IT traditionally lives in two worlds: infrastructure and applications.  Infrastructure is the long-term foundation that IT builds and maintains over time.  Applications are the user-facing tools that leverage the infrastructure.

The line between these two priorities is blurring. IT needs to figure out how to manage them as two parts of an intertwined whole.

Applistructure: the merging of infrastructure and applications

Tibco Chairman and CEO Vivek Ranadive talked about these new applistructures in Tibco’s Q1 earnings call. What he called infrastructure applications – or 21st century applications – have the following characteristics:

  • Involve exponential amounts of data (data at rest and data in motion)
  • Solve a business problem like an application
  • Cut across silos like infrastructure

Why is this happening?

The consumerization of IT and the resulting growth in social, mobile and video usage in the enterprise is exponentially increasing both the volume and reach of content within an enterprise.  It’s pushing content delivery outside of the “standard” IT infrastructure.  It’s changing things faster than typical infrastructure planning cycles can accommodate.  

Enterprise social collaboration is an example of an applistructure.  Employees need to connect like never before, and they are increasingly using video to do it.  They are connecting on phones and tablets as often as they do on their PCs. They want to move seamlessly between their devices – even within a single interaction.

To manage applistructures successfully requires a new level of compatibility and integration across platforms and services. Enterprises need their applications and infrastructures to play nice like never before.

They also need their applistructure to scale faster and farther than traditional solutions. That means finding ways to leverage the existing infrastructure. Forklift upgrades and proprietary refreshes will no longer work. They take too long and cost too much.

These applistructures will become a bigger and bigger part of IT’s mission. How IT manages this change will be critical.