Don’t worry, this isn’t ‘the talk’. I’m engrossed in working on a Reference Architecture for the F5 High Performance Services Fabric (or HPSF or ‘herspsv’ – sounds like Scandinavian Self assembly furniture, I know). The trouble is, when I start doing these things I always seem to come up against questions that I had not thought of during my planning. Worse still these questions often need a ‘consensus’ style answer that involves me asking a load of clever people some stupid questions, and hoping I don’t damage my career any more than normal in the process.
So here goes:
What do we call the thing that contains all the places you can deliver an application from?
See, I told you it would sound stupid, but hang with me so I can either convince you it’s a valid question, or reveal more facets of my idiocy. As I’m sure you’ve read in plenty of blogs, whitepapers an F5 Reference Architectures, there are a range of different places you can host an application. Many organizations are still serving the bulk of their applications from corporate data centers of collocated cages in hosting centers. A very few are 100% in a public cloud. The rest of us are using a mix of traditional data center, public cloud, private cloud, and ‘Software as a Service’ applications. Great IT departments mask the complexity of all this from their users and use clever tools to provide identity federation, security and simple webtops to stitch these patchwork services into a unified set of applications I need to do my job. But what is the container for all these places? The Application Universe? The infrastructure continuum? And why does it even matter? Because I want to make people understand that to deliver great applications you need application services, and these services need to be pervasive though all the places your applications live*. I’m simply looking for a more elegant way to describe “all the places your applications live” because a) I like to have clear, well understood names for things, b) I’m a slow typist and any name will have less characters to (mis)type. It’s important to talk about this because If your services aren't available in all locations you will end up with applications tied to specific spots, or a reduced choice of where to host new applications.
Maybe I need to dig out that furniture catalog.
*You might argue the exception are SaaS services, but I assure you that there are plenty of application services going on in SaaS providers, they are just “under the cloud”, so you never see them (isn’t that part of the joy of SaaS?).