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It’s the end of the pizza night as we know it … Feel fine with Composable Infrastructure


Untitled.pngWe hear so much these days about the need for speed and agility in IT departments, you’d think IT teams would be out there every evening doing sprint training and taking yoga classes. What happens more often, though, is something a lot less healthy – those late night pizza-and-pity parties as you push through the latest firmware update or stand up a bunch of new servers. I wonder what percentage of pizza sales are the result of IT teams working off-hours? I bet it’s a sizeable slice. If anybody has a pie chart (ha!) send it my way!

In a world where provisioning a server can take literally thousands of lines of code, it’s not surprising that new projects and even basic maintenance tasks like firmware and driver updates come with some serious stresses and strains. It’s symptomatic of the general clunkiness of infrastructure management and integration in today’s data centers. And that’s at the core of another big stress factor for I&O teams – the growing pressure to find resources for next-gen, “digital-economy” apps – mobile, B2B collaboration, cloud-based, and the rest – while at the same time keeping the traditional-IT engine running smoothly.

I like the way Ric Lewis put this in a recent article in Data Center Knowledge – the message that IT is hearing, says Ric, is “quick, give me some next-gen apps – but don’t touch those (traditional IT) dials!”

Hardware that’s more like software

The reality is, today’s environments aren’t close to being fast and flexible enough to handle both varieties of IT. For that, you need a programmable infrastructure and a level of speed and agility that’s more cloud-ish. By which I mean, hardware that serves up all the resources that your applications need via software, with the same easy access that we usually associate with the public cloud.

Sounds like a dreamland, but we’re actually already there thanks to a new kind of infrastructure – composable infrastructure. A new Forrester report – Composable Infrastructure: A Hardware Foundation for Extreme Service Agility – defines it as “physical infrastructure that can be assembled on the fly under software control.”

This will “reshape the enterprise infrastructure space over the next 12 to 24 months”

Composable infrastructure really is something new, different, and better, and the Forrester report is pretty forthright in saying so. Author Richard Fichera calls composable infrastructure systems (CIS) “the most significant architectural change in core data center infrastructure since the introduction of blade servers in the early 2000s.” Fichera sees composability as the natural successor to today’s blade and modular server architectures. He writes that “I&O professionals must rapidly get up to speed on this new development, which will reshape the enterprise infrastructure space over the next 12 to 24 months.”

I’d highly recommend taking a minute or two to look through the report; in addition to explaining why CIS is such a big deal, it takes a quick look at the vendor landscape and lays out some recommendations for I&O teams’ infrastructure strategy.

How composability works

With HPE Synergy powered by Intel®, HPE’s approach to composable infrastructure, you can stand up new infrastructure – a task that can take months with siloed architectures – in just a few minutes. Here’s how it works:

  • Fluid pools of compute, storage and fabric are always available to run whatever application needs them. HPE Synergy disaggregates capacity so that all resources – whether virtual, physical or containerized – can be instantly configured based on application demand.
  • A software-defined intelligence native to the infrastructure uses repeatable templates to define the resources along with states such as bios settings and firmware, and the OS image. This intelligence enables the software to “compose” the resources, reassemble them in near real-time, and return them to the pool when no longer needed. A single management interface provides visibility into all resources.
  • A unified, native API gives you full programmability; you can provision an application via a single line of code.

The DevOps folks get the infrastructure-as-code capabilities they’ve always wanted. You can offer cloud-like efficiency and speed without the usual cloud concerns around security, compliance, and data control.

Change management goes frictionless

Composability optimizes all of your apps and service levels, hugely reducing operational effort. Because resources are aggregated, you can chop back on over-provisioning, a big contributor to CapEx. Change management becomes frictionless; all updates are pretested, preconfigured, staged and run automatically with other routine activities – during regular business hours!

That’s got to be good news for hard-pressed I&O teams. After all, too much pizza isn’t good for your speed and agility. Or your waistline.

If you want more info on composable infrastructure, I think you’ll find these resources very helpful:
E-book: Top Ten Reasons to Move to Composable Infrastructure
Video: HPE Synergy in Two Minutes
Video: The HPE Composable Infrastructure Ecosystem: Hear from the Partners


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