Data Center Fabric

What is a data center fabric? Can this be related to how electric generation started? What about the electric grid? Can we expect to see a compute grid develop? Where do classical operating systems come in? If there is a migration process for companies from IaaS to PaaS (and to SaaS), will the significance of operating systems diminish? As we see the market mature, the answer is certain to be yes. That is not to say that operating systems will go away. But for most applications, the priority will be on the platforms.

In order to look forward, we have to first look back and ask ourselves the purpose of the operating system. In the most basic sense, we needed a common way for applications to interface with the physical hardware resources they were consuming. Fast forward to the cloud era. What do applications need to interface with? Depending on the level they’re working at (SaaS or PaaS), they’re only concerned with the platform they are developed for…not the hardware resources they are consuming.

One could ask where the concern about hardware resources comes in. That is where we will start to see a type of cloud operating system develop. However, unlike stand-alone operating systems of today, cloud operating systems will adopt a mesh-like integration. They can run as easily as a single resource as they can a combined (and shared) resource. This cloud resource provides the abstraction layer between hardware resources and the applications/ platforms that consume them. Hence, a cloud computing fabric starts to develop.

The fabric becomes a common resource pool that can dynamically allocate resources to the services and applications as needed. As the market matures, so will the adoption of cloud-based operating systems. And eventually the size and number of private systems (and those operating systems) will decrease. This is not unlike the changes to the power generation facilities moving into the 1900’s.

Is there an advantage for early adopters to this migration? Yes. Early adopters will drive the architectures that develop. Sure, there are risks to consider, but those can be mitigated.

Tim Crawford is ranked as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Chief Information Technology Officers (#4), Top 100 Most Social CIOs (#7), Top 20 People Most Retweeted by IT Leaders (#5) and Top 100 Cloud Experts and Influencers. Tim is a strategic CIO & advisor that works with large global enterprise organizations across a number of industries including financial services, healthcare, major airlines and high-tech. Tim’s work differentiates and catapults organizations in transformative ways through the use of technology as a strategic lever. Tim takes a provocative, but pragmatic approach to the intersection of business and technology. Tim is an internationally renowned CIO thought leader including Digital Transformation, Cloud Computing, Data Analytics and Internet of Things (IoT). Tim has served as CIO and other senior IT roles with global organizations such as Konica Minolta/ All Covered, Stanford University, Knight-Ridder, Philips Electronics and National Semiconductor. Tim is also the host of the CIO In The Know (CIOitk) podcast. CIOitk is a weekly podcast that interviews CIOs on the top issues facing CIOs today. Tim holds an MBA in International Business with Honors from Golden Gate University Ageno School of Business and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from Golden Gate University.

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