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

InformationWeek - - Opinion -

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!

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