Hardware capability has increased in keeping with Moore’s Law. The advent of multi-core processors and programming paradigms around grid computing show an even higher potential in the coming years. Future software and infrastructure must then be looked at with the assumption that more powerful hardware is a given. Paradigms like virtualization and SaaS thrive on this assumption. Businesses should look at utilizing these in their long-term plans.
The cost of management of infrastructure and software is a key component of IT spending. Reduction of cost is another driver for change. With greater emphasis on aspects like power and cooling in the context of a data center, application virtualization is a key factor to keep these costs down. On the software side, application virtualization, and keeping software and data “on the cloud” are being more widely seen as viable alternatives to in-house software deployed on a per-user basis.
The main environmental drivers that lead to changes in the IT landscape are:
Though user friendliness was always a focus of software in letter, in spirit, earlier systems were aimed at “software friendly users.” The trend now really is towards actually user-friendly software. With the advent of new on-person computing devices and ubiquitous connectivity, software is changing to provide better experience to users by leveraging this connectivity and computing power. In addition, the advent of Web 2.0 and social networking is another big driver of change. In this context, software needs to also be able to take connectivity and capability into account, so RIA and new devices become the supported norm, while potentially the bare-bones browser might take a backseat.
Green IT is being seen as being more and more important, and IT needs to also embrace this reality. In addition to data center focused initiatives like virtualization, etc., other aspects like lower power devices, leveraging more on-client capability, etc. also need to be brought into play.
Earlier, the focus was on making systems work, while now the focus is on making systems work together. Standards like SOAP, and now WS-*, are promoting more and more interoperation between systems. The fallout of this is new systems will need to adhere to open standards for promoting easier interfacing. Older systems need to be refurbished to build standards-compliant facades around their non-standard cores. Another effect is with more and more systems being capable of interoperating, robust integration architecture becomes more important. Concepts like service-bus provide a far better integration paradigm than point-to-point.
The constancy of change is a well-established fact, and the best that can be done is to anticipate change, and be prepared to handle it. Most change in the IT landscape happens is a result of business, technology, or environmental drivers. The use of new technology paradigms like virtualization in the infrastructure space, service orientation and service buses in the software space help address the technology drivers.
Business drivers are best addressed by a long term synergy between IT and business roadmaps to replace tactical moves with strategic ones. Environmental drivers can be addressed by means of envisioning and embracing ongoing changes like people centricity and thrust towards standards-based integration.
Srinivas Rao Bhagavatula is a program director at MindTree.