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Web-scale IT: Too big and agile for ye olde infrastructure

When likes of Amazon and Google took off around the world, traditional web architectures and software no longer could cut it. Not long after, other businesses (big and small) also started dumping their old infrastructure in favour of a new way of doing things – web-scale IT.

Web-scale IT is an architectural approach that allows organisations to scale infrastructure at extreme levels through the cloud. Although its roots are in huge Internet companies, organisations are leveraging off these Internet giants’ infrastructure for mostly speed and agility, as they want to be able to adapt to changing business needs on the fly and take more control of their cost.

Web-scale providers allow organisations to define their infrastructure dynamically. They have huge data centres, use web-oriented architectures, programmable management, agile processes, DevOps and Open Compute.

Technology research firm Gartner predicts that 50 per cent of global enterprises will be using web-scale IT by 2017, growing from less than 10 per cent in 2013. The research firm also lists it as a top strategic trend for this year.

The University of Adelaide, along with other universities, last year conducted an analysis on web-scale cloud services, with 5.27 per cent of the world’s cloud services provisioned in Australia.

The study also looked at 10,076 user feedback ratings (0-5 or negative to positive) collected from 6,982 users worldwide on 113 real cloud services. About 62.3 per cent of users positively scored their cloud providers from 4-5 when it came to trust, 17.68 per cent scored their provider neutral and 20.06 per cent scored them negatively.

Web-scale IT may also become more accessible in the future. Last month, a Cloud Native Computing Foundation was announced by the Linux Foundation to standardise data centre management through new web-scale technologies. It has the support of major vendors such as VMware, Docker, Cisco, IBM and Intel.

The technologies that the foundation wants to standardise for enterprises include Kubernetes software from Google for managing many virtual containers and microservices software architecture for breaking an app into small services for easier deployment.

One caveat to be aware of when moving to web-scale IT is it requires a high level of in-house technical capability to properly build and deploy the infrastructure with the cloud provider. However, Gartner says some vendors in the market are addressing this issue.

A rethink in how applications are designed is also needed for web-scale IT. Organisations need to scale performance in proportion to additional resources and to manage some degree of business change.

“Web-scale IT is not one size fits all as we don’t want to replace one IT dogma with another. In true pace-layered fashion, use the approach to IT service delivery that works best for your customers,” said Cameron Haight, research vice president at Gartner.

“In addition, while the term ‘scale’ usually refers to size, we’re not suggesting that only large enterprises can benefit. Another scale ‘attribute’ is speed and so we’re stating that even smaller firms – or departments within larger IT organisations – can still find benefit to a web-scale IT approach.”

Perhaps your business isn’t yet big enough for web-scaling, however having an infrastructure that is planned for the rapid IT changing environment is always part of a good plan. If you need advice, give our expert team a call at 1300 732 930 or send us your inquiry by filling our contact form.