This industry is often filled with this notion that we have to replace one technology with another. I can’t stress enough how misguided this is as we think about what the role of any technology is in our organizations. The role of technology is to solve a particular challenge or set of challenges for the business. Business could mean selling things, buying things, education, research or anything in between. Technology for the sake of technology will most likely fail in its adoption lifecycle.
Think of IT as a Diet Plan
My favorite analogy lately is the use of diet plans to describe technology, as it’s related to how we view the human diet. Every time I hear about a fad diet, I imagine a fad technology. Fads come and go, and don’t often replace the traditional diet. If we do discover a new, exciting and valuable item to augment or replace part of the traditional diet, it does just that.
When kale became the next big thing as the superfood that everyone should be consuming every day a couple of years ago, the world was alight with kale smoothies, kale flakes for your spice rack, kale cooked in 20 different ways. Did kale replace every other item on the traditional diet? No. What it did do for us was to augment the current diet and replace some other side dishes that may not have been healthy.
Let’s say that containers such as Docker, Rocket, and LXC are like kale, acai berries, and dark chocolate, respectively. Let’s call your virtual machine infrastructure steak for the moment. Does kale replace steak completely in your diet? Probably not. Would acai berries replace steak in your diet altogether? Again, they probably wouldn’t. The same can be said for dark chocolate (also known as Rocket containers). As individually powerful as each of these meal components are, they most likely cannot fully replace the main protein of your diet.
Let's extend the analogy and say that you have a lot of steak (VM infrastructure) in the freezer today. Let’s say that public cloud is like chicken. Again, would chicken entirely replace steak in your diet. It could, but may be best if it is sprinkled among your diet plan as an alternative where it is appropriate.
Look at serverless infrastructure, which we will call all-organic juices. If you choose to have a little juice cleanse in your IT infrastructure by going all serverless, that’s great, but it most likely can’t replace your entire day-to-day diet plan. Adding some juicing to your regular routine is a very nice way to reduce the pollutants that come from high-proteins (VMs and IaaS infrastructure) while still making sure to keep those in the overall diet.
The Balanced Diet of IT
Your IT diet needs to be balanced, just like your human diet does. You want to make sure that you have a main entree (virtualized infrastructure, public cloud, and/or some IaaS private cloud offerings). You want to have the option to add some side dishes that can satisfy specific cravings and requirements (containers, platform-as-a-service, serverless/functions-as-a-service).
Add some automation for dessert and you have yourself a mighty tasty IT diet plan. I know that it may sound funny to use these analogies, but the importance of what we are trying to say here is that every type of IT solution should be used where it is appropriate, and as an overall, balanced strategy to operate your IT portfolio.
Just writing this makes me hungry. And I hope that it makes your taste buds and your IT innovator’s craving both come to life.