating wordpress and the zillion other plugins, I found it a little distracting, slightly frustrating and extremely time consuming.
Last week I moved one of my personal blogs to blogger.com and its possible that it may not be the last one. Whats important here is not that I picked blogger.com over wordpress.com, but the fact that Iâ€™m ready to give up control to be more productive. Amazonâ€™s AWS started off as the first IAAS service provider, but today they provide a whole lot of other managed services like Elastic MapReduce, Amazon Route 53, Amazon cloudfront and Amazon Relational Database Service which are more of a PAAS than IAAS.
IAAS is a very powerful tool in the hands of professional systems admin. But Iâ€™m willing to bet that over the next few years lesser number organizations would be worried about kernel versions and linux distributions and would instead be happy with a simple API to upload â€œ.warâ€ files (if they are running tomcat for example) into some kind of cloud managed tomcat instances (like how hadoop runs in elastic mapreduce). Google App Engine (Java and Python) and Heroku (Ruby based, Salesforce bought them) are two examples of such service today and Iâ€™ll be surprised if AWS doesnâ€™t launch something (or buy someone out) within the next year to do the same.