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HPE's Synergy is a new type of 'composable' infrastructure

James Niccolai | Dec. 2, 2015
Hewlett Packard Enterprise says the new hardware configures itself automatically

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has developed a new type of "composable' hardware that it claims will cut data center costs and slash the time it takes to spin up new applications.

Called HPE Synergy, it combines storage, compute and network equipment in one chassis, along with management software that can quickly configure the hardware automatically to provide just the resources needed to run an application, HPE said.

"HPE Synergy's unique built-in software intelligence, auto discovery capabilities and fluid resource pools enable customers to instantly boot up infrastructure ready to run physical, virtual and containerized applications," the company said.

Industry analysts who saw an early version of the product said they were largely impressed. But a lot depends on HPE's ability to communicate the benefits to potential customers and deliver on the functionality it's promising. It says Synergy will ship in the second quarter of next year, and it won't release pricing until then.

HPE Synergy 
Five racks of HPE Synergy servers. Credit: HPE

The basic hardware is a frame 10 rack units high (17.5 inches) that can be ordered with various amounts of compute and storage. The frame also houses appliances that run the management software, including Synergy Composer and Synergy Image Streamer. Four frames can be stacked in a rack, and several racks can be lashed together.

Much of what's new lies in the software, which provides the smarts to discover and assemble the pools of compute and storage. Detailed configurations for particular applications are saved as templates and deployed through Composer. When a template is launched, it configures the hardware programmatically, without human intervention, according to HPE, reducing the chance for errors and speeding up the process. The management software can can also store OS images and apply them when a server is configured, automating that process as well.

If a template for a configuration doesn’t exist, HPE developed a “unified API” that handles functions like the BIOS configuration, storage provisioning and other tasks to set up the hardware. If a dev ops team wants to start testing a new app, the unified API lets them type a single line of code to configure the system they need, according to HPE. That allows developers to work more quickly and prevents IT from being the bottleneck, the company says. 

Richard Fichera, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, said Synergy should greatly reduce the time it takes IT departments to provision new systems.

"It solves a lot of the fundamental problems in provisioning the physical layer, for what is increasingly a dynamic infrastructure world," said Fichera, who was director of HP's blade systems strategy before joining Forrester five years ago.

 

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