The Coming of Infrastructure as Code
Everywhere you turn these days vendors are talking about turning infrastructure into code as part of an effort to give developers more control over how their applications function on IT infrastructure. Primarily promoted by cloud service providers that expose RESTful application programming interfaces (APIs) to developers, it’s only a matter of time before that same concept is slowly but surely applied to IT infrastructure running on premise as well.
In fact, providers of application delivery controllers (ADCs) that can be deployed both on premise and in the cloud are accelerating the trend. Case in point is KEMP Technologies, a provider of an ADC platform that can be invoked now via Java APIs as well as REST APIs or Microsoft PowerShell tools. In essence, Christopher Baker, product marketing manager for KEMP Technologies, said those interfaces turn all the IT infrastructure that ADC touches into a programmable resource.
In theory at least, that’s a boon for MSPs. Anything that makes IT infrastructure simpler to manage reduces the cost of delivering IT services. The trouble is that infrastructure as code is like most technology advances a double-edged sword. As developers become more confident in their ability to programmatically provision, manage and control IT infrastructure the less demand there may one day be for managed IT services.
In fact, those APIs provide a level of isolation between the developers and the underlying IT infrastructure that makes it a whole lot easier to swap out the underlying IT infrastructure any time they see fit.
Making all this possible is the fact that just about every provider of IT infrastructure now makes their products accessible via an API. Without that capability cloud service providers won’t even consider using their products. As a consequence, those APIs are starting to proliferate across both the cloud and on premise environments. In fact, as internal IT organizations start to build their own private clouds one of the first things they do is expose those APIs to their developers.
Naturally, the transition internal IT organizations are making to private clouds is much more of a journey than an event. That means it will be sometime before those organization routinely expose IT infrastructure to developers through a self-service portal. But as that process continues to inevitably occurs, MSPs are more than likely going to have to focus more of their efforts to add value at the application level than the underlying IT infrastructure.