Why do we need different boxes for servers, storage, and network switches in the datacenter? They're all just computers, says David Reilly, who is the global technology infrastructure executive for Bank of America. Why can't companies fill their datacenters with white-box computers stuffed with x86 chips and a ton of memory, controlled by software that can make that box an in-memory storage device today, a software-defined switch tomorrow, and a server next week?
This radical departure from today's datacenter approach isn't just idle salon chatter. Bank of America, this country's second-largest bank with about $2.1 trillion in assets, has a team of people right now exploring how to reinvent the bank's datacenters using a private cloud architecture.
The hardest part of getting to this kind of total reset of the datacenter, Reilly says, is persuading technologists to throw out their old ways of doing things and think more ambitiously. It's why Bank of America has created a separate team to develop the company's next-generation architecture, so team members could consider big ideas such as having only one type of hardware. "It's not the technical piece. It's: Why stop there, why not go further, why not do more?" Reilly says.