Bathwater and Hyperscalers

Russ White recently wrote an interesting blog post claiming how we should not ignore any particular technology just because it was invented by a hyperscaler illustrating his point with a half-dozen technologies that were first used by NASA.

However, there are “a few” details he glossed over:

  • We’re most probably NOT using the exact technologies NASA used in space program. We’re using derivative products someone spent a lot of time adapting to consumer environment. When someone takes a technology developed by a hyperscaler and turns that into something adapted to more typical requirements (example: Nutanix) it might be a great product. Taking something Google or Facebook uses just because they open-sourced it (usually not to gain karma points) might make a bit less sense.
  • We don’t have the same scale, and can’t make the same design decisions. It’s OK to have single-connected servers and one subnet per ToR switch (and your own routing protocol) if you’re Amazon, Facebook or Google… but not if you have two switches and 50 servers.
  • A lot of the technologies hyperscalers love to talk about are nothing else but thinly-disguised marketing or recruitment drives. Watch a few AWS re:Invent or Microsoft Ignite sessions… or almost any conference talk by Google engineers and try to figure out how to use their ideas in your network, and you’ll quickly figure out the missing crucial details.

On the other hand, do read CloudFlare or Fastly engineering blog posts - even though they always mention that they’re hiring (and that’s perfectly OK) you could almost take what they described and use it in your own environment should you be inclined to do so.

But yeah, apart from these minor details never use a technology just because someone hip uses it, and never ignore something just because its current users aren’t your peers. Too many people got burned doing one or the other (or both).


  1. Yeah I agree with Russ that Linkedin could still learn a lot from other hyperscalers. Maybe one day they will get there.
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