Why Workload Placement Is The Key To a Strong IT Foundation

How you design your IT house can be as important as how architects design physical homes...getty

Where you decide to run your applications is as important as what you run. What does your workload placement strategy look like? Home architects are very careful about their design choices. Many of their decisions, such as the best locations for load-bearing walls, support beams and other infrastructure, have long-term consequences.

Where do they put windows and skylights will deliver optimal sunlight? How do they situate bedrooms and bathrooms? What is the right density of wood, concrete and other materials required to construct safe walls, roofs and floors? Those are just the broad strokes; architects plan thousands of minor details as well, often well before raw materials are purchased.

Like their home-building counterparts, IT systems architects carefully design technology systems. Which is why workload placement has emerged as a critical strategy for governing what applications and other resources run where.

IT has grown more complex, thanks to a proliferation of environments comprised of public and private clouds, on-premises infrastructure and edge devices. IT leaders who placed assets in these locations have constructed a multicloud house without planning for the long-term impact on their organization.

For example, while it may have initially made sense to build a key business application in a certain IT environment, perhaps performance began to lag as usage grew. Maybe the goalposts for security and compliance shifted, forcing you to rethink your choice.

Whatever architectural concerns arise, where you decide to put what in your IT house can be as important as how architects design physical homes. CIOs are thinking about this a great deal, as 92% of 233 IT decision makers Dell surveyed said that they have a formal strategy for deciding where to place workloads. Half of those executed this strategy in the past year.

Related: More Clouds, No Problem: Simplifying Your Multi-Cloud World

The Great Overcorrection

The public cloud grew rapidly, as engineers learned how easily it enabled them to launch and test new applications. Soon IT teams notched quick wins, including flexibility as they lifted and shifted existing business applications to the cloud.

Then came the overcorrection. Emboldened by the prospect of saving money while fostering greater agility as they innovated, many CIOs declared a “cloud-first” strategy. Those who were initially more measured in their adoption of cloud technology saw their colleagues migrate their entire IT estate and followed suit.

As workloads got more complex it turned out that the public cloud-first stance was not always the best fit for the business. Hasty decisions had unanticipated ramifications, either in the form of escalating costs or failed migrations.

The reasons: Workloads are unique. Each application has its own set of business requirements and benefits. Just as the home architect must carefully weigh each design choice, CIOs must be intentional about where they put their software assets.

Variations on a multicloud

Let’s consider some examples where the right workload is tied to a business outcome. Cloud environments—public or private—make sense where you get huge bursts of data traffic. Cloud technologies enable you to quickly spin up compute resources and dial them down as requirements subside.

Retail ecommerce is a classic example. For brands selling clothing, footwear and other merchandise, holiday seasonality drives peaks and valleys to web and mobile sales. Large traffic spikes in October or November through Christmas subside, then stabilize.

Or think of a digital crossword puzzle published every weekend. With most people completing these on the weekend, traffic bursts Saturday and Sunday before slowing over the remaining 5 days.

For such use cases, a public cloud that provides massive scalability may yield the desired business outcome.

Conversely, so-called “steady state” use cases—in which applications’ compute needs fluctuate little if at all—often run better on-premises, either in traditional IT infrastructure or in a private cloud. Thousands of these applications run without much deviation across business lines.

Think traditional general ledger software in ERPs. Travel and expense utilities. Software that governs data backups. Applications, such as those that monitor anomalous network traffic, often run locally for security reasons.

Other applications with disparate patterns and needs are emerging. Applications requiring minimal latency—think Internet of Things software—are moving to the edge for faster processing and cost efficacy.

In Dell’s survey, 72% of IT decision makers said performance guided their decisions to place workload, followed by data protection and security at 63% and 58%, respectively. Venues include public clouds, data centers, colocation facilities and edge environments.

Workload types vary, but 39% of respondents said they had placed data protection workloads while 35% each said they had placed ERP and CRM systems.

Diverse workloads require fungible infrastructure

There are no absolutes in determining workload placement. Well, not in the way many IT leaders think. Every software asset will have different requirements, which will influence where you decide to place them.

Just as an architect decides how to situate walls, beams, rooms and other physical infrastructure, where an IT architect places assets matters. The wrong choices can have negative consequences.

These decisions aren’t easy nor should they be made lightly, as the ramifications of poor asset placement can impact your bottom line, make your business more vulnerable or prompt you to run afoul of compliance mandates.

All diverse workloads require a flexible infrastructure that enables enterprises to move their applications and other workloads to move seamlessly across clouds, on-premises and edge venues, based on their business requirements.

As-a-Service infrastructure, which includes on-premises equipment ordered on demand, can power these workloads to meet requirements for performance and availability, as well as your needs for simplicity, agility, and control. How will you lay the foundation for your IT assets?

Keep reading: Why the Hybrid Workplace Needs a Hybrid IT Model

Vice President, Product Management, Dell APEX

Chad Dunn has been with EMC and Dell Technologies for over 15 years.

Source: Why Workload Placement Is the Key to a Strong IT Foundation

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What Are NFTs? Everything You Need To Know

NFTs are the latest cryptocurrency rage these days, with bands like Kings of Leon releasing their next album as limited edition “golden tickets,” and NBA digital collectibles being sold for millions of dollars. They’re interesting to collectors and cryptocurrency fans alike, but is there a future there? In other words: Should you spend some actual dollars to invest in a digital trinket?

What Are NFTs?

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are a type of cryptocurrency created on a smart contract platform such as Ethereum, Avalanche or Solana. They are unique digital objects that can be cool to own or even profitable to trade. Think of them as digital collectible cards. They typically start out as something only enthusiasts care about, but if you get a rare one, it could be worth a lot one day.

