|By Pat O'Day||
|October 11, 2007 10:45 PM EDT||
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.
Before becoming a developer, I was in the high school band. I played several brass instruments - including French horn and cornet - as well as keyboards in the jazz stage band. A musician and a nerd, what can I say? I even dabbled in writing music for the band. Okay, mostly I wrote arrangements of pop music, so the band could keep the crowd entertained during Friday night football games. What struck me then was that, to write parts for all the instruments - brass, woodwind, percussion, even k...
Jul. 28, 2016 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,258
This digest provides an overview of good resources that are well worth reading. We’ll be updating this page as new content becomes available, so I suggest you bookmark it. Also, expect more digests to come on different topics that make all of our IT-hearts go boom!
Jul. 28, 2016 12:30 AM EDT Reads: 3,690
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor – all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
Jul. 28, 2016 12:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,231
SYS-CON Events announced today that Isomorphic Software will exhibit at DevOps Summit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Isomorphic Software provides the SmartClient HTML5/AJAX platform, the most advanced technology for building rich, cutting-edge enterprise web applications for desktop and mobile. SmartClient combines the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simp...
Jul. 27, 2016 10:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,152
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Jul. 27, 2016 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,665
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Yoseph Reuveni, Director of Software Engineering at Jet.com, will discuss Jet.com's journey into containerizing Microsoft-based technologies like C# and F# into Docker. He will talk about lessons learned and challenges faced, the Mono framework tryout and how they deployed everything into Azure cloud. Yoseph Reuveni is a technology leader with unique experience developing and running high throughput (over 1M tps) distributed systems with extre...
Jul. 27, 2016 09:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,172
Sharding has become a popular means of achieving scalability in application architectures in which read/write data separation is not only possible, but desirable to achieve new heights of concurrency. The premise is that by splitting up read and write duties, it is possible to get better overall performance at the cost of a slight delay in consistency. That is, it takes a bit of time to replicate changes initiated by a "write" to the read-only master database. It's eventually consistent, and it'...
Jul. 27, 2016 08:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,214
There's a lot of things we do to improve the performance of web and mobile applications. We use caching. We use compression. We offload security (SSL and TLS) to a proxy with greater compute capacity. We apply image optimization and minification to content. We do all that because performance is king. Failure to perform can be, for many businesses, equivalent to an outage with increased abandonment rates and angry customers taking to the Internet to express their extreme displeasure.
Jul. 27, 2016 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,609
Right off the bat, Newman advises that we should "think of microservices as a specific approach for SOA in the same way that XP or Scrum are specific approaches for Agile Software development". These analogies are very interesting because my expectation was that microservices is a pattern. So I might infer that microservices is a set of process techniques as opposed to an architectural approach. Yet in the book, Newman clearly includes some elements of concept model and architecture as well as p...
Jul. 27, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 9,727
No matter how well-built your applications are, countless issues can cause performance problems, putting the platforms they are running on under scrutiny. If you've moved to Node.js to power your applications, you may be at risk of these issues calling your choice into question. How do you identify vulnerabilities and mitigate risk to take the focus off troubleshooting the technology and back where it belongs, on innovation? There is no doubt that Node.js is one of today's leading platforms of ...
Jul. 27, 2016 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 319
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Jul. 27, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,234
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools have cloud orchestration plugins that can be leveraged, but there are also cloud-native tools that can dramatically improve the efficiency of managing your application lifecycle. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, ...
Jul. 27, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,094
Ovum, a leading technology analyst firm, has published an in-depth report, Ovum Decision Matrix: Selecting a DevOps Release Management Solution, 2016–17. The report focuses on the automation aspects of DevOps, Release Management and compares solutions from the leading vendors.
Jul. 27, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,762
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
Jul. 27, 2016 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,385
Let's just nip the conflation of these terms in the bud, shall we?
"MIcro" is big these days. Both microservices and microsegmentation are having and will continue to have an impact on data center architecture, but not necessarily for the same reasons. There's a growing trend in which folks - particularly those with a network background - conflate the two and use them to mean the same thing.
They are not.
One is about the application. The other, the network. T...
Jul. 27, 2016 04:30 AM EDT Reads: 3,606
This is a no-hype, pragmatic post about why I think you should consider architecting your next project the way SOA and/or microservices suggest. No matter if it’s a greenfield approach or if you’re in dire need of refactoring. Please note: considering still keeps open the option of not taking that approach. After reading this, you will have a better idea about whether building multiple small components instead of a single, large component makes sense for your project. This post assumes that you...
Jul. 27, 2016 03:45 AM EDT Reads: 4,213
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Am...
Jul. 27, 2016 02:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,309
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Jul. 27, 2016 02:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,625
If you are within a stones throw of the DevOps marketplace you have undoubtably noticed the growing trend in Microservices. Whether you have been staying up to date with the latest articles and blogs or you just read the definition for the first time, these 5 Microservices Resources You Need In Your Life will guide you through the ins and outs of Microservices in today’s world.
Jul. 27, 2016 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 4,080
Jul. 26, 2016 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 3,909