In a research note that was published yesterday, Gartner introduced the term “web-scale IT.” What is web-scale IT? It’s our effort to describe all of the things happening at large cloud services firms such as Google, Amazon, Rackspace, Netflix, Facebook, etc., that enables them to achieve extreme levels of service delivery as compared to many of their enterprise counterparts.
In the note, we identify six elements to the web-scale recipe: industrial data centers, web-oriented architectures, programmable management, agile processes, a collaborative organization style and a learning culture. The last few items are normally discussed in the context of DevOps, but we saw a need to expand the perspective to include the changes being made with respect to infrastructure and applications that act to compliment DevOps capabilities. So, we’re not trying to minimize DevOps in any way because we view it as essential to “running with the big dogs,” but we’re also saying that there’s more that needs to be done with respect to the underlying technology to optimize end-to-end agility.
In addition, while the term “scale” usually refers to size, we’re not suggesting that only large enterprises can benefit. Another scale “attribute” is speed and so we’re stating that even smaller firms (or departments within larger IT organizations) can still find benefit to a web-scale IT approach. Agility has no size correlation so even more modestly-sized organizations can achieve some of the capabilities of an Amazon, etc., provided that they are willing to question conventional wisdom where needed.
Web-scale IT is not one size fits all as we don’t want to replace one IT dogma with another. In true pace-layered fashion, use the approach to IT service delivery that works best for your customers. Gartner suggests that so-called “systems of innovation” which are applications and services needing high rates of change are the more likely initial candidates, but IT organizations are urged to experiment to see what makes sense for them.
Stay tuned for more on web-scale IT from Gartner in the future!
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