Are you a Server Hugger?

Question: Are you a Server Hugger?server hugger

This conversation has come up countless times while at conferences, including VMUGs and VMworld.  Come on, lets be honest, are you a server hugger?  Its mentioned regularly out on twitter.  Duncan Epping was live tweeting from the Benelux VMUG and it was mentioned in a session he attended presented by Andy Steven:

server hugger

So lets ask the question again!  Are you a server hugger?… I would pretty much say yes you are.  Most people who manage IT infrastructure are server huggers.  You know you are, so lets just all admit it.  I will start.  Hello my name is David and I am a server hugger.

During a number of my presentations I have given over the years, both myself and Chris Colotti have had this discussion numerous times.  Sometimes between ourselves.  What actually is a server hugger?

Now if you google Server Hugger, the majority of articles or sites describe server hugging as a derogatory term.  I personally don’t think it is.  Why is wanting to keep control and protect something derogatory?  Just look at some of the results below:

server hugger

Lets take a step back for a minute and think about what makes someone a server hugger.  Lets take me for example, I am openly Server Hugging everyday.

Back in 2000/2001 I used to work as a 2nd/3rd Line support analyst for the UK rail infrastructure company Railtrack.  We had recently upgraded all the Novell Netware 3.12 servers to Microsoft Windows NT 4.0.  This as anyone who worked with NT 4.0 can attest too, caused a number of issues with reliability of service, and I was a busy boy.  One key area that I focused on supporting was the print servers.  Running hundreds of different types of printers across multiple campuses and finding the right print drivers that would work on Windows NT 4.0 was a challenge to say the least.  This is when my server hugging addiction started.  There was one print server in particular that used to constantly blue screen.

Now it was a long walk to the basement where we kept all the Compaq servers, and during the winter it was bloody cold too.  I decided that instead of walking there 5 times a day, I would simply move the server to under my desk.  This gave me two direct advantages.

  1. I didn’t have to walk anywhere.
  2. I could control direct access to the server

Now point number 2 is extremely important.  I could control direct access to the server.  In the days of Windows NT installing a print driver that would work took hours of testing to make sure it wouldn’t cause a blue screen.  In my days of support, certain individuals would simply install new printers and then throw on whatever driver they found on the floppy and hope for the best.  Nine times out of ten it would work for a while.  Then…

server hugger

Of course, by having the server under my desk, I could protect it, no one could get access to it but me, and it was my baby.  Painstaking hours of testing drivers and re-installing drivers drove me to this.  I literally used to polish this machine every night before I left the office.  It worked.  No more bluescreening.  I was the only guy who installed print drivers, and I protected this baby with all my powers (mainly by just sitting at my desk).

So lets come back to the modern day.  Why are server huggers important in todays enterprise environment.  Well peoples mindsets haven’t really changed to be honest.  The majority of IT admins out there want to maintain control of the infrastructure that they manage.  This is important to them, its part of the daily job they have, and if it goes wrong, its their neck on the line.

So why are server huggers deemed a derogatory term?

Well most people tend to say server huggers are holding back cloud adoption.  I don’t actually see that as the way it is.  Server Huggers are not holding back adoption of the cloud, they simply want to protect the environment that they manage.  It is up to the cloud vendors to prove to the server huggers the benefits of moving to the cloud and educate them on the security aspects of the cloud.

I have mentioned many times before simply moving workloads to the cloud doesn’t make it secure.  If you move all your workloads to the cloud, and open up the firewall and set the rules to ANY:ANY then guess what… Its open to the world.  Simply saying “Yeah but its in the cloud” doesn’t make it secure any more than having it in your datacenter makes it any more secure.  Its all based on the security principals you design and deploy in your environments.

So to finish off, simply saying that Server Huggers are bad for the cloud is wrong.  Server Huggers are good for the cloud, because when they do move to the cloud they will be all in on benefits.  If your like me who is pretty much the ultimate control freak, when I did move to the cloud, I moved everything, because I could CONTROL it all in the cloud without worrying about other people messing about.

So consider this Mr Server Hugger, when someone tries to be derogatory to you, simply ask the question, how secure is your cloud?

To learn more about how to secure your cloud in vCloud Air, I would recommend watching some of these videos:

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