Where, and How, to Become Agile
The overriding theme of virtually all technological developments in the enterprise these days is agility. Without that, all the speed, scalability and efficiency built into modern infrastructure won’t amount to a hill of beans when it comes to competing in the digital economy.
With agility in both infrastructure management and software developments, organizations have the means to pivot business processes on a dime so they can not only respond to changing market conditions quickly but capitalize on new opportunities before they arise.
As in the past, however, where there is an enterprise need, there is a platform for it. In the DevOps world, providers like Tasktop are working out how to integrate development and deployment tools across the entire enterprise data environment. The company’s Tasktop Integration Hub combines the company’s earlier Sync, Data and Gateway products into a unified system that fosters model-based integration, a visual web user interface and connectivity points along the data pipeline to make it easier to manage multiple development projects – even for knowledge workers who don’t know a thing about writing code. In this way, organizations can build agility into the entire application process, from initial concept to post-deployment support and development.
The underlying factor in this, of course, is infrastructure, which must break from the rigid silo architectures of the past to accommodate the needs of highly dynamic data operations. Cypherpath and IBM recently teamed up to address this issue by linking their respective software-defined infrastructure and hybrid cloud platforms. The combination is intended to allow DevOps teams to implement virtualized and/or containerized work environments on bare-metal infrastructure, providing high degrees of both agility and security. At the same time, it offers portability and seamless migration capabilities to extend the application environment across multiple distributed clouds. (Disclosure: I provide content services to IBM.)
Agility must also be supported within specific infrastructure components, such as storage. According to Kaminario CTO Shachar Fienblit, organizations should keep a number of key attributes in mind when designing agile storage infrastructure. Among them are the ability to provide consistent performance across a range of unpredictable workloads and operating conditions. As well, it must have the ability to scale capacity and performance separately, in order to avoid overprovisioning either one. It also needs to be future-proofed with abstract, software-defined architectures so as to prevent the need for forklift upgrades as requirements evolve.
Keep in mind, however, that agility in a single leg of the infrastructure stool is of marginal use unless the entire data stack is agile, and that is very difficult to accomplish without end-to-end virtualization. This is why VMware is pouring development resources in products like the NSX network virtualization platform. With networking placed on the same footing as server, storage and cloud architectures, organizations will be better able to establish agile infrastructure across the entire data footprint. As well, they will be able to implement automation, policy management, security, and a host of other factors from a centralized management platform regardless of where and how the data environment evolves in the transition from traditional to service-oriented product development and support.
Creation of the agile enterprise is also unlike previous development cycles in one very important way: There is no finish line. Despite the technology, the platforms and all the tools that lend support to agile operations, the drive for ever-greater agility will proceed unabated.
It’s the nature of competition: No matter how good you are, there is always the chance that someone better will come along.