IT Infrastructure and the Diesel Engine have a lot in common

Today many state that IT infrastructure is becoming invisible and deduct that it can be completely ignored. Whilst it is true that IT infrastructure is becoming invisible it has not disappeared – ignoring infrastructure during transformation can lead to “unwanted consequences”.

Let me try to explain by comparing IT Infrastructure with an Diesel engine.

Both have seen significant innovations over the last 20+ years; in the past both were very “hands-on”, had limited features / performance and required significant manual interventions.

Today, both are completely invisible to the user / driver, provide excellent features / performance and follow the as a service model. As with the diesel engine, today’s IT Infrastructure is invisible. However invisibility does not mean that IT Infrastructure can be ignored.

Back in 1987 when I bought my first car – a VW Golf 1.5D with 50BHP – I would spend hours per week trying to diagnose as well as fix various things. Performance was questionable with ~15sec from 0 to 100km/h (60 mph) and with a max speed of 130km/h.  

Those days you had to “understand” and to “know” not just what was under the bonnet but how it works and what to do if something fails. My Golf was 12yrs old at the time and broke down more often than it started. 

In summary the MK1 was:
  • Hands-on
  • Had a simple engine
  • Was easy to service
  • Had very poor performance
  • The engine was Very visible to yesterday’s driver 

Compare that with the MK6 : a 2.0l 170BHP TDI engine that manages 7.8sec 0-100km/h and a top speed of 222km/h.

Build quality, engine management system as well as preventative measures to predict failures means that you just get in and drive.

No need to lie under the car every weekend to fix the injection valves or readjust the waterpump etc – even if it was broken you cannot fix it anymore, as the entire engine is a big black block.

In summary the MK6 is

  • Hands-off
  • Has a complex engine
  • Is fully computer based service
  • As excellent performance
  • The engine is “Invisible” to today’s driver 

However, one thing both MK1 and MK6 share – the engine still has 4 pistons, a clutch, cooling system, a gearbox etc – just as with the MK1, there is still an engine under the MK6 bonnet.

Being invisibility to the driver does not mean that the engine has disappeared – it is still there and ignoring your engine can lead to all sorts of issues and problems – particularly if you are planning to change your vehicle from ploughing a field to joining Le Mas (so major transformation). Of course, if you are in the back of an Ueber getting from A to B there is little value you knowing / understanding the engine. And this is the same with invisible infostructure – for a consumer it is invisible – for the person who has to transform / operate it it is not to be ignored as it still complies with the same NFRs etc as your traditional Infrastructure. Ignoring the characteristics of today’s infrastructure can lead to “unwanted implications”, not just during normal operation but also when changing and modifying the “application” of IT.  

Thanks for Reading. 

About the Author: Gunnar Menzel has been an IT professional for over 25 years and is VP and Chief Architect Officer for Capgemini’s Cloud Infrastructure Business. His main focus is business – enabling technology transformation & innovation.


1) Picture taken from :

2) MK6 pictures © VW 2016

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