Digital transformation (DX) is an essential mandate for businesses to thrive in a digital economy. Businesses embark on DX initiatives while keeping the business running on a daily basis. Current-generation applications (CGAs) are essential for existing business operations, whereas next-generation applications (NGAs) and technologies (collectively referred to as IDC’s 3rd Platform technologies) form the essential underpinning for DX. A fundamental requirement for IT departments in the short to medium term is to manage an infrastructure that supports current- and next-gen apps, each with vastly diverse infrastructure requirements and service-level objectives.
A new class of composable/disaggregated infrastructure (CDI) solutions has been designed to inherently meet this infrastructure requirement of concurrently hosting current- and next-gen apps. By pooling compute, storage, and networking resources, CDI solutions can provide a simple, scalable, and easy-to-manage platform for the entire datacenter. IDC estimates the market for CDI to follow a similar trajectory as hyperconverged systems and cross $4.7 billion in 2023.
HPE Synergy is a full-stack CDI system, powered by Intel Xeon Scalable processors, comprising the disaggregated hardware platform and a suite of management software that allows rapid provisioning and seamless ongoing management of resources. IDC interviewed organizations about their use of HPE Synergy to run and support various business applications. Study participants reported that HPE Synergy has made their IT operations significantly more agile and flexible, even as they improve performance and lower costs. IDC’s analysis shows that these organizations will realize value with HPE Synergy that will translate into more than a three-to-one return on their investment (223% five-year ROI) by leveraging increased IT agility and automation to:
- Provide timely and flexible access to compute, storage, and network resources, enabling application development teams to be more productive and leading to lower IT costs.
- Reduce time requirements for monitoring and provisioning activities, freeing up IT staff time to take on other projects and initiatives.
- Improve application performance and provide new functionality in less time, thereby increasing user productivity levels.
Digital transformation — a technology-based business strategy — is an essential mandate for businesses to thrive in a digital economy. Businesses embark on DX initiatives to create value and extend their competitive advantage through new products and services, new business relationships, improved customer experience, and increased operational efficiencies. DX initiatives are often net new and highly outcome dependent and are often led by lines of business (LOBs). Next-generation applications and technologies (collectively referred to as IDC’s 3rd Platform technologies) form the essential underpinning for DX.
A new class of composable/disaggregated infrastructure solutions is designed to inherently handle the current- and next-gen infrastructure duality. CDI solutions (dis)aggregate compute, storage, and networking fabric resources into shared resource pools that can be available for on-demand allocation (i.e., “composable”). IDC estimates the market for CDI to follow a similar trajectory as hyperconverged systems and cross $4.7 billion in 2023. HPE Synergy is a full-stack CDI system comprising the disaggregated hardware platform and a suite of management software that allows rapid provisioning and seamless ongoing management of resources. Intel Xeon processors, which power HPE Synergy, deliver cloud computing, real-time analytics, processing for mission-critical business, and big data insights. These high-performance x86-based processors also improve data center efficiency and reliability to handle any workload. The three key foundational design elements of HPE Synergy that enable IT organizations to deploy a shared, flexible, and agile infrastructure to host NGAs and CGAs concurrently are:
- Unified application programming interfaces (APIs) allow organizations to implement infrastructure as code — a single line of code that abstracts all infrastructure. This enables developers to integrate infrastructure provisioning commands directly into the application development process, which in turn allows a quicker deployment of applications. It is also what allows integration into third-party applications and tools.
- Software-defined intelligence enables organizations to take a template-driven approach to workload composition and management. This minimizes hiccups caused by operational activities such as OS patching and firmware upgrades, thereby improving IT efficiency and reducing opex costs.
- Fluid resource pools provide the ability to compose pseudo-physical, virtual, and containerized computing units from compute (CPU and memory), accelerated compute (GPUs and FPGAs), network fabric, and data persistence (disk and flash) resource pools. This reduces the wastage and overhead caused by overprovisioning of resources, and thus capex costs.
HPE Synergy, The Composable/Disaggregated Infrastructure Platform
In late 2015, HPE announced an evolution from the converged architecture systems with HPE Synergy. It is built to further HPE’s vision of a fully composable/disaggregated infrastructure. HPE Synergy, with Intel Xeon Scalable processors inside, is designed to serve as a bridge for businesses that are in the thick of CGAs but are rapidly transitioning to supporting NGA environments. From that side, it serves as the best of both worlds — for applications with infrastructure resiliency requirements and for applications that don’t assume infrastructure resiliency.
- Composable frame (includes compute, fabric, storage, and management modules)
- Composable software suite
HPE Synergy also supports remote object, file, or SAN storage to be connected to the frame. In the case where the external storage supports the composable API (such as HPE 3PAR StoreServ or HPE Nimble arrays), the provisioning domain can be extended to include such storage.
While in theory any hardware could be disaggregated, the hardware has to be truly disaggregated. This is where the HPE Synergy design is truly different. It is stateless from a data perspective — so the OS images can be accessed anywhere from the frame (via Image Streamer) and from a configuration state perspective — to ensure that images can be altered on the fly.
Choice and Use of HPE Synergy
Interviewed organizations deployed HPE Synergy after concluding that they faced IT and business challenges that required a transformative step to add more agility and flexibility to their IT operations. Most of these organizations moved from HPE BladeSystem servers and viewed HPE Synergy as a path to achieving these goals based on the ability to pool compute, network, and storage resources and use automation to distribute these resources efficiently. Study participants described their considerations in deciding upon a composable infrastructure approach with HPE Synergy in detail:
- The need to further minimize IT friction: “We had begun implementing a DevOps approach … but still found that there was a huge friction point. We weren’t able to fully realize that goal without having end‑to‑end automation in provisioning. That’s why we needed infrastructure that would allow us to do things like software-defined networking …. So that was our goal and what we were after with deploying HPE Synergy.”
- Increase performance through shared compute and storage: “We needed more power for our server enclosures …. Now, with HPE Synergy, we run thousands of different applications on Unix or Linux, and we install the applications on a shared compute and storage environment. With HPE Synergy, we can run applications across the environment and our servers can be identical from an operating system perspective.”
- Enable development with cost-effective reuse of infrastructure: “We were looking for the next generation of hardware on which we could grow our business without being stuck with old aging models.
To thrive in the digital economy, businesses must embrace digital transformation. To meet the requirements of legacy technology and new next-generation applications and technology, businesses need to ensure they have the right infrastructure in place. Composable/disaggregated infrastructure solutions have been designed to meet this specific requirement and provide a simple, scalable, easy-to-manage platform for the entire datacentre. This IDC paper examines the value businesses can generate by accelerating their IT agility with HPE Synergy.