50% of global organisations to adopt architectural approach to web-scale IT by 2017

10 March 2014

New research published by Gartner has revealed that 50 per cent of global enterprises will be taking an architectural approach to web-scale IT by 2017, a significant increase from the ten per cent that did so in 2013.

Web-scale IT delivers the capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT setting by rethinking positions across several dimensions within an organisation.

The changes within the web-scale IT sector has been brought about by the changing operations of large cloud providers such as Amazon and Google, which has altered the way IT services can be delivered to businesses around the world. With such large organisations behind the provision of IT services, their capabilities tend to go beyond sheer size, as they can also provide speed and agility required by corporations in the modern business landscape.

Cameron Haight, research vice president at Gartner, explained that businesses need to emulate the architectures, process and practices of exemplary cloud providers if they want to keep pace with the competition.

"Web-scale IT looks to change the IT value chain in a systemic fashion," said Mr. Haight. "Data centers are designed with an industrial engineering perspective that looks for every opportunity to reduce cost and waste. This goes beyond redesigning facilities to be more energy efficient to also include in-house design of key hardware components such as servers, storage and networks. Web-oriented architectures allow developers to build very flexible and resilient systems that recover from failure more quickly."

The traditional IT vendor landscape has been changing in recent years as data centre facilities, their servers, storage and networking hardware are lowering costs significantly.

"IT organisations have historically had a limited number of vendors from which to source their hardware, whether the need was for servers, storage devices or network equipment. This began to change when large, cloud services providers, because of their extreme needs for scale and cost control, began to design and assemble infrastructure components," said Mr. Haight.

All of the changes within the web-scale IT sector will enable enterprises to leverage the economies of scale designed into these systems, from both a pricing and operation expense perspective. This new sense of innovation will have additional benefits further down the line for large cloud services firms, as well as traditional enterprises.

According to the research firm, web-oriented architecture (WOA) software architectures are enabling development teams to work increasingly independently, while improving the resiliency of applications in use within an organisation. Rethinking how applications are designed to meet the requirements of web-scale IT environments will be a key issue, with scaling performance alongside the addition of resources, adopting the level of business change needed and remaining operationally efficient as the system grows.

Enterprises that implement new application and architectural approaches are able to improve performance and resiliency, which means they can begin to rethink the level of operational support in place.

By combining new software architecture and a DevOps-style approach an organisation can increase its ability to adapt to changes, making it much more agile and able to react to fluctuations and alterations in the industry.

As a result, Gartner predicts that by 2020, 25 per cent of global enterprise CIOs will have had previous involvement in corporate web-scale IT initiatives, up from less than five per cent in 2013.

Mr Haight added: "Historically, enterprise IT has been focused on managing risk - particularly for companies that reside in regulated industries. However, the major DevOps underpinnings, such as automation, are enabling these same enterprises to realise they can be fast and 'safe'. Embracing risk is not as risky as it sounds with a DevOps mindset. Having the architecture of the application being more resilient in the first place enables IT operations teams to implement and support leaner and more agile processes that might otherwise be viewed as inappropriate for conservatively minded organisations."

By Gary Cooper

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