I’ve watched more than my fair share of home renovation television shows. I can’t remember one episode in which the host exclaims, “Look at the details of the threads of this ionized pipe!” But I have seen episodes where a project was completely derailed because of substandard plumbing. Infrastructure is the plumbing of information technology. I’ve heard it said that infrastructure is tactical versus strategic. I might have even been that person.
There’s truth in that statement. I’ve often commented that the application and app developer are kings of enterprise IT. After all, applications are the user’s interface into the world of information. Applications are basically the kitchen and bathrooms of technology.
However, just as really great, high quality homes are built with great plumping, really great applications are built on exceptional infrastructure. You need look no further than the poster children of Web 2.0, Facebook and Google. Both companies have made major investments in infrastructure. It’s more than plumbing for these organizations. It can even be argued that they are strategic in nature. We wouldn’t have the virtually unlimited photo sharing services of either provider if not for distributed storage on generic hardware. The cost of traditional SAN storage would be prohibitive.
The lesson that traditional enterprises can learn from these organizations is that infrastructure can be strategic and non-traditional solutions are viable options. There’s plenty of excitement around infrastructure technologies these days. Software based SAN controllers such as EMC’s ScaleIO and VMware’s vSAN make for exciting times in the evolution of storage technology. Software defined-networking is also begging for a new look at the most basic of enterprise plumbing.
So, let’s hear it for the infrastructure engineers, the plumbers of the IT world. You guys are bringing sexy back into plumbing!