We all know the importance of using the right tool for the job. Having the right tool can make the work much easier and faster. When you think about infrastructure to support the new cloud-scale applications, you also want the right tool. System vendors have offered a range of options for decades. Servers are designed to support the requirements of different applications and workloads. This same principle applies to composable infrastructure. Even if you pool the infrastructure resources and allocate them dynamically to support each application, there is still a requirement to have different systems architected to support different requirements. A one size fits all approach to this new category of infrastructure is bound to have its limitations.
Expanding the Tool Kit
Composable infrastructure is a new technology that Cisco first introduced more than a year ago with the launch of the UCS M-Series Modular Servers. It is the first composable product in the market, and it is another addition to the Cisco Unified Computing System™ (UCS) “tool kit”. The UCS M-Series is a composable infrastructure product designed for compute intensive workloads. We’ve recently added another product to the Cisco Composable Infrastructure™ portfolio, the UCS C3260 storage server. It’s architected for storage intensive applications.
Whenever a new technology comes out, there’s always an element of hype and some confusion. Some vendors claim you can “run anything, store everything” on their composable infrastructure. This sounds like the type of promise you would hear from a politician, but real world experience tells you one size will not fit all. An API, fluid resource pools and intelligent management make the infrastructure more programmable, but there are still real hardware considerations. Common sense indicates there are bound to be tradeoffs.
Keep It Simple and Stable
Customers have told us they don’t want more complexity or risk, as they consider introducing composable infrastructure into their operations. The UCS M-Series and C3260 are recent additions to the UCS product portfolio. The UCS “tool kit” also includes the B-Series Blade Servers and C-Series Rack Servers as well as the UCS Mini for edge-scale computing. All of these products are supported by the robust UCS management software currently deployed at more than 45,000 customers worldwide. All UCS products uses the same Service Profiles, domains, templates, etc. across the portfolio. The addition of the UCS composable infrastructure products is just another step in the evolution in the UCS management platform.
UCS management includes an open, extensible API. Over the past six years we’ve established a broad, mature partner ecosystem. This ecosystem includes out-of-the box plugins and integrations with operations management, configuration and orchestration tools from a dozen ISVs as well as the ability to develop custom integrations with PowerTool Powershell Modules and a Python SDK. You can easily extend your existing tools and processes to support this new category of infrastructure.
Cisco offers a variety of composable infrastructure products today, so you don’t have to wait to test drive these products. You can use the proven UCS management software* to conduct a proof of concept to see how easy it to realize the benefits of composable infrastructure today.
Checking Under the Hood
We asked an independent analyst, Gina Longoria of Moor Insights and Strategy to evaluate the M-Series and C3260. Gina has reviewed and written about composable products from other vendors. We asked her to assess how Cisco’s strategy maps to the necessary attributes of composable infrastructure and to analyze each of the Cisco composable products. You can download her report here.
According to her report,
The UCS M-Series product is designed for compute-intensive workloads such as scale-out applications, grid, EDA, online gaming, genomic applications, web serving, memcached, and MaaS (metal as a service). The recently announced UCS C3260 is targeted at data-centric workloads such as Big Data analytics (MapR, Cloudera, etc.), content delivery, Microsoft Storage Spaces, and software-defined storage environments (CEPH, Scality, etc.). Each workload varies significantly in terms of specific resource requirements which makes composable infrastructure a good potential fit to drive intelligent resource allocation.
Composable infrastructure is a complex topic, so we also recorded a series of video interviews with Gina. One of the topics she addressed is how Cisco’s products and strategy align to the customer requirements for composable infrastructure. You can watch the video here.
The Right Tools
Composable infrastructure is another option in the broader array of product options that are emerging for IT operations. This includes new products, such as hyper-converged systems, as well traditional rack-mount servers. What you need is a common and consistent way of managing these new types of infrastructure, so you can realize the efficiencies and agility they promise. Cisco continues to respond to changing customer requirements, so we have now offer two composable products – the UCS M-Series modular servers and the UCS C3260 rack server.
You will hear a lot of hype around composable infrastructure over the next several months as other vendors begin to offer their initial composable products. This is a new technology in an emerging market, so Cisco and other vendors will offer a greater variety of composable infrastructure products over time.
You wouldn’t use a knife as your only tool – even if it was a Swiss Army knife. One size does not fit all. To continue the analogy, there is a requirement for knives with fixed and folding blades, utility, pairing, cleavers, etc. The bottom line is that the knife is just a tool that should ultimately make your job easier, so you can be more effective.
If you’d like to learn more about this topic, we offer several papers and videos from independent analysts. Go to www.cisco.com/go/composable