The Cloud Experience Everywhere

The New Edge is here – The tectonic shift needed for workload connectivity

NextGen SmartNICs are a breakthrough technology for enterprise networking. HPE’s strategic partnership with Pensando brings all the benefits – lower costs, stronger security, increased uptime and more – to your Edge.

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This new decade has brought unprecedented change and reset expectations for many industries around the world. It pushed companies to shuffle their priorities and forced them into new models and rapid execution of large initiatives like remote work. This substantiated the fact that workload availability needs to continue moving towards a right-sized, flexible, and always-available design in order to accommodate the unknown and align with the agility that businesses require. 

Advancements in cloud, compute and storage have met up with these demands, for the most part, but secure connectivity to the workloads continues to make only small steps towards a new approach. Gartner just released their Hype Cycle for Enterprise Networking (available with subscription here) which notes that after a decade of incremental change, we are finally starting to see some significant change in this area – to the magnitude of 40% for the second year in a row. This is an indication that the significant shift needed in networking and edge technologies has finally arrived.

Here is a view of today’s data center and what’s driving the need for a new approach:


 Of the transformational technologies called out by industry experts, NextGen SmartNICs (aka Function Accelerator Cards – FACs) are proving to be the tectonic shift that will finally enable workload connectivity to meet up with the demands of the business by reducing costs while increasing workload agility, availability, performance, security, and telemetry.

The fundamentals of this NextGen SmartNIC shift are twofold:

  • Offloading CPU tasks like encryption, compression and deduplication
  • Distributing network services (taps, firewalls, load balancers, etc.) from centralized appliances to these NextGen NICs in the servers throughout your environment

The new technology and architecture options of recent years have been additive, but nothing has enabled a transformational shift in cloud and data center architectures and driven strong value back to the business. Today, we are still centralizing many of our key network services, like firewalls and load balancers, while pushing more network functions up into the expensive CPU cycles. All while providing only pockets of transformation that are helpful – but not as much as they could be because they’re done in isolation, primarily because they are missing cross-platform control and visibility. For example, look at how disparate your policy control is between VMs and containers; or even within those, how disparate it is between vendors and platforms. This has created a brittle, high-risk environment for workload connectivity.

HPE’s strategic partnership with the Pensando Distributed Services Platform (DSP) leverages these NextGen SmartNICs coupled with a centralized control platform that delivers highly programmable software-defined functions across cloud, compute, networking, storage and security, right at the edge, where the data is created. 

This enables you to:

  • Reduce costs by reducing the CPU load on the servers and by reducing the number of high-cost network appliances spread across your data centers, or wherever your workloads are located. 
  • Increase security. At the same time, by distributing the network functions right down to the workloads, it gives us unmatched control and visibility, well beyond any approach in history. And Pensando leverages PenTrust™ Subsystem Root-Of-Trust and HardGap™ PCIe Firewall, so it’s designed from the ground up for highly secure environments like those of financial and government organizations. 
  • Increase uptime. By reducing the number of costly devices and single points of failure, and by eliminating hairpinning through devices like firewalls and load balancers, we can significantly increase our uptime.
  • Expose new data sets for business intelligence. Historically, we have placed taps strategically where needed to meet compliance and business requirements at a bare minimum. With Pensando DSP, we can continually monitor all traffic without concern for tap appliance costs and risky configuration changes, all while exposing new data sets for business intelligence.
  • Simplify your data center operations. With fewer appliances; unified yet distributed control and visibility across multiple platforms; and centralized orchestration with third-party APIs, your operations teams can move from keeping the lights on to driving business value.

Going forward, your simplified and distributed architecture will look like this:

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To realize the full value of this tectonic shift, a programmatic approach to phasing in this new architecture is needed. It will require multi-vendor capabilities and methodologies to develop a customer-specific, stepwise path to smooth the evolvution. This is HPE Pointnext Services’ sweet spot! We have developed a complete lifecycle of services and a clearly defined approach to phasing in the Pensando Distributed Services Platform. This starts with an initial service to define your specific roadmap and timeline so you can quickly realize the value of the platform.

To learn more, check out this blog for more information on a recent announcement around the strengthened partnership between HPE, Pensando and VMware! Read the Project Monterey press release.

Learn more about HPE edge services for digital transformation.

Jeff Enters
Distinguished Technologist
Hewlett Packard Enterprise


About the Author


Jeff Enters is the Global Chief Technologist for Networking in HPE Pointnext Services and has over 15 years of consulting experience in voice and data networking across all verticals. He has global responsibility for the network consulting services strategy, identifying best practices and developing multi-vendor solution architectures both in the data center and at the edge. In this role, he consults with Fortune 100 customers to deliver near and long-term value back to the business by developing strategies, integration roadmaps and designs that take a stepwise approach to integrating a broad spectrum of leading edge technologies for initiatives like digital transformation, mobile engagement, IoT, connectivity, security, and multi-cloud networking.