Why Abstraction Layers are Key to IT Success

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A recent conversation I had with Turbonomic founder and president Shmuel Kliger highlighted the importance of abstraction layers. Shmuel told me, “there’s only one reason why IT exists,” which quickly led to a discussion of cloud and abstraction.

It’s easy enough to get caught up in the whirlwind of ever-evolving technologies that returning to a single, fundamental purpose of IT is actually quite an intriguing idea.

Why Does IT Exist?

So, why does IT exist? As Shmuel put it, the purpose of IT is to get applications the resources they need in order to perform. That’s it!

Others have said the purpose of IT is to “make productivity friction free” or “enable the business to drive new opportunities”, but it all comes down to enabling the performance of the business.

That key step of “enablement” is where we get to the plethora of technologies — private cloud, public cloud, serverless cloud, containers, managed containers, container orchestration, IoT data, data warehouses, data lakes, the list goes on and on. There’s no lack of solutions to the many productivity and technology-related problems faced in businesses today. Really, the problem is that such a wide and constantly changing array of technologies exist, inadvertently (or perhaps advertently, depending on your view!) creating more complexity in the wake of the problems they solve.

Complexity is no stranger, but it’s no friend, either. Simplification leads to efficiencies across the board, and should be one of the primary goals IT departments seek to achieve.

How Abstraction Provides Simplification

First of all: what do we mean by abstraction? An abstraction layer is something that hides implementation details and replaces it with more easily understandable and usable functions. In other words, it makes complicated things simpler to use. These layers can include hardware, programmable logic, and software.

When you start to think about the layers between hardware and an application end user, you see that the abstraction layers also include on-premises hardware; cloud providers and IaaS; PaaS; FaaS; and containers. These middlemen start to add up, but ultimately, in order for an application to execute its underlying sequence of code, it needs CPU, memory, I/O, network, and storage.

On this point, Shmuel said: “I always say the artifact of demand can change and the artifact of supply can change, but the problem of matching demand to supply doesn’t go away.”

By using layers of abstraction to match this demand to supply, you remove the burden of the vast majority of decisions from the developer and the end user — in other words, simplification. One of the most prominent

The Full Benefits of Operating Through Abstraction Layers

In addition to simplification, other benefits of abstraction include:

  • Alleviating Vendor Lock-In — this can occur across the board — for example, by using a layer of multi-cloud management tools, you reduce your reliance on any single cloud provider, which is important for enterprise risk mitigation strategies.
  • Reducing Complexity of Analysis — by bringing data into one place and one format, abstraction makes data analytics simpler and broader reaching.
  • Reducing Required Expertise — by rolling up multiple hardware and software problems into a single management layer, you eliminate much of the heterogeneity that requires diverse skills in your organization’s workforce and generally reduces the limits imposed by the human end user.
  • Optimize everything — by eliminating silos and allowing for a single point of analysis, abstraction management opens doors to resource and cost optimization.

IT organizations should attack the problems of complexity in two ways: one, by identifying the most messy and complex areas of your technology stack and creating a plan of attack to simplify their management.

Two, by identifying “quick wins” where you can abstract away the problem with automation, achieving a better environment, automatically. We’ve got one for you: try ParkMyCloud to automatically optimize your cloud costs, saving you time, money, and effort.

Originally published at www.parkmycloud.com on August 20, 2019.

Written by

CEO of ParkMyCloud

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