The N1 Grid solution is not a binary switch for your whole data center. There are places the N1 Grid architecture makes immediate sense, and there are places it does not. There is also an order in which it makes sense to implement, which is unique to each environment.
In areas where your environment is not yet efficient, the N1 Grid architecture can provide the framework to help you make it efficient. In areas where your environment is already efficient, the N1 Grid architecture can help you leverage those capabilities, so you can focus on delivering strategic business value. Do you need to leverage the N1 Grid vision to change your organization's current approach of focusing on servers, network, and storage devices to one of thinking about services that live on a network? Do you want to use the N1 Grid architecture to turn your services into decomposed, completely mobile, and maximally flexible layers and tiers? Or, have you already done the work to enable the people in your environment to begin to use the N1 Grid software to automate what they already do?
The success and business value of implementing the N1 Grid software depends on the choice and planning of how products are used. Experiences with component-level entities supports this fact. It is not that you install products using the Solaris™ JumpStart or JavaSM QuickStart service. It is the fact that you use it to automate the Solaris™ or Linux installations to assure consistency and to reduce errors. It is not that you use RAID (0, 1, 0+1, or 5). It is that you use it to protect your data and that you choose the right capability to deliver the performance and protection you need. It is not that you secure your systems or network. It is that they are configured in ways that make your environment more secure and still enable your business to function.
Part 3 explains that infrastructure virtualization, utility computing, and application mobility are already reflected in the IT industry as a whole. However, Sun's vision differs from others in that Sun designed an architecture that can help you realize the benefits today. The N1 Grid architecture simplifies business solution design and enables maximum flexibility in the stack layers, across the service tiers, and among the "ilities" (for example, availability, manageability, serviceability, securability, and scalability). It specifically focuses on the operational activities of provisioning and observing what is happening in each layer of the service stack. Sun will continue to drive the N1 Grid vision towards a service oriented operational model, in which primary interactions with the N1 system are in terms of services. This raises the abstraction from a set of potentially distributed components that are used to deliver the service to a single managed entity whose characteristics are defined primarily by service level requirements.
The current N1 Grid software products help you attack the true source of IT cost by supporting the elevation of focus to network-centric service components. The functions they enable involve defining and preparing to:
These functions are different from those typically found in data center operations, but there is much to be gained from their adoption. The remainder of this book describes the benefits from a focus on the services and business by using a flexible architectural framework for discussions. The next section introduces one such framework.