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By Gary Thome
Last fall, when public cloud providers started billing by the second, it confirmed what CIOs and CEOs have known for a while: IT infrastructure needs are fluid in a world where markets are formed, disrupted, and reformed in months or even weeks.
Bringing the Flexibility of the Public Cloud to Every Data Center
There’s just one problem, the public cloud can’t serve every need. Some businesses need to physically control every element of their IT, either for security or regulatory reasons or simply because not all workloads are suited for a public cloud environment. For years, these companies— thousands of businesses around the globe— would overspend, creating “flexibility” in their IT infrastructures by buying servers and equipment to meet peak demand at all times. The result? Too much equipment sat idle.
Then, three years ago, the industry was introduced to composable infrastructure as an alternative to relying solely on the public cloud to reduce capital expenditure and avoid server underutilization. Composable infrastructure treats physical compute, storage and network devices as services, and manages all of IT via a single application. This eliminates the need to configure hardware to support specific applications and allows the infrastructure to be managed by software command – software-defined infrastructure.
Composable infrastructures create pools of resources that are automatically composed in near real time to meet compute needs. With it, companies once forced into overprovisioning infrastructure are transforming data center IT into fluid pools of compute, storage, and network resources. The less time and effort they spend on these types of logistical tasks, the more time they can devote to complex tasks that add value to the company.
To help illustrate this concept, I’ll share a use case. A large EMEA retailer now consolidates and powers the company’s 600,000 square foot state-of-the-art distribution center through composable infrastructure. Working in concert with wireless connection points and fast, industrial-grade storage, composable infrastructure is helping this retailer realize value through a new warehouse logistics system that’s driven by advanced robotics. Overall reductions in total hardware, server requirements, energy needs and other factors, are leading to business cost reductions, faster order processing and less impact on the environment, all originating from a few lines of well-deployed code.
Composable infrastructure offers efficiency gains through automation of routine tasks including but not limited to, lowering of manual input needs and human error, reducing the number of steps required for a given IT activity and reducing idle time of enterprise data centers with excess capacity. The benefits of faster and more efficient compute resource analysis and deployment enables new models that could lead to more efficient infrastructure, the next major medical breakthrough or even humans landing on Mars.
The Elements of Composability
To better understand how composability makes IT simpler and faster, think of an orchestra. The instruments and musicians are like the hardware and software in a data center while the music— the composition— is the application. It’s the conductor who brings all these resources together to create harmony so that each individual musician can easily stay in time with the music and the rest of the orchestra, regardless of tempo.
In a composable infrastructure, a single programmable API serves as the conductor of the data center, managing all IT through one application. By managing infrastructure through software command, pools of resources are automatically composed in near real time to meet compute needs, increasing ease, speed, agility and cost-effectiveness.
Composable infrastructure offers benefits for simplifying and speeding up IT in almost every industry. For example, at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, simplifying IT with composable infrastructure has led to fewer IT service calls and faster deployments of IT resources for conducting scientific and clinical research. The statistics are mind boggling: 48% total hardware savings with 35% of those savings resulting from server-related cost reductions. At the same time, compute resources are now deployed 95% faster, resulting in a 6X measured improvement in code-writing productivity.
How to Get Started with Composable Infrastructure… Today
Whether you are running next-generation applications with dynamic resource needs that are core to your business success (big data, DevOps, cloud-based services) or traditional workloads (collaboration, data processing and analytics, supply chain, web infrastructure) you will benefit from composable infrastructure via improved costs due to smarter allocation of resources and unified management, increased operational efficiency and rapid deployment of IT resources, along with reductions in complexity and manual tasks.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) was the first to introduce composable infrastructure over three years ago and is the only vendor that has the tools and team you need to bring composable infrastructure to life inside your organization right now, as we have done with over 1,600 customers worldwide.
Gary Thome is the Vice President and Chief Technologist for the Software-Defined and Cloud Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). He is responsible for the technical and architectural directions of converged datacenter products and technologies.
To read more articles from Gary, check out the HPE Shifting to Software-Defined blog.