The concept of web-scale IT has become a bit of a buzzword in the industry, but as happens with any term used by many different people or groups, it's started to take on different meanings. Web-scale IT is not about a specific technology nor is it a “one-size-fits-all.”
Gartner coined the term web-scale IT to describe the ways that large cloud companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook deliver seamless user services on a massive scale. The concept allows them to reduce time to market for IT services and lower infrastructure costs while increasing agility, improving their ability to stimulate IT culture change and boosting quality of service.
According to Gartner, this is one of the technology trends most likely to have a significant effect on enterprises over the next three years. By 2017, Gartner predicts that web-scale IT will be an architectural approach found operating in 50% of global enterprises, up from less than 10% in 2013.
Elements commonly accepted as key components of an effective web-scale approach include an open approach to hardware, new software architectures, agile processes, a collaboratively aligned organization starting with DevOps, and a risk-embracing culture.
Open platforms that are agnostic to hardware and new software architectures provide freedom and choice and enable network services to be consumed across connectivity and providers. These solutions can also enable enterprises to benefit from self-integrating, open-source technologies that deliver enviable levels of flexibility, automation and agility, as well as freedom from “vendor lock-in.” The open approach of web-scale IT frees enterprises to choose the technologies that best suit their unique requirements, regardless of vendor or hardware.
But it’s not just about hardware and software choices. It’s also about processes and culture. With a web-scale IT approach, enterprises can easily and quickly change the way they run their data centers, network their branch offices and carry out their daily operations while enjoying the same reliability, performance and scalability as large, successful cloud-service companies.
Processes can be just as important as the technology; this is well reflected within organizations that have adopted a DevOps approach, which promotes a set of methods between development and IT operations. DevOps emphasizes information sharing, automation and measurement. According to IDC, DevOps will be adopted by 80% of the Global 1000 by 2019.
DevOps also is about culture, as it’s characterized by people with a multidisciplinary skill set that want to roll up their sleeves and get things done while also being willing to take risks and try again if it doesn’t work. Web-scale IT is just as much about encouraging this risk-embracing culture and collaboration as it is about technology.
That’s why any organization equating web-scale IT with simply “adopting the cloud” or some other new technology won’t realize even half of the benefits that could result by embracing the entire concept. By combining the cloud and new technology enablers such as SDN and open communications with web-scale IT, large enterprise can address many issues, including vendor lock-in, shadow IT and siloed infrastructure.
This combination can also enable enterprises to quickly, easily and with little risk create the trusted, simpler, more adaptable ICT infrastructures they need to capitalize on new business opportunities.