Click here to close now.


Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, Ian Khan, Jason Bloomberg, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Microservices Expo

Microservices Expo: Article

IaaS - Infrastructure as a Service a Threat or a Weapon?

A large part of the answer is a new concept in hardware and data storage known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

With the proliferation of computers and data in the business world, it's time the IT department had a strategic weapon that will enable it to operate with the same flexibility as other departments and with more financial transparency. A large part of the answer is a new concept in hardware and data storage known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Every year at budget time, IT executives play the same old guessing game. How much will the company grow in the coming year, and what IT assets will it need to support that growth? A mistake in either direction can be financially disastrous and career ending since companies are increasingly holding managers' feet to the fire about meeting their targets.
Guessing too high, based on sanguine business projections that may not pan out, or lack of good planning data burdens a company with expensive hardware that may sit underutilized or IT staff that may need to be downsized.

Guessing too low can mean a scramble midway through the year to squeeze existing inadequate computing and storage capacity to their limits, endangering the business's ability to sustain growth and creating an overwhelmed staff that may find it easier to seek employment elsewhere.

The many crucial jobs IT performs for a company are hard enough - provisioning employees and keeping their workstations up and running; protecting data to meet the stringent requirements imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, PCI, and other regulations; managing data recovery and business continuity; and so on. The risk of operating with inadequate resources or burning unnecessarily through corporate funds are unwelcome addenda to the IT department's burden.

Now imagine a world where you can scale your IT capacity up or down on command without any capital expenditure. Imagine knowing that all your data is safely backed up and can be restored in hours, even if it's totally wiped out. Imagine being able to free your highly skilled IT staff to work on value-added tasks such as development and planning, instead of chasing bugs and installing patches ad infinitum. And now, as the executive in charge of your IT division, imagine doubling your personal market value (read salary) as you free yourself from tactical concerns and build a path to fulfilling a more strategic corporate role than ever before.

This world exists. It's enabled by a new business concept based on virtualizing the IT environment and is called Infrastructure as a Service. IaaS extends the remote hosting concept of Software as a Service (SaaS) to hardware.

If IaaS is a fairly new concept to you let me provide a basic understanding. Fundamentally, IaaS provides IT resources - processing power, storage, data center space, services, compliance - on-demand, enabling IT to bill these services as a variable fixed cost.

The interest in IaaS can be attributed to significant increases in IT-enabled business models such as e-commerce, Web 2.0 and SaaS, which drive demand, and by advances in technology that enable it, including virtualization, utility computing, and data center automation.

Just-in-Time power and computing capacity sounds like a dream come true to many people, yet to others it might sound like a nightmare in which they lose control of their IT environment, or worse, become redundant themselves as computing tasks are offloaded to an outside supplier. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, IaaS can be viewed as the newest strategic weapon in the IT arsenal, rather than a threat.

Weapon 1: The IT Administrator Takes a More Strategic Role
According to Forrester Research's 2007 worldwide PC adoption forecast, "There will be more than a billion PCs in use by the end of 2008 and more than two billion by 2015 - a 12.3% compound annual growth rate." With that kind of explosive growth in the computer sector, it's clear that the IT administrator's scope of responsibility is going to change dramatically.

When you hire an IT administrator you don't want someone who just knows how to log into a Windows box, find his way around, and get little things to work. You want someone who understands the big picture, who can grasp the importance of the 200 or 2,000 computers in use at your company and how they all operate together, and can manage them as a fleet. That's the Infrastructure as a Service model.

When administrators can manage five to 10 times the number of devices they're managing today, it might sound like a fast track to downsizing, but the real equation is the availability of trained staff in today's IT market, and how best to utilize their talents. As we know, there's a shortage of IT skills, so what companies need is a weapon that will enable them to recruit and retain good people. Since we can't educate new people fast enough, there's also a need for professionals who understand how to do more with less.
IaaS is the enabler.

