IT Appliances are packaged solutions consisting of the hardware and software needed to deliver a specific set of IT functionality. Best practices for setup, configuration and use of these appliances are often codified into the appliances themselves through “wizards” that promote rapid implementation, pre-configuration of monitoring and thresholds, and, to varying degrees, self-management capabilities.
In 2012, we believe there will be an accelerated use of IT Appliances in three key areas in addition to their well-known deployments related to intelligent analytics:
Cloud Infrastructure Appliances: Highly scalable cloud appliances will leverage inexpensive, off-the-shelf hardware with a choice of open source and vendor cloud software stacks, allowing IT to more quickly deploy and more easily scale their private cloud implementations to support new and unexpected workloads. Appliances can reduce the time and effort to implement private cloud infrastructures and management through pre-integration, and promote rapid scalability.
IT Infrastructure Appliances for Mission-Critical Environments: IT organizations will begin to look at IT appliance innovations from mainframe vendors to transparently host their Windows and Linux applications, and to take advantage of desirable mainframe attributes such as application isolation, high security, transaction processing rates and availability, and lights-out operations.
CyberSecurity Appliances: Both on premise and highly portable in a variety of form factors, these appliances will come on the scene to improve data security, availability and timeliness and reduce network bandwidth requirements for geographically dispersed enterprises. High adoption rates will result due to ease of implementation, simplicity of deployment and lower management costs.
To better align with these IT appliance trends, we recommend that:
Data Center Architects should evaluate vendor offerings for cloud appliances that provide scalable cloud infrastructures utilizing inexpensive components, to determine whether these can meet their reliability, availability, recoverability and compliance needs. Training, staffing and policy plans should be developed to complement architectures utilizing these new cloud appliance offerings to gain best long term value.
CIOs and Enterprise Architects should examine mainframe appliance abilities to provide desirable attributes to current and planned applications and IT services. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) rather than capital investment cost should be formulated for moving applications to mainframe environments, looking at mainframe services based on-premise, hosted and/or in public clouds.
CISOs and Security Architects should weigh the use of client-side security and data appliances to help prevent security breaches while using public or private networks and make more efficient use of network bandwidth. Evaluate using these solutions to implement secure, high performing remote access and data transfer for remote offices, teleworkers, mobile staff, contractors, and in public safety, first responders. Examine whether these appliances will help meet regulatory compliance related to network security, as well as reduce costs in implementation time, staff overhead and network operations. Finally, security and data architecture should be developed that takes advantage of these appliances.
Thoughtful application of IT appliances can help speed IT initiatives, reducing both time and total cost to achieve value from these initiatives. So it’s important to take into account the capabilities and limitations of IT appliances when developing your enterprise architecture.