Saturday, July 25, 2009

Designing Server Infrastructures: Standard Enterprise Stack

Welcome to the first installment of an ongoing discussion about current and future server infrastructure designs for large enterprises.

First examined is a design made popular in the recent past, the Standard Enterprise Stack.

The hallmark of this design, are a limited number of standard stacks of middleware (application servers, runtimes, libraries, databases, third party software, etc), a general purpose operating system (Windows Server) and server hardware. Enterprises standardize on a single technology, like Java EE, and a single vendor's implementation of that technology, like BEA.

Though many processes are manual, life cycle costs are constrained by the repeatability and scale standardization brings

Importantly, asset utilization is maximized because multiple applications share the resources of, and are portable between, the standard stacks.

Unfortunately for the same reasons rigid standardization keeps costs low, it also is dismal at responding to changing requirements. Augmenting a stack for a new application can be prohibitively expensive because all existing applications must still be supported. The other option, adding a new stack, negates the benefits of standardization in the first place.

Cost: Asset Footprint: Low

Cost: Life Cycle: Low

Responsiveness: Low

The design is a making a comebake in the cloud as Platform as a Service. Google's AppEngine is a popular example.

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