The OSI Stack is a subject about which I’ve written and spoken numerous times over the past couple of years. I think there’s some opportunity now to be creative with the notion of a new, contemporary, business-driven, systems stack. This will be the subject of several posts, but let me begin by recapping my idea of “The Incredible Shrinking Stack.”
The point is that the OSI Stack, as we’ve come to know and love, is pragmatically shrinking. It’s shrinking because of the ways in which Business and the Market have driven technology.
I posit to you first, that the individual layers of the stack are becoming increasingly commoditized. Part of what has driven this is successful and prolific standardization. As this commoditization of stack layers is progressing, the boundaries between the layers are simultaneously blurring. Indeed we seldom even speak of some of these layers any longer. This is what I mean when I suggest the stack is “shrinking.”
The trend, though still maturing, is toward “business aware” infrastructures. When we look at the types of products emerging from the vendors today we see that systems are increasingly implemented with “Business Engineering” and increasingly less reliant on the traditional disciplines used to implement networks, servers, and the like.
Consider, for example, the AON technology from Cisco. This is just one example of a proliferation of “Business Aware” networks and compute platforms, in turn facilitating a more favorable service alignment between IT and the Business.
In this regard, the OSI stack no longer serves us well in talking about and conceiving business-driven data processing architectures. I’m not necessarily suggesting that the OSI Stack (and it’s kin, the TCP/IP Stack) is dead and buried. Quite the contrary, there is a level of engineering activity that is surely dependent upon this model. I am suggesting though, that because of the changes in the way business operates, and the ways that technology architectures have evolved to support and enable this evolution, we need a new stack model to align with our conversations about IT/Business architectures.
In subsequent posts I’ll explore ideas about what stack features may help in this regard. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts you’d care to share I’d be most grateful.