Practically Speaking About IT Infrastructure

Cloud Computing IT Infrastructure

Introduction: For more than two decades now, IT Infrastructure remains as the backbone of business. This business that we mention here can be a large enterprise or a small and medium business or a tiny business or even an individual’s business activity. There is no stopping of the part played by IT infrastructure. However, because of macro economic conditions, the way IT infrastructure is deployed is influenced by new forces. This is where cloud computing is coming in to the picture; and of course starting to play a major role! More than anything else, it (cloud computing) is perceived by those who are beyond technology as a new economic model. As we look at cloud computing development practically, let us see how IT infrastructure deployment is taking new shapes in enterprises.

Constituents of IT infrastructure: One of the major constituent of IT infrastructure is Server. In the past decade, there had been fivefold increase in the number of servers installed worldwide. In the year 2008, it is reported that just over 30 million servers were installed and available worldwide. This needs other constituents like floor space of data center, power, heating – ventilation – air-conditioning – cooling, and management including man power. The huge cost involved to set-up and maintain can be visualized here! Typical Server may comprise of computing hardware. Software including operating system / applications; Virtualization gets added to this in the past few years. For virtualization, we can consider a metric called virtualization density. The global virtualization density was around 5 in the year 2008; as virtualization is exploding now, the density is rapidly increasing. One IDC study predicts that in the years to come, the number of virtual servers will surpass the number of physical servers!

IT Infrastructure economics: There is capex – capital expenditure and there is opex -operational expenditure! The new economic model, cloud computing, seems to be affecting both. As we know, cloud computing comprises of three major tenets as Infrastructure as a Service – IaaS, Platform as a Service – PaaS, Software as a Service. The deployment models can be Public Cloud, Private Cloud. Depending on which model we choose, the capex and opex is affected. A recent Informationweek study states that enterprises are currently spending about 70% of their budgeted expenses on IT infrastructure operations and maintenance. Worldwide Spending on Servers, including the other constituents we saw above, the power and cooling, management/maintenance etc., was around $ 80 Billion in the start of the decade has now reached about $ 200 Billion now!

The other factors influencing IT infrastructure: While there are so many other factors influencing the trend of new economic model, let us mention two important ones here. One is to do with power and energy as we are getting more obsessed with Green concepts! The paramount concern of the day!! We are conscious of the Energy Star rating even in a small gadget that consumes only 12 V power, so we should understand the importance that we should give to such a big mass. It is stated that about 2% of power consumed in United States is consumed by servers. It is quite imperative that we go green in everything we do from now onwards. Another important factor is the condition of the present IT infrastructure. Most of them are aged and old! There is need to change them. They are consuming more floor space, more power and not suitable for efficient deployments. By efficient deployment we mean the time taken to provision IT gear to the user. Previously, if a server requirement for a new application is raised, it will take months before it takes to go live. Now it is done in several hours. That is the efficiency we are talking about.

IT Infrastructure is the main backbone of the business and businesses have already begun the work to reinvent their IT infrastructure. They have started moving towards more efficient deployment systems. Server virtualization is mainstream now. Though we are seeing public/private/hybrid cloud offerings in IaaS, PaaS and SaaS, the ultimate goal is making ‘IT as a Service’. Public cloud offering definitely helps to lower up-front capex; but the opex part of management remains intact even in cloud computing. The adoption of cloud is picking up fast but this is not to say that enterprises are going in to cloud for everything. As can be seen from Amazon Web Services customer base and Salesforce customer base, the cloud adoption has started more with SMBs than large enterprises in the beginning. Quite understandable because they are the ones starved of capex funds! Not to mention here that the security apprehensions that are not yet fully vanished from the mindset.

Innovative offerings:

Meanwhile innovation is taking place. Recently HP and Microsoft have jointly announced what can be called as ‘private cloud boxes’ or ‘service in a box’ appliances. The sole purpose of these appliances is to speed up and simplify the deployment of business services. The new appliances, the result of a long partnership between HP and Microsoft, called as ‘Infrastructure2applications’, squarely addresses the issues we listed. The new appliances are based on HP s converged infrastructure offering with G7 Server Hardware and Microsoft Software. Both the companies have acquired the expertise to deliver IT infrastructure the way businesses want them, either on-

premise or via the Cloud! The current portfolio consists of Microsoft SQL, Exchange Server and Business Intelligence product lines.

HP + Microsoft box appliances:

  • Business Decision Appliance: This is a self-service BI Solution based on Microsoft SQL Server. This also includes Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and Sharepoint services. This solution encompassing BI analytics, can be installed and configured in an hours’ time.
  • Messaging System Solution: Do you feel that going in for public cloud email services like Google Apps, Microsoft BPOS, IBM Lotus etc., unsafe? Here comes the solution which is best of both the worlds. Based on Microsoft Exchange 2010, this is lower TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) solution that can be sized to the need. Large mail boxes, Centralized archiving, Built-in High Availability and Inbox productivity tools are the innovations.
  • Enterprise Data warehousing Solution: The complexity involved in deploying data warehouse solution is known to people who are living with it. This solution is a boon to them. This is based on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse and has the agility to grow up to 500 TB of information. A demo of these products are available at the HP site.

Conclusion:

CIO s are facing the challenge of getting rid of their old IT infrastructure, that has become inflexible, unmanageable, inefficient and high TCO scrawl of silos. IT infrastructure stands at an inflection point now, where in productive, efficient and innovative service offerings are on the anvil. As we move to this new phase, we see that this holistic set of IT infrastructure comprising hardware, software, services, is more aligned towards the business goals.

By Glenn Blake

David Gevorkian

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