Every day I spend time talking to vendors and customers across the IT industry. There is a common theme – Just about every customer is focused on accelerating innovation and just about every vendor believes that they have the tools to help them succeed. The challenge is that tools alone cannot deliver a solution. What is missing in most cases is the knowledge and insight necessary to leverage the tools to drive a practical solution to the problem.
You see, over the last few decades the technology world has gotten incredibly complicated incredibly quickly.
- Back in days of the Mainframe you had a single monolithic hardware and software stack where applications were tightly coupled to the underlying hardware. There were only a handful of vendors to choose from (Burroughs, Cray, IBM, etc..) who essentially delivered a complete solution with a single integrated platform. While choice was important it was fairly simple
- Microsoft and Novell ushered in the client-server era by decoupling the applications from their underlying hardware by means of an operating system that could run across any x86 platform. This change was felt across many enterprises as the Information Systems (IS) teams transformed to Information Technology (IT) teams and divided into server, storage and network teams each tasked to drive “best of breed” architectures. Through this era organizations established a core competency around integrating hardware components, operating systems and applications. Conversely, developers were limited to the platform standards that were accepted by IT into the Data Center and had no ability to venture outside of these standards as there would be no platform on which to run their applications.
- VMware took this theme of abstraction even further with ESX allowing for simple mobility and extensions of workloads between dissimilar hardware. Over the last few years we have seen VMware extend this theme of abstraction extend across the infrastructure pallet to Network & Security (NSX) and Storage (VSAN/VVOL)
- In today’s world we are now seeing complete disaggregation of the traditional platform. Specifically –
- Not only have we continued to abstract our applications from their underlying infrastructure but our pools of infrastructure are no longer limited to the walls of the Data Center; The public cloud players have become our new low-cost infrastructure pools with a consumption based financial model
- Traditional tightly coupled “N-Tier” architectures (Web, App, Database) have been replaced by modern microservices that can live independently
The point here is that we have essentially reached a point where the pallet to choose from has “more colour than ever“. With that said the challenge for enterprises is no longer “choosing the best colour” but instead “painting the most appropriate picture”. With that said enterprises are leaning on their trusted vendors and partners to move beyond the features of their tools and instead focus on working iteratively to propose practical solutions.
Having been part of technical pre-sales organizations for almost 20 years I can attest that this is an exciting challenge for vendors and enterprises.
- It means empowering our systems engineers and architects to grow their skills and influence and to be active participants in building out solutions
- It means extending our knowledge base outside the boundaries of our organization and across the full gambit of the industry
- It means being maniacal about tracking success and learning from our mistakes
- It means being curious about the possibilities and testing out new potential opportunities very day
- It means leveraging the collective global experiences of this team and the marketplace to build validated designs that demonstrate value across key use cases
Lets all remember that tools are the building blocks for any architecture and these architectures are the building blocks for practical solutions –
The pallet is more colourful than ever but the time is now to pick up the brush and start painting the future!