The move from today's static infrastructure into more free-wheeling virtual and cloud environments is doing more than just making for a more flexible and responsive enterprise. It is fundamentally shifting long-standing relationships between resources, data, applications and users.
Within the data center, this can be seen plainly in the way management infrastructure is migrating away from servers and storage and onto the network. This is only natural considering the way the cloud in particular is turning server and storage capabilities into utility-style resources, leaving the network the last bastion of in-house IT responsibility.
That's why we're seeing a number of growing networking vendors placing a greater and greater emphasis on intelligent networking-style management platforms designed to provide enhanced levels of oversight for the applications and virtual machines that are increasingly coming to define modern enterprise architectures.
A prime example is Enterasys, which this week unveiled a new series of routers and switches capable of taking on the management roles once reserved for centralized server and/or storage regimes. The new S-series platform has the ability to track, authenticate and otherwise manage apps and VMs regardless of what underlying platform they run on which, according to CTO Edge's Mike Vizard, will be a crucial tool as enterprises come to rely on dynamic allocation of resources across disparate virtual and cloud environments.
In this regard, Enterasys is moving in on territory claimed by Cisco, Brocade and other networking giants, all of whom are seeking to corner the enterprise networking market as it gains in importance. As part of Siemens Enterprise Communications, Enterasys is not without resources of its own. But by adopting a multi-vendor compatibility strategy, it seeks to gain an advantage over the kind of all-in-one platforms that strike many as inimical to the ultimate promise of both virtualization and the cloud.
This kind of openness has a good chance of permeating a wide range of network management systems. The OpenNMS Group has just released the OpenNMS v 1.8 source code and binary sets under the code-name "Cardinal" that is intended to act as the basis for a completely open enterprise network management environment. The group hopes that by providing a basis for a massively parallel, policy-based provisioning system with ReST API support, advanced monitoring and other features, enterprises will turn away from platforms like OpenView and Tivoli. You can find the code on the group's Sourceforge site.
Of course, open source has been a fixture of the IT industry for quite some time, but it has never assumed the predominant role the supporters have always hoped for. Issues of complexity, integration and performance are just as prevalent in open source environments as anywhere else.
Still, with the new enterprise being defined by its ability to dynamically shift and allocate resources across a wide range of resources, a truly open environment might prove to be the only viable solution. And the time for laying the groundwork for that reality is now.