My visit to the new Brocade development center in Bangalore on April 16, and the briefings I’ve had with some IT solutions providers in the last two years, have given me a vision of the future of IT.
There were times when it would take days or months to make modifications to an organization’s IT infrastructure — whenever a new project came along and called for resources. Additional storage had to be procured and installed. More servers (compute) needed to be deployed. And then there were switches, routers and cabling to deal with. Then network admin or software specialists had to look into the middleware, the operating system, and the applications. In fact, there was a specialist for each aspect of the IT infrastructure.
So when a new project came along, or when business suddenly peaked, there were demands to scale up the IT infrastructure. And the aforementioned specialists had to be called in to make all the changes in the infrastructure, in accordance with the resource requirements.
I can imagine how much pressure all this put on the CIO/CTO. The business was making all these demands, but the business leaders just had to wait.
Then cloud computing services (Amazon Web Services, Rackspace and now IBM) cam along. And IT infrastructure was available as a service, on a rental basis. So the line of business heads, bypassed the internal IT department and went to the cloud and bought services using their credit cards. The CMO, for instance, procured a lot of Digital Marketing tools and services from the cloud. And then the CHRO and others started doing the same. And IT budget was shared among various factions — it wasn’t just the CIO who was taking decisions now.
So the organizations IT assets and information began to get dispersed. The CIO, of course, will have a lot to say about that. Who will take responsibility for securing the organizations data assets?
THE NEW ORDER
Well, I see the same Cloud model moving back into the organization. Right now, line-of-business (LOB) heads are helping themselves to IT services off the cloud. But I see that happening within the walls of an organization — or in technical terms, “behind the firewall”. So we are talking about Private Clouds.
And how will the deployment of IT infrastructure be simplified and hastened?
Increased virtualization in the data center and something called the “fabric” is enabling all this.
With fabrics, virtualized networks and virtualized switches, on sets up all the networking infrastructure just once. And since everything is virtualized (servers, storage, networking) changes are now easier to make. And it’s all a drag and drop affair, using GUIs and simple interfaces, as I witnessed for myself last week.
So, when a new project comes along, virtual machines (VMs) can be deployed just by defining a few parameters. The Brocade demo showed that VMs can be deployed in a matter of minutes.
To do a project you need compute, storage, and networking — and applications (workloads). In the virtualized world, these are provided in the form of VMs.
VMs can be deployed quickly, configurations can be changed on-the-fly and VMs can be moved between actual physical servers. And the VMs can reside on physical servers that are in different locations. This is all transparent to the end-user who does not notice any latency or lag.
So if a particular physical server has to be taken down for maintenance or is hit by a virus, all the VMs and workloads can be transferred to another physical server in a few seconds. And business continues, uninterrupted.
What’s more, end-users do not have to scratch their heads to figure out how much compute, storage and network bandwidth they need. For there is a catalog of such packages — or combos. Simply choose one of the packages and deploy it.
I think the CIOs and all the LOB heads are going to love this!
IT is coming back into the organization.
Everyone, keep your credit cards handy. We’re going to order combos from the private cloud for our projects!
Happy Meals, anyone?