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Composable Infrastructure Part 6: Understanding Infrastructure Options

- December 10, 2015 - 0 Comments

Pathway OptionsThe IT industry is in a significant period of transition, and the infrastructure landscape has changed a great deal. There are many options today, and the number of options will grow over the next two years. Having more options can more lead to complexity and potential limitation.  As you assess your options you need more information and context, so you can make the right choices and avoid problems down the road.

Software defined infrastructure (SDI) has made it possible to create these new categories of products.  In addition to traditional rack and blade servers and SAN storage, there is converged infrastructure, hyper-converge infrastructure and now composable infrastructure. As you evaluate these new infrastructure options, one of the most important considerations is choosing the right management software to support these products.  You don’t want to add to complexity by creating islands of infrastructure that need to be managed separately.

Understanding Converged versus Hyper-Converged

IT operations and infrastructure is changing to adapt to the business demands of the digital economy. This shift was described by an analyst in the first blog in this series as the adoption of the Third Platform. The transition to this platform includes new software-defined technologies that repackage and pool the compute, networking and storage resources. Converged infrastructure is a solution that takes advantage of SDI, and it provides a more integrated and efficient means of managing the infrastructure components as a single system. It consists of separate components engineered to work well together. Cisco is now the recognized leader in converged infrastructure, or what we refer to as integrated infrastructure. We have worked successfully with partners to achieve this leadership position.

Hyper-converged infrastructure is a product category that started to emerge a few years ago. It tightly couples compute and storage resources through software, and packages them in an appliance.  Hyper-converged solutions leverage improvements at the storage controller software layer to allow these systems to scale out. They are modular systems designed to scale out by adding additional modules. This makes them faster to deploy and easier to manage, and these benefits appeal to many customers.

What Makes Composable Different

In our recent interviews with Gina Longoria, a senior analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, we asked her to compare converged, hyper-converged and composable infrastructure products. Click to watch the video.

Product Options Video Image

Gina explained that she considers composable infrastructure to be a new set of software defined capabilities that allows the management of the infrastructure resources to be more dynamic. She wrote in her report entitled, “The Journey to Composable Infrastructure”,

Composable infrastructure is designed to provide fluid pools of resources that can be configured dynamically through software and the application of policy to optimize application performance and drive efficient use of infrastructure.

This is going beyond the capabilities of converged and hyper-converged infrastructure. As we described in a prior blog in this series, composable infrastructure allows the infrastructure to be treated as code. This allows you to “…deploy applications faster by rapidly composing the infrastructure you need in a consistent and predictable way.” It gives infrastructure more cloud-like capabilities so applications and users can access resources on-demand in seconds.

Choice Without Complexity

Cisco currently offers two composable infrastructure products. The UCS M-Series Modular Servers are designed for compute intensive workloads, and the UCS C3260 Storage Server* is architected for storage intensive applications. These products are managed using the same UCS management software that supports the rest of the UCS product portfolio. This includes B-Series blades, C-Series rack mount servers and the UCS Mini. It features an open and extensible API, so you can manage the infrastructure as code. UCS management supports up to 10,000 server nodes, so you have global management of all your infrastructure resources, whether they are in your local data center or remote.

UCS Management with Composable

Composable infrastructure includes some innovative new technologies, but it doesn’t have to be complex.  It’s part of the evolution of SDI products that provide you with more choices for supporting application workloads. You can introduce a single rack of a UCS composable product and manage it the same as the other UCS products in your operations. Cisco gives you greater choice without adding complexity and disruption.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic:

Ken

* Note: The C3260 will be supported by a future release of UCS Manager available in 2016.

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