• United States



by Stephen Elliot

The Future of Intelligent Computing

Mar 18, 20024 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

What is an intelligent computing fabric? It’s the next step in the history of IT infrastructure architectures that started with the mainframe, migrated to the distributed environment, and will move to the adaptive infrastructure. Hurwitz Group defines it as:

“The automatic and user transparent sharing, aggregation, and utilization of technology resources by an organization across a single computing infrastructure.”

As the definition suggests, intelligent computing fabric means users will share applications and data from repositories and servers around the world without knowing where the information resides. IT managers will be able to group together and allocate technology resources from less utilized systems to meet business requirements and increase return on investment, while controlling capital expenses. To make this a reality, enterprise and storage management vendors such as BMC Software, Computer Associates, EMC, IBM/Tivoli, HP, Veritas, and others, must develop technologies and marketing strategies that address what Hurwitz Group believes to be the top three stumbling blocks for deploying a intelligent computing fabric: intelligence, standards, and IT organizational cultural shift.


An intelligent computing fabric requires that IT organizations understand business requirements and how the fabric should be designed to meet and adjust to those requirements as they change. Enterprise and storage management vendors should start to build “intelligence” into their product lines, which will drive data exchange with devices and applications. This development will thread together and help create a single computing fabric that is reliable and transparent to users. Intelligence also implies learning; vendors will have to engineer hardware and software solutions that learn from and correct infrastructure problems over time.

IT operations will be busy increasing their staff and hiring folks with skill-sets that emphasize a mix of accounting, technology, and business acumen to help solve infrastructure problems and manipulate customer-driven data sources. For example, technology gurus will have to have an understanding of customer trends and revenue growth so they can make the proper adjustments to the intelligent computing fabric, potentially biquarterly.


To make an intelligent computing fabric a reality, vendor-driven standards must emerge to allow for interoperability. An intelligent computing fabric will require integrated solutions that work together across all areas of the technology infrastructure – from the application layer down to the device and physical connection. Why? Without standards, the hope of an adaptive infrastructure is dashed because an adaptive infrastructure operates as a single computing entity that works together to share data.

IT Organizational Cultural Shift

When using an intelligent computing fabric, IT organizations’ cultures will change because of the way the fabric is managed. There will no longer be distinct stovepipes of network, system, and application experts. Instead, administrators will have a master console to view their infrastructure utilization, as well as having visibility into their external trading partners’ components. An example of this today is the FAA’s radar system that tracks aircraft as they travel in the U.S. and then transfers radar coverage to foreign countries as the planes enter international airspace.

The tools will report and solve most problems but will also expose other issues that require staff intervention along with in-depth solution recommendations. IT staff will be focused on process management as the fabric recognizes problems and takes proactive measures to ensure that users, and customers, never feel any pain. IT staffers will become “policy wonks” as policy management helps dictate business requirements that shape the framework for an intelligent fabric. Systems administrators will have to trust their tools and be able to refocus their creative energies to manage complex policies and help drive the achievement of business goals.

Hurwitz Take: The notion of an intelligent computing fabric is a futuristic take on where enterprise technology infrastructure is headed. The full realization of this concept will no doubt take many, many years as the technologies and interoperability issues are resolved. However, the idea should not be taken lightly and preparations can start immediately. Enterprise and storage management vendors play a critical role in information flow, exchange, correlation, storage, and reporting, and should become more flexible with foreign hardware and software. Early technology adopters can start preparing by increasing the level of automation in their existing infrastructure using policy-based management and focusing on the business impact that IT is having today. The impact on IT organizations will be great, as they enter a world where technology investments are fully utilized, dynamically managed, and behave like a single, logical machine.