Welcome!

Related Topics: @DevOpsSummit, Microservices Expo, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@DevOpsSummit: Article

Continuous Infrastructure

How IT Went from the Back of the Class to the Front of the Board Room

Businesses have IT because apps deliver value to their customers. This can be direct value - a user-facing app. Or it can be indirect - an internal app for managing sales, marketing, or even HR transactions. Either way, the idea is that the app will make the business more efficient and responsive.

The purpose of IT used to be to develop, purchase and operate these apps. But today, every team in the business is writing apps, and every part of the business depends on the apps that they run. These apps have gotten bigger. They have become more complex. There are more apps everywhere, and they are more mission critical than before.

In fact, we are long past the point where any modern application is a single piece of software. Most apps these days run on top of a collection of common services - such as web servers, database servers, queue servers - even the storage space and network connections are increasingly consumed as-a-service, by apps.

So the purpose of IT has been transformed from being an operator of apps, to an operator of services to power them. What's different about being a provider of IT services, rather than an operator of applications?

  1. It's about scale.
  2. It's about efficiency.
  3. It's about speed.

Explaining the difference between scale-up, and scale-out, is beyond the scope of this article. But I encourage you to read Maged Michael's excellent summary of the topic[1]. Whether we're scaling the number of users, the amount of data, or the complexity of calculations required (or even if you're scaling all three) - the era of scale-up is drawing to a close.

So if we can't scale UP, we have to scale OUT - which means building multi-server distributed systems. These are notoriously tricky. (In fact, Google famously considers their expertise in this to be a key competitive advantage.) So when we've invested the work in developing a system for delivering a particular service, we're likely to try and get as many different apps to share that service as possible. This is the same type of thinking that encouraged object-oriented programming and object reuse - if we're all sharing the same system, we can invest more in making it as reliable and efficient as possible. I like to call this the "Warren Buffet" approach to enterprise architecture - put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that damn basket!

So we can see that, as our businesses have become more and more dependent on IT apps, those apps have in turn become more and more dependent on scalable, efficient services. And as applications have gotten both larger and more complex, IT has had to focus more on the services that can power these applications - rather than just the applications themselves.

Now, technology doesn't necessarily make life better. Nor does it reduce the number of mistakes we make. But it *does* help us go faster, which means we can make mistakes at a faster and faster rate. And this is what it's done in business, too - IT has sped everything up.

The pursuit of speed in IT has been transforming everything about how we develop software over the past ten years. It started with our project management methodologies, switching from traditional SDLC approaches to Agile ones such as Scrum or Kan-Ban. As we sped development up, we needed to integrate and test our systems earlier, and the Continuous Integration ecosystem was born, with tools such as Jenkins and Build Bot at the heart of it. Eventually, the need for speed broke through from development and testing, into the production operations environments, and the DevOps movement was born. We're starting to see a raft of tools and technologies to support Continuous Deployment now - the most mature form of DevOps.

The final step in this metamorphosis is a revolution in the delivery of the underlying infrastructure services - the push to API-driven, or software-defined, ...well, everything. Only when Continuous Infrastructure supports the Continuous Deployment of Continuously Integrated and Continuously Prioritized apps and features, will our work be complete.

For more of my thoughts on apps and services, open source software and how to manage your IT infrastructure like 400-head of Holsteins, check out my blog at http://www.pistoncloud.com/blog.

1. http://www.cecs.uci.edu/~papers/ipdps07/pdfs/SMTPS-201-paper-1.pdf

More Stories By Joshua McKenty

Prior to co-founding Piston Cloud Computing, Joshua McKenty was the Technical Architect of NASA's Nebula Cloud Computing Platform and the OpenStack compute components. As a board member of the OpenStack Foundation, Joshua plays an instrumental role in the OpenStack community. Joshua has over two decades of experience in entrepreneurship, management and software engineering and architecture. He was the team lead for the development of the Netscape Browser (vs. 8) as well as AOL's IE AIM toolbar, and a senior engineer at Flock.com. He also led the successful first release of OpenQuake, an open source software application allowing users to compute seismic hazard, seismic risk and the socio-economic impact of earthquakes. In his spare time, Joshua has crafted a handmade violin and banjo, fathered two children, and invented his own juggling trick, the McKenty Madness.

Latest Stories
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of Soli...
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IoT is going to be a huge industry with a lot of value for end users, for industries, for consumers, for manufacturers. How can we use cloud to effectively manage IoT applications," stated Ian Khan, Innovation & Marketing Manager at Solgeniakhela, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Join Impiger for their featured webinar: ‘Cloud Computing: A Roadmap to Modern Software Delivery’ on November 10, 2016, at 12:00 pm CST. Very few companies have not experienced some impact to their IT delivery due to the evolution of cloud computing. This webinar is not about deciding whether you should entertain moving some or all of your IT to the cloud, but rather, a detailed look under the hood to help IT professionals understand how cloud adoption has evolved and what trends will impact th...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
We are always online. We access our data, our finances, work, and various services on the Internet. But we live in a congested world of information in which the roads were built two decades ago. The quest for better, faster Internet routing has been around for a decade, but nobody solved this problem. We’ve seen band-aid approaches like CDNs that attack a niche's slice of static content part of the Internet, but that’s it. It does not address the dynamic services-based Internet of today. It does...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
"Qosmos has launched L7Viewer, a network traffic analysis tool, so it analyzes all the traffic between the virtual machine and the data center and the virtual machine and the external world," stated Sebastien Synold, Product Line Manager at Qosmos, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We are a modern development application platform and we have a suite of products that allow you to application release automation, we do version control, and we do application life cycle management," explained Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...