The end of IT as we know it is upon us. Decades of hype, incremental evolution and bitter disappointment are about to come to an end as the provisioning of IT infrastructure is finally commoditised. By the end of the decade, the majority of new IT purchases will be converged infrastructure solutions that I only semi-jokingly call Infrastructure Endgame Machines (IEMs).
I've discussed this topic with everyone from coalface systems administrators to the highest-ranking executives of companies that have become household names. Only a few truly see the asteroid headed their way and the collective denial of the entire industry will mean an absolute bloodbath when it hits.
Back in October, I talked about Software Defined Infrastructure (SDI). I painted a picture of a unicorn-like solution that, in essence, combined hyper-convergence, Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV), with orchestration, automation and management software that didn't suck. I thought it was going to be rather a long time before these started showing up.
Boy, was I wrong.
An IEM is an SDI Block made manifest*, but as more than merely something you can install on your premises. It would include the ability to move workloads between your local SDI block and those of both a public cloud provider and regional hosted providers.
This gives those seeking to run workloads on someone else's IEM the choice of using a vendor legally beholden to the US of NSA, or one that operates entirely in their jurisdiction. What a magical future that would be. All the promises of the past 15 years of marketing made real.
The goal of an IEM is that it removes the requirement to ever think about your IT infrastructure beyond some rather high-level data centre architecting. Figuring out cooling and power delivery will probably take more effort than lighting up an entire private cloud that's ready to deliver any kind of "as a Service" you require, including a full self-service portal.
Put bluntly, IEM is the data centre product of the year 2020. Storage, networking, servers, hypervisors, operating systems, applications, management and so on will all simply be features.
Today, it would be rare to find a company that goes out and buys deduplication as a product. It's expected that this is a basic feature of modern storage. By 2020, all of modern storage – and a whole lot more – will be expected to be a basic feature of an IEM.
It is all too easy to slip back into cynicism and think about the dozen reasons this might never happen. SDI blocks would decimate internal IT teams. Entire classes of specialities would become obsolete overnight.
Hundreds – if not thousands – of IT providers that only deliver one piece of the puzzle are instantly put on life support. Heck, the US government (amongst others) might intervene to stop the creation of IEMs because it would put at risk their ability to spy on everyone, all the time.