HPE debuts composable infrastructure lineup

HPE SynergyCall it the next logical step in the software-defined data centre, call it a new take on hyper-converged, or just call it HPE Synergy, but Hewlett Packard’s first flagship announcement as a private company introduces a new class of data centre offering from the technology giant, one that it’s calling composable infrastructure.

Announced at the company’s Discover event in Europe last week, HPE Synergy is “a new class of infrastructure,” according to the company, one that creates and manages flexible pools of compute, fabric, and storage, to create what the company believes will be a more flexible and cloud-like data centre in the future.

“As companies look to balance between public and private cloud, they need a private cloud infrastructure that doesn’t hold them back, that allows them run at cloud-like speeds and economics with the infrastructure and apps they want to keep in their own data centre,” said Paul Miller, vice president of marketing for the converged data centre infrastructure group at HPE. “This is about bringing their own cloud up to a level they can get with new other infrastructure.”

The concept, the company says, borrows and builds upon the converged infrastructure movement, and more recently, the hyper-converged movement, offering something that looks like hyper-converged infrastructure, but still supports traditional SANs, making it more friendly to a wider variety of workloads in the data centre with a cloud-like approach.

The concept of composable infrastructure was first announced in Las Vegas in June, at the North American edition of the company’s Discover events, and in London, the Synergy brand was introduced and initial hardware offerings were previewed.

With Synergy, HPE is aiming to make managing infrastructure “a single line of code” — with users able to define templates of compute, networking and storage for applications they run, and then spin up an application with a single line of code. The technology also aims to implement a single API that allows applications or third-party systems to communicate and work with any part of the Synergy stack, a move that will simplify how apps are integrated. That single API will make it possible for customers to work in a bare-metal environment with virtualization-like flexibility, said Paul Durzan, HPE’s vice president of infrastructure management and orchestration software.

“Our goal is to make change as easy as possible for customers. By having a unified API for servers, storage, and networking, customers have the ability to create a bare-metal interface and use a higher level of automation tools to reach in and program what they need very simply,” Durzan said.

Synergy will initially launch with Intel-based servers, but the company is clearly thinking about The Machine, its next-generation computing platform, about which details have been trickling out over the last 18 months, with the design. In fact, the very concept of Synergy’s management of resources borrows heavily from what was developed for The Machine’s massive in-memory approach to computing, and Miller indicated that in the future, that technology will find its way into Synergy.

“The platform can be upgraded to photonics and memristor,” Miller confirmed.

As one would expect, the platform will become a centrepiece in HPE’s offerings through the channel, and Miller said that partners can prepare for Synergy by getting certified in HPE’s OneView management software, with which the “templates” for applications are defined. Building those templates, and therefore provisiong apps, will be one of the big partner opportunities around Synergy, Miller told ChannelBuzz.ca.

“There’s that ability for them to build unique templates and their own images on Synergy. It’s a totally open infrastructure, and we’re talking to a lot of partners who see the advantage already,” Miller said. “It’s been a slow ramp with partners [around OneView], but we’re seeing interest growing rapidly now.”

The company will also be looking at a number of “sell-to” types of partners — particularly those who identify, or are looking to identify, as service providers, for whom the flexibility and easy deployment of Synergy may make it an interesting infrastructure investment.

“You build a template, you build an image, you offer a service and deploy it in three minutes when a customer calls you up,” Miller said.

Initial Synergy hardware was on display at Discover in London, and will be available in the market early in 2016.