Data center architecture use to be a straight forward discipline: take the application (which was thrown over the wall), reexamine user context and volume issues, put together the network, storage and server design, test and deploy. It was easy to get myoptic into our own worlds of windows, unix and mainframe designs. Yet, the world changed. The volume and complexity of sytems in our data centers increased exponentially. Furthermore, application architecture became more complex with an increase in functionally decomposed and distributed environments. The complexity and breath of capability needed to be successful was just too overwhelming. Specializations came, and with it, many incompatible taxonomies and methodologies between roles. As the technology models became more complex, it became increasingly challenging to make holistic, discriminating business decisions with IT systems, processes and role development. The only variable many companies focused on became initial platform and software purchase price. And vendors were all too willing to accomidate. Many new consolidation technologies sprang up quickly. Yet, while consolidation technologies reduced physical machines, it often did not reduce complexity or make the solutions cheaper to manage. Often, the operational costs increased. This race went on until many of us realized that we were spending almost 60 to 80% of our budgets on maintaining the complexity we already had. As this issue has continued to challenge us, business leaders began noticing our inability to bring new IT solutions to market in line with new competitive business models. One business critic even suggested that IT does not provide strategic competitive differentiation anymore. It's just a cost issue.
Yet, while most us have managed systems in the quagmire, we all know that things can be better. Most of us know there are wonderful new IT approaches with which we could capitalize on to create business competitive differentiation. This web-blog represents my thoughts and discussions on these issues and possible approaches towards reducing that complexity. Futhermore, understand that I do work for Microsoft and I'm not completely objective. I believe that Microsoft's new application and data center long term strategy is the best in the market. This analysis motivated me to move from Sun to Microsoft because of it.
So why did I create this web-blog? It represents a continuous examination on improving our customer's Microsoft oriented data center architecture. I hope you find this continuous discussion interesting and look foward to your thoughtful insights on how we can improve these issues and demonstrate how IT can matter.
Lewis Curtis (IT Advisor)
National Architecture Team, Development and Platform Evangelism, Microsoft Corporation