At some point in their careers, IT people realize that they can only exert their influence or philosophy on things they can touch directly. Without a disruptive change, such as scripting or data center automation, their touch is their limitation. The administrators of tomorrow will need to understand how to manage hundreds or even thousands of devices. IaaS doesn't take away responsibility, but adds a strategic dimension to the job of IT, making managers more marketable, because they're now accustomed to working at a higher level.

The idea of a one-server-to-one-administrator model is gone. The only people likely to be threatened by this concept are those who are comfortable with their limitations.

Weapon 2: It Gets Aligned with the Core Business
Every executive wishes IT would be better aligned with and able to support the core business strategy. Today's businesses realize that IT isn't just a tool to help, but is a critical part of day-to-day operations and frequently instrumental in delivering the end product. With e-commerce, B2B portals, EDI, IP phone systems, and even e-mail, today's applications are fully integrated into the business, so it's critical that they behave the way the business does.

The first step to business alignment is cost control. No additional IT dollars should be spent unless it makes a positive impact on revenue. With IaaS and its variable but predictable monthly costs, you can manage spending on a monthly instead of an annual basis.

IaaS enables a whole new and more transparent way of accounting for IT. Today, IT is one line item. You know what you spend on all of your servers, all of the labor to maintain those servers, all of the power, and so on. You tote it up and allocate it by business unit. In the IaaS model, precise usage and costs are transparent down to the resource level - blade servers, operating systems, storage.

Because these resources are modular and transparent, IT can begin to tie utilization more closely to the bill that each business unit receives. This creates a closer link between what the business unit spends and the "service" it gets. Once that link is established, IT can begin to change business unit behavior away from "all-you-can-eat" to prioritization and cost/benefit.

More Stories By Pat O'Day

Pat O’Day is CTO and co-founder of Bluelock, a certified VMware vCloud Datacenter provider of Virtual Datacenters hosted in the public cloud, and is responsible for commercializing and making the company’s Infrastructure-as-as-Service (IaaS) model a business reality. With almost 20 years of IT infrastructure experience, he holds countless certifications and serves as a technical advisor and conference speaker for industry-leading technology companies including IBM, VMware, F5, Shavlik and LeftHand Networks. He is also the co-founder and former president of the local Association of Internet Professionals and a former board member of the technology peer group for TechPoint, Indiana’s only statewide information technology association.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty ...
One of the most important tenets of digital transformation is that it’s customer-driven. In fact, the only reason technology is involved at all is because today’s customers demand technology-based interactions with the companies they do business with. It’s no surprise, therefore, that we at Intellyx agree with Patrick Maes, CTO, ANZ Bank, when he said, “the fundamental element in digital transformation is extreme customer centricity.” So true – but note the insightful twist that Maes adde...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Su...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningf...
Using any programming framework to the fullest extent possible first requires an understanding of advanced software architecture concepts. While writing a little client-side JavaScript does not necessarily require as much consideration when designing a scalable software architecture, the evolution of tools like Node.js means that you could be facing large code bases that must be easy to maintain.
People want to get going with DevOps or Continuous Delivery, but need a place to start. Others are already on their way, but need some validation of their choices. A few months ago, I published the first volume of DevOps and Continuous Delivery reference architectures which has now been viewed over 50,000 times on SlideShare (it's free to registration required). Three things helped people in the deck: (1) the reference architectures, (2) links to the sources for each architectur...
You may have heard about the pets vs. cattle discussion – a reference to the way application servers are deployed in the cloud native world. If an application server goes down it can simply be dropped from the mix and a new server added in its place. The practice so far has mostly been applied to application deployments. Management software on the other hand is treated in a very special manner. Dedicated resources are set aside to run the management software components and several alerting syst...
Hiring the wrong candidate can cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars, and result in lost profit and productivity during the search for a replacement. In fact, the Harvard Business Review has found that as much as 80 percent of turnover is caused by bad hiring decisions. But when your organization has implemented DevOps, the job is about more than just technical chops. It’s also about core behaviors: how they work with others, how they make decisions, and how those decisions translate t...
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion...
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at, explored the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and provided a hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He examined three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. Asaf Yigal is co-founder and VP of Product at log analytics software company In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facin...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, San...
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem"...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNu...