Natasha Baker says: Go big or go home. (This article reported by her) That’s the rule for businesses today as they work to deliver more products and services more quickly on a variety of Web-based channels. Many cloud service providers are setting the pace, with the help of Web-scale IT.
Cameron Haight, Gartner’s chief of research for infrastructure and operations, coined the term “Web-scale IT” earlier this year as a way to describe the new ways organizations leverage technology to provide their customers with content quickly and at massive scale.
In Haight’s report titled “The Long-Term Impact of Web-Scale IT Will Be Dramatic,” the term is more formally defined as “a system-oriented architectural pattern that enables the rapid and scalable development and delivery of Web-based IT services leveraging agile, lean and continuous principles.” Some of the biggest players include cloud service providers like Google, Amazon and CenturyLink.
By 2017, nearly half of all Global 2000 enterprises are expected to have a Web-scale IT approach, according to the report. Here’s what you need to know to stay ahead of the game.
1. Web-scale IT is a model
Web-scale IT is not a technology in and of itself, but rather a model that encompasses the architectures and processes being used by large cloud services providers, including the adoption of industrial data centers, Web-oriented architectures, programmable management, agile processes, collaborative styles and a learning culture.
2. Shift from scale-up to scale-out architectures
With Web-scale IT, firms shift away from traditional scale-up architectures and toward scale-out architectures that leverage low-cost, open-source hardware and software. This provides benefits in terms of flexibility, scalability, resiliency and a lower total cost of ownership because of less maintenance.
“Enterprises adopting a Web-scale IT philosophy will largely eschew the acquisition of expensive, scale-up computing, storage and networking resources,” said Haight in a report.
Some firms are even designing hardware components in-house, such as servers, storage and networks, in an effort to further reduce costs and waste.
Facebook, the social network giant with more than one billion monthly active users, is one such company taking this approach.
“At our scale, we often have had to engineer solutions to problems never seen before,” said Gary Colman, Manager of Production Engineering at Facebook.
He said they start by knowing “hardware will always fail,” and build resilient software and infrastructure. He said proper automation is also critical.
“Having humans respond timeously to issues ceases to scale very early on,” he said. “To address this, we build automated failover and remediation at every level.”
3. Focus less on rules and more on running lean
With Web-scale IT, the idea is to focus less on frameworks such as ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) and more on lean and agile models.
In a Gartner post earlier this year, Haight said that while larger companies are leading the charge on this trend, smaller companies may benefit the most from this approach.
“While the term ‘Web-scale IT’ implies scale in terms of size, there is also a scale in terms of speed,” he wrote. “I tell my clients that there is nothing stopping them from being as agile as these organizations.”