Preparing for the Application-Driven Data Center
The application layer looks set to become a major focus for IT. Here’s a look at what to expect and how to plan for the app-centric future.
In the application-centric enterprise, infrastructure won’t really matter. Whatever you need to support your application will be available at the click of a mouse.
Well, not really, but it is fair to say that applications and application-layer management will consume an increasing amount of IT’s attention going forward, even as issues like resource deployment and provisioning become less burdensome.
According to Cloud Technology Partners’ David Linthicum, applications themselves will become more adept at setting the terms of the data environment, including the location of data, infrastructure configurations, security and safeguards, and even the level of investment that should go toward supporting this state of affairs. To prepare for this, enterprise executives need to starting thinking about present and future application requirements and how best to leverage legacy infrastructure in the new app-centric universe, paying particular attention to situations in which local resources can be both cheaper and more effective than cloud or collocated infrastructure.
For Flexera Software, this is nothing less than the “appification” of the enterprise, in which the competitive advantage goes to the organization that can best drive productivity through its applications rather than its infrastructure. The company surveyed more than 1,800 IT executives and found that those who altered their licensing and monetization models to reflect task-oriented, usage-based activities gained higher productivity because employees were able to devote more time to completing critical tasks. About 17 percent of respondents reported using utility-style licensing models and single-click app-store-style access and activation capabilities. The figure is expected to rise to 23 percent over the next two years.
The focus on applications is already drawing the attention of some heavy hitters in the infrastructure community. VMware recently teamed up with India’s Tata Consulting Services (TCS) to develop pre-tested, pre-integrated applications for VMware’s emerging software defined data center (SDDC) platform. TCS is contributing its architectural operational knowhow to port legacy apps to key VMware solutions like vSphere, NSX and the vRealize Suite.
At the same time, Cisco has unveiled Project Squared, a mobile and web app designed to foster greater collaboration in complex data environments. The move is a nod to the ability of Cotap, Quip and other developers to worm their way into enterprise environments by providing advanced communication capabilities directly to consumers. The system is designed to offer project-based productivity and flexibility through user-defined “team rooms” that allow colleagues to communicate, share files or interact in other ways while maintaining cloud connectivity and end-to-end encryption. It is also available for free, allowing users to implement it without IT’s approval.
It would be a mistake to think that an app-centric data center is also an infrastructure-agnostic one, or that servers, storage and networking are simply irrelevant to broader productivity goals. But it does mean that infrastructure will sit quietly behind the scenes, ready to be swapped out as needed with little or no impact to higher-layer data architectures.
At least infrastructure failure will no longer be the problem that keeps the CIO up at night.
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Arthur Cole covers networking and the data center for IT Business Edge. He has served as editor of numerous publications covering everything from audio/video production and distribution, multimedia and the Internet to video gaming.