HPE Enters Composable Infrastructure Space With Synergy

The vendor joins Cisco, Intel and others in offering highly agile, configurable infrastructures that can run both traditional and cloud workloads.


Hewlett Packard Enterprise is making its move into the nascent composable infrastructure space, the latest step in the continuing evolution of increasingly application-centric data center environments.

At the company's Discover 2015 show in London Dec. 1, officials with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) unveiled its Synergy platform, which is based on an infrastructure architecture that is designed to ensure the exact amount of compute resources—from processing power and storage to network fabric and virtualization— can be rapidly pulled together from a single resource pool to support an application, and then returned to the pool when they're no longer needed for the workload.

The Synergy platform, which HPE has been working on for three years, brings together all the resources along with the necessary software-defined intelligence and unified API to self-discover and self-assemble or compose the needed infrastructure and to ensure complete infrastructure programmability, according to company officials.

Enterprises are under increasing pressure to more quickly spin out new applications and services and pursue new business models and opportunities. IT departments need to enable this by not only driving greater efficiencies and reducing costs in the current systems and enterprise software that run their traditional business, but to address the demands for speed and agility that come with the rise of such trends as big data, mobility, security and cloud computing.

Driving factors for many of these businesses go beyond cost reduction and focus more on flexibility, speed and time to value, Antonio Neri, executive vice president and general manager of HPE's Enterprise Group, told eWEEK. At the same time, they need to embrace a hybrid form of IT that will help them not only with their traditional business applications but with adopting new models.

"When we talk to CIOs, it's really about how to bridge the old world and the new world," Neri said, adding that a hybrid infrastructure can address these demands. "You really need to tailor the infrastructure to the application."

Enterprises are too often trying to run their traditional workloads on one infrastructure, while managing their emerging workloads on another, according to Paul Miller, vice president of market at HPE. Such environments waste money and don't offer the kind of flexibility that composable infrastructures bring.

"This is about bringing the private cloud up to a level that you cannot get with the current infrastructure," Miller said during a press briefing in the days leading up to the Discover show. "You're talking about two worlds: one static, and one very dynamic."

The move to composable infrastructure is at its earliest stages, and HPE is joining other tech vendors—such as Cisco Systems, Intel and Dell, to differing degrees—as they look to begin offering pools of infrastructure resources that can be composed and then decomposed as needed, according to Jed Scaramella, research director at IDC. It's part of the continuing evolution in the data center—which has included such trends as blade servers (with shared resources), converged and hyper-converged infrastructures—toward agile and scalable environments that can be rapidly provisioned to meet the demands of next-generation workloads around big data, cloud and mobility.

"You're not bound by the physical configuration of the server anymore," Scaramella told eWEEK, noting that the resources you need are part of a single pool that includes compute, networking and storage that are decoupled from the hardware and that may be from different nodes in the system, but can be dynamically configured as needed to serve the needs of the workloads. "Now you're starting to unlock a lot of the assets. … You can provide these optimized configurations for the applications to the architecture to ensure the best performance."

Tech vendors have been taking steps in this direction for a while, he said, adding that the market is now beginning to see products, such as HPE's Synergy platform. Intel is moving in that direction with its Rack System Architecture (RSA), introduced in 2013. It essentially offers a core common design that vendors can adopt and then differentiate, Scaramella said. Companies like Ericsson, Huawei Technologies and Qualcomm all are building off of RSA, he said.

Dell is moving in that direction with its highly dense, converged PowerEdge FX architecture, which was launched a year ago. It's not a composable infrastructure, "but you can see where that roadmap can go," Scraramella said.