About the interviewee
John Allman does freelance work for his own company. He has designed the infrastructure for companies Cox Communication, Road Runner and Scientific Atlanta. John Specializes in large scale Multimedia systems and has been professionally involved in the industry since 1992.
Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).
For my personal firm I’m my only full time employee but I have a host of contractors. The companies I design for are in the five thousand to sixty thousand employee range.
Tell us about the challenges facing IT companies today?
The biggest challenge facing an IT company is the same as every other company and hasn’t changed for a long time: producing a product within a budget. The difference in the IT world is the level of knowledge needed to create an atmosphere to be able to succeed. Both knowledge about the current structure and the direction the company should go.
What is your firm doing to overcome these challenges?
In the past technology has grown to become faster and larger. Very few times has it advanced in ways to directly help businesses manage their budget. Lately however the advances seem to be focused directly around this point.
Virtualization has created one of the largest impacts. A colo-facility bases your bill on your footprint, Physical footprint and environmental footprint. Virtual devices allow you to take what used to be a hundred devices and contain it into a single server dropping the price thousands of dollars for each consolidation completed. This is before you calculate savings of the hardware itself, service contracts, update times, etc… Switching to a virtual environment is easily the biggest win a company can make in their IT infrastructure.
Public clouds have become popular lately however they aren’t for everyone. They should be researched carefully to see how they can be included in your current structure. Most of the time a public cloud solution makes since with time based products. Is most of your system used during the day? Think about moving the parts of your system over to a public cloud which can be turned down at night. You’ll be able to minimize the cost of those systems.
San networks, iSCSI and thin provisioning will allow you to consolidate your files. It will give you the ability to more easily manage where your systems are and where they are going. It will also allow you to pool your resources together instead of purchasing a separate storage solution for each device you own. Thin provisioning allows you more flexibility when designing your solution.
Databases have changed greatly for the first time in many years. Every company should take a look at some of the new database structures and decide if some of the new databases are worth their interest. The key players are MongoDB, Hadoop and Cassandra.
Right now is an exciting time to be a new business. The technology is favoring the business over the geek which is rare. Companies, especially those on a tight budget, should look at embracing some of the new ideas coming out of the pipe.