Optimizing server and storage solutions for particular applications has been a common IT practice. Buying application-specific hardware makes sense when an application is relatively stable over time or where there are specific use-cases that the application, such as machine learning, will require specific hardware such as GPU acceleration for training runs.
However, demand for new and innovative customer-facing applications, analytic services and mobile applications has introduced a new dynamic to how IT services are delivered. It is virtually impossible for companies to accurately anticipate infrastructure needs two or three years in the future on an application-specific basis. And organizations that continue to practice application-specific provisioning experience these common problems.
Deploying standardized infrastructure and automation procedures is a more efficient and adaptable practice. Standardization helps organizations maximize compatibility, interoperability, safety, repeatability and quality. It allows companies to deploy infrastructure incrementally as demands change, scaling up and down as needed. Standardizing infrastructure also lets data center managers more easily add components without disrupting existing operations and allows businesses to realize the benefits of Moore’s Law by helping them seamlessly incorporate the latest generation of compute, storage and network technology.
In addition to deploying standardized hardware and software, companies should consider the architectural framework of their data center. Again, major Internet companies have found practices that work well across a range of enterprises. Amazon’s published guidelines on the well-architected framework identify four pillars of data center architecture.
- Performance efficiency
- Cost optimization
Security addresses concerns around the confidentiality and integrity of data, as well as the availability of systems. This pillar focuses on delivering business value through risk assessments and mitigation strategies.
Reliability focuses on the need to recover from failures (both hardware and software), to adapt to disruptions in lower-level services and to scale to meet dynamic demands on workloads.
Performance efficiency and cost optimization help to ensure that compute, storage and network resources are optimized. The goal is to meet business objectives while minimizing cost.
IT service delivery is constantly under pressure to move faster, perform better and cost less. In the past, deploying application-specific hardware optimized performance and costs, but these benefits came at the cost of flexibility. Standardization offers an alternative model that empowers businesses to realize greater adaptability, scalability and cost efficiency. That more efficient and flexible IT service delivery model is built on a foundation of hardware, automation and a well-designed architecture.