Monday, June 23, 2008

Postcards from Gartner's IT Infrastructure, Operations & Management Summit 2008

Here I am in Orlando at the Gartner IT conference. The day's been insightful and validating, if you happen to be in the Real-Time Infrastructure (RTI) business.

Andy Kyte
The opening keynote was from Andy Kyte, Gartner VP and Fellow. He's a dynamic speaker, and focussed mostly on IT Modernization and strategy. He was careful to define strategy/strategic planning -- and accused just about every IT management organization of buying "puppies". That is, most orgs buy products because cute "here-and-now" reasons, without realizing that they're really signing-up to a 15-year-long relationship with a dirty, hairy, high-maintenance and expensive pet. His point was validated when he pointed-out all of the point-products that organizations have purchased that essentially only add to cost & complexity, rather than reduce it. He posited that more products have to be purchased with a long-term (7+ years) strategic vision, and that short-term economic validation was often to blame for the morass that IT finds itself within.

Donna Scott
Next was Donna Scott, speaking about IT Ops management trends -- and later on in the day, speaking about IT modernization and RTI. She led-off with a list of projects that enable business growth ... and that projects that don't enable business growth should be canceled.

But most interesting was her coverage of the "cloud" which she (and Thomas Bittman, next) predicted would be where IT is evolving. She suggested that IT ops will evolve into an "insourced hosting" model - where IT departments will be building "internal cloud-computing" style infrastructures to support business owners. We here at Cassatt salute you, since that's what we enable :)

What was also cool about Donna's presentations were her many polls from the audience (probably 1,000 plus). Her first question was "what grade would you give leading IT management providers" 70% of them (CA, BMC, HP and IBM) got a "C" or worse. Her conclusion was that they still don' t manage complexity (they may monitor it, though), they still support the point-solution mentality, and most focus on single homogeneous platforms.

Finally, and most validating, Donna listed the chief properties/components of a Real-time infrastructure system... which she feels is practically on the market. Her list:
  • IT services provisioning
  • IT services automation (starting & stopping applications as-needed)
  • Process automation & change management
  • Dynamic Virtualization management
  • Services optimization
  • Performance management, capacity management.
Personally, it sounds like a pretty familiar list. She outlined what RTI could enable; the list was also pretty familiar:
  • Service virtualization management
  • J2EE management
  • Oracle RAC management
  • Disaster Recovery - sharing & re-configuring assets
  • Managing a shared test environment
  • "loosely-coupled" HA - replacing failed nodes
  • Dynamic Repurposing nodes
  • Dynamic capacity on demand / capacity expansion
Thomas Bittman
Thomas gave a great talk on "Virtualization changes virtually everything"... and essentially outlined the path the industry will likely take towards cloud computing. He essentially pointed out where "automation" is going wrong today... that "automation" tools are focusing on components, rather than on service levels. Until that happens, IT will continue down its complexity path.

Then he hit on a concept that will IMHO be the next big thing: The Meta-O/S. Think of it as an O/S for the data center -- the O/S that enables RTI. For example, what if you started with VirtualCenter, made it work with any VM technology (Xen, MSFT, etc.), made it manage physical/native resources as well, and finally abstracted away the rest of your physical infrastructure? Then, what if it could be told to optimize resources for application service levels , and/or to minimize power or capital or some combination at all times?

We're probably closer to this vision than you think - and the more industry is comfortable with sharing resources, and more dissatisfied with vendor point-solutions, the more it will be accepting of this meta-O/S concept.

I sometimes use this analogy:
What if you walked into a data center and were told to manage it - - 10,000 servers, 100 different HW models, 5,000 applications, various O/S flavors and revs, multiple networks, etc. etc. Well, you *wouldn't* tell me that you'd hire 200 sysadmins, buy multitple software management tools and analysis packages, set up complicated CMDBs and change-management boards, and buy a bunch of pagers for after-hours fire-drills. But that's how it's done today.

Rather (given a clean slate) you'd say "I'd get a computer to figure-out how and when to run applications, and to govern what software was paired with what hardware when. It would prioritize resources, and continually optimize overall operating costs. That's the rational approach. and that's what the Meta-O/S will do.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the highlights, I'm considering the BPM summit. In your example I am the Change Manager and that is exactly how we do business today. Hard to see your team in the mirror. :)

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