We all know that the hyperscale companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook operate very differently from traditional IT shops. The general consensus is that 99% of what they do has no applicability in the mainstream due to a) their scale, b) their people/talent and/or c) their corporate appetite to drive technology innovation. However, as we’ve researched this more in depth, it’s become clear that a number of their principles can and must be applied to enterprise data center networks. We call this approach “webscale IT” which is a pattern of global-class computing that delivers the capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT setting.
In networking, we must apply some of these principals in order to meet business needs as our companies transform themselves into digital businesses. We just published research on the topic, laying out a pragmatic approach to incorporating principles including (but not limited to):
- Embrace and manage risks versus simply avoiding risks, as currently many network teams are handcuffed into incremental improvements due to the zero-risk tolerance inflicted on most network teams.
- Simplify and standardize ruthlessly within specific network building blocks
- Favor vendors that support hardware/software disaggregation, which reduces reliance on refresh cycles to unlock innovation
- Automate relentlessly, which allows you to respond to the business faster and achieve economies of scale because, as you grow a system, you won’t have to linearly grow the resources required to support it.
- Favor minimalist fit-for-purpose software
While this sort of transformation isn’t trivial, client discussions have shown that it is possible. We think this research can help you get off to a good start.
Summary: Web-scale companies run massive data center networks, but they operate very differently from enterprises. I&O leaders that need to support digital business can use this research to apply appropriate web-scale practices to improve data center network agility while reducing costs.
Regards, Joe Skorupa & Andrew
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