As IT goes through waves of transformation every decade (Mainframe in ‘70s => Cloud today) the core CIO/business drivers of TCO and business agility remain as primary metrics pacing adoption. In the Cloud “wave,” I see three converging trends that will dictate how solutions will be architected and deployed.
1) Open & extensible – The operating mantra of any CIO is choice, avoiding vendor lock-in and rock solid life-cycle support. Enter the poster child – OpenStack (OS), which is fueling this revolution with their latest software release “Grizzly.” The technical contributors and the emerging OS “distros” (e.g. Rackspace/Alamo), who are guaranteeing support and integration services, form the foundation of this new ecosystem. EMC has embraced OS by developing core storage plug-ins and forging key distro partnerships for scale. Nicira, an acquisition made by VMware (VMW) in July 2012 has been a pioneer in this space from day one and has led the OS/Network controller specification. Quantum and VMW have enhanced the ESX plug-in for Nova (compute specification with Grizzly).
Solution architects now have the ability to manage heterogeneous infrastructure environments as shared resource pools; provided the underlying technologies support the OS specification. Almost all leading Service Providers and of-late leading IT shops (notably the Financial Services Industry) are in some form of planning or execution of this framework.
2) Application “aware” cloud services – Provisioning and management of compute infrastructure (as a service) is now table stakes both in private and public clouds as more than 50 percent of Fortune 1000 enterprise servers are virtualized. Application “aware” or context based self-service and management is emerging as the new differentiator driving time to solution (agility) and operational costs. Case in point – SAP’s Landscape Virtualization Manager (LVM) now integrated with vSphere/EMC storage has the ability to provision and snap/clone directly from the “lens” of the SAP solution administrator with one or two clicks! The detailed execution complexity of the infrastructure is completely masked and automated in the background “in context.” Wouldn’t it be cool to have this as a standard capability for all core applications like Oracle, SAP and Microsoft? I would encourage you to attend EMCWorld 2013 to hear more about EMC’s plans in this space.
3) Converged Infrastructure (CI) as a game changer for TCO and operational simplification – VCE/vBlock is the market leader on the high end of CI driving dramatic operational efficiencies, simplicity and lower TCO into customer data centers. Riding on this CI philosophy is a wave of emerging startups that are driving a disruption in TCO and ease of use with scalable host based application and data services on standard COTS hardware. Application independent software vendors like SAP and Oracle are driving purpose built software appliances (Hana, Exadata) as their control points. These big bets being made by large and small ecosystem players validate the disruptive value CI delivers on TCO, workload performance and ease of deployment for the end customer.
As these three trends converge, there is a fundamental shift in thinking on how end-users and the entire eco-system look at enterprise architecture. OS/Open “interoperability” will be a pre-requisite for having a seat at the table with the CIO and certainly the Service Provider. CI will be an ubiquitous data center building block, defined by workload and managed from the application lens.