The High Performance Enterprise
Historically the term "High Performance Computing", or more simply "HPC," conjured up thoughts of monstrously-sized supercomputers, hundreds or thousands of machines collaborating over an extremely fast and esoteric low-latency network, complex parallel processing systems and obscure programming languages. Typically these tools were only seen in exclusive capital markets conferences, molecular research labs, government cryptographic analyses and other very exotic use cases. The ex-orbitant costs of running such systems were typically affordable only by the financially elite or heavily grant-endowed.
“We are in a new era in IT with an exciting generation of powerful high-performance tools that are now de rigueur”
But over the past few years HPC has undergone a dramatic evolution. Driven by accessibility to off-premises cloud computing resources, agile infrastructures, dramatic decreases in hardware prices, and innovative improvements in software development and scalable systems architecture thanks to inventive technology vendors such as Google, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and others, HPC is now easily available to all enterprises. Hundreds of machines, petabytes of storage, high-speed networking, global messaging and adaptive user interfaces can now be instantiated literally within minutes. These tools are no longer the sole province of large investment banks, algorithmically centric hedge funds or climate modeling researchers.
Need For Agility
This evolutionary phase in modern high-performance hardware and software coincides with another trend: the growing user demand for more apps and services. Users are now accustomed to the instant gratification of mobile apps. They are now challenging IT departments to provide similar functionality and ease-of-use for enterprise applications and most importantly, at on-demand timescales.
As we know all too well, this new business environment is complex, extremely dynamic, hugely event-driven, and constantly challenging our strategies and deliverables. This unpredictable environment requires rapid adapting to change and rapid reaction to business events. It requires agility. Successful business agility now clearly becomes a critical differentiator.
These parallel trends are massively changing how IT organizations design, develop, deploy and manage systems.
Beyond The Firewall
Given these trends, it is clearly important to understand and evaluate our stable of high-performance tools to gauge their value and impact to improve business agility. It is also vital for IT management to understand the extent of these tools throughout the various organizations in an "enterprise." Today’s new enterprise is not a single entity. An enterprise is a collaboration among companies, partners and customers and goes well beyond the corporate firewall to enhance customer satisfaction, increase revenue, and maintain a competitive edge.
In other words, most enterprises rely on their supply chain network. This usually includes information management, purchasing, inventory, manufacturing, process flow, logistics, research and development, distribution, and customer service. This is true regardless of whether you are a major retailer, a telecom provider, an investment bank, or a television network.
The success of the “enterprise” now depends on a federation of organizations, integrating multiple external entities over multiple firewalls. It is an atmosphere where the art of negotiation becomes more critical rather than mandating localized governance. It is also an environment that clearly demonstrates and reinforces why technology standards, even with high performance tools, are truly useful.
Modern Messaging and Web Connectivity
One key technology for the multi-organizational enterprise is high-performance messaging. Long recognized by major organizations particularly in high-end trading systems, the messaging model provides a mechanism for one system to register interest in certain events generated by another system and not have to wait for a response. This compelling feature is tremendously flexible and provides very fast responsiveness to enterprise events. It provides well-known significant improvements in resources and systems management over the conventional client-server "request/ response" model. This is a tremendously valuable tool for integration.
Most messaging systems used in large (non-finance) enterprises are generally capable of a few messages per second, which was usually sufficient for the legacy world. However today's enterprises are generating many thousands of business events per second with more coming in the upcoming Internet of Things (IoT) wave where hordes of networked devices will be generating data for our business intelligence engines. And many these events are typically needed over a series of firewalls, across the globe and in "real-time." This on-demand requirement call for high-performance resources and may not be able to wait for the politics and sign-offs of an old-fashioned VPN to maintain necessary agility.
The conventional notion of messaging, enterprise integration and external real-time connectivity clearly needs to look at the HPC tool chest for help.
New Web Standard
One high-performance resource that can be leveraged for this purpose is a relatively new standard called WebSocket. Fully certified back in 2011 by the same organization that regulates standards such as HTTP (IETF), WebSocket is a powerful high-performance tool that can provide the foundation for services such as real-time, bidirectional messaging to exist safely over the web without the need for additional hardware.
There are many providers of WebSocket-based software and products; many of them are open-source and readily accessible. Most modern browsers on our desktops and mobile devices support WebSocket natively. Even some late model automobiles support WebSocket in their entertainment and navigation systems. By coupling a high-performance messaging system along with a high-performance WebSocket Gateway, which allows the enterprise messaging service to exist safely over the web, modern enterprises can extend on-demand integration quite easily to their business network without opening additional ports and avoiding the long lead-time and politics of signoffs for a low-level VPN connection. Extending the reach of real-time services to and from partners, customers and across cloud environments and data centers is now possible on-demand.
The High Performance Enterprise
We are in a new era in IT with an exciting generation of powerful high-performance tools that are now de rigueur.
By arming ourselves with this new generation of powerful, on-demand high-performance computational, networking resources and innovative software development models, we can attain a high degree of business agility and become High Performance Enterprises.
Senior management needs to recognize many aspects of IT are undergoing a seismic shift with these tools. And it is a world where legacy time frames can be lethal.