SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Gary Arora, Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan

Blog Feed Post

Escaping Henry Ford’s IT with Programmability

assembly lineHenry Ford (did or didn’t) famously say “You can have any color car as long as it’s black.”

Without getting into the debate over whether he actually did say that, it’s attributed to Mr. Ford and his assembly line primarily due to the fact that it accurately represents the constraints placed upon manufacturing by the move to automated assembly.

The reason for this is the standardization (one might say commoditization) behind the automation associated with making the assembly line so successful. Lean manufacturing principles (the ones that result in faster delivery of higher quality by reducing variability) still tell us that eliminating wait times improves efficiency but reducing variability (through standardization) promotes stability, i.e. fewer defects.

That’s certainly a desirable outcome for today’s digital assembly lines, a.k.a. the production pipeline. Who doesn’t want faster assembly of the various parts and pieces (network and app services) that we need to deliver fast, reliable, and secure apps with fewer errors?

The problem is that the process of standardization almost always starts with commoditization. That is, everything is decomposed into its most basic, standard parts. No matter who provides those parts, then, they are all the same. The same nuts, bolts, and connectors (options, algorithms, and APIs) are supported by everyone. For example, instead of twelve different load balancing algorithms you limit the options to three industry standard ones, and restrict the configuration options available. All services get stripped down to the basics, making it easier to assemble because one size really does fit all then.

But just as we aren’t limited to just black cars, today, we are not limited to “just the basics” when we automate the digital assembly line. That’s because increasingly infrastructure is moving from an imperative (how, APIs) to a declarative (what, templates) model that enables a more robust set of options, configurations, and algorithms across all network services. The standardization (abstraction) is presented to the user; to the developer or admin responsible for managing the infrastructure and provisioning services. Another layer of abstraction is offered to the provider of those services, to the vendors who are operating under the influence of the other API economy in which programmability is a key factor in playing well with others.

provisioning models

The difference may appear pedantic, but I assure you it is not. It is a significant change in the way services are provisioned and ultimately provided. In the imperative model, a heavy API tax is paid on execution. Each step of the configuration process requires a separate and distinct API call. That means a significant amount of technical debt is built up either on the developers of the cloud stack or, if you’re rolling your own, on you. The choices you make early on will determine flexibility in the future.

A declarative model still relies on an API, but that reliance is only as a transport mechanism to deliver a template (or policy) describing the service. It is then up to the provider of the service to determine how to execute the configuration of the desired service.

The thing is that the declarative model is still standardized. A single template or policy format is used to describe a given service. But because the actual execution is now the responsibility of the service, additional options (colors!) can be supported.

I can employ advanced features in a load balancing service if they are available using a template or policy format, but doing so in an API-driven model is more difficult, because those features may require explicit API calls that simply aren’t “standard” across all load balancing services. Increasingly, we’re seeing the insertion of domain-specific orchestration system as a sort of “service gateway” between the core abstractions offered by a data center orchestrator and the actual services themselves. This intermediary is responsible for integration with the data center orchestrator and for executing provisioning and configuration of a more robust set of services than is possible with a commoditized, imperative model.

It is templates (policies, if you prefer) that will enable organizations to enjoy the benefits of standardization without sacrificing the competitive advantages of more advanced customizations. A template-based, declarative architectural approach to automation and orchestration will ensure that you can, in fact, have any color car you want.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

Latest Stories
Every organization is facing their own Digital Transformation as they attempt to stay ahead of the competition, or worse, just keep up. Each new opportunity, whether embracing machine learning, IoT, or a cloud migration, seems to bring new development, deployment, and management models. The results are more diverse and federated computing models than any time in our history.
On-premise or off, you have powerful tools available to maximize the value of your infrastructure and you demand more visibility and operational control. Fortunately, data center management tools keep a vigil on memory contestation, power, thermal consumption, server health, and utilization, allowing better control no matter your cloud's shape. In this session, learn how Intel software tools enable real-time monitoring and precise management to lower operational costs and optimize infrastructure...
"Calligo is a cloud service provider with data privacy at the heart of what we do. We are a typical Infrastructure as a Service cloud provider but it's been designed around data privacy," explained Julian Box, CEO and co-founder of Calligo, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simplicity and reach of the open web. With staff in 10 timezones, Isomorphic provides a global network of services related to our technology, with offerings ranging from turnkey application development to SLA-backed enterprise support. Leadin...
While a hybrid cloud can ease that transition, designing and deploy that hybrid cloud still offers challenges for organizations concerned about lack of available cloud skillsets within their organization. Managed service providers offer a unique opportunity to fill those gaps and get organizations of all sizes on a hybrid cloud that meets their comfort level, while delivering enhanced benefits for cost, efficiency, agility, mobility, and elasticity.
DevOps has long focused on reinventing the SDLC (e.g. with CI/CD, ARA, pipeline automation etc.), while reinvention of IT Ops has lagged. However, new approaches like Site Reliability Engineering, Observability, Containerization, Operations Analytics, and ML/AI are driving a resurgence of IT Ops. In this session our expert panel will focus on how these new ideas are [putting the Ops back in DevOps orbringing modern IT Ops to DevOps].
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Enterprises are striving to become digital businesses for differentiated innovation and customer-centricity. Traditionally, they focused on digitizing processes and paper workflow. To be a disruptor and compete against new players, they need to gain insight into business data and innovate at scale. Cloud and cognitive technologies can help them leverage hidden data in SAP/ERP systems to fuel their businesses to accelerate digital transformation success.
Most organizations are awash today in data and IT systems, yet they're still struggling mightily to use these invaluable assets to meet the rising demand for new digital solutions and customer experiences that drive innovation and growth. What's lacking are potent and effective ways to rapidly combine together on-premises IT and the numerous commercial clouds that the average organization has in place today into effective new business solutions.
Concerns about security, downtime and latency, budgets, and general unfamiliarity with cloud technologies continue to create hesitation for many organizations that truly need to be developing a cloud strategy. Hybrid cloud solutions are helping to elevate those concerns by enabling the combination or orchestration of two or more platforms, including on-premise infrastructure, private clouds and/or third-party, public cloud services. This gives organizations more comfort to begin their digital tr...
Keeping an application running at scale can be a daunting task. When do you need to add more capacity? Larger databases? Additional servers? These questions get harder as the complexity of your application grows. Microservice based architectures and cloud-based dynamic infrastructures are technologies that help you keep your application running with high availability, even during times of extreme scaling. But real cloud success, at scale, requires much more than a basic lift-and-shift migrati...
David Friend is the co-founder and CEO of Wasabi, the hot cloud storage company that delivers fast, low-cost, and reliable cloud storage. Prior to Wasabi, David co-founded Carbonite, one of the world's leading cloud backup companies. A successful tech entrepreneur for more than 30 years, David got his start at ARP Instruments, a manufacturer of synthesizers for rock bands, where he worked with leading musicians of the day like Stevie Wonder, Pete Townsend of The Who, and Led Zeppelin. David has ...
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Addteq is a leader in providing business solutions to Enterprise clients. Addteq has been in the business for more than 10 years. Through the use of DevOps automation, Addteq strives on creating innovative solutions to solve business processes. Clients depend on Addteq to modernize the software delivery process by providing Atlassian solutions, create custom add-ons, conduct training, offer hosting, perform DevOps services, and provide overall support services.