The future of flexible computing is composable

As software applications become more powerful, they demand more resources. Managing these while striving to become more sustainable is increasingly difficult. This is where composable dynamic infrastructure (CDI) comes in, aiming to optimize IT resources and pool them so they can be optimally provisioned on demand.

Enterprises are grappling with the challenge of effectively managing the increasing level of data and expanding their capabilities to process it and gain meaningful and valuable insight. Migration to the cloud is helping with computational needs and data agility. Still, there are some applications, such as those in government, health, and defense, that demand to be on-premises for security reasons and can also be less expensive than hosted in a public cloud.

Supporting a diverse set of workloads on a single cluster

As enterprises are transforming, so are their workloads. IDC predicts that by 2024, artificial intelligence (AI) will be a core component of enterprise workloads. For instance, Deep Neural Networks-based training workloads require massive and sustained computational capabilities. Integrating advanced analytics and AI is putting stress on infrastructures. As a result, enterprises are demanding more scalability, efficiency and agility from their data centers. Orange Business Services is optimistic that CDI can be one of the answers.

Composable infrastructure comprises computing, storage, and networking alongside graphics processing units (GPUs) and storage memory accelerators. They are pooled and can be accessed from anywhere to provide rapid re-configuration for optimal resource provisioning. These virtual physical servers can, like physical servers, run operating systems, virtual machines, and containers. The difference is they can be configured quickly on the fly via a centralized management console. It also means that DevOps (Continuous Integration/Continuous Development) practices can be used for business-critical applications that must be maintained on-premises. A software-defined management layer correctly assigns and manages resources so that they are active in the right place at the right time.

CDI can provide high-performance, easy-to-use, and energy-efficient computing by addressing the issues of underutilization and overprovisioning, wasted energy, and costly budgets, while simultaneously creating super flexible enterprise data centers. In many cases, such as with a solution from Liqid, enterprises can adopt CDI on existing hardware. HPE, in contrast, runs CDI capabilities on its own proprietary hardware – shipping a rack with hardware resources onboard.

As a global network-native digital services company, Orange Business Services believes it is in the best position to utilize CDI to answer these tough data processing challenges. We are exploring new solutions with several CDI companies, including ScaleMatrix and Liqid, which could soon pave the way for customer co-innovation projects.

From traditional infrastructure to more sustainable solutions

By accelerating digitization, data centers can serve as one of the core engines of society. Global governments have classified data centers as a part of their critical infrastructure. Orange has been committed to reducing IT and network energy consumption, including that of data centers, using sustainable energy, for example. On top of these efforts, CDI can be an interesting addition. Indeed, composable infrastructure, due to its flexibility and scalability, can cut water consumption required for cooling and reduce energy consumption and emissions.

The beauty of CDI is modularity. A server, for example, might have four slots for GPUs, but an enterprise may require 40 GPUs. With CDI, enterprises don’t need to invest in 10 servers to acquire 40 slots, but instead can plug 40 GPUs into one box. This is a significant energy savings of between 50 and 60%.

Power and cooling costs now make up around 30% of the monthly cost of operating a large data center. Liqid believes CDI can potentially double or triple the utilization rate in an enterprise data center by composing power-hungry resources only where they are required instead of overprovisioning every server for peak workloads.

A network edge anywhere in the world

In addition to data-sensitive scenarios, composable infrastructure lends itself to organizations that want to exploit hyper-convergence by reducing data center complexity and enhancing scalability. As a system integrator, Orange can use CDI to create a network edge anywhere in the world.

Softwarization will also bring more flexibility to data centers. Thanks to CDI, they can be decomposed and recomposed as required, making them small enough to set up on ships or oil rigs to process at source, avoiding latency issues in sending data back to shore. In the case of ScaleMatrix, DDC (Dynamic Density Controlled) racks are ruggedized to operate in geographically challenging locations, working as mobile mini data centers.

Planning resourcing

The increasing amount of data and the sharp pace at which the digital economy is moving make it very difficult for CIOs to plan future resourcing and infrastructure requirements. In the short term, CDI can provide up to a staggering 90% increase in resource utilization, increasing productivity. Add to this a 60% plus saving on energy, and CDI is a decisive enabler for improvements. It thus makes sense that our Orange Silicon Valley teams have been very active in this area.

Composability allows enterprises to fuse modular and interchangeable business and technology capabilities. In the future, it will provide enterprises with more choices, mixing and matching features and functions to provide greater agility, sustainability, resilience, and cost-effectiveness.

Philippe Ensarguet
Philippe Ensarguet

As Chief Technology Officer, Philippe is leading the network-native to digital-technology vision and strategy for Orange Business Services. Pro-software cultured, cloud minded and digital addicted, he brings expertise and leadership to technology specialists and executives in their transformations and innovations. Philippe was honored in 2021 with the Trailblazer CTO of the year award.