|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.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the application economy.
Mar. 24, 2017 01:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,215
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 200 developers, designers, quality assurance engineers, project managers in house, specializing in the world-class mobile and web development.
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DevOps is a hot topic. It seems that everyone is talking about it. Some have built business models around DevOps-related tools and themes. There are conferences and trade shows dedicated to DevOps-strategies and techniques. Some people have even made their careers around talking about it. In light of all of that, I find it chuckle-worthy that very few people actually know what DevOps is (just follow #devops on Twitter for proof.) I am not going to be one of many trying to create a buzzword-infested definition of DevOps to suit my particular agenda. Instead, I’d like to talk about what DevOps is not. So, without further ado, DevOps …
Mar. 24, 2017 01:30 AM EDT Reads: 4,688
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud computing technologies. Get certified, manage the full lifecycle of your cloud-based resources, and build your knowledge based using Cloud Academy’s expert-created content, comprehensive Learning Paths, and innovative Hands-on Labs.
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SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in San Francisco and Tel Aviv, Loom Systems works with customers across industries around the world.
Mar. 23, 2017 11:30 PM EDT Reads: 703
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
Mar. 23, 2017 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,425
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
Mar. 23, 2017 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,320
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ocean9will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ocean9 provides cloud services for Backup, Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) and instant Innovation, and redefines enterprise infrastructure with its cloud native subscription offerings for mission critical SAP workloads.
Mar. 23, 2017 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,609
Providing the needed data for application development and testing is a huge headache for most organizations. The problems are often the same across companies - speed, quality, cost, and control. Provisioning data can take days or weeks, every time a refresh is required. Using dummy data leads to quality problems. Creating physical copies of large data sets and sending them to distributed teams of developers eats up expensive storage and bandwidth resources. And, all of these copies proliferating the organization can lead to inconsistent masking and exposure of sensitive data. But some organizations are adopting a new method of data management for DevOps that is delivering transformational business outcomes in faster time to market, lower costs, and great control. In his session at DevOps Summit, Brian Reagan, Managing Director of Blackthorne Consulting Group, an Actifio company, revi...
Mar. 23, 2017 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 6,235
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In his Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will explore the ways that Nutanix technologies empower teams to react faster than ever before and connect teams in ways that were either too complex or simply impossible with traditional infrastructures.
Mar. 23, 2017 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,393
In recent years, containers have taken the world by storm. Companies of all sizes and industries have realized the massive benefits of containers, such as unprecedented mobility, higher hardware utilization, and increased flexibility and agility; however, many containers today are non-persistent. Containers without persistence miss out on many benefits, and in many cases simply pass the responsibility of persistence onto other infrastructure, adding additional complexity.
Mar. 23, 2017 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 4,099
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a single platform to drive unprecedented simplicity in the data center. Customers can start with a base infrastructure and scale to multi-site and multi-geo infrastructures with predictable economics and performance.
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Mar. 23, 2017 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,100
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Mar. 23, 2017 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,559
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Mar. 23, 2017 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,647
Have you ever noticed how some IT people seem to lead successful, rewarding, and satisfying lives and careers, while others struggle? IT author and speaker Don Crawley uncovered the five principles that successful IT people use to build satisfying lives and careers and he shares them in this fast-paced, thought-provoking webinar. You'll learn the importance of striking a balance with technical skills and people skills, challenge your pre-existing ideas about IT customer service, and gain new insights into how to build your own satisfying and rewarding career by rising above the ordinary and mundane to build an extraordinary life and career as a world-class Compassionate Geek.
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Mar. 23, 2017 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,826
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Mar. 23, 2017 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 10,683
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Mar. 23, 2017 02:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,464
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Mar. 23, 2017 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,856
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Mar. 22, 2017 10:15 PM EDT Reads: 3,394