Some Bits on Infrastructure

Over the weekend, I got to thinking about infrastructure, or more specifically, enabling technologies that might benefit an infrastructure, as in always available in the context of a workload.

As always, I’m looking from the business perspective. Here are a few analogies:

  • When you build tracks, you can run trains.
  • When you build airports, you can land planes.

Both of the above are physical infrastructures. They enable business opportunities; income derived from the transport of people or goods.

Infrastructure matters.

Infrastructure isn’t just physical. Some more analogies:

  • An income tax referendum was put before the voters in Washington State this past year. Proponents said the tax would affect only the wealthy; roughly the top 2% income bracket.
  • Your city installs camera-equipped speed detectors in a school zone, complete with automatic citation delivery via US Post. They enforce the 20 mph speed limit during posted school hours (7am-9am and 3pm-5pm).

These cases represent infrastructure as well. In the former, the apparatus to levy taxes. In the latter, increase safety with the threat of corrective action. Here’s the rub:

  • With the taxation infrastructure in place, the government could apply the tax to the top 3%, 10% or everyone, for that matter.
  • Once the cameras, radar and mailing infrastructure is in place, the government can change the speed at which a driver gets nabbed during non-school hours. The regular speed limit is 30 mph; setting the infrastructure to 32 mph would raise funds for the city.

Despite the downsides above, once an infrastructure is built, it can (and frankly, should) be leveraged.

When building integration or cloud architectures, I examine current infrastructure as containing opportunities and add other services (including ephemeral services) I can reuse throughout the application portfolio. If something we need doesn’t exist, I look at deploying it as a service the rest of the system can consume.

How about this: a time service, whose primary job is to keep all  the system clocks in synch. Knowing that it exists allows me to leverage this service to collect multi-machine activities as transactions in a single log file for auditing.

While time is important, so is location (enables mapping and directions), associated entities (enables B2C and B2B), shared storage (enables collaboration) and so on.

The key point: consider all the services available to you when evaluating an architecture extension or application extension project.

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About Michael Coates
I am a pragmatic evangelist. The products, services and solutions I write about fulfill real-world expectations and use cases. I stay up-to-date on real products I use and review, and share my thoughts here. I apply the same lens when designing an architecture, product or when writing papers. I am always looking for ways that technology can create or enhance a business opportunity .. not just technology for technology's sake. My CV says: Seasoned technology executive, leveraging years of experience with enterprise and integration architectural patterns, executed with healthy doses of business acumen and pragmatism. That's me. My web site says: Technology innovations provide a myriad of opportunities for businesses. That said, having the "latest and greatest" for its own sake isn't always a recipe for success. Business successes gained through exploiting innovation relies on analysis of how the new features will enhance your business followed by effective implementation. Goals vary far and wide: streamlining operations, improving customer experience, extending brand, and many more. In all cases, you must identify and collect the metrics you can apply to measure your success. Analysis must be holistic and balanced: business and operational needs must be considered when capitalizing on a new technology asset or opportunity.

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