What is fungible vs. non-fungible?

Cryptocurrencies can be fungible, meaning all the currency’s units (i.e., tokens) are the same and equal, like (for example) dollars or common shares of a company. You give me a dollar, I give you a different dollar back, and we’re both back to exactly where we started.

Non-fungible tokens are the opposite — every cryptocurrency unit, or token, is unique and cannot be replicated.

This “non-fungible” property can be used for many things, even certain types of currencies. But the current enthusiasm over NFTs is mostly fueled by digital art and collectibles. People have figured out that a unique, digital object can be interesting, cool, and even have a significant monetary value. It’s why the space has recently blossomed, encompassing thousands of projects involving artworks, gaming, and sports.

How do NFTs work?

It really depends on the platform. But given the vast majority of NFTs are created and traded on Ethereum, we’ll focus on that.

NFTs are created on Ethereum’s blockchain, which is immutable, meaning it cannot be altered. No one can undo your ownership of an NFT or re-create that exact same one. They’re also “permissionless,” so anyone can create, buy, or sell an NFT without asking for permission. Finally, every NFT is unique, and can be viewed by anyone.

So yes — it’s like a unique collectible card in a forever-open store window that anyone can admire, but only one person (or cryptocurrency wallet, to be exact) can own at any given time.

In a practical sense, an NFT is typically represented by a digital artwork, such as an image. But it’s important to understand that it’s not just that image (which can easily be replicated). Its existence as a digital object on the blockchain is what makes it unique.

How do I buy or trade NFTs?

NFTs are bought and traded just like any other cryptocurrency based on Ethereum, only instead of buying some amount of tokens, you buy a single token.

To do that, you should start by installing Metamask, a browser extension that lets you interact with various facets of Ethereum, such as exchanges and dApps (decentralized apps). MetaMask is also a digital wallet for Ethereum and all the tokens created on Ethereum (both fungible and non-fungible).

After installing the extension, you should buy some Ethereum (you can do it directly in MetaMask with a debit card or Apple Pay by clicking on “Add Funds”). But be very careful with your funds — store your MetaMask password and your wallet’s private key somewhere safe. Then, when you visit a website that sells NFTs (such as NBA Top Shot) or a marketplace where you can trade them (such as OpenSea), connect your MetaMask wallet to the site (only do that on sites you know are safe), and buy your first NFT.

Why do NFTs have value?

Of course, before you buy anything, you’ll probably want to know why it’s a good purchase. Indeed, why would anyone buy an NFT and why should there ever be a buyer willing to spend even more money down the line?

Ideally, the value of NFTs doesn’t just come from a game of digital hot potato, in which you purchase something hoping you’ll sell it for more later. And so on, until the whole thing crashes. Ideally, the NFT should be valuable to you because… you like it. If you’re an NBA fan, you might want to have an official NFT representing your favorite player. Or, perhaps there’s a digital cat that you really like.

Sure, in some ways, many NFTs are just a digital image that you can easily right-click and save to your computer. But NFTs also reside on the blockchain, which makes it extremely hard to truly copy them in their entirety. The blockchain entry also transparently tells you who created the NFT. If a famous musicians says: “Yes, that’s my Ethereum address that created this digital image of a possum.” Then that can be verified on the blockchain.

Some NFTs can be valuable in other ways. Say, for example, you buy an NFT related to an online game. Perhaps that NFT will one day give you special prestige in the game, or it could even be the basis for you getting some other, hard-to-get object; something that only you can have because every NFT is unique. If you’ve ever played World of Warcraft or a similar game, you know how valuable a piece of armor or a weapon can be. Now, with NFTs, no one can take it away from you, not even the game’s owners.

Let’s return for a second to that game of digital hot potato. NFTs are a nascent space, and there’s a lot of hysteria and scamming going on. You might see a certain NFT sold for millions, and think you’ll also be able to buy something for a few dollars and become rich selling it to someone later on. It can happen, but it’s rare.

And these things can be manipulated. For example, a cryptocurrency whale (someone that owns vast amounts of crypto money) can buy many NFTs and then “sell” them to himself (his other cryptocurrency address) for millions, artificially inflating the price. So be careful: Just because some NFT was traded for a lot of money, do not think this automatically means all other similar NFTs are valuable as well.

What are the most expensive NFTs?

In the early days of the space, we saw a blockchain game like CryptoKitties sell virtual cats for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Music producer 3LAU sold a collection of 33 limited edition NFTs for more than 11 million dollars. The musician Grimes (aka the mother of little X Æ A-Xii) even sold her digital art collection for $7,500 apiece, totaling $6 million in sales. CryptoPunks, which are amongst the most coveted NFTs around, regularly sell for millions. Yes, these things can get very pricey.

Are NFTs a good investment?

Buying an NFT because you like it, or maybe even to earn (or lose) a few quick bucks is one thing. But investing in NFTs is another. Again, it’s a nascent space. Even a Van Gogh painting or a rare Babe Ruth baseball card required some passage of time before becoming very valuable.

Given the digital nature of NFTs, it’s hard to compare them to prized physical artworks, such as statues and paintings. On the other hand, we live in a world where one Bitcoin is worth more than $50,000, so things from the digital realm can certainly be very valuable and even sustain that value over longer periods of time.

In any case, if you plan to invest in NFTs, you’ll need to dive deep into this complex world because each NFT market is slightly different. It’s also pricey — trading on Ethereum can be quite costly as the network’s recent congestion is causing fees to rise. Finally, you’ll need to think strategically and follow the often rapidly changing cryptocurrency trends. In short, it’s possible to earn money by investing in NFTs, but you’ll have to do your homework.

By Stan Schroeder

Source: What are NFTs? Everything you need to know.

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