OK - this was a tough one to start because there is simply so much I want to discuss.

As a prerequisite, I would ask that you do two things. First, read Thomas Freidman’s book “The World is Flat” and second, understand the prevailing concepts behind Web 2.0. If you do that, this is going to be easy.

From a technology perspective, I found the Thomas Friedman book “The World is Flat” to be one of the most interesting reads in a long while. While he clearly was looking at the people side implications, I found the technology aspects of a “Flat World” intriguing.

Could there be a complete analogy of the “Flat” World to IT? Obviously, I think so. Some of you may have heard me speak of the concept of “Flat IT.” I believe that Flat IT will ultimately change the way we design and build IT for business.

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It its simplest form, the concept of Flat IT is that the traditional IT “Stack” (HW, Drivers, OS, Database, Applications, etc) essentially disappears. Capabilities (Business Services) are simply stitched together from a collection of smaller “services” that provide specific functions or information.  The “stack” as we know it disappears; it crumbles. IT is turned on its side!

Sound familiar, it should. Much of how we interact with the Web today uses a similar model – Web Services. In a Web Services model, developers (good ones) do not waste time doing what has already been done; they seek to add value by adding their service to the overall process.

The key tenants of Flat IT are:

  • SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) comprised of Application, Information, and Resource Services
  • Information-centric IT and Business Processes
  • Loose “Orchestration” of infrastructure resources, application services to form highly customized and flexible business processes
  • Dynamic and tiered infrastructures that are virtual and loosely coupled
  • An environment built around collaboration and the concept that all information can have multiple uses

In some ways one could look at this as many of the Web 2.0 concepts applied to Data-center IT operations but the concept goes much further. Flat IT is about decomposing and creating a modular set of services (Software Services that is) to build composite applications.

Over the next weeks/months I will write additional installments detailing specific aspects of the Flat IT concept. Hopefully it will provide for some thought-provoking debate (or at least fodder) for your IT strategy.

Mark…

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