Infrastructure Is Dead, Long Live Infrastructure: Interop 2016 Keynote
The first speaker up at the Interop keynote was Martin Casado, General Partner at Andreesen Horowitz. Casado’s first slide said, “Infrastructure Is Dead.” Of course, as Interop is largely an infrastructure conference, it came as no surprise that his next slide said, “Long Live Infrastructure.” He proclaimed that the old infrastructure of the past few decades may indeed be dead, but a new paradigm is taking its place.
The new infrastructure paradigm is a confluence of three trends: a move from hardware to software, a move from software to services, and the rise of the developer.
The move from hardware to software is at the heart of Software Defined Networking, or SDN. Casado defines it as, “If you can build something in software, and deliver it purely in software, then it is software defined.” He spoke about how infrastructure used to always come “wrapped in sheet metal.” Even now, IT infrastructure is a $4 trillion market, and only 6 percent has been moved into the cloud, but less and less of what is coming to market--well, comes wrapped in sheet metal.
It isn’t just the enterprise where hardware is transitioning to software. Not long ago, most consumer electronics were single-purpose devices built around hardware. Customers bought a GPS device, like Tom Tom. That device was not only GPS and maps, but the actual hardware to run them as well. You played music on an iPod, and so on, with each device being a specialized pairing of hardware and software. These days, those same kinds of services are delivered through a universal software platform, usually in the form of a smartphone.
The even greater disruption comes from the move from software to services, which is already underway. When you deliver software, you still have be able to deliver, maintain and run software in a heterogeneous environment across numerous platforms, devices and operating systems, all installed and maintained by different engineers of differing abilities. Delivering a service is much easier. In this manner, a company controls the hardware, the environment and the engineers. (Casado's comment that the physical layer has become fairly simple drew muffled scoffs from some of those seated around me, but the rest received confirming head nods.)
These two trends feed into the rise of the developer, which Casado said was “one of the most talked about but least understood trends in the industry.” The rise of the developer is shattering the old enterprise service model. Developers don’t care about Gartner reports or certifications. A free trial or incremental delivery allows for companies to skip the enterprise supply chain, procurement rules, and expense of new hardware installation.
According to Casado, service delivery is the trend for infrastructure, and no silo is safe.