Lead the Transfomation

Speaking with customers everyday the most common thing I see the infrastructure teams struggle with is how do we get from X to Z. We are virtualizing first. Evaluating tier 1 apps as VM’s. Migrating non-essential services to the cloud. As an overall strategy how do I get from what I have, to where I want to go? While there are many topics to get you going on this path, from management and orchestration to improved monitoring and security. One thing we as infrastructure guys often forget to ask is, “Are our applications ready for the future?” Many of the off the shelf applications are just fine for many of our use cases today will they still be viable in 5-10 years? Can we take a design that was created from a physical silo, virtualize it, and hope to be cloud ready? Maybe. How can we think in a new way about our applications? Currently we take our application and think of it this way:

20120509-100452.jpg It consumes parts of these buckets. Physical or Virtual, the application is bound by the contraints of a general purpose OS accessing some sort of physical resources that are bound a physical RU in a datacenter. So even as we look to build out like this:

20120509-104434.jpg We take the same solutions that we used in the physical world in order to provide scale and high availability. Mainly clustering. Does clustering provide actually cloud enabled applications? Most likely not. We look to the new bubble of dot com innovators for solutions to the boxes the old guard of application vendors have locked us in. I am not going negative on any current application but rather trying to challenge us to think beyond the way we have always done things. So if we want to move towards a new model, public, private or hybrid cloud. It would be in the best interest of the infrastructure teams to lead the charge and provide thought leadership when moving applications to a cloud. I would argue in the near future you do not want to be the one that is seemingly hugging your infrastructure. It is always better to be leading the change than roadblocking it, especially when the change will drive the business to the next level of service capabilities.

20120509-105917.jpg So a few questions to start asking:

  • What does my data actually look like?

  • How does the business use the rows and columns to function?

  • Are all application decisions made in a room walled in by current capabilites?

  • How are we going to deliver applications with a new model? (think mobile)

  • At what point do we need to expand the foundation of what we are built on in order to increase our effectiveness in the market?

  • In 5 years do I want to be working on plumbing of the datacenter or have enough agility and scalability built in where I can drive innovation rather than daily maintenance?

Written on May 9, 2012