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Rearchitecting the Enterprise: Why Now Is the Time
Oct 20, 2015

Nemertes.jpgGuest Blog Post by: Johna Till Johnson, CEO Nemertes Research

Prior to founding Nemertes Research in 2002, Johnson was CTO of a global engineering firm, where she oversaw design and implementation of some of the most sophisticated networks, security systems, and data centers in the world. At Nemertes, she works with key clients setting strategy and developing architectures. 


A few weeks ago, I wrote a paper on why it’s important for enterprise architects to focus on re-­designing and re-­architecting enterprise infrastructure—starting today. 


To put it simply: things have changed. Data now lives on the cloud (public, private, or hybrid). Mobile devices are on track to outnumber wired ones. Applications are increasingly bandwidth-­‐hungry and latency-­‐sensitive (think video, but also virtualized devices).  The universe of security threats is expanding. 


Quite simply, legacy infrastructure, with its layers of complexity, can’t keep up.


Interestingly, most large companies I work with can see half of this picture. They’re well aware that things have changed. Most are hard at work developing “digital enterprise strategies” that seek to provide new ways of doing business by making applications cloud-­‐ready and mobile-­‐friendly, with security an embedded capability from the get-­go. 


What they’re not doing is rethinking how the infrastructure needs to change to support these paradigm shifts. “I don’t worry about the infrastructure,” one lead architect at a Fortune 50 company told me recently. “I figure the guys who designed it knew what they were doing.”


And he’s right. The architects did know what they were doing—back in 1995, when the architecture was first developed.  Since then, routers have gotten bigger and faster, and have been complemented by a range of load balancers,  firewalls, and secure web gateways. Branches have grown to support voice, data, and mobility on a common infrastructure. In short, infrastructure has gotten more complex and harder to manage while struggling to keep up. 


But what hasn’t happened is for anyone to take a look at this infrastructure from the vantage point of the future rather than the past. 


That’s what needs to happen now. And that’s why I wrote that paper, to provide some guidance as to how architects can best tackle the challenge of designing a next‐generation enterprise architecture. 


There’s no single right approach, of course, but there are some fundamental design principles. These include:


  • Minimizing complexity—reducing the number of discrete components, amount of heterogeneity, and number of topologies.
  • Enabling automation—thinking in terms of automatic capabilities that used to be both dynamic and static (traffic and security policies, network configuration).
  • Enhancing security—seeking solutions that have embedded security both at the hardware and applications layers, and that integrate seamlessly into an overall security architecture.  
  • Relying on virtualization—seeking solutions that can run as virtual and distributed workloads, which deliver both reduced operational costs and enhanced agility. 
  • Integrating into an ecosystem—recognizing the reality that in today’s network and security infrastructures, no single product or vendor can do it all.

There’s more, but that’s enough to get you started. For more, please see “Re-­Architecting the Enterprise: The Time is Now”.