Hardware used to be the foundation of IT. You couldn’t deploy an application without configuring dozens of servers and hardware appliances. But modern enterprises can’t be held back by a walls of knobs any longer. Proprietary physical hardware is expensive, slow, and works counter to your digital transformation.
This week I came across my still functioning iPod Classic “click wheel”. This was my exercise companion for many years and I still marvel at the engineering innovation (holds thousands of songs!) and simple elegance of the intuitive user interface (click wheel!). In today’s consumer society we expect our electronics to be intuitive. When announced in 2003 the “click-wheel” was years ahead at a time most electronics still came with detailed instruction manuals. Launching a consumer product with a click wheel was a radical approach, pushing the end-user experience to the very limits of engineering.
I have helped enterprises “deliver” their applications for a long time. And somewhere in every conversation with a prospective customer I always asked, “What will your traffic be like in 3-5 years?” Yes, I was sincerely trying to size their network equipment to sell the right load balancers. But, I was also doing my company’s bidding to sell enterprises more gear than they would likely need. I was as guilty of doing it as any of my counterparts at competitive load balancing vendors. It was always good to play up the prospect’s optimism especially tech-heavy Silicon Valley. However, the traffic growth question asked by hardware ADC vendors is impossible to answer by mere mortals and most companies just capitulate and buy enough capacity for 4-5 years down the road. More often than not, when I revisited many of my customers in 12-24 months, I found that gear still running at single digit capacity. The tendency to oversell gear wasn’t an intentional desire to exploit customers, but was driven by the architectural limitations of an inelastic hardware model. Paying upfront for anticipated future growth has been an accepted norm in the IT industry for a long time. Disruptive forklift upgrades are par for the course in the IT world where nobody has a crystal ball for how traffic might outgrow existing equipment.
When talking to customers, we often hear the term, "Self-service provisioning." The reason is that enterprises want non-networking experts to have the ability to use an Application Delivery Controller (ADC) without having to rely on a network administrator. The goal of these enterprises is to drive application deployment as fast as possible. If you have to create tickets to get a load balancer configured, it severely impacts the efficiency of application development and deployment.
We were at a large multinational bank a couple of weeks ago and were astonished to find out that it takes about 27 days on average from the time an application developer requests a load balancer instance to the time the IT team actually delivers it.
Imagine an AWS-like experience where any app developer can:
- Create a load balancer instance in less than 30 seconds
- Eliminate your network tickets and deploy your applications faster
- Give developers access to these network resources instantly.