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Composability in Action: New HPE Synergy Reference Configuration for GPU-enabled VDI deployments



Ather Jamil.jpgBy Guest Blogger Ather Jamil, Solution Architect, HPE

Graphics accelerators, such as NVIDIA® GRID 2.0, have become an essential component to address high-end workloads such as 3D modeling, animation and CAD engineering design. The hardware that provides this functionality comes with a premium cost, yet it sits idle during off hours, resulting in a loss of efficiency. For example, once a CAD engineering team completes a typical workday, the equipment sits unused overnight. As addressing this class of end-user can represent a significant investment, many organizations inquire how best to maximize their infrastructure utilization to obtain the full value of their hardware. Is it possible to leverage the infrastructure during these off hours to address another workload that generally requires separate and dedicated hardware resources? Perhaps an automated workload such as airflow simulation or analytics can run overnight on the same hardware? With HPE Synergy the answer is yes!

One of the key capabilities of HPE Synergy is to provide a fast and easy means to repurpose hardware as needed and on-demand to address multiple workloads. By utilizing HPE Synergy Composer and HPE Synergy Image Streamer technologies, it is possible to quickly recompose the HPE Synergy Compute Modules powered by Intel® from design, to simulation or analytics, and back again. The dual-mode capability of NVIDIA GPUs (graphics processing units) to function as a graphics accelerator as well as a GPGPU (general-purpose computing on graphics processing unit) provides a unique opportunity to run application workloads that require, or can take advantage of the two GPU modes and to run them on the same hardware. These unique capabilities of NVIDIA GPUs and HPE Synergy are central to the composability scenario discussed in a recently published HPE Synergy Reference Configuration.

What makes this Reference Configuration of particular interest is that it illustrates utilizing the composability of HPE Synergy to address multiple disparate workloads on the same infrastructure. For example, within an automotive manufacturer, design teams are remotely accessing HPE Synergy Compute Modules during normal work hours to run CAD applications. Due to the centralized data center architecture, they are able to more effectively collaborate and share files while keeping their intellectual property and designs safe within the data center. In off hours (overnight or on weekends), the HPE Synergy resources can quickly and easily be recomposed to run simulation workloads such as air flow modeling or crash test analysis, enabling the company to maximize their investment and realize the full value of their composable infrastructure.

Automating for composability

Automation and orchestration are native to HPE Synergy and are core to its composability story. What makes HPE Synergy agile, responsive and so operationally efficient, is a set of new infrastructure components developed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise for the HPE Synergy platform. Two of these core components are the HPE Synergy Composer and HPE Synergy Image Streamer.


HPE Synergy Composer is a management appliance that uses software-defined intelligence with embedded HPE OneView to aggregate compute, storage, and fabric resources in a manner that scales to the needs of the application. With HPE OneView Rest API and automation tools, the entire process of server personality definition and configuration can be automated. The fully-programmable HPE OneView interface can integrate over a dozen popular management tools such as Microsoft System Center, Chef, Docker, Puppet, Ansible, PowerShell, Python, and VMware vCenter.

The HPE Synergy Image Streamer management appliance works with the HPE Synergy Composer for fast, software-defined control over physical compute modules with operating system and application provisioning. HPE Synergy Composer powered by HPE OneView captures the physical state of the server in a server profile.

HPE Synergy Image Streamer enhances this server profile by capturing the golden image as the deployed software state in the form of bootable image volumes. These bootable images are stored on embedded, redundant HPE Synergy Image Streamer appliances, and they are available for fast deployment to multiple compute modules. This capability enables bare-metal compute modules to boot directly into a running OS with applications in a desired state. 

A proof point for on-demand composability

The use of NVIDIA GPU’s dual mode capability coupled with HPE Synergy’s on-demand composability enables IT to maximize the utilization of available hardware. HPE Synergy with a unified API powered by HPE OneView is a perfect candidate for automating the entire process, including provisioning of stateless server hardware based on primary workloads and then re-composing the hardware on the fly to run secondary workloads as needed.

The question is, can this really be done (and done easily) without extensive programming skills and expensive automation tools? It has been promised before, but never delivered. HPE Synergy engineering and HPE EUC teams did just that – they developed a proof-of-concept Reference Configuration that serves as a proof point for organizations seeking to maximize the use of their accelerated graphics environments. The unique combination of HPE Synergy Composer and HPE Synergy Image Streamer is the key functionality that allows IT to finally actualize composing/recomposing their infrastructure for full utilization. The following observations were made during the development of the above mentioned Reference Configuration:

  • The infrastructure-as-code capability of HPE Synergy accelerates transformation to a hybrid infrastructure, providing on-demand creation and delivery of applications and services with consistent governance, compliance, and integration.
  • The unified API powered by HPE OneView creates, aggregates, and hosts internal IT resources so automation tools can provision them programmatically without needing a detailed understanding of the underlying physical elements.
  • HPE Synergy server profiles and templates are a powerful new way to quickly and reliably update and maintain existing infrastructure. HPE Synergy Composer uses templates to simplify one-to-many updates and manage HPE Synergy Compute Module profiles. These templates allow changes to be implemented automatically, significantly reducing manual interactions and errors.
  • HPE Synergy Image Streamer enables HPE Synergy to quickly deploy new compute modules or update existing ones by booting them directly into their desired running OS in minutes. This allows fast, easy to replicate, and consistent repurposing of compute between day and night, or weekday and weekend.
  • HPE Synergy offers unmatched NVIDIA GPU density per server with the HPE Synergy 480 Multi MXM Expansion Module with up to 6 x NVIDIA Tesla M6 GPUs.
  • Testing demonstrated that composing (i.e., switching between high-end graphics and data analytics use cases) took less than 5 minutes versus hours in a traditional data center environment.
  • Infrastructure transformation via automation is made trivial with HPE Synergy with a unified API and simple tools such as Windows PowerShell, VMware PowerCLI, etc. No in-depth coding expertise is required.

The emerging idea economy demands that businesses turn ideas into services faster and more economically. In this era of digital transformation, businesses are reinventing themselves by looking for ways to improve operational efficiency and productivity while keeping TCO in check. The observations published in the HPE Synergy Reference Configuration including the highest per server GPU density, the efficiency in repurposing hardware via automation and the resulting cost savings, makes a compelling case for HPE Synergy to be the platform of choice for any organization on a digital transformation journey.

To learn more about HPE Synergy, download the free e-book: HPE Synergy for Dummies


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