The Computer Weekly Developer Network continues with its series focused on the ‘composable ephemeral computing stack’ with a guest post written by Rob Tribe in his capacity as VP of system engineering for EMEA region at Nutanix.
If the technology industry has coined and overused one buzzphrase over the last half-decade or so, it is probably the term ‘digital transformation’… Tribe breaks down the reality of why the term was coined in the first place and looks to the wider implications for firms working data in the new normal.
Tribe writes as follows…
As well worn as that digital transformation phrase has become in some circles, it was and still is a necessary piece of terminology intended to convey the widespread migration to cloud-native, mobile-first, AI-enriched and now increasingly low-code technologies that have proliferated across all industry verticals and markets.
If we’re looking for the next key label in the global technology lexicon, then it is probably the notion of composable computing i.e. the world of essentially ephemeral IT resources where computing functions and data storage processes happen in a prescribed on-demand way according to an inherently flexible and manageable agenda.
Where we had nothing but monolithic chunks of meat on the menu beforehand, we now have a more à la carte menu on offer – and the chef will definitely ask you how you want it cooked.
Composable DNA for databases
The era of composable computing creates a new type of digital DNA; this is a double-helix where the now clunky database structures of old give way to the manifestly more controllable world of DataBase-as-a-Service (DBaaS). As we have explained here, DBaaS allows any number of different databases to be created, which allows a business to put different databases custom-optimised for specific use cases in different ‘locations’ (both physical and virtual) throughout the organisation.
As enterprise IT departments now embrace the advantages of DBaaS, they gain a new foothold on managed scalability. What that means in real terms is the ability to deploy just the number of DBaaS ‘nodes’ needed for the firm’s current application estate and data requirements, but with the ability to increase and, if needed, although typically less frequently, to decrease nodes to match workloads requirements.
This altogether more precision-engineered approach enables the business to ‘spin up or down’ DBaaS resources and prevent the costly overages that riddle badly planned database deployments.
Alongside flexibility, organisations running DBaaS benefit from the additional control of one-click patching i.e. the updates, maintenance and management processes that all databases need in order to keep running smoothly, securely and in line with compliance regulations. This represents a tangible leap forward in continuity as the business can automate many of the labour-intensive and sometimes human error-prone tasks normally associated with systems management.
Compliance as a science
When we consider all the composability we will now bring to bear upon existing business models, we need to ensure that we maintain established levels of compliance in the face of regulatory legislature, both domestically and internationally. Architected to deliver compliance and security from its base foundations, DBaaS is structured to identify potential threats which could impact mission-critical (possibly life-critical) data and systems. Knowing how damaging even the smallest data breaches can be to the long term health of the business, an enterprise migrating to DBaaS services should look for toughened compliance capabilities as a key part of its initial auditing and assessment.
The breadth of contemporary regulatory compliance rulings is expansive, whether it is Sarbanes-Oxley, PCI, HIPAA/HITECH, GDPR or some other mandatory regulation system, a comprehensive DBaaS offering should cover all bases and provide maneuverability to work with new rulings when and if they arise.
Hand-in-hand with compliance, an organisation that prides itself on a prudent approach to care and diligence will lay down company standards that help delineate lines of best practice.
A fully managed IT environment with DBaaS should be regarded as an incentive to focus on value-add customer issues, creating new operational efficiencies that may straddle sustainability goals and of course profitability too; it is not a license to take fully managed as an excuse for lower company standards. Every good IT automation layer in any aspect of business should have an equal and opposite human directive that makes work just work better, whatever the industry.
Future freedom on DBaaS
Looking to the future, enterprises adopting the technology proposition depicted here should insist on flexibility; it is crucial that a DBaaS can shape, mould and move to the needs of the business and that the onus for flexibility is never placed upon the company itself.
Coming full circle back to composable ephemeral computing, we are witnessing the widespread and increased adoption of Continuous Integration & Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) practices. As enterprise and consumer software applications move to increasingly always-on status accessed as web services, data engineers and administrators need to identify DBaaS offerings capable of moving at the speed of modern IT stacks.
In working deployment, DBaaS will underpin any progressive organisation when it is engineered carefully and thoughtfully with a watchful eye on system compliance and related areas of security, standards and best practice. If a business isn’t looking to orchestrated composability and championing this term throughout its IT stack, then it might just find itself headed towards the future playing the wrong tune.