One day, thought not any time soon, and probably not before they go big or the next big industry shift happens, I want to work for a web hosting company like The Engine Yard, Heroku, Linode or Media Temple; These are web hosting companies that get it1.
These companies are different from the “extremely questionable” web host I once worked for (who is now admittedly “extremely rich” and “extremely successful”), the “old fashioned” web host that interviewed me for a system administrator job but decided that they wanted a PHP developer instead, and the “slightly less questionable” web host I ran (into the ground); these companies are run by smart people who have their eyes on the future. They’re living the Gretzky ethos2.
What are they doing differently? They’re leveraging virtual machines, clustering, and open source software with smart developers writing custom backends that glue these systems together to produce elegant, robust, dynamically scalable hosting for people that can’t be assed to do these things themselves.
Imagine, a fleet of virtual machines glued to a rules-engine, monitoring your incoming load and outgoing response time and automatically provisioning new nodes on the fly.
This shit is exciting to me. This shit makes me want to go back to school and get educated enough to get in on it. Maybe make some of that “some of that inner-net money” by helping build “inner-net services”.
My rampant idolatry and borderline fetishization of these companies boils down to the fact that they’re slowly chipping into the foundation of the old ways: fading away is the assumption that simply throwing an Apache HTTPD server up on some Linux or BSD machines, overloading it with virtual-hosts, over-selling your capacity on the assumption that 80% of your users will only use 20% of your resources, and slapping a generic third-party commercial control panel up to gloss over the fact that your infrastructure is unreliable and clumsy will make you some sweet, sweet “inner-net money”.
These companies and the people who work for them are demonstrating that how you’re hosting your web sites isn’t good enough for the 21st century and that’s something every admin in this space needs to take notice of.