Training and Development

Uber to take cash sting out of datacentre language mess

“Every CIO in the world has already moved or is in the process of moving to the cloud,” wrote Dean Nelson, head of Uber compute, in a LinkedIn in post to launch Infrastructure Masons last year. “It is now the default, but many overlook the critical link between the software running in these clouds and the physical infrastructure they are built upon.”

Nelson knows what he is talking about. He previously managed infrastructure at auction giant eBay and now has an even bigger job at Uber (which he joined at about the same time as launching Infrastructure Masons). In this role he oversees the entire background engine of the ride sharing behemoth, a job which only gets tougher as the volume of data increases.   

When I speak to him over the phone, unsurprisingly, he is reluctant to talk about the high profile issues which have been dogging Uber all over the media. The one thing he does say is just how much he wanted to work at Uber and how proud he is of the way the internal team is dealing with problems so openly.

The two themes he does want to pick up on are firstly, there is a big brand problem within the industry as a whole, which hinders its ability to source the best talent and means a bunch of fast-aging men currently run the show. This is the point of Infrastructure Masons, he explains, as there isn’t much “for the individuals” who build the foundation for the cloud. His second big point is the lack insight and accountability into the way datacentre space is sold and explained to companies.

“You can’t get an apples to apples comparison of datacentres,” says Nelson. Most of the information available is “marketing fluff”. Datacentre providers make a lot of unsubstantiated claims to organisations, he adds. “In other industries it would be fraud.”

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