This is a network problem. You need to have the developers fix the application. Who is responsible for fixing this problem? How often have we heard these statements when managing the IT infrastructure? There is a lot of finger pointing, and assumptions are made concerning problems with little collaboration between different IT organization silos.
The IT environment is rapidly changing with the evolution of virtualized infrastructures creating software defined data centers utilizing technologies like SDN and NFV. Application developers are moving to a DevOps model that leverages agile cycles and continuous development models.
These changes are creating challenges to support the IT infrastructure, but they are also providing an opportunity to bring different parts of the IT organizations together.
Separate, but Equal?
Historically, there are distinct teams within an IT organization. Typically, there are three groups of people supporting the IT infrastructure. First, there is the network infrastructure team. They support the devices and technologies that provide the connectivity between the applications, end user systems, and Internet. Second, the application and developer team manages the applications, builds the content for websites, and ensures that the systems the employees, customers, and partners utilize are delivering the services and data properly. Finally, the operations team provides day-to-day support and maintenance for all of the IT components.
These teams design and manage their portions of the IT infrastructure with little concern about what the other groups are doing. The network team builds the connectivity with minimal insight into the application delivery requirements for different services. But the applications have different profiles for optimal performance. Voice over IP systems need low latency, low jitter networks. E-commerce portals must have a short time to load and responsiveness to deliver a high quality of experience for the customer.
Applications need maintenance and updates. E-commerce sites need to be up to date and reflect the latest products and marketing campaigns. Financial and HR systems are more static and require reliable and consistent data access. Security components require high availability and have policy modifications to manage the current threat landscape.
Operationally, support teams need to maintain all of these systems, network, security, and application. They have to adapt to these more dynamic IT models and be able to manage and troubleshoot the entire IT infrastructure efficiently. Traditionally, the operations team is network-centric, but with these new virtualization technologies, they are shifting to support software and compute infrastructure with converged and hyper-converged architectures.
Is it Black and White? Or is it Gray?
As the technologies evolve, the borders separating the responsibilities of the different IT organizations are blurring, and it is important to integrate these teams. SDDC architectures utilize common off-the-shelf hardware based on x86 architectures, meaning that the networks are incorporating servers and require server-based expertise.
The DevOps model means that developers are building, staging, and moving applications into production. They have short project cycles that do not support the traditional handoffs between the development, pre-production, and production environments. The application teams require a better understanding of the network and security architectures so they can move application changes quickly and seamlessly.
The operations team typically supports a fairly static network and application environment. The static network map makes it easy to identify, isolate, and escalate problems. The SDDC architecture and DevOps models make the IT environment more dynamic and requires the operational staff to have a deeper understanding of the virtualized functions and how applications constantly move through the environment through agile and elastic cloud-based capabilities.
It is all about Application Delivery.
By focusing on the key metric that all of the teams can agree upon, application delivery through application service level assurances, it becomes possible for the teams to integrate to leverage their individual functions and strengths into a unified IT organization. All of these new technologies and operational models are tools designed to ensure reliable application delivery.
When all of the teams change their mindsets from network infrastructure, application development, and day-to-day operations to reliable and accurate application delivery, the underlying technologies and components of the IT model blur and the teams become intertwined. Network engineers become application network engineers. Application developers become application network developers. Network operations staff becomes application network operations staff.
The IT architectures are evolving and becoming more dynamic. This is creating changes in IT organizations that blur organizational lines and unify the teams by focusing on a common goal, application SLA.
Frank Yue is the Director Application Delivery Solutions for Radware. In this role, Yue is responsible for evangelizing technologies and trends around Radware�s ADC (News - Alert) solutions and products. He writes blogs, produces solution architectures, and speaks at conferences and events around the world about application networking technologies. Prior to joining Radware, Yue was at F5 Networks (News - Alert), delivering their global messaging for service providers. Yue has also covered deep packet inspection, high performance networking, and security technologies. Yue is a scuba diving instructor and background actor when he is not discussing technology.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson