|By Lori MacVittie||
|June 24, 2014 08:45 AM EDT||
72%. That's an estimate of how much of the IT budget is allocated to simply keeping the lights on (a euphemism for everything from actually keeping the lights on to cooling, heating, power, maintenance, upgrades, and day to day operations) in the data center.
In a recent Forrester Research survey of IT leaders at more than 3,700 companies, respondents estimated that they spend an average 72% of the money in their budgets on such keep-the-lights-on functions as replacing or expanding capacity and supporting ongoing operations and maintenance, while only 28% of the money goes toward new projects.
How to Balance Maintenance and IT Innovation
This number will not, unfortunately, significantly improve without intentionally attacking it at its root cause: architectural debt.
Data Center Debt
The concept of "debt' is not a foreign one; we've all incurred debt in the form of credit cards, car loans and mortgages. In the data center, this concept is applied in much the same way as our more personal debt - as the need to "service" the debt over time.
Experts on the topic of technical debt point out that this "debt' is chiefly a metaphor for the long-term repercussions arising from choices made in application architecture and design early on.
Technical debt is a neologistic metaphor referring to the eventual consequences of poor software architecture and software development within a codebase. The debt can be thought of as work that needs to be done before a particular job can be considered complete. If the debt is not repaid, then it will keep on accumulating interest, making it hard to implement changes later on. Unaddressed technical debt increases software entropy.
This conceptual debt also occurs in other areas of IT, particularly those in the infrastructure and networking groups, where architectural decisions have long lasting repercussions in the form of not only the cost to perform day-to-day operations but in the impact to future choices and operational concerns. The choice of a specific point product today to solve a particular pain point, for example, has an impact on future product choices. The more we move toward software-defined architectures - heavily reliant on integration to achieve efficiencies through automation and orchestration - the more interdependencies we build. Those interdependencies cause considerable complexity in the face of changes that must be made to support such a loosely coupled but highly integrated data center architecture.
We aren't just maintaining configuration files and cables anymore, we're maintaining the equivalent of code - the scripts and methods used to integrated, automate and orchestrate the network infrastructure.
Steve McConnell has a lengthy blog entry examining technical debt. The perils of not acknowledging your debt are clear:
One of the important implications of technical debt is that it must be serviced, i.e., once you incur a debt there will be interest charges. If the debt grows large enough, eventually the company will spend more on servicing its debt than it invests in increasing the value of its other assets.
Debt must be serviced, which is why the average organization dedicates so much of its budget to simply "keeping the lights on." It's servicing the architectural debt incurred by a generation of architectural decisions.
Refinancing Your Architectural Debt
In order to shift more of the budget toward the innovation necessary to realize the more agile and dynamic architectures required to support more things and the applications that go with them, organizations need to start considering how to shed its architectural debt.
First and foremost, software-defined architectures like cloud, SDDC and SDN, enable organizations to pay down their debt by automating a variety of day-to-day operations as well as traditionally manual and lengthy provisioning processes. But it would behoove organizations to pay careful attention to the choices made in this process, lest architectural debt shift to the technical debt associated with programmatic assets. Scripts are, after all, a simple form of an application, and thus bring with it all the benefits and burdens of an application.
For example, the choice between a feature-driven and an application-driven orchestration can be critical to the long-term costs associated with that choice. Feature-driven orchestration necessarily requires more steps and results in more tightly coupled systems than an application-driven approach. Loose coupling ensures easier future transitions and reduces the impact of interdependencies on the complexity of the overall architecture. This is because feature-driven orchestration (integration, really) is highly dependent on specific sets of API calls to achieve provisioning. Even minor changes in those APIs can be problematic in the future and cause compatibility issues. Application-driven orchestration, on the other hand, presents a simpler, flexible interface between provisioning systems and solution. Implementation through features can change from version to version without impacting that interface, because the interface is decoupled from the actual API calls required.
Your choice of scripting languages, too, can have much more of an impact than you might think. Consider that a significant contributor to operational inefficiencies today stems from the reality that organizations have an L4-7 infrastructure comprised of not just multiple vendors, but a wide variety of domain specificity. That means a very disparate set of object models and interfaces through which such services are provisioned and configured. When automating such processes, it is important to standardize on a minimum set of environments. Using bash, python, PERL and juju, for example, simply adds complexity and begins to fall under the Law of Software Entropy as described by Ivar Jacobson et al. in "Object-Oriented Software Engineering: A Use Case Driven Approach":
The second law of thermodynamics, in principle, states that a closed system's disorder cannot be reduced, it can only remain unchanged or increased. A measure of this disorder is entropy. This law also seems plausible for software systems; as a system is modified, its disorder, or entropy, always increases. This is known as software entropy.
Entropy is the antithesis of what we're trying to achieve with automation and orchestration, namely the acceleration of application deployment. Entropy impedes this goal, and causes the introduction of yet another set of systems requiring day-to-day operational attention.
Other considerations include deciding which virtual overlay network will be your data center standard, as well as the choice of cloud management platform for data center orchestration. While such decisions seem, on the surface, to be innocuous, they are in fact significant contributors to the architectural debt associated with the data center architecture.
