However, until very recently, even seasoned industry observers were all but conceding that, with the advent of the Cloud and managed services, the in/out debate had reached something of an end game. Precisely because of history, few if any would have bet their house on Cloud and managed services being the only game in town from now until…until the very recent, but growing emergence of the micro data centre concept. Taking the applications back to where they are needed, rather than hosting them in some kind of a centralised warehouse. Ah, but weren’t all the applications distributed once upon a time, so this is hardly a new trend?
Yes, and no. No, because applications, indeed much IT resource, whether software or hardware, was sited near the users; Yes, because, this time, the reasons why the distributed architecture was abandoned (unreliability, lack of local level skills etc.) have been addressed, so it’s possible to have a reliable micro data centre in a local company office, containing everything needed to run a specific application, with sophisticated, centralised monitoring and maintenance – doing away with the need for localised IT expertise.
For those who have bet everything on Cloud, there’s no need to despair. There’s going to be no mass migration away from megascale, centralised data centres anytime soon, just a growing understanding that, as with the decision to go private, public or hybrid, there’s also a decision to be made about localised or centralised, with regionalised somewhere in the mix.
In other words, there’s another option to consider when it comes to trying to establish an efficient IT infrastructure. Thanks to the rapidly growing sophistication of various IT infrastructure measuring, monitoring and analysing tools, it’s quite possible that, over time, the decisions as to where to place applications, and when to move them, will become entirely automated.
‘May you live in exciting times’ is a famous Chinese curse, and IT professionals charged with running an efficient data centre and attendant IT infrastructure can be forgiven for wishing they lived in an earlier age when the only major business machine decision concerned when to change the abacus. However, the opportunities and rewards to the business for ensuring that the IT environment is constantly (re)evaluated and refreshed are impressive. And those companies who ignore the implications of the Digital Age, whether they choose to embrace it wholly, partially, or not at all, are likely to join another historical cycle – that of companies no longer in business because they didn’t adapt to survive. There’s no need for a headlong rush to embrace any and every new technology idea, but it is vital that anyone running a business understands the implications of these ideas to their organisation. The In/Out debate is one such area. For many companies, latency and immediacy are not major issues, so the benefits of centralising and ‘cloudifying’ are substantial; to others, where speed and response time are everything, moving apps back closer to the user may well make sense. Before any decisions can be made, there are some complicated sums to be done – no change then from the time of our Greek ancestors!