02 Jan Access Trumps Ownership
Not exactly a crazy thing to do as most people own cars for one reason or another. Getting to work each day is as good a reason as any other. I had a specific set of requirements (to get myself to work) and owning a car met those requirements.
Let’s say that the requirements were more broad, something like “travel between two points on Earth” and I felt an automobile was the method that would best meet these requirements. How many options do I have with regards to utilizing an automobile?
Let’s consider a few:
- I could purchase all of the necessary parts and assemble the car myself.
- I could purchase or lease a car that was already made (this is the typical option most of us choose).
- I could rent or borrow a car (or hitchhike, I suppose).
All of the above options are viable as they will all allow for me to travel between two places. Some options will be easier than others. For example renting a car is a lot easier than assembling a car myself, piece by agonizing piece. None of the options mentioned include maintenance and repair, either. I could choose to be my own mechanic, or I could find my own mechanic, or I could bring it to a designated dealer.
No matter who I decide will perform maintenance and repair on my car these additional costs are often not considered when trying to find a solution that meets the original requirements. This can be fixed in the simple example above by modifying the requirements to include the phrase “for the lowest annual cost”. We would then need to consider things like gas prices, driving habits, etc. And yes, I do want you to hear the words “scope creep” in your head right now.
Now imagine, if you will, the very thought that you would buy all of the pieces to a car, build it yourself, and be your own mechanic afterwards just in an effort to get from one place to another.
Your Company Owns Everything
Let’s talk hardware and software.
If I want to use an instance of SQL Server today I have three main options:
- I could purchase all of the parts and assemble the instance myself (typically referred to as on-premises installations).
- I could build a virtual machine using a service such as Windows Azure (this is IaaS – Infrastructure-as-a-Service).
- I could use a hosted database such as Windows Azure SQL Database (this is PaaS – Platform-as-a-Service, and also called DBaaS or Database-as-a-Service).
Option 1 is essentially the same thing as buying the parts for a car and assembling it yourself. As crazy as that may sound, somehow this is the default for how business is done today. We purchase all the parts, as well as the mechanics! We hire a DBA, a developer, an architect, etc.
Ideally the model we would want is similar to where we purchase something already made, like an appliance of sorts. In this case that would be the use of a virtual machine hosted by a provider such as Windows Azure. In fact, I can spin up a Windows Azure virtual machine in less than five minutes running Windows 2012 with SQL 2014 CTP2, 7GB RAM, and 4 cores. How fast can your company make that happen with a physical server?
And by using this method I will save a lot of money. Not just on hardware, but time spent installing and configuration of servers, software, and licensing. Don’t forget any disaster recovery or high availability solutions, as those add costs also.
What about renting? Renting a car would make more sense than buying one. In fact, Zip cars are becoming common, used by people who only need the benefits of a car without the hassles of ownership. In fact, when the Holidays are here and you need to move 39 family members from around the globe, renting (planes, trains, automobiles) wins out over buying.
But can I rent a database?
Turns out the answer is yes. With platforms such as Windows Azure SQL Database I don’t need to own anything, I just pay for a service, like I would for a utility. I don’t own the electricity, I pay for what I use.
And that’s the key point here. Ownership isn’t as important as you might think.
Access Trumps Ownership
Having access to a car is more important than owning a car. Likewise, having access to a database is often more important than owning one. I would also suggest that having access to a data architect is more important than owning one, since data architects usually just sit around inside of a country club drawing boxes and lines in between glasses of Scotch anyway.
My colleague at SolarWinds, Jerry Eshbaugh (@Eshbaugh), used the example of Spotify when he told me the phrase “access trumps ownership”. With Spotify you pay a flat fee each month for access to an entire library of songs. You don’t own the songs. Most people don’t care to own the songs anyway, they just want access to them.
Starving people don’t need to own food, they need access to food. I hear about how important it is for people to have access to clean drinking water, I never hear about how they need to *own* clean drinking water.
Our world of IT is just now starting to understand how much value there is in being able to access what they need as opposed to owning it all.
We don’t need to buy, build, and play mechanic anymore. We now have the option to lease/rent/borrow what we need.
Access trumps ownership, for many things, on many levels.
UPDATED: I’ve been told that the phrase “access trumps ownership” is from Lisa Ganskey (blog | @instigating) and can be found in her book: The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing, you can read more about it here. It’s a great phrase and one I believe is quite applicable to the world of data.