While hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) essentially allows users to compose compute and storage, composable infrastructure takes HCI to the next level by adding networking fabric.
Composable infrastructure — Dell EMC calls it “kinetic infrastructure” — treats networking, storage, and compute as fluid resource pools that can be composed and recomposed as needed. This on-the-fly hardware capacity, which is based on what the software applications require at any given time, means companies can reduce over provisioning and stranded assets and improve efficiency.
It makes on-premises data center more scalable and flexible — essentially more cloud-like. But the technology is still in its infancy.
The PowerEdge MX is Dell EMC’s first composable infrastructure product. It’s designed to support a combination of virtualization, SDN, software-defined storage, artificial intelligence, and big data projects. It is memory-centric, as opposed to compute-centric, said Ravi Pendekanti, SVP product management and marketing for server and infrastructure systems at Dell EMC.
“We want to make sure it becomes memory-centric, because that’s typically where the bottlenecks [occur] in terms of optimal performance and speed,” he explained.
It also supports the low-latency NVMe drives and native 25GbE connectivity.
The composable infrastructure doesn’t have a mid-plane, which enables direct compute to I/O module connections. This allows for future technology upgrades without disrupting customer operations and without a mid-plane upgrade, the company claims.
This design also means the PowerEdge MX will support fully disaggregated components and emerging processor technologies such as GPUs and FPGAs and storage types like storage class memory (SCM), said Brian Payne, VP product management and marketing for Dell EMC PowerEdge.
“We’ve built PowerEdge MX on the tenant of responsive design,” he said. “This is a modular infrastructure that is bringing compute, storage, and networking together, and it is designed in a way that will be able to keep up with technology for years to come, providing investment protection for customers.”
The product will be available on Sept. 12, and it will be on display at next week’s VMworld conference in Las Vegas. It will also face competition from other infrastructure vendors’ similar products.
Composable Infrastructure Competition
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) started shipping Synergy, its composable product, late last year. Since then, more than 1,600 organizations have adopted the platform. In the first quarter of fiscal year 2018 alone HPE said it grew its Synergy customer base by more than 50 percent.
While all of these vendors still have a ways to go to make fully composable systems, composable is “the future of enterprise computing, said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, in an earlier interview. “Composable is the way that the enterprise gets the simplicity of the public cloud and much improved utilization rates.”