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Composable Infrastructure: The New IT Agility

Information technology is constantly evolving, from centralized mainframes to decentralized open systems compute to the cloud and the edge. As enterprises continue to modernize their IT operations, getting the most out of existing infrastructure – servers, networks, and especially storage – is critical.

Even as physical systems gave way to virtualized servers, followed by converged and hyper converged infrastructure models, all of these legacy approaches miss a critical point; every application puts different demands on CPU, disk, and network. In an environment where Kubernetes instances come and go with demand, and applications are composed of API-connected microservices, flexibility and agility in every dimension makes the difference between efficiency and gross overprovisioning that leaves equipment underutilized for the greatest percentage of time.

Today, many organizations continue to throw money at the problem, leaving storage misspent, server CPUs idle, and network connections just waiting for the traffic that might come with seasonal upticks or promotions. Fortunately, there is a better way, and that is adopting composable disaggregated infrastructure (CDI). Like in so many other industries, a shared model is emerging within IT to optimize resources.

In a CDI environment, IT infrastructure is first completely dis-aggregated, and those components of storage, CPU, and network are placed on a digital ‘shelf.’ Then, when a new workload is production-ready, instead of procuring new servers and storage, IT ops automagically provisions the resources from the available pool sitting on the shelf. Resources can be independently scalable as well as dynamic and continuously provisioned. Database growing? Just compose 4TB more of storage. Response times getting sluggish? Add some CPUs.

The abstraction from physical servers that began with hypervisors is now accelerated, so as applications become smaller and microservice-y, it becomes easy to be more flexible and responsive in an automated fashion.

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Western Digital is helping to create this new environment in a couple of ways. First, to ‘unlock’ the flash storage that has traditionally been directly connected to servers with NVMe™, Western Digital has been leading the advances in NVMe-over Fabrics (NVMe-oF™), which enables sharing of flash drive resources over any IP network (more on that in the next article). Western Digital’s OpenFlex™ composable infrastructure disaggregates multiple resources including storage, compute, and accelerators (GPU, FPGA) – but more importantly also provides an extensible open composable API, built on industry standards that will enable IT operations to orchestrate all data center elements including flash, disk, network, accelerators, and disaggregated storage. 

What’s the point of all this? Future-proofing enterprise IT infrastructure. A decade ago containers were in their infancy and IT was gung-ho for hyperconverged infrastructure and VMs for even monolithic applications. Fast forward to today and microservices have put many of those design principles on their head. 

What will tomorrow’s infrastructure look like? No one knows for sure, but it is clear that CDI puts IT in the catbird seat, ready for whatever sea change is just over the horizon. Click here to learn more about how CDI can help drive all of your IT “-abilities.”

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