An Ideal World

Brian Madden’s recent blog of Teradici (see links for his blog list) gave me a few ideas. IT is not all about design. There are evolutionary forces at play. Building blocks are designed and “systems” are (usually) designed. But in the soup, new configurations arise. Virtualisation arguably one of them, VDI particularly. After all you wouldn’t design a VDI solution by first inventing desktop processors and good graphics cards and functionally rich operating systems and then virtualise them so that you could change the way you use them. VDI in it’s current state is an evolved solution and VMware a tactical company, if you take the wider view. Ironically, while Teradici has to become more of a software company, it’s solution i.e. doing things in hardware is more strategic. Ultimately you can’t beat a bit of hardware! Ultimately you can’t do anything without a bit of hardware!

So I foresee more use of “new” hardware in VDI and virtual architectures to solve problems that can not otherwise be solved well in software. (Does that mean they won’t be virtual any more?) Hardware changes to support virtualisation are not without precedent: chips have been redesigned with VT extensions.

So as I am taking a really big world view today, why not consider what an “ideal” IT architecture evolved from VDI would look like. Something to aim for in 15 or 20 years time? First off I have to narrow the field. I’m going to be thinking mainly about corporate IT systems, which is where my experience lies. I’m thinking about large multi-national companies that could gain massively from efficiencies in their IT and whose employees use IT for the good of the company i.e. to do business, running and writing apps, crunching data and making a profit. Something “constructive”, say.

Consequently I’m not thinking about  IT architectures for home users and gamers (no disrespect).

There are some clear “ilities” on the list, in no specific order of priority yet. I will split them into two lists though. 1. Good things for users and 2. Good things for the people who run IT.

For the users:

  • Reliability. In an ideal world, users can always access their apps and data 24×7, 365 days.
  • Accessibility. In an ideal world, users can access their apps and data from anywhere, in an office, on a plane, at home and anyhere from Altoona, Barcelona, Cape Town to Zhengzou.
  • Security. In an ideal world, users are confident that only those who should be able to see the data can. And it never gets lost.
  • Performability (not a word? Ok Performance then). Regardless of where you are, the user interface is the same, and everything is the same speed, i.e. very fast.

For IT managers:

  • Power Efficient. In an ideal world, IT is so efficient it can all be run from renewable resources and there is no electricity bill.
  • Minimal Management. In an ideal world, each company has three IT staff, one in each region who can maintain the whole corporation. Anything that needs to be done more than once is automated. Hey, it’s an ideal world remember. If your company has doctors for it’s staff, I bet it doesn’t have more than one in each region.

The two points above mean that IT costs next to nothing, which in itself is of course a bonus to the business. All very over-simplified and somewhat meaningless at such a high level but I do want to break down some of the bullet points above into more detail and see how we might re-engineer ourselves into a Sci-Fi world where we get a bit closer.

That means thinking about backups, protocols, user interfaces, life-cycle and provisioning, data centres, storage and everything else that goes to make up IT.

For a future blog.

Should get my new system soon so expect something more geeky technical in the meantime.