As I look across this state-of-the-art data center I am struck by the sheer number of racks of servers, storage, and networking equipment. The data center is alive with activity as engineers unload the latest back-up technology and unpack a new data warehouse appliance. With each flicker of the thousands of LED indicator lights on virtually every piece of equipment in the facility, revenue is being generated and customers are being satisfied. However, behind this ballet of human ingenuity and machines lies a terrible secret as manageability is no where to be found.
Some will argue that systems from IBM, BMC, EMC, HP, and others make manageability a reality. Others will argue that the “innovators dilemma” precludes these vendors from bringing true autonomic computing to the market. I argue that their hodgepodge of acquisitions and organically grown technology pales in comparison to their hubris and market power. After-all, if a true self-healing and self-managing data center became a reality, what would they sell? Outsourcing? Professional Services? Perhaps a game of chess?
It is time that manageability moved from the backseat to the front seat and a new area of autonomic computing is born. Where it does not take an army of professional services consultants and an equally large army of administrators to install, configure, and manage a single application. Where search is not hailed as the answer to all of IT’s problems. Where enterprise management systems are replaced by heterogeneous management solutions. Where thousands of applications, servers, storage, and networking equipment work together in perfect harmony managed as one.
I posed this question to the administrators of this data center. Each politely smiled, laughed, and sighed in frustration. No application, no piece of hardware or software, and no storage infrastructure will manage itself. Oh sure, the vendors will tell you that “after purchase and install the system it runs itself.” Show me a something that runs itself and I will sell you some ocean front property in Nevada.
Virtualization, Wan Optimization, Data De-Duping, and Security may be hot, but the real race is on for a new paradigm; manageability. The entity that creates the operating system for IT will become the next billion dollar corporation. Perhaps it’s the hum of the equipment or the cold air flowing through the vents, but I’m ready for a change; are you?