Rethinking IT Infrastructure in the Enterprise

Michael Vizard

While virtualization is all the rage these days, some chief technologists are asking themselves if virtualization is little more than just a way to add a layer of software that hides of the sins of past enterprise computing architectures.

In fact, when many senior IT leaders compare the metrics they get in terms of performance and utilization against what companies such as Google, Yahoo and others achieve, they begin to ask themselves if something more fundamental is amiss. Virtualization most definitely improves utilization rates, but even with the addition of virtualization there is still a huge gap in performance and utilization between traditional enterprise data centers and the data centers running most Web 2.0 applications.

This gap is leading startup companies such as Maxiscale to advance new IT infrastructure architectures that maximize performance and utilization. Maxiscale has built a Flex Software Platform that leverages a distributed file system that creates discrete sets of mini-clusters of computing resources that can more easily scale than traditional single-cluster approaches to enterprise computing.

Maxiscale officials said they developed the Flex Software Platform when it occurred to them that the number of objects that needed to be managed within the enterprise was increasing exponentially as the amount of data that needs to be managed doubles almost every two months.

Existing file systems and related server and storage infrastructure are not designed to keep pace with that rate of growth, which is the primary reason you don't see many Web 2.0 companies using the same IT infrastructure typically found in the enterprise.

That all, of course, rasies the question of wether IT organizations need to rethink their approach to IT infrastructure as more of the business processes they support become Web-facing. Anything that faces outward is always going to be performance-challenged because at any given time you don't know how many processes will need to be supported. As such, IT organizations are increasingly going to need approaches to IT infrastructure that can not only dynamically scale, but also reduce absolute total cost.

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