Language may be the only thing that passes through cycles of evolution as fast as technology. This is because, when a new technology or idea becomes different enough from its predecessor, we need new terminology to define what it is we’re talking about. Cameron Haight at Gartner realized this in May of 2013. In a blog post, Haight references the newly coined the term web-scale IT and the blogosphere set fire (as it tends to do when there is something new to talk about.)
Since then, the concept of web-scale IT has been listed on both Gartner and Forbes lists of Top Ten Tech Trends for 2015. We’re going to do our best to define this term and give some examples. We will also discuss how web-scale IT is going to impact the way we use the internet in the future.
Soâ¦ what is it and who is doing it?
Part of the online discourse regarding web-scale IT has been how hard it is to define. San Francisco based, application performance management (APM) company Boundary quoted Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart in an opinion regarding pornography in their blog post on the topic of web-scale IT: I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be (pornography)â¦ But I know it when I see itâ¦â
The problem with defining the term is that it has already become the norm among large corporations, so we see references to web-scale IT all the time. The simplest way to define web-scale IT is the utilization of a large, cloud-based infrastructure to power web-services and applications to provide accessibility to consumer and private users, at a higher frequency.
Look at Google, frequent leader in all things web. Google Drive provides global accessibility to documents and delivers a collaborative workspace for people to work together. Soon, we’ll be beyond the days of emailing text documents and spreadsheets to one another; we’ll rely on ready access to the same document because of the use of the cloud in lieu of local storage.
Apple is another great example of someone operating in the web-scale IT medium. You may be able to play every song and movie you’ve purchased on iTunes on your iPad, but do they actually exist on the hard-drive? Many customers have switched to streaming the music and movies they have purchased straight to their device rather than storing them locally, and that leaves more space for all the goofyÂ photos of your pets!
A look into the future.
The web-scale IT revolution has already begun, and, after reading this post, you’ll begin to realize its pervasiveness in sites and services you use, but what are some of the other ramifications of web-scale IT?
We’ll see changes in the way hardware is produced, not in a manufacturing sense, but on a purchaser level, why upgrade hard-drive space when all of your documents are saved in the cloud?
Specialized hardware for those who want to operate a web-scale IT style website will involve purchasing hardware and software with easy integration into cloud services, although buyers should beware of getting trapped into a provider who may not integrate with all partners â think of it like Apple’s feud with Adobe, you don’t want to be the person who was locked in to Flash when iPhone came out. Make sure you have flexibility, just in case.
DevOps is going to become vital to your company if you want to operate in the web-scale IT game. You’re going to need a team dedicated to building the best applications possible to maximize the potential the cloud and web-scale IT can offer.
As discussed in the hardware section above, integration with hardware and software is vital to your application development. Many companies are having their DevOps teams start at the application level by purchasing pre-integrated hardware and software from which developers are to build from. In an blog post on DesignNews by Charles Murray, Jack Ganssle, founder of the Ganssle Group had this to say: In the old days, [software] engineers were expected to do the whole thing from top to bottomâ¦ Today, managers don’t have the patience for that. They want their engineers to immediately start generating application-level code.â
I don’t think I need to harp on this because we are all becoming painfully aware of the security threats we face when storing information in the cloud. This will become a leading selling point to companies that offer web-scale IT services and the integrators with whom DevOps teams choose to comingle technologies with.
The conclusion is simple â we have a term now for something you’re probably already familiar with. Gartner analysts predict that web-scale IT will become the architectural approach for 50% of enterprises by 2017. So get your developers ready and start your infrastructure building, you don’t want to be behind on this trend.
Do you know web-scale IT when you see it? How do you define it? And how is it impacting your organization?