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GitHub's Move from "Cloud" to Dedicated

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We are sure happy to welcome GitHub to Rackspace. I have gotten to know the founders of GitHub over the last year, and there is no question this is a team and concept that the world should not ignore. We are excited to support them as they continue to deliver great services to the developer community.

It goes without saying that in reaching out to them one of my intentions was to get them on our cloud.

I was surprised to hear a few months later that they were eager to move to us, but they didn’t want cloud, they wanted primarily dedicated servers. Here is true leader of the new era of computing, a team born in the cloud era, and they wanted dedicated gear? What gives?

Well, here is how they describe it in their blog:

“We’ve grown to a size where it no longer makes sense to have every server virtualized. The benefits of running bare metal are obvious and have been empirically proven. We need to have the option to run bare metal when it is appropriate to the task at hand. We also need to be able to configure boxes with custom setups.”

There are really two cloud debates going on right now. One, is simply about the era of buying computing over the web vs. building it in house. This is what we call the cloud movement and it is real and has serious implications. We truly believe 99% of companies in the world can move faster, save money, and perform their IT better by using a computing partner. The next debate is about the specific tool now being called “Cloud.” These are pooled services, powered by software allowing for real time provisioning and very granular pay for use. We think of these as cloud technologies. All this jargon and cross talk has caused much confusion.

We think the Github decision is a great example to use to try to share our views on it. So:

One, we do think most companies going forward will buy computing not run it themselves. No capex, no inventory, no lock in. Github is not interested in having a DC and all the headaches that go with it. In fact, they have never really even considered that option (what startup today would?). We are discussing this movement daily on our site nomoreservers.com.

Two, while this strategy could be called using “the cloud” there is no doubt in our mind that companies will choose from a variety of services based on the workload they are dealing with. They will not just use Cloud technologies like our Cloud Servers or Amazon’s EC2. They will use traditional technologies as well as even higher level services, like SaaS. Why?

Well, here is how we think about it:

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If you see these tools as a continuum of prescribed technology deliver on demand, they set up a series of trades. The trades are pretty simple:

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The Github team faced this exact trade. As they grew, they needed the ability to customize every aspect of the stack by using physical machines. This is not to say they don’t believe in the Cloud technologies. Later in their post they say:

“On-demand access to a cloud infrastructure will be important to us as we increase the number and variety of low-frequency but long-running jobs that we process.”

The “Cloud” is a part of the computing strategy for Github. As it should be for any company. There are workloads where it is a perfect fit. Other workloads will need other tools. So, as the cloud era picks up steam, the discussion about all or nothing decisions of using one tool or another should be ignored. The key for any IT department is to figure out where the tools match their needs based on the workload they are deploying. Follow the lead of Github.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Lew Moorman.

Lew Moorman is a senior consultant to the top executives of Rackspace, focusing on strategy and product issues. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors.

Lew joined Rackspace in April of 2000 and has served in a variety of roles, including as President and Chief Strategy Officer, while the company grew to $1.3 billion in annual sales. Before joining Rackspace, he worked for the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, advising technology clients on strategic issues.

A native of San Antonio, Lew received a B.A. from Duke University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.


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