Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Zakia Bouachraoui, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Agile Computing, Java IoT, Microservices Expo

Agile Computing: Blog Feed Post

All Applications Are NOT Created Equal

The IT world is changing yet again, but any rumors of IT’s demise have been greatly exaggerated

It is an interesting twist in the IT world that with the increased usage of purchased packages and the growth of on-demand IT, we increasingly find ourselves talking about “Applications”. This is a good reference point, it addresses all of the things running on our servers with one fell swoop, but much like when you talk about “vehicles”, the phrase has little meaning beyond discussing similarities.

In the IT sense of the word, Application can be defined as a program running on hardware. In the datacenter sense of the word, it can be a program running on one of our servers, or an outsourced service, or in the cloud. In the business sense, an “application” is “something that helps us get our daily job done”, and that includes (sometimes) many “IT” applications that the user sees as a single thing.

image Imagine taking a mechanic from a construction outfit, an aerodynamics designer from a car company, and a maintenance specialist from a military armored unit and putting them in the same room. The very first thing they would have to do is hash out the definition of “vehicle” – to one it is a car, to another construction equipment, and the third sees vehicle primarily in the sense of Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV – tanks and armored cars). It is not the point of this blog to remind you that business people see applications differently than you, if you’ve been in IT for more than a year, you already know that. But I mention it here for clarity.

For this blog, we’ll use cars as our limited definition of vehicle and “Software that IT is responsible for” as our limited definition of applications, and won’t mention it again. After we’re agreed on terminology, the next problem area crops up immediately. While a Yugo, a BMW, and a Jeep are all cars by any definition I know of (my Jeep is even registered as a station wagon), they have vastly different uses, markets, and weaknesses. The same is true of applications. Your Database Management System is certainly not in the same category of “application” as the static web server you inherited in that acquisition a few months back and are planning on removing as soon as you have time to redirect users to your website. Yes, I know you are aware of that too, please bear with me, I’m setting this up, not telling you the obvious.

The Toddler plays with a construction “Vehicle”

imageAnd this permeates applications to many levels. Every application is a unique entity with unique requirements, strengths, weaknesses, uses, and misuses… And that is where we tend to start to lose control of the conversation. The idea that web server A has completely different needs that web server B even though both are running the same web server software sometimes causes confusion beyond the people responsible for the daily care and feeding of these web servers. In fact, we in IT tend to talk about the “Accounts Payable System” or “HR System” rather than “The web server serving up HR Apps”. For this reason (or because we’re lazy, one of the two).

But as we move to an increasingly virtualized world, our application inventory must start to include important parts that just didn’t matter when the application didn’t have to share resources. How much disk does it require was always a concern, so you’re in the clear there, but what about the volume of IP traffic the application generates? In a virtualized environment, it is sharing network cards, and this could quickly become an issue. The same with memory and CPU usage, both of which were only a concern if you ran out on the physical box, but now you can run into issues earlier because other applications are using those resources too.

ASCOD – A Spanish AFV army-technology

A few years back, when virtualization was picking up, we saw a case where a company had “load balanced” several instances of a critical application to the same physical server. While not the worst architectural decision ever made, it certainly wasn’t a good one. These days you don’t see that particular mistake, but you do see an increasing number of virtual machines sharing the same set of physical hardware. Without including in your software inventory what a given application requires in terms of machine resources, you can’t predict when that physical server will need an upgrade or how to better distribute load. And no matter where you are in the virtualization process, I guarantee this will become more important to you in the coming year or so – either due to some serious performance issues or attempts to implement internal cloud.

imageAnd you thought virtualization was going to make your life easier? It did that by eliminating a ton of hardware, but it did not eliminate your dependence upon hardware. That’s what the Cloud is supposed to do, but that comes with some caveats also, because it will shift pressure from your local network to your WAN connection. After all, now you have apps “out there” that need to communicate – even if only for reporting – with apps “in here”, and that, by definition, adds traffic to your WAN link. BIG-IP LTM and BIG-IP WOM can help, as can other tools, but you’ll need to be more proactive in monitoring WAN throughputs as you move to the cloud, though the cloud will ostensibly free you from worrying about how much is running on a given machine. I would urge caution though, since implementation at the cloud provider is going to determine whether you actually get all the resources your applications desire. And again, you don’t have to worry about the hardware, but you will have to worry about the size of the bill at the end of the month, so monitoring is a must.

The IT world is changing yet again, but any rumors of IT’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. You’re essential to the business, what you do will change, but the need to have you around is still visible on the distant horizon. Keep your skills honed though, new architectures require new thought patterns.

An Advert for the inimical Yugo Autoblog.com

More Stories By Don MacVittie

Don MacVittie is founder of Ingrained Technology, A technical advocacy and software development consultancy. He has experience in application development, architecture, infrastructure, technical writing,DevOps, and IT management. MacVittie holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Michigan University, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The deluge of IoT sensor data collected from connected devices and the powerful AI required to make that data actionable are giving rise to a hybrid ecosystem in which cloud, on-prem and edge processes become interweaved. Attendees will learn how emerging composable infrastructure solutions deliver the adaptive architecture needed to manage this new data reality. Machine learning algorithms can better anticipate data storms and automate resources to support surges, including fully scalable GPU-c...
Machine learning has taken residence at our cities' cores and now we can finally have "smart cities." Cities are a collection of buildings made to provide the structure and safety necessary for people to function, create and survive. Buildings are a pool of ever-changing performance data from large automated systems such as heating and cooling to the people that live and work within them. Through machine learning, buildings can optimize performance, reduce costs, and improve occupant comfort by ...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...