Change Has Many Dimensions
Of course change is itself a difficult concept. Most people associate change with growth. In the IT world we associate growth with scalability. The truth is that change has many dimensions and nuances. Indeed one change we might have to adapt to is not one of growth, but one of declining growth. How do we adapt our infrastructure to meet that need?So if the Internet created a successful adaptive networking layer, could it be possible to use those same concepts and principles to create an agile IT infrastructure?As an infrastructure planner, we should study the basic ground rules that were used by the designers of the Internet. Could they be applied to our planning at an even lower level? Concepts like each network must stand on its own with no changes required to connect it to the Internet or that there would be no global control at the operations level. These types of concepts are now being adapted to the task of infrastructure planning. The whole push behind service oriented architectures will provide the spanning layer that organizations will need to achieve agility. But open source software also aids us significantly towards achieving agility. This is due to the fact that open source software, and open standards are mutual catalysts. Open source databases like MySQL or PostgreSQL expand the usage of the SQL standard while the SQL standard made MySQL and PostgreSQL possible. Click here to read about who will prevail in the applications war. These days, when an organization is forced to scale its proprietary database infrastructure, they are faced with a dilemma. How do I scale my proprietary database infrastructure without incurring huge hardware and software costs as well as huge switching costs? What Im seeing now are innovative planners that simply reject the premise of the question. Instead they ask why should I be forced to do either? They simply restate the problem to:
How can I make my database infrastructure more agile?
How can I reduce overall costs?
This has lead to some innovative designs where planners use open source database software to compliment their own proprietary database software.
They employ long-used tactics such as offloading read-only processing to replicated farms of open source servers. Thereby reducing the load on the proprietary database and with it the need to buy bigger servers and more database licenses.
They might even deploy open source software on commodity servers where it handles only a fraction of the processing required by a central server such as in the case of a retail chain with in-store processing requirements.
In either case, they have rejected the notion that open versus proprietary is an either/or situation. Instead, they have embraced the fact that both approaches add value and by utilizing both intelligently, we can achieve an improved measure of agility.
Remember, change (IT change anyway) always has an economic component. One reason that change is delayed, often has more to do with budgetary issues than it does with stability concerns.
So cheer up! Change will always be with us, but the tools that help us adapt more easily are either here already or are on the way.
Charles Garry is an independent industry analyst based in Simsbury, Conn. He is a former vice president with META Groups Technology Research Services. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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