The organic IT infrastructure revolution

In 1987, Forrester coined the term "Client/Server" to describe a massive shift in how firms would deploy technology. Now, in...

In 1987, Forrester coined the term "Client/Server" to describe a massive shift in how firms would deploy technology. Now, in 2002, Forrester sees another shift of the same magnitude - what we call Organic IT.

Organic IT is a new, holistic way to think about technology and will enable the deployment of cheaper, faster, more reliable, more flexible technology. Forrester defines Organic IT as: Computing infrastructure built on cheap, redundant components that automatically shares and manages enterprise computing resources - software, processors, storage, and networks - across all applications within a data centre.

Global 3,500 firms have spent the last thirty years thinking in technology silos - networks, servers, storage, and software infrastructure. Organic IT unifies these technologies into a coherent whole, illuminating the way companies will buy, use, manage, and implement technology over the next ten years. By combining commodity, off-the-shelf technology in creative new ways, Organic IT lets Global 3,500 firms manage their back office systems much more efficiently -while radically simplifying the process of integrating with customers, partners, and suppliers. In short, this new architecture permits firms to save millions on their technology infrastructure and get more for the dollars they're spending.

Organic IT will address companies' desperate need to create greater business flexibility, allowing them to tap into advanced supply chains without the rigidity and limitations of today's technology. Specifically, this new architecture attacks the key problems that firms face in deploying technology utilisation, integration and manageability.

Organic IT scales up and down to match demand, without sudden failures of business capacity. This means matching the reliability and efficiency of the electrical grid or the telephone network. Organic IT quickly and easily connects dissimilar technologies, within and between firms, with the ease of sending e-mail or visiting a Web site. Organic IT automates installation, load balancing, fail-over, and recovery, leaving IT administrators to manage unusual exceptions.

Business agility today is limited by rigid technologies that prevent quick adjustments in response to changing business conditions. But IT shops will finally break technology's business rigidity as they take advantage of abstraction to synthesise the four key layers of infrastructure:

1. Networks Innovative vendors like Sockeye Networks and Proficient Networks are now shipping gear that enables firms to safely rip out expensive leased WAN pipes and replace them with flaky Internet links. How? By combining multiple cheap pipes into a redundant array of Internet links (RAIL). The result is astonishing: better performance, with a bandwidth cost reduction of up to 20 percent.

2. Storage Vendors like Network Appliance and EMC will soon deliver networked storage products that make direct attached disks obsolete. Instead of managing disks scattered across the network, firms will move to centralise storage on Fibre Channel or Ethernet networks for access from any server and save nearly 30% in the process.

3. Processors Server transformation will continue beyond today's 1U rack servers and newfangled blade servers. The next generation of server infrastructure will employ cheap processor/memory nodes easily shared across applications on a network fabric like InfiniBand yielding an infrastructure that can adapt to highly variable application demand by 2006.

4. Software New Web services standards like Soap and WSDL will enable software developers to quickly bridge disparate apps into a single cohesive application tapestry.

Organic IT delivers benefits by making the IT organisation's job easier. Organic IT not only simplifies the management of each infrastructure layer, it integrates management of the layers together. Through the single Organic IT management console, administrators will be able to squeeze maximum use out of the technology, easily integrate applications and business processes, and automate manageability.

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