Shifting to Innovation
Every decision brings with it debt; that cannot be avoided. The trick is to reduce the interest payments, if you will, on that debt as a means to reduce its impact on the overall IT budget and enable a shift to funding innovation.
Software-defined architectures are, in a way, the opportunity for organizations to re-finance their architectural debt. They cannot forgive the debt (unless you rip and replace) but these architectures and methodologies like devops can assist in reducing the operational expenses the organization is obliged to pay on a day-to-day basis.
But it's necessary to recognize, up front, that the architectural choices you make today do, in fact, have a significant impact on the business' ability to take advantage of the emerging app economy. Consider carefully the options and weigh the costs - including the need to service the debt incurred by those options - before committing to a given solution.
Your data center credit score will thank you for it.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from ha...
Nov. 22, 2014 08:30 PM EST Reads: 844
We are all here because we are sold on the transformative promise of The Cloud. But what good is all of this ephemeral, on-demand infrastructure if your usage doesn't actually improve the agility and speed of your business? How must Operations adapt in order to avoid stifling your Cloud initiative? In his session at DevOps Summit, Damon Edwards, co-founder and managing partner of the DTO Solutions, will highlight the successful organizational, process, and tooling patterns of high-performing c...
Nov. 22, 2014 08:30 PM EST Reads: 793
Software-driven innovation is becoming a primary approach to how businesses create and deliver new value to customers. A survey of 400 business and IT executives by the IBM Institute for Business Value showed businesses that are more effective at software delivery are also more profitable than their peers nearly 70 percent of the time (1). DevOps provides a way for businesses to remain competitive, applying lean and agile principles to software development to speed the delivery of software that ...
Nov. 22, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,395
Docker offers a new, lightweight approach to application portability. Applications are shipped using a common container format and managed with a high-level API. Their processes run within isolated namespaces that abstract the operating environment independently of the distribution, versions, network setup, and other details of this environment. This "containerization" has often been nicknamed "the new virtualization." But containers are more than lightweight virtual machines. Beyond their small...
Nov. 22, 2014 06:45 PM EST Reads: 1,053
The move in recent years to cloud computing services and architectures has added significant pace to the application development and deployment environment. When enterprise IT can spin up large computing instances in just minutes, developers can also design and deploy in small time frames that were unimaginable a few years ago. The consequent move toward lean, agile, and fast development leads to the need for the development and operations sides to work very closely together. Thus, DevOps become...
Nov. 22, 2014 05:45 PM EST Reads: 1,123
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Nov. 22, 2014 05:30 PM EST Reads: 1,208
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and asse...
Nov. 22, 2014 05:30 PM EST Reads: 972
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com...
Nov. 22, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 1,317
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Ar...
Nov. 21, 2014 09:15 PM EST Reads: 1,233
Leysin American School is an exclusive, private boarding school located in Leysin, Switzerland. Leysin selected an OpenStack-powered, private cloud as a service to manage multiple applications and provide development environments for students across the institution. Seeking to meet rigid data sovereignty and data integrity requirements while offering flexible, on-demand cloud resources to users, Leysin identified OpenStack as the clear choice to round out the school's cloud strategy. Additional...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:45 PM EST Reads: 1,204
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the ...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,313
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,245
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 21, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,190
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
Nov. 21, 2014 06:45 PM EST Reads: 1,148
Verizon Enterprise Solutions is simplifying the cloud-purchasing experience for its clients, with the launch of Verizon Cloud Marketplace, a key foundational component of the company's robust ecosystem of enterprise-class technologies. The online storefront will initially feature pre-built cloud-based services from AppDynamics, Hitachi Data Systems, Juniper Networks, PfSense and Tervela. Available globally to enterprises using Verizon Cloud, Verizon Cloud Marketplace provides a one-stop shop fo...
Nov. 21, 2014 05:30 PM EST Reads: 1,124
"Our premise is Docker is not enough. That's not a bad thing - we actually love Docker. At ActiveState all our products are based on open source technology and Docker is an up-and-coming piece of open source technology," explained Bart Copeland, President & CEO of ActiveState Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 20, 2014 10:30 PM EST Reads: 1,267
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
Nov. 20, 2014 09:00 PM EST Reads: 1,456
What do a firewall and a fortress have in common? They are no longer strong enough to protect the valuables housed inside. Like the walls of an old fortress, the cracks in the firewall are allowing the bad guys to slip in - unannounced and unnoticed. By the time these thieves get in, the damage is already done and the network is already compromised. Intellectual property is easily slipped out the back door leaving no trace of forced entry. If we want to reign in on these cybercriminals, it's hig...
Nov. 20, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,154
Infor has announced a new feature Infor CloudSuite™ Aerospace & Defense (A&D) to aid compliance with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The ITAR function will serve as a complementary function for new or existing Infor CloudSuite A&D customers, to facilitate compliance for Infor customers that are creating a US defense article or performing a US defense service and wish to benefit from cloud-services. The ITAR regulation serves to manage handling and access requirements for dat...
Nov. 20, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,278