Ever since its introduction in 2015, we have been hearing discussions about what “Composable Infrastructure” is.The truth is, while everyone is talking about composable, very few are actually building it.
Let’s take a step back from the confusion and hype surrounding a great new category of innovation. Composable infrastructure is not just the latest incremental improvement in server design or software controls. Rather, it is a new take on infrastructure—a new datacenter architecture designed to promote a new, operationalized way of doing business.
Today’s IT: Combining the existing with the new
In today’s world, IT is becoming schizophrenic. Traditional applications, such as enterprise resource planning, collaboration and databases, run your business in an environment where change is infrequent and the objectives are reliability and stability.
On the other hand, new applications (mobile, Internet of Things and cloud-native apps) are constantly changing to address personalized customer experiences and generate new revenue operate. All this takes place in an environment where change delivery is continuous and all elements of infrastructure (compute, storage, network) are deployed on demand.
This requires enterprise IT to operate as two separate entities: offering a stable virtualized environment for traditional applications in an on-premise data center, while creating a second infrastructure to support new mobile and cloud-native apps either on-premise or in a public cloud environment. This means buying two sets of infrastructure, implementing two sets of operational practices and bringing on a whole new world of unnecessary complexity. We call this “bi-modal” IT.
So how much value does it really add to your business if your new servers can provide a disaggregated pool of memory but you still have to manually connect them to SAN storage? How does an incremental change solve this problem?
Defining True Composable Infrastructure
The answer is, it doesn’t. This is why true composability is not just about disaggregating resources on servers, but disaggregating and abstracting all infrastructure resources. It is not just about creating a new software-defined feature; instead, it would provision and manage workloads using software-defined intelligence and application code.
What it really comes down to is enabling the creation of a simple line of code that assigns and configures the right amount of compute, storage and fabric resource to manage all applications for a business. This is what composable infrastructure is all about: making IT truly programmable in order to get the infrastructure that is needed through a single line of code.
Composable infrastructure has the unique ability to run without being limited to one computing paradigm, because it can run virtual machines, bare-metal deployment, containers and cloud-native applications. Its ability to run and store anything allows IT to align around a single set of operational practices, reducing complexity and cost in the datacenter.
Building Blocks for Composable Infrastructure
For an infrastructure to be composable, it must be built on three layers of architecture:
- Fluid resource pools—pools of compute, storage and fabric resource that can be continually aggregated, disaggregated and composed based on the needs of the application;
- Intelligent software—programmable and template-driven software intelligence that provides self-discovery and self-healing capabilities, which allows hardware to take care of itself without a need for dedicated system administration;
- A single unified API—one simple and open API for controlling infrastructure (compute, storage and fabric) that can plug into other programming elements.
The combination of these three architectural layers working together is what defines composability. Anything less may provide some composable features, but will not meet the demands of both traditional and cloud-style, agile computing from a single infrastructure.
Think of it as a set of flexible building blocks that can be dynamically and automatically assembled and re-assembled to meet changing workload needs.
Your Composable Infrastructure Future
Through integration with tools like Chef, Puppet, Ansible and Docker, composable infrastructure allows any business to provision and control resources from their applications, giving them infrastructure-as-code and enabling continuous delivery. Composability provides the ability to quickly deliver changes to applications and infrastructure on demand.
By creating a path for composable infrastructure in your world, the architecture which commands all of IT in a single infrastructurethat reduces data center complexity and creates a more flexible and nimble datacenter.
This can allow companies to enable faster time to value when delivering upgrades to a traditional ERP platform, or deploying a lower cost new cloud-native application that can enable a business to successfully capture new market opportunities, today and into the future.
By Vikram K, Director, Data Centre and Hybrid Cloud, Hewlett Packard Enterprise India