Timing is everything.  As an industry we have been talking for at least a decade about enabling service driven utilities, and about the organizational and process changes, and automation technologies that will make this real.  We are ten years into a long journey.  But a journey that continues to yield incremental benefits every step of the way, every year.  Now we have reached an inflection point.  At VMworld during Paul Maritz’s keynote a graph was displayed showing one aspect of this inflection point, specifically a graph that shows a year-by-year comparison of the number of physical machines versus virtual machines provisioned.  2009 was the first year in which the number of virtual machines provisioned outstripped the number of physical machines. This is but one indicator of the monumental changes that are upon us.

 

The application and platform trends, specifically the growth of highly optimized, scalable, distributed, web based services and the metamorphosis of the datacenter into an extremely flexible, virtualized fabric of resources have enabled Cloud computing with all of its attendant opportunities and benefits.

 

The trends that have brought us to where we are, are very long lived, but they have aligned, in terms of technology delivery, in such a way that a step function or discontinuity in progress is impending.  Today we have an enormous opportunity to drive change, to innovate, to improve productivity and deliver true business agility, all of which is fuelled by:

 

  • The ongoing trend of functional decomposition of applications into ever finer grained distributed services.

  • The maturing of a number of key infrastructure technologies, including, but not limited to server, network and storage virtualization and the beginnings of converged networking, which have transformed the datacenter into an extremely flexible, virtualized fabric of resources.  A combination of harsh economics and compelling functionality has driven adoption and trust in these technologies, which itself drives further adoption.  These technologies enable scaling, efficiency and agility.

  • The emergence of Cloud service providers who achieve economies of both scale and specialization, delivering highly optimized, scalable, distributed infrastructure or web based services that essentially equate to disaggregated business processes.  Their cost effective IaaS, PaaS and SaaS offerings then enable enterprises to innovate and to focus solely on the services and technology that truly differentiate them and give them competitive advantage.

  • The impact of Cloud providers on the expectations that businesses have of their own internal IT organizations, i.e. that IT infrastructure and services can be self-service, instantly available, scalable up and down and pay per use.  This has destroyed the status quo and is fundamentally changing IT, the attributes it presents to the business and the role of the CIO.

  • The move towards a de-facto homogeneous, i.e. industry standard, virtualized resource fabric in the data center, which drives interoperability, flexibility, choice and lower cost.

  • The encapsulation of the application within the virtual machine, and the emergence of simple to use tooling which automates the management of those applications. This drives greater alignment with the business as the application or service becomes the focus of management, as well as agility and reliability.

  • The convergence of management of the various components of the fabric, driven by integrated management of virtual machines, which is blurring or removing the organizational and process silos within IT, thus driving efficiency and agility.

 

Each of these in isolation delivers at least incremental value, and in some cases much more, but in combination they are a perfect storm – everything is changing!

 

 

 

Next… The Path Forward