Change is a process as a long time infrastructure architect I am used to evolutionary change. The job I did 20 years ago when I was first an infrastructure architect is nothing like what I do now. Change has many aspects sometimes being evolutionary and sometimes being revolutionary. The concept applies to people on the architecture team as well. In specific there are two roles that consistently represent evolutionary change and revolutionary change. First off evolutionary change represents the concept of change over time. Subtly taking an existing system and improving it by adding or removing components. Evolution represents change over time. The other side of change is revolutionary change. A net new functionality or process brought into the organization that changes how something is done or considered.

When we think about solution and infrastructure architects they often perceive the reality of change very differently. Infrastructure architects see change as an evolutionary need the organization has. Solution architects see the change as revolutionary.

In part this is due to the nature of their spheres of influence. Solution Architects often bring something new into the organization, so revolutionary change for them is normal. Infrastructure architects are usually the ones that are asked to include a new solution in the existing environment, or evolve.

What I have found in the past 15 years though, is that infrastructure architects and the very infrastructure they manage has changed radically. From the sudden creation (revolutionary) of security architects and security teams, to the expansion of infrastructure to include visualization and cloud computing concepts.

Over time that solution either becomes a new solution or part of the infrastructure. That constant evolution of the role infrastructure architect is one few people notice. It is one that is about to have a revolution.

If we consider the big moments in infrastructure solutions, they are pretty clearly defined. The change from mainframe central solutions to client server changed the way infrastructure operated. The reality of cloud and mobile devices changes where and how the infrastructure was management. The next wave though is huge.

The flood is a combination of new, data and reuse of systems. Today we have infrastructure that was often designed for the way IT was done 10-15 years ago. Suddenly cloud computing changes where you put data and who was (and how they were) getting to your data. In the early 90’s you knew where your users were. They were on laptops and most likely connected to your network. Occasionally you would play with some of the wireless technologies that allowed workers to work anywhere but the reality of the systems was the bandwidth was far too low. Now you have users everywhere.

Add to this the reality of IoT devices (not one, not 100 but billions of devices). Not just devices but an infrastructure that supports three things:

  • Getting the data from the IoT devices to the analysis systems.
  • Getting the data from the analysis systems to any device, anywhere
  • Securing that data flow all the way through.

Any one of these three is an evolution. We get data from sensors to analysis systems. In fact, we are pretty good at this today with less data presented to analysis systems than we are capturing. We make the data from these systems available to be analyzed.  Finally, we are looking at different ways to present, protect and secure the information all the way through the process. Bring all of these together and frankly it is nearly a revolution. Revolution is something infrastructure architects have traditionally wanted solution architects leading. But in this case IoT it feels like an evolution of existing systems. In reality it is probably a revolution in the ways things are ultimately done.