|By Michael Bushong||
|June 24, 2014 09:45 AM EDT||
Compute started its major architectural transition several years ago with the introduction of virtualization. If you pay attention to any of the IT noise today, it should be clear that storage and networking are going through their own architectural evolutions as well. But another shift is also underway: applications are fundamentally changing as well.
An interesting dynamic in all of this is that it is near impossible for each of the four major IT areas to undergo simultaneous, coordinated evolution. Change is hard enough on its own, but changing multiple variable at once makes it difficult to anchor to anything substantial. And when change does occur along multiple fronts at the same time, the task of determining causation for new found results is challenging at best.
Understanding that business underlies much of the change, the best that the industry can collectively do is to take some things as fixed and then change around that. And so we evolve each of the silos somewhat independently, trying hard to keep in mind that the environment into which they plug is also changing. At our best, we try to intersect the various changes. But when we miss, we tend to aim towards slotting into current architectural paradigms, because that allows us the best chance to make a meaningful difference in production environments. Indeed, always playing out ahead of the horizon might be great for making future progress, but it makes building a business around the resulting innovation nigh impossible.
And so IT as a whole continues the trudge forward.
Each of the major infrastructure silos—compute, storage, and networking—has to operate with some fixed environment in mind. The most basic thing to attach to is application infrastructure. While virtualization has made compute containers that make applications portable (the reason dynamic and change are so prominent in most marketing materials), the applications themselves have remained largely static.
Except, of course, that they haven’t.
Anyone watching the major web-scale players (think: Facebook, Google, Twitter, and the like) will know that the architecture for their applications is actually significantly different than what most enterprises currently think of. Applications tend to be flatter and more distributed, typically running on bare metal to avoid some of the virtualization overhead that exists in a pure hypervisor environment.
This new breed of scale-out applications would appear to mark the beginning of the application evolution. If this is truly a trend that will only increase, how will it impact the evolution of the other silos?
The prevailing chatter across the whole of IT is about software-defined everything. The view is that compute, storage, and networking will all work in cahoots to meet application requirements. The rise of controller-based architectures is prominent in both networking and storage roadmaps, and the compute side of the house embraced central control awhile back.
But what happens if the underlying assumption that applications emerge largely unscathed turns out not to be true?
It could be that the future of datacenter architectures will hinge not on the supporting infrastructure but on the applications themselves. If this is true, we could see a re-emergence of something that we haven’t really talked about in quite awhile: the operating system itself. Sure, there is still talk about Linux and all the server tools that come with it, but the actual operating system hasn’t materially changed in quite some time.
Learning from web-scale applications
If we learn anything from the web-scale companies pushing the boundaries for application performance, it should be that the future is not necessarily about the containers in which applications run. It could be about the underlying OS itself. What if the reason massively scaled companies are embracing bare metal isn’t only about the cost? There is certainly a performance aspect to it as well.
One somewhat uncomfortable conclusion here would be that all the infrastructure work involved in handling application portability across a containerized infrastructure could be somewhat transient. I don’t mean to suggest that it is not useful; there will be a relatively long transition to any kind of new application architecture. And even if there is a transition, the persistence of mainframes should tell us all that no change is absolute or all-encompassing. But a scenario where pockets of new-era applications co-exist in data centers with legacy applications seems likely. We are already seeing this with Hadoop, but I would expect to see more applications built on new architectures.
But this does mean that future-proofing datacenter investments requires a bit more nuance than just buying and planning on scale. Highly-distributed application architectures are even more dependent on east-west traffic. For every 1 byte of traffic going in and out of the datacenter, close to 1 Gigabyte transits the datacenter fabric in some current applications. This ratio likely gets even more aggressive over time.
The bottom line
How all of this plays out is anyone’s guess. We will certainly end up with a hybrid environment supporting all kinds of application architectures making use of various underlying infrastructure architectures. But none of us should be surprised when the industry starts talking a bit more broadly about the role of the operating system going forward. And if you are making plans based on a set of assumptions anchored to current architectures, it might be worth expanding the strategic aperture some to consider how this impacts current plans.
And as a final thought, if the operating system changes, is it still defined by the server, or do we end up with large, distributed operating systems? Put differently, what is the definition of the underlying platform? Are we looking at a new era of platform that includes all of compute, storage, networking, and applications? The implications would be dramatic.
[Today’s fun fact: Potatoes have more chromosomes than humans. I wonder if that means Mr. Potato Head has the combined chromosomes or just a subset of a potato’s.]
Building low-cost wearable devices can enhance the quality of our lives. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Sai Yamanoor, Embedded Software Engineer at Altschool, provided an example of putting together a small keychain within a $50 budget that educates the user about the air quality in their surroundings. He also provided examples such as building a wearable device that provides transit or recreational information. He then reviewed the resources available to build wearable devices at home including open source hardware, the raw materials required and the options available to power s...
May. 27, 2015 04:30 AM EDT Reads: 3,931
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
May. 27, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,709
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
May. 27, 2015 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 5,326
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
May. 27, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 6,102
Collecting data in the field and configuring multitudes of unique devices is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that can stretch IT resources. Horan & Bird [H&B], Australia’s fifth-largest Solar Panel Installer, wanted to automate sensor data collection and monitoring from its solar panels and integrate the data with its business and marketing systems. After data was collected and structured, two major areas needed to be addressed: improving developer workflows and extending access to a business application to multiple users (multi-tenancy). Docker, a container technology, was used to ...
May. 27, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,887
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impact.
May. 26, 2015 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,839
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
May. 26, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,592
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
May. 26, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,739
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
May. 26, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 6,372
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will addresses this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
May. 26, 2015 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 733
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
May. 26, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 6,860
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
May. 26, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,212
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be
May. 26, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,956
Container frameworks, such as Docker, provide a variety of benefits, including density of deployment across infrastructure, convenience for application developers to push updates with low operational hand-holding, and a fairly well-defined deployment workflow that can be orchestrated. Container frameworks also enable a DevOps approach to application development by cleanly separating concerns between operations and development teams. But running multi-container, multi-server apps with containers is very hard. You have to learn five new and different technologies and best practices (libswarm, sy...
May. 26, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,859
SYS-CON Events announced today that DragonGlass, an enterprise search platform, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. After eleven years of designing and building custom applications, OpenCrowd has launched DragonGlass, a cloud-based platform that enables the development of search-based applications. These are a new breed of applications that utilize a search index as their backbone for data retrieval. They can easily adapt to new data sets and provide access to both structured and unstruc...
May. 26, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,800
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
May. 26, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,622
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
May. 26, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,933
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
May. 26, 2015 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,154
While great strides have been made relative to the video aspects of remote collaboration, audio technology has basically stagnated. Typically all audio is mixed to a single monaural stream and emanates from a single point, such as a speakerphone or a speaker associated with a video monitor. This leads to confusion and lack of understanding among participants especially regarding who is actually speaking. Spatial teleconferencing introduces the concept of acoustic spatial separation between conference participants in three dimensional space. This has been shown to significantly improve comprehe...
May. 26, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,063
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists will peel away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fil...
May. 26, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,770