In this installment, I would like to outline some of the key changes that will/would occur in a “Flat IT” environment. Here are the some of the key principles.

Infrastructures become Virtual – Virtualization has been a hot trend for some time now and I believe the technology (virtualization) will exist wherever there is Hardware. Virtualization is important for utilization but also ultimately critical for building a truly dynamic IT environment. Virtualization will simply free IT from any specific coupling to HW.

All Functions exist as Services (SOA) – You may think there is nothing new here but this is where I see a major new change coming. We have always considered applications services as a part of this construct but I also believe that all interaction with data/information will occur at the SOA layer. Applications and users will receive and store their information by interacting with Information Services. These services will provide the protection, archiving, compliance, security, and other capabilities as a service. A single application will no longer “own” data. Information will exist as an independent element that can be managed independently and used by any authorized application. Combined with delivering resources, this creates what I call a Services Oriented Infrastructure.

Composite Applications are built without code – Within the services framework complete applications are simply connected with workflow (BPM) tools just like working with Visio. Composite applications are built by coupling information, security, application, and other services together in a prescribed way.

IT becomes Information-Centric - In the existing IT environments, I believe we moved from being Server-centric to OS-centric to Application-centric. In the next generation, we become more network-centric but fundamentally (for the first time I might note) start building Information Technology actually around the Information. This is powerful. It means that Information is no longer captive to a single application but can be leveraged across any number of applications.

Virtual Appliances become the preferred delivery model for Application Services - As all interaction and communications between application services and information services will operate at the SOA layer, many of the complex, driver-centric functions that exist within today’s operating systems will simply no longer be utilized. Base operating environments will exist principally to provide a compute environment for applications. Hence, we will start to see more Applications embed base OS and other base capabilities directly with their offerings. This will simplify integration, test, security, delivery and support. We are seeing major examples of this today – for example with Oracle’s recent embedded Linux announcement.

Model-Based Management Provides Orchestration or Resources and Services – To pull all of these capabilities together we need management. Traditional framework-centric management is just not going to cut it, however. Today’s management technologies simply can’t handle the virtual, dynamic, and complex environments that will be constructed. This is where model-based management comes in; it will transform how we think about management. Simply, model-based management will provide the orchestration necessary to deliver highly reliable and scaleable systems across these complex environments.

These are the key constructs to the Flat IT concept. I will spend some time discussing some these principles in more detail in future episodes.


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