We are in the throes of rewriting what IT infrastructure is. The shift to the cloud changes what we pay for, how we budget and plan costs, what is costly, what can be managed, what can be predicted, how quickly systems are deployed, how easily systems are moved or replicated or recovered.
This means that we will soon be in the throes of rewriting what infrastructure management does, and how it works, and who uses it.
We do have some inkling what to expect. The last shift in the IT infrastructure paradigm —from mainframe in data centers to distributed computing dominated by client/server—happened only a quarter century ago, and the lessons are readily available. Client/server engendered entirely new development technologies, development methodologies, operations technology —and upended how IT was controlled, budgeted, and managed.
Tools that were terrific in the mainframe environment were still useful in small ways, some of the time, for parts of a few of the problems. In other words, woefully inadequate. The replacements came from new players — think Microsoft and BMC— while established players —like IBM—were slow to catch up. The established players thought they could bolt some distributed management onto their data center management. As it turns out, the new players eventually bolted on a comparatively small bit of datacenter management onto their vast new tooling.
With cloud, we once again face a different paradigm, a different world, that demands different tools, techniques, and opportunities. Fortunately, we can apply much more sophisticated technology today than was available 25 years ago. Machine and deep learning will save our bacon this time around.
The scale and complexity of the cloud environment will dwarf anything most of have experienced or can imagine. Humans did ok with millions of events and objects to manage, using scripts and templates. When faced with billions and then trillions, tooling made it possible to handle bundles of objects and respond only to exceptional events. But we are on the frontier of zeta and yotta scale. We will be forced to automate almost all of infrastructure management. Machines will observe, analyze, optimize and act. It will be our human job to observe, analyze, optimize and act on the machines and the models they run.
A new wave of management tooling is already emerging to replace the soon-to-be-sidelined management platforms you currently rely on. A new wave of skills should be under development: you should now be spending your time building models instead of scripts.