IT Focus Area: infrastructure operations
September 14, 2015
Convergence as an Innovation Driver in Automation
Convergence is the consolidation and integration of separate technologies. One example is the converged infrastructure package that bundles together compute, network and storage technologies and optimizes them into a modular computing unit. It is a consequence of Moore’s Law—a rule of thumb that computer processors double in complexity every 18 months—and the resulting modularization.
It is an unstoppable trend.
Convergence will do to IT departments what modularization and Moore’s Law did to personal computer (PC) manufacturers. In theory, modularization reduced the barrier of entry to the PC business, since most required functionalities are now “built in” prefabricated chips. In practice, it greatly favored manufacturers that were operationally efficient and that were in tune with what customers desire. The PC business became much harder than before because technical competence was no longer enough. Similarly, convergence will make operational excellence and responsiveness to customers paramount for success in IT organizations.
In addition to increasing the importance of operational efficiency, convergence changes operations dramatically by:
1. Forcing people in separate technology domains to work very closely together, blurring organizational boundaries.
2. Making tools that are specialized increasingly less useful.
It is not surprising then, that orchestrators and automation engines that are strong in the application or compute space will have an advantage over automation engines that are specialized in network or storage. That is where most of the innovation is happening.
For example, many network functions are migrating into virtualized applications on standard hardware. Voice, video, conferencing, WAN and application acceleration, and even routing are migrating from specialized hardware into virtual machines with centralized storage. Managing these network functions now requires tools that are also capable of managing server hardware, server operating systems, virtualization layers and storage.