I was right. Well, mostly right.
It has been 5 years now since I proposed the notion of "Flat IT." I thought it would be interesting to go back and see how things turned out. Below is the original blog entry with my comments below each premise.
In this installment, I would like to outline some of the key changes that will/would occur in a “Flat IT” environment. Here are the some of the key principles.
Infrastructures become Virtual – Virtualization has been a hot trend for some time now and I believe the technology (virtualization) will exist wherever there is Hardware. Virtualization is important for utilization but also ultimately critical for building a truly dynamic IT environment. Virtualization will simply free IT from any specific coupling to HW.
I think I got that one right: Grade A+
All Functions exist as Services (SOA) – You may think there is nothing new here but this is where I see a major new change coming. We have always considered applications services as a part of this construct but I also believe that all interaction with data/information will occur at the SOA layer. Applications and users will receive and store their information by interacting with Information Services. These services will provide the protection, archiving, compliance, security, and other capabilities as a service. A single application will no longer “own” data. Information will exist as an independent element that can be managed independently and used by any authorized application. Combined with delivering resources, this creates what I call a Services Oriented Infrastructure.
While not directly SOA, the concept of Web Services is now ubiquitous in the industry. We see more and more data services becoming available every day and the concept of a blob stor is now considered mainstream: Grade A-
Composite Applications are built without code – Within the services framework complete applications are simply connected with workflow (BPM) tools just like working with Visio. Composite applications are built by coupling information, security, application, and other services together in a prescribed way.
There clearly has been progress in the direction. Developers are using new high-level languages and a base of open source and web services to rapidly build feature-rich applications. We are getting there but are still a good ways from "drag and drop:" Grade B
IT becomes Information-Centric - In the existing IT environments, I believe we moved from being Server-centric to OS-centric to Application-centric. In the next generation, we become more network-centric but fundamentally (for the first time I might note) start building Information Technology actually around the Information. This is powerful. It means that Information is no longer captive to a single application but can be leveraged across any number of applications.
I would argue that we are well on the way to realization of information-centric IT. The need to leverage "big data" and improve our insight via BI and Analytics is at the forefront of today's IT efforts. More and more our applications exist to serve up information in unique ways: Grade B+
Virtual Appliances become the preferred delivery model for Application Services - As all interaction and communications between application services and information services will operate at the SOA layer, many of the complex, driver-centric functions that exist within today’s operating systems will simply no longer be utilized. Base operating environments will exist principally to provide a compute environment for applications. Hence, we will start to see more Applications embed base OS and other base capabilities directly with their offerings. This will simplify integration, test, security, delivery and support. We are seeing major examples of this today – for example with Oracle’s recent embedded Linux announcement.
Yup. The VM (virtual machine) approach is totally mainstream. Developers just pick their foundation elements that a best suited to their app and go from there. Consumers can not longer expect or require that a server-based application run on their chosen OS: Grade A
I would also note that the device and client side has gone through a much more rapid transformation than I expected. Client-side app development is moving almost in the opposite direction where developers must have applications that can run across the variety of platforms (android, iOS, etc).
Model-Based Management Provides Orchestration or Resources and Services – To pull all of these capabilities together we need management. Traditional framework-centric management is just not going to cut it, however. Today’s management technologies simply can’t handle the virtual, dynamic, and complex environments that will be constructed. This is where model-based management comes in; it will transform how we think about management. Simply, model-based management will provide the orchestration necessary to deliver highly reliable and scaleable systems across these complex environments.
I would say I missed that one. What I now believe needs to evolve in IT management is less focused on model-based capabilities (although they will still be used) and more focused on policy-driven automation: Grade C
While Flat IT never caught on as a term (I wish I could say I was thinking of calling it Cloud Computing) it seems that things have evolved amazingly close to what I expected. You can be the judge, however, as it's all there in the archives....