IT infrastructure is constantly riding the often-tumultuous waves of consolidation and separation. A typical example would be the eras of mainframe, open systems, and PC computing. No surprise there. For the past three to five years, server virtualization has been a catalyst for data center consolidation, (even though for the most part, IT has mapped server virtualization initiatives to existing IT infrastructure choices, or dare I say legacy infrastructure).
Regardless, as a result of the success and comfort level of virtualization in the data center and the simplicity of cloud solutions, IT infrastructure is rapidly evolving. Vendors are betting on a shift in thinking among customers where enterprises will no longer want to "accessorize" their existing systems, and will see the light when it comes to converged solutions. That said, be on the lookout for these highlights in 2015:
Major IT system vendors Cisco, EMC/ VCE, HP, Dell, and IBM will broaden their infrastructure portfolio to include a spectrum of full rack and stack legacy gear to software-only infrastructure solutions this includes hyperconverged solutions. Each vendor will either provide its own stack, or partner, or acquire what's needed to fill in any gaps in the portfolio. This will be the year of a broad spectrum of offerings from these vendors as they line up business opportunities, align with IT buying trends, and shift to new revue opportunities. These vendors will be challenged on how and when to align products that have overlapping capabilities and exponentially complicated go-to-market channels.
Converged solutions inclusive of adjacent IT services. Racking servers, storage, and some networking gear together will fall short of where the market is headed. Converged systems have surpassed the basic packaging and pricing of infrastructure and are delivering alternative replication, data protection, capacity utilization, and management solutions as part of the system. A relevant example of this approach is how Simplivity is challenging the status quo by delivering a hyperconverged solution inclusive of data center services and has the potential to replace existing tools and process.
Public cloud provider footprint locally in the data center. Most of the cloud consumption we have seen to date has been isolated to the cloud, but we expect to see more and more of a consumption model that requires the consumption of both public cloud and local data center resources. Microsoft has already recognized this with Windows Azure Pack as part of CPS (Cloud platform system) for on-premise Azure experience, but let's not be surprised if we see Amazon AWS land some type of appliance in the data center. Also, look at what Cisco may do with Intercloud, HP with Helion, and IBM with Softlayer; oh, and let's not rule out what VMware may have in its plan with EVO solutions.
Open source initiatives will land in the data center. Expect to see less experimenting and more production from the likes of KVM and OpenStack. Some of this will be driven by IT vendors packaging and simplifying deployment. Red Hat, Dell, Nebula, and Maxta are a few examples, but expect more vendors to jump in on a serious level here as another entry point into the data center. Also bear in mind that KVM-based converged infrastructure solutions such as the ones delivered by Nimboxx, Scale Computing, and Stratoscale could potentially tip the cost equation and become a very attractive option.
Convergence and hyperconvergence can help solve the infrastructure complexity problem, reduce CAPEX expenditures, and, perhaps most importantly, can positively impact IT process and operational efficiency. So while some may view these new infrastructure consumption models as a time to get nerdy on the architecture, it is the impact to IT operations and how it drives measurable business outcomes that will matter to the IT professional.