In today’s enterprise world, we are in the process of virtualizing everything, from servers and applications to data and networks. Yet, we have not changed the way we own and operate all these “things” for decades. We operate our systems pretty much the same way we did in the 2000’s, and for that matter, as we did in the 1990’s. Maybe it is time for the enterprise to transition from existing legacy infrastructure to next generation and fundamentally reimagine our systems, processes and capabilities.
If we think about it, the reality is that with WAN infrastructure, virtually nothing has significantly progressed since MPLS was adopted 20 years ago! That means infrastructure, design, services, and management have not fundamentally changed since the mid-1990s.
Let’s look at what WAN (and the Cloud) was built for. The underlying concept is access to centralization, with data centers, cloud, networks, applications, and anywhere anytime mobility as the key enablers. While the model of centralization is important, it has its limitations. Centralization works well for inclusion and access. But with centralization, we are losing scale, alignment, and specificity at the local level.
From my years in the technology industry, I have seen, and history supports, the trend in enterprise infrastructure swinging back and forth between centralization and decentralization. If you think about it, when trends move from one to the other, it is due to saturation of the given standard and a realization of the limitations of that technology.
We moved from mainframes to client server due to the rise of cheap compute technology and difficulty/cost in accessing mainframes. We asked the question – “can I run my business applications such as file services or email on comparatively inexpensive hardware? And just pay some cheap local computer nerd to deal with the reliability and maintenance issues?” This was the impetus of the rise of the IT department, and for this exact reason, I was hired for my first job.
We transitioned again when we asked the question, “wouldn’t we have better service and better coordination if we centralized all that inexpensive hardware?” And the data center (e.g. the internal cloud) was born, eventually becoming public and hybrid situations.
Today, we are once more asking those questions, but this time the questions are about the proliferation of connected devices, the intersection of IT and OT, and the rising importance of the edge. It is clear that the movement to decentralization is fast approaching. But as before, just because we make the journey doesn’t mean we drop existing paradigms and become only an edge computing world. Rather, it represents a likely large but incomplete uptake. For instance, did you know that three percent of IBM’s revenue is still from mainframes?
In this series, we will focus on the transition to this new Edge Computing world. As part of the journey, next I will share my thoughts on the convergence of technologies that is making edge computing happening and accelerating its adoption.
With CLOUDWAN, NTT i³ is providing enterprises with a single solution to enable a distributed edge. That means speed and agility of overlay networks; delivery, management, integration, and control of NFV and network orchestration; and applications at the edge of the network. Take IT to the Edge. For more information on CLOUDWAN, visit www.cloudwan.io