HPE Enters Composable Infrastructure Space With Synergy

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2015-12-01 Print this article Print

Cisco is offering composable infrastructure capabilities through its Unified Computing System (UCS) M-Series modular servers and its UCS C3260 rack servers, which like HPE's Synergy offering can compose and recompose the various disaggregated resources into infrastructures optimized for particular workloads. A key is Cisco's System Link technology, which enables the disaggregation of the compute resources from the underlying hardware while bringing the control plane into the hardware.

"Composable software is truly software infrastructure," Todd Brannon, director of UCS marketing at Cisco, told eWEEK. Infrastructure "has always been a monolithic system wrapped in sheet metal. What we want to do is wrap our servers in code."

The M-Series—launched last year—and the newer C3260 systems are "driving on the same axis that we've been driving on" since first rolling out the UCS converged infrastructure in 2009, Brannon said. The UCS solutions have included a unified fabric and converged network adapter (CNA).

"Infrastructure-as-code is a term we've been using," he said. "There will be a lot of noise around it later."

HPE officials first raised its Synergy composable infrastructure strategy this summer, when it rolled out the open API, a single line of code that can abstract, discover, search, provision and update  all elements of the infrastructure so it can test and run code. It also is being leveraged by such partners as Microsoft, VMware, Chef and Docker to develop integrated offerings for the platform.

Synergy also uses HPE's OneView management software for a single interface for composing physical and virtual resources into whatever configuration is needed for the application. The fluid resource pools can support any physical, virtual and containerized workloads. The software-defined intelligence can go into the resource pool and define the template needed for the workload.

"Having intelligence in workloads makes it very easy to change things," Paul Durzan, vice president of infrastructure management and orchestration software for HPE, said during a press briefing. "There are no boundaries here. It just picks what it needs."

Synergy is scheduled to be available in the second quarter of 2016. HPE's Neri said there several proof-of-concepts underway now with large customers, including some tier-two and tier-three service providers.

IDC's Scaramella said that while the composable infrastructure market is just coming together, there are elements that enterprises can start embracing now. And while composable infrastructure is new, the underlying technology—from x86 processors to flash and hard drives—are familiar to most businesses.

"It's not going to be 'boom' one day," he said, adding that businesses will bring the technology into their environments incrementally. "It's more of an evolution. Customers will pick it up as it fits their needs."

The capabilities will increase over the next few years, as more of the infrastructure resources become disaggregated and put into the resource pool, Scaramella said. For example, silicon photonics—a technology still one to two years away, in which data is transferred within the processor using light rather than electrical conductors—will enable the compute to be separated from the memory without increasing latency, he said.

Going forward, a key challenge for vendors will be around building awareness of what composable infrastructure is and what it can do, and to get buy-in from customers, according to Scaramella. Businesses are going to want to see it in action, and proof-of-concepts will be important to establishing confidence.

"You've to prove that this works," he said.



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