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Composing with a new class of infrastructure that helps enterprise win in the new Idea Economy


By blogger Chris Purcell


It is easier than ever to disrupt industries and markets with new innovations. Cloud and mobile computing combined with the rise in social media has given business unprecedented opportunities to reach new customers with innovative products and services. This is called the new Idea Economy, and it allows some businesses to impact their industries quickly while often leaving their more established competitors racing to keep up. Succeeding in the Idea Economy requires that businesses have the ability to turn their ideas into value faster than the competition.


More and more companies today are moving toward continuous delivery of applications and services in pursuit of greater business agility. But in order to achieve this agility, IT needs faster, policy-based automation of applications and infrastructure across development, testing and deployment. The Idea Economy puts tremendous pressure on IT to maintain traditional operations while implementing new applications and services for mobile, social, and the cloud. This shift to on-demand, high-performance applications has left IT organizations scrambling.

To succeed IT needs to be able to do two things very well:

  1. Deliver stable and reliable services
  2. Build in the flexibility and agility to adapt those services to new business needs.  

I like Composing with a new class of infrastructure as an analogy, as I think IT leaders need to think about their infrastructure differently as they start to support two very different types of IT. On one side of the data center, IT operations and infrastructure depends on stability and meeting SLA’s. Once a service on a server(s) has been provisioned for tradition ERP-like applications, the business now becomes dependent on that application running all the time, 24x7. I have my applications running in a very secure and reliable way and I really don’t want to touch or adjust that environment other than once or twice a year.


On the other side of the data center is a growing DevOps movement that behaves in a fundamentally different way. This is the development of new applications that need infrastructure to be fluid and have the flexibility to expand and contract based upon the needs of the application. This is all about new business opportunities that new technologies enable and IT now has to respond quickly to be able to exploit them.


When you think about it, these two types of infrastructure could be considered very opposing forces and the tough decisions IT must now strike is to balance how to get the most out of their traditional data center today, while building the ability to deliver both reliability and rapid changes to succeed in the Idea Economy.


HP introduced a new class of infrastructure called Composable Infrastructure earlier this year in June. This new infrastructure is ideal for composing and provisioning physical infrastructure, but it also extends programmability to the broader automation tool chain. Repeatable templates allow IT to integrate with other configuration management tools from companies such as Chef, Docker or Puppet Labs. By integrating HP OneView with these configuration management tools, IT can keep physical and virtual infrastructure automated, including the ability to easily update platforms with new firmware, drivers, and software.


And these automation tools go far beyond simple scripts and automation tools in use today. Composed configurations can be stored externally in source-control systems, enabling version control and the ability to ensure that any changes to the virtual infrastructure are automatically tested and easily replicated when new instances are needed to support growth or expanded to meet peak demand. This is the “Infrastructure as Code” practice, which has been gaining a foothold in the DevOps for a while. The business benefits of this new practice are now becoming clear to all types of enterprises regardless whether their infrastructure is in their datacenter, the Cloud, or a hybrid of both.


Think about this in a different way. The biggest tier one cloud-computing providers employ huge arrays of servers, sometimes numbering in millions, to provide access to a finite set of applications for users around the world. Because applications are their primary source of revenue, cloud providers need the ability to build on flexible infrastructure that can adjust to the speed of their business.


Enterprise IT simply cannot match the efficiency of these tier one providers environments while maintaining their traditional infrastructure and provisioning responsibilities. Tier One providers buy thousands of servers with the associated networking and storage at one time and provision everything in advance to meet the specifications of a handful of unique applications. Then they simply turn on pre-configured, pre-defined, and pre-wired equipment and provisioning for the application they want to run.


Comparatively, the enterprise hardware implementation process usually takes much longer since a large majority of applications carry unique requirements. Unlike Tier One service providers, enterprise IT cannot choose the infrastructure it needs until the applications are selected. To make it more challenging server, network, and storage equipment is often purchased by separate IT teams and then brought together for provisioning - a process that can sometimes take weeks or even months to coordinate and complete.


Composable Infrastructure is built specifically to support a particular workload or application, in the same way a workload was conceived to solve a specific business need. Using this approach IT can craft their composition through repeatable templates –pulling together the exact combination of compute, storage, and fabric resources along with firmware and software that are best suited to run a particular workload.


Composable Infrastructure also enhances reliability, since any actions that affect the infrastructure are tested thoroughly before deployment into any production environment. In today’s age of rapid-fire demands, the only way to speed deployment and satisfy shifting business needs quickly is through automation.


In summary, Composable infrastructure lets enterprise IT operate like a cloud provider to their lines of business and the extended enterprise. It maximizes the speed, agility, and efficiency of core infrastructure and operations to consistently meet SLAs and provide the predictable performance needed to support core workloads.


Getting started with HP OneView infrastructure management running on HP BladeSystem or HP ConvergedSystem, and adding the HP Composable Infrastructure API establishes a level of composability that can immediately begin reducing costs and increasing administrative efficiencies. To learn more about composable infrastructure approach, read “HP Composable Infrastructure: Bridging traditional IT with the New Style of Business.”




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