We are living in the era of extreme programmability (i.e. software defined everything). Building on the success of compute virtualization and programmable access to infrastructure services, the availability of commercial and open source cloud software platforms make this an exciting time for IT. After over a decade of infrastructure virtualization rollouts, Enterprise IT is now entering the Datacenter Transformation phase. In this article we’ll briefly look at the history and then fast forward to this age of cloud implementations.
Looking back, a Datacenter rollout was as a Procure-Power-Provision approach for deploying infrastructure resources (network, storage, compute). This is sometimes referred to as the Traditional Datacenter approach. This approach is viable even today for certain business needs. Even within last 5 years, some of the largest datacenter builders were still deploying resources in this manner. It is sometimes considered inefficient, however, as long as the IT processes are well documented and operational procedures are defined, it is still a reasonable approach. If the business needs do not require a dynamically scaling datacenter and capacity consumption can be predicted well in advance to satisfy future needs, this approach works.
Next came the approach of dynamically creating resources, building on top of the virtualized infrastructure. This is sometimes referred to as the Virtualized Datacenter approach. With this approach, the underlying hardware components were procured and provisioned in the traditional manner. However, resources can now be carved out dynamically with the help of virtualization (for example, using a hypervisor for compute resources). This virtualization technology is available for compute, storage, and most recently network resources as well. By providing isolation of carved out resources, boundaries of resource consumption were implemented as if each resource was a whole unit in and itself. Virtualization abstracted the underlying hardware and each resource looked like its own thing. This is definitely true about virtual compute instances on top of a hypervisor running a full operating system. Definition of what a dedicated resource is, changes in the storage and network worlds, but the principles of virtualization still apply. IT departments do not debate about the need for compute or storage virtualization anymore – the business benefits are well understood, proven, and it is a matter of implementation – not evaluation.
The third wave is the cloud approach, also referred to as cloud computing or utility computing. Let's call this the Cloud Datacenter approach. This approach builds on top of virtualization and dynamic provisioning, to enable self-service consumption of infrastructure resources. The cloud approach changed how resources were consumed, not so much how they were provisioned for such a consumption. The resources are programmatically available through a multi-tenant cloud software platform, so each user that is provisioning the resource can use it with complete ownership and accounting of the usage. Instead of waiting for IT to provision resources, users can now get the resources without waiting. IT still has to plan for capacity, provision the infrastructure, rollout or update the cloud software platform, offer a self-service portal, and maintain SLAs on resource availability. What changed was the end user experience for procuring and consuming the resources. While some expect this to enable departmental allocation of resource consumption, the first order benefit is still that of enabling self-service infrastructure resources consumption.
The cloud datacenter approach can be further explained using the seven principles as described below. Any IT organization defining what cloud datacenter implementation translates into, and defining the success criteria for a phased cloud datacenter rollout, can use these principles. Here they are:
Cloud Datacenter Principles
Depending on the cloud computing approach an Enterprise takes, some or all of these principles hold true.
F5 is committed to helping customers rollout traditional, virtualized, and cloud datacenters by providing platforms that support all of these approaches. F5 continues to offer solutions that include purpose-built high-performance appliances, multi-tenant virtualized chassis platforms, as well as virtualized software platforms that run on top of a hypervisor – giving our customers all the flexibility they need to deliver their applications. Customers can deploy F5 application delivery solutions and management solutions in private, public or hybrid cloud software platforms. By providing solutions to implement the seven principles for cloud datacenters described in this article, F5 has remained relevant in this age of cloud computing and will continue to innovate on behalf of our customers. Please fill this web-based form to request a contact from F5 and learn about all the options you have to prepare for the cloud datacenter transformation.