Modernizing IT Starts with Infrastructure

Lori MacVittie Miniature
Lori MacVittie
Published September 08, 2022

One of the consequences of being alive for the past, well, many years is the ability to marvel at how far technology has changed. Nostalgia compels us to remember fondly our 8-bit games and rudimentary gaming controllers of our childhood. Comparisons to today’s gaming consoles and accessories can be mind boggling.

"Every original Xbox (2001) controller contains a 24 MHz chip that is more powerful than the CPU in every pre-1993 game console."

- Benj Edwards

But just looking at a modern console you’d never guess how much it’s evolved. Let’s be honest, an Xbox is physically, well, a box. Some are flatter, some taller, but in the end, they are named appropriately. They all look like a box. The real difference is inside, in the system architecture that is optimized to take advantage of advances in technology.

For example, a deeper dive into the Xbox Series X architecture reveals a number of hardware-dependent functions designed to improve performance. The use of SSDs, hardware-accelerated decompression, and modernized I/O with the DirectStorage API are just a few of the ways Microsoft has modernized its gaming platform.

Because at the end of the day, the hardware inside matters.

But software matters even more because without it, the massive improvements in speed and computing capacity of recent years can’t be capitalized on.   

That is the premise of our chapter on modernizing infrastructure in our recently released treatise on enterprise architecture for digital business. Technology—from systems to hardware to networking—has radically evolved since the early days of the Internet. It’s gotten smaller and faster and more functions have been embedded in hardware to improve performance and capacity. The extant example is the xPU space—that’s DPU, GPU, NPU—that now offer blazing-fast speeds for rendering graphics, calculating cryptographic equations, networking, and data processing in cards small enough to fit in very small places.

We believe that every organization on a digital transformation journey (and that’s most of you) should evaluate its infrastructure with the goal of modernization. In particular, this means migrating to newer systems capable of delivering greater capacity and speed for the applications and services they support.

But it’s important to note that simply swapping out one box for another won’t yield all the benefits of modernization. 

The Power of Processes

The other—equally important—part of modernizing infrastructure is about processes. Namely, orchestrating them into workflows that increase the speeds and feeds of change. That’s important, because the ability to change, quickly, is what sets apart a digitally mature organization from those who are just dabbling in digital. Technology leaders know this; it’s why 74% of them say “it’s difficult to make changes to a system or application because of existing IT infrastructure.” (State of Enterprise Architecture 2021)

The problem isn’t the hardware, per se, but the methods used to manage it and the change needed to optimize, secure, patch, or migrate systems and apps.

That means modernizing infrastructure requires attention to its ability to support the tools and technologies in use to orchestrate the processes that carry out changes. One of the best ways—and increasingly the de facto standard—to accommodate that orchestration is with infrastructure enabled with APIs that make it easy to integrate with other systems, automate specific tasks, and orchestrate entire workflows.

Modernizing App Delivery

One of the domains impacted by modernizing infrastructure is app delivery. That’s the infrastructure responsible for delivering the tools and technologies you need to secure and optimize apps, APIs, digital services, and even other systems.

When We (that’s the corporate We) recognized the need for customers to modernize infrastructure we saw the same need for our systems. We needed to practice what we preached, and so we modernized our classic systems to take advantage of new hardware capabilities and deliver on the need for an API-driven approach to automation and orchestration.

The result is our F5 rSeries, a next-gen appliance that bridges the gap between traditional and modern infrastructures with a completely rearchitected, API-first platform. rSeries is designed to meet the needs of any app or service by delivering up to a 2x scale and performance improvement over our previous generation of iSeries platforms. That’s made possible by using modern FPGAs for hardware acceleration and supporting both 25G and 100G interfaces. Customers will now experience a many fold increase in ECC performance and reduction in CPU utilization​, which means end users will experience increases in performance and responsiveness.

F5 rSeries relies on a F5OS (a new Kubernetes-based platform layer) that’s fully integrated with F5’s TMOS software and delivers an API-first, fully automatable experience that increases the rate of change possible. That’s important when adjusting policies and configurations that impact the user experience or when deploying a new app or update to an app.

The greater capacity of each rSeries means you can consolidate multiple older models and increase the pace of your modernization efforts, including the adoption of greater automation and orchestration to reduce the time to market and the total cost of operation and ownership.

Modernizing your infrastructure is a necessary step in your journey to become a digital business. App delivery is no exception, and our rSeries provides the increase in flexibility along with speeds and feeds—both technically and operationally—to help accelerate your modernization efforts.