Software Composable Infrastructure is a new approach to data infrastructure. Here’s how why it’s key to contending with current and future data challenges. 

The role of data is changing dramatically. What once may have been a log or a record of an event is now an opportunity to gain insight, drive opportunity and reap value. Our data-centric world thrives when we can harness the potential of data. Yet this shift brings forth an ever-increasing complexity in data workflows.

The task of orchestrating and managing data infrastructure at scale has never been more challenging. Datasets are growing at unprecedented rates. They are generated from new, diverse sources and they are being accessed over longer periods of time by both big data and fast data applications. Finding a balance between performance, scalability, agility and efficiency is a key pain point for many data center operators.

The Rise of Composable Infrastructure

General-purpose infrastructures are failing to meet the demands of data-intensive applications and data-driven environments due to their uniform ratio of compute, storage and network bandwidth resources.

IT teams are trying to build flexible infrastructures using these traditional, rigid building blocks. The result is that, according to one recent survey, many data centers are only utilizing approximately 45% of their capacity and compute resources[1]. In 2016, another study estimated non-virtualized servers, may see just 6 to 15 percent of compute utilized![2]

To meet the level of flexibility and predictable performance needed in today’s data center, a new architectural approach has emerged where compute, storage and network are disaggregated into shared resource pools and are treated as services. The ‘composable’ part refers to the ability to make the resources available on-the-fly, and create a virtual application environment with the optimum performance required for the workload demands.

The “composability” under software control is fast and without physical involvement or reconfiguring the equipment. Servers can be provisioned and re-provisioned in real-time. This approach can not only dramatically improve server utilization and deliver superior performance; it also brings a new level of flexibility and agility to the data center.

The OpenFlex Architecture Vision

Today at Flash Memory Summit I shared why at Western Digital we see the future of data infrastructure as open and composable. We unveiled the OpenFlex™ architecture and family of products based on the NVMe-over-Fabric standard and shared with the industry the KingFish™ open API for the composability of compute, network and storage (flash, disk and future technologies)..

The OpenFlex architecture has four key elements to effectively revolutionize data centers, and will pave the way for the future of data infrastructure:

  • Open – OpenFlex was developed from the ground up as an open form factor. This applies to the device design as well as in the software orchestration layer – the KingFish API that we will make publicly available. Any customer, vendor or partner will be able to easily take advantage of this architecture.
  • Scalable – Scalability should be all encompassing. Each resource needs to be able to scale independently, and environments can be composed starting at the rack level, to federated across multiple fabrics or even data center sites.
  • Disaggregated – OpenFlex architecture is rooted in the disaggregation of physical hardware into resource pools to allow precise orchestration of the right resources on-demand.
  • Extensible – To maximize flexibility and agility, flash, disk and future heterogeneous composable entities can be added, managed and shared over the same fabric using a common API framework. These resources are viewed as peer elements that need to cooperate.

With market leadership in developing innovative products, systems and solutions based on NVMeTM technology, Western Digital is further investing in the NVMe-oFTM standard to enable a composable SLA-driven architecture. The OpenFlex fabric products deliver highly scalable performance and capacity, and are estimated to increase agility AND improve efficiency by as much as 40% when compared to hyperconverged alternatives.

With OpenFlex we are bringing the essential building blocks, technological advancements, tools, resources and contacts to help accelerate market adoption. Our software innovation in the KingFish API allows us to work with and enable an ecosystem that can bring nimbleness to the orchestration of composable infrastructure, and accelerate time-to-value.

The Future of Data Infrastructure

As a leader in the data infrastructure industry we are committed to driving a new level of scalability, efficiency and responsiveness to help businesses overcome the challenges of data at scale and harness the power of data. Together with an ecosystem of customers, partners and vendors, the OpenFlex architecture promises to define the next generation of data infrastructure today, tomorrow and well into the future.

To learn more, please visit our website for information, technical briefs, videos and more.

 

 

[1] From the IDC report entitled, “Quantifying Data Center Inefficiency: Making a Case for Composable Infrastructure.” 2017

[2] https://cloudblog.ericsson.com/digital-services/3-ways-to-boost-datacenter-utilization

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Phil is SVP and GM of Western Digital's Data Center Systems BU driving accelerated growth for business with block, file and object storage.