The Future of Hardware and Software in the IT industry.

On my latest post I wrote about the cloud, and how I believe that is really not something new, but a better way to provide efficiency.

Based on the Greek market, there are companies that profit from selling parts of or whole racks for data rooms. For years now this process has been something like, we require power we buy a combination of servers, storage units and networking. Greece, can different in many way from the rest of the world, but not on this case.

Only in huge data centers there is standardization. As the scale of the data room shrinks, so does the level of standarization in its implementaion, expansion and management.

For me this is about to change, because of the cloud. Cloud is many things and many people want to get on board with it, regardless what their product actually is. Personally, I think that cloud is not something uniquely defined. It is the revolutionary wave that is hitting the IT industry on all levels. Both hardware and software will be affected by this wave, and I trully believe that because of the virtuallization technology that drives this wave, nothing wil be the same in the bussiness in a few years.

Let me explain my thoughts. All software must run on physical or logical machine. But both these kinds require an actual psysical hardware implementation. Today. in the server bussiness, we are used to buy server models based on their manufacturer and based on some estimations about the software’s requirements. We also take into consideration clustering, availability and backup. In general, for a normal sized company that means, ordering the right kind of hardware at first and software at second. When something new comes along, that the processed is repeated!

Most of the companies, do not have knowledge for the above process, so there are companies that provide this kind of service. Whatever the reason or the method, big sellers of servers and networking components, have a network of resselers and partners that are responsible for choosing the right combination and making sure that on delivery everything will work, based always on the original requirements of the customer. These partners also have some sort of support and management aggreement with each customer, depending on the customer’s choice of outsourcing level.

Cloud will change entirely this process. Hardware will always be required, because reqardless of the virtualization technology at some level pysical hardware is needed to run all above logical levels. The biggest difference will be, that hardware will be measured not in specification such as kind of processor, storage unit but in simple units of measure such us processing power and storage size.

You may think at this point that there is nothing new here. But, based on the methods applied in todays datacenters and on the exa-data and exa-logic implementations, in the near future companies are just going to buy 10 of some power. Today’s Microsoft, Amazon’s and Google’s datacenters grow or shrink in containers, that have a specific configuration and are simply plugged in or out. Oracle’s exa – implementations do something similar. They come in querter,half, three quarters and a full implementation, and can be combined with each other just as a container is basically plugged in a datacenter. The resemblence is so obvious, that I expect traditional giants in the industry such as HP, Dell etc do to the same, if they haven’t already.

Keep in mind that with technology, whatever goes on projects that are huge in scale always spills of at the lower implementatios. This is done because the investment in research needs to at least cover its cost. For example as with Formula-1 car companies move their research into their production cars, so will companies behind those big data centers move their know how into smaller scale implementations.

The key difference with this approach will be that the middle man becomes seriously less required, at worst obsolete. When selling something that is easy to count as is with apples and oranges, then why not sell them, simply from an e-commerce site? Remember, besides some basic infrustructure, the delivered product will be something that will simply be plugged in in order to provide for example 10% more power. So hardware will still sell, maybe not as much but in a different form. But the key players, will stil be in the bussiness but with different products.

The pattern is already there on what I believe has been the cloud at its initial steps. Microsoft is not the first in the bussiness but the Provisioning service of Azure is an example, I can relate with. Do you want some extra power or storage for this month? Just click a new server role and all will be automatically done for you! In the case of local premises, that is a private cloud small or large, the same model will come to apply.

Provisioning on your hardware will defenitly minimize the cost for IT infrastrure, but more significanlty, it will allow local managers to just provision their available resources at will or an a schedule, through a simple UI interface. It will also allow the more efficiently management, of the various software applications running on the hardware platform. And if the department really needs some more of some “stuff”, they would simple buy it and plug it in.

That said, it must be understood that huge players in the server industry, most probably will slowly eliminate their need for their retailers at worst. At best, they will just minimize  the need for these partners or change the bussiness model. The only thing that cannot be replaced is the actual administration. People or Companies providing the administration of the hardware and software infrastructe will still be required, but in the hardware department most of the job will be done by the provisioning service of the data room.

Software will still be required until the day that some analogous method can be applied in the software production cycle. But, as the wave hits the software industry, sadly many companies will find their products obsolete by their multi-tenant, generic, cloud based counter parts. So, there may be more room for the software industry, but taking account that software changes more quickly than hardware, software products and bussiness model should also evolve.

One big difference with software is that, as it can change quicklier, it can also quicklier produce new ideas and provide solutions. Let’s not forget that software development will always be a process of creation and production. You just simple need to create the space for your bussiness.

Your choices are really going to be simplyfied. With public cloud you rent the resouces consumed but your data could probably be within the borders of another country (I talk about it on my previous post). With private cloud you regulate how your resources are allocated but your data is on local premises. Economically the difference is between renting and buying. From the it manager’s point of view, there is simply just resource management.

In conlusion, if you haven’t already started thinking about how will the cloud wave hit you and whether you are going to be at the bottom or the top of the wave, then don’t waste any time more not doing it. The changes will be dramatic for all players in this bussiness.

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