Disruptive technologies and innovations that will shape IT infrastructure in 2014 and beyond Eventually, the whole infrastructure will move towards sophisticated automation, which will enable ‘self-healing’ data centers of the future
In the last few years, there have been unprecedented changes in the way we look at infrastructure due to disruptive innovations in the IT infrastructure space. But before we start discussing technologies that will shape enterprises in the future, let’s revisit the journey for past couple of decades in this space.
Traditionally, IT infrastructure has always been just a ‘rigid’ layer of hardware boxes installed in a data center. The core innovation in the IT infrastructure space was only in making this layer more powerful in terms of higher processing power, more capacity in terms of memory, internal and external storage. Similarly, on the networks front it was more towards making the networks faster and creating powerful switches, which could handle multiple functions at the same time making some traditional network components redundant.
Later the growing importance of BCP and DR, or better RTOs and RPOs made emergence of storage technology as the next big thing. It brought more capacity, resilience and scalability but at a premium price and vendor lock-ins due to their proprietary controllers and software. IT infrastructure was always lacking the charm of ‘software world, which was more agile, interoperable and smarter.
Then came the era of virtualization, which is inarguably the most disruptive technology of the decade. It all started with servers and then network and storage. Virtualization brought the software touch to the hardware world, eventually making cloud computing a reality. Virtualization enabled to run a workload in real-time irrespective of underlying hardware type, make or model. It also allowed workloads running to be moved from one hardware resource pool to another even if they were across data centres.
Now, we are in ‘software defined’ age where everything within a data center is becoming software defined including the data center itself! Software defined infrastructure brings together programmability and interoperability, which are key building blocks of today’s cloud computing platforms. The compute, network and storage now work together as a cohesive unit, which can be transformed and moulded in real-time to suit the needs of today’s demanding workloads. This infrastructure layer is massively scalable and can be spread across multiple sites. This is crucial for ‘Zero Downtime’ feature, which will be inherently offered by the future Software Defined Data Centres (SDDCs). This infrastructure can be provisioned in real time and complex workflows can be orchestrated bringing in optimal utilization, which was impossible in the past. Along with this scalability and interoperability, it also brings a massive shift in the way we manage and operate infrastructure.
IT operations can now be controlled centrally — automation, API-based orchestration, provisioning and management play a key role to enable this. IT administration can be simplified through automated policy-based management without any constraints of underlying physical hardware. The processes can be based on predefined rule-sets, SLAs and everchanging business needs. As we are moving forward, the ‘software defined’ phenomena will go beyond compute, storage and networks. It may go over to every element that exists in a data center be it power, HVAC, security and fire control systems, etc.
Eventually, the whole infrastructure will move towards sophisticated automation, which will enable ‘selfhealing’ data centers of the future. The age of newer platforms like OpenStack, CloudStack, OpeRack and DevOps, to name a few, are bringing in sea change to the IT infrastructure. And this is just the beginning!