Monday, June 16, 2014

Bye bye tower

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For over 8 years I’ve used the above tower machine in a range of roles. I bought it for around $800 initially and used it to run my Hyper-V servers, both production and testing. I eliminated the production requirements of the Hyper V machine by moving them to the cloud (e.g, this blog used to run on a SharePoint site I had running on that machine). The test machines I migrated on Virtual Box running on a big HP Envy 17” laptop so they would be at least portable.

Once its life as a Hyper V host was over I reprovisioned the box to run Windows desktop operating system for a while.

Recently, I was considering getting a replacement for this machine to run everything plus some more virtual testing machines. However, as I outlined in this blog post:

I finally get Azure

When I stopped and thought about what I actually wanted to do I realized I could do everything I needed to in the cloud using something like Azure for the high end grunt for my virtual testing environment.

That meant I no longer needed to spend the $2,500 or so buying a new desktop, Azure would be far more cost effective since I simply turn off the the Azure virtual machines when I don’t need them so it costs me next to nothing.

After that epiphany, and without the need to replace this tower, my thoughts turned to whether I actually needed that machine at all. To make sure, I switched it off and started to use my Surface Pro as my main machine.

After two weeks, and having not turned the old tower box on, I knew I no longer required its services. It has now been wiped and is appearing on eBay looking for a new owner.

This $800 piece of hardware as served me well over the years. In that time it only blew its power supply twice for a grand total of about $150 for parts to repair. When I bought the box initially I toyed with the idea of buying a name brand server and building my ‘date centre’ on that but then I decided to take the opposite path and get the cheapest thing possible and see how long it lasted.

Well 8 years later it is running without an issue and would make anyone a fine workstation. But you know what? This machine has once again confirmed to me why the cloud is fast becoming the solution for more and more IT ‘stuff’. So much so that I no longer need this tower machine, I can use my Surface, Azure and Office 365.

Since I have simplified my own IT and moved more stuff to the cloud I have have cut my power bill by more than 50%. I expect that to fall even further without this tower machine being on most of the day. I have more space under my desk, my office is less noisy and I don’t keep kicking it accidentally either!

This however is not the end of my minimization quest. Next on the list is my long serving HP Envy 17”, which currently needs an external fan blowing on it to keep it cool enough to rest your hand on. With all my testing machine now in Azure and accessible on any device just about I no longer have need for it either. So when I can get a Surface 3 Pro that HP machine will also be looking for a new home.

When I take look back to the time when I had over 6 independent servers running on unique hardware doing different things, a desktop, a laptop, etc to what minimal equipment I have now but with more power, functionality and flexibility thanks to the cloud, I can only imagine what the future holds.

However, like I said, my process is not complete yet. The HP Envy 17” is now on borrowed time and I look forward to further falls in my next electricity bill.