Summary: Computer Data Centers and Networking

This is a summary with links to my posts on computer data centers and networks. The two subjects are intimately related because the whole point of networks is to connect computers with each other.

Like everything else in computing, fashions have a strong impact. A bit over a decade ago, the world of computing started yammering about “the cloud” and “virtualization.” These things were the hot subjects all the cool kids talked about. If you weren’t driving towards moving to the cloud, you were obsolete. The reality of course was much different.

The Cloud is just another virtue-signaling fashion word like Big Data.

The fact that the underlying reality hardly changes at all is way beyond the technical knowledge of the vast majority of the people who talk about it.


When something like “the cloud” heats up, all the vendors related to it rush to promote their products as ideally suited to the new thing.

The managers of large in-house data centers rarely know much about what they’re buying and what the alternatives could be. As a result, they often spend way more than they need to on equipment, something which competing cloud vendors are less likely to do.

Like anything where people are involved, there are politics and fights over who should perform a given function. One of the classics is making replications of the data in DBMS’s for safety purposes. The data center  people want to use their mechanism and the DBMS people want to use theirs. There is a clear right answer, but it only wins sometimes.

One of the key things people who write applications want is for them to “scale,” i.e., be able to handle any load without slowing down. The way some systems applications are built, based on decades-old designs, can get in the way. But there are solutions.

People also want their applications to continue to be available in the event of data center failure. For people working in data centers, there are perverse incentives at work.

To be fair to data center managers, applications originally written decades ago expect to be able to run in modern data centers. It’s tough!

Way back in 2015, it was clear that hardware had evolved to make dramatic improvements possible in software.

With software people ignorantly focused on network-connected services as the way to build scalable applications, they assure that the incredible hardware power will be minimally utilized.

Network neutrality was a hot topic and still comes up. The idea is that everyone should be charged the same for internet access and services. When you dig into the subject with actual knowledge of the technology, you see that the whole furor by virtue-signaling ignorance.

One of the arguments made about net neutrality and legal privacy provisions was unusually divorced from reality.

Years later, a weak form of net neutrality was repealed. There were demonstrations with US Senators making predictions about the disaster that would ensure. Here’s an analysis of the non-disaster a year later.