Social Servers

The twenty-first century has brought with it the rise of virtualization and cloud computing, along with the ascent of social media. Nowadays, it appears that a solid majority of people have participated in some sort of social media outlet, such as Facebook, Twitter, Yammer, SocialCast, and SnapChat, just to name a few. There is no arguing that there aren’t a number of good things about social media, like the ability to more easily keep in touch with family and friends, but have you ever considered the idea of using social media to keep in touch with your servers? Could having social servers be beneficial in your environment?

Recently, I have been working on adding social server updates to the automation in the cloud. I have been considering the notion of starting a thread with the birth or deployment of a server and adding automated updates to that thread throughout the lifecycle of the server. The idea is that this could give the day to day operations people, application and infrastructure owners, and any interested party the ability to search for and obtain information on the state of a resource. Many types of information could be posted and tracked, from things like performance to patching information. Information that the customer deems important could be requested and posted with the automation in the data center.

Obviously, not all social media would be good outlets for social servers. I would not want my server informational updates posted on Twitter for the world to see or posted to SnapChat, as that the update would delete itself after a few moments. However, Yammer and SocialCast, which are geared toward business, would be proper and prudent places for these kinds of updates. The question is, do we really want or need to have social servers?

Unless you have automation in your environment, this kind of solution would not be practical, as you would need to have a person whose time was dedicated to making updates. But for the cloud, especially the IaaS type of cloud, social servers could really benefit the services they provide. I do not see the support team taking advantage of the information as much as the users or customers would. How often does the average user have access to real-time performance statistics and SNMP alerts? Although there are always exceptions to the rule, for the most part they do not, unless they specifically request certain things. With social media updates, customers would have the ability to request and acquire information and updates automatically and instantaneously on demand. This just complements their ability to request and receive their servers on demand.

Is this going to be a positive solution for most? No, but this type of thing is completely hypervisor-vendor neutral, and it offers an interesting way to provide additional services to our customers by taking further advantage of the automation already in place. I think social servers have found a great niche currently, and I think this might make some headway into more and more data centers, but I’m not quite sure whether this idea and use case will go mainstream. Nevertheless, I really think that it will provide a great service for some.

Have you friended your server yet?

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