Dropbox Moving Data IN-House shows everyone it’s about the best solution, not the newest buzzword

Today Dropbox released a blog post announcing their multi-year effort to bring their file storage in-house and almost completely off of Amazon S3. They have kept their metadata services in-house since the beginning. Had they not announced it, nobody except Amazon and Dropbox would have known.

The very definition of a successful IT Engineering project.

During this simple blog post they also highlighted what truly competent IT Operations staff do every day.

  1. They used the best tools for the job to solve their problem.

    When Dropbox started they had nowhere near the expertise to build out a storage infrastructure that would scale at a pace to suite their customers’ needs. So they used Amazon S3 to solve their scalability issues. It worked like a dream.

    And all the while they were gathering data and figuring out what was important to their application from the view of their infrastructure.

  2. They adapted as they learned more

    Dropbox has grown to over half-a-billion users and 500 petabytes of data since 2008.

    They started their ‘Magic Pocket’ project to bring their data in-house in 2013. That means they have SPENT HALF OF THEIR COMPANY’S LIFE WORKING ON THIS SOLUTION.

    They spent years cultivating data on how to build the best-performing infrastructure for their unique use case. And then they spent years developing it. In a world consumed with ‘release early, release often’ they decided to take the tack that defined success for them.

  3. They didn’t get caught up in buzzwords.

    Obviously they haven’t released details on this new infrastructure. But I would bet anyone lunch that this infrastructure isn’t ‘hyperconverged’. It’s going to end up being a properly tuned, layered, robust infrastructure.

    They also didn’t ‘rush to the cloud’. They actually moved AWAY from Amazon. While they will adopt a Hybrid Cloud approach for at least some of their regions (details were a little fuzzy), they have in-housed 90% of their data at this point.

Dropbox IS a cloud application. It has an API, and mobile apps, and a clean interface and everything else a cloudy thing is supposed to have. But here they are solving their problems with a good solution tailored to their needs instead of the latest buzzword. There’s no school like the old school. Sometimes. As long as the old school is in a container to future-proof it.


Above All, Be your Best and Solve Problems

I don’t often talk about my career path, mostly because it was a massive pain for me and my family.  While I’m approaching the point I want to be at for this time in my life (I think), I had to do it in an abbreviated time span. I’ve been in IT for a total of 7 years, and I’m 35.

I saw an article on LinkedIn, here, earlier tonight. I’m sure J.T. O’Donnel is a good career coach, but I just can’t agree with her idea that a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ is not able to be hired in today’s IT market.

Generalists are invaluable. They are the glue that binds together the troubleshooting and investigative processes. For reasons passing understanding, businesses don’t want to do away with knowledge silos all the time. That’s when you need a generalist to bridge the gaps. Of course you have to have specialists, but that’s not all you need.

Instead of fretting about proving a specialty, spend your time in excelling at the problems presented to you and growing your experience both in depth and breadth.

Oh, and work harder than everyone around you. 😉

A new theroem for the IT world at large

We have Moore’s Law

And Asimov’s Laws

And even Hellekson’s Law

I am proposing a new theorem, in the hopes that it will be accepted one day by my colleagues and considered a law of our land:

Duncan’s Theorem:

When being introduced to an IT professional for the first time, if that professional indicates the number of years they’ve “been working in IT” (or similar) within the first 3 minutes of conversation without prompting, their effectiveness as a colleague will be inversely proportional to the number of years experience they claim.