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Managing IT hardware resources is difficult – including processing, storage, and networking.

You often run into situations where you end up over-provisioning storage even though what you require is more processing. This is where composable infrastructure steps in. So, what is a composable infrastructure?

Composable infrastructure is an approach in modern IT hardware management where the available hardware resources, such as computing, storage, and networking, are logically abstracted into a resource pool.

Then, using a software-based control, you can dynamically allocate the resources as per your workload. This enables rapid resource provisioning, better utilization of resources, and scalability in both cloud environments and on-prem data centers.

Traditionally, physical infrastructure has always required manual configuration. However, with composable infrastructure, you get APIs. Using these, you can talk to an abstract layer that lets you run your software on bare metal.

Let’s take a deep dive into how this works and what are the key components involved.

How does Composable Infrastructure work?

In a composable infrastructure, you create a resource pool. A resource pool is created by aggregating all your hardware resources. So, you have a pool that contains your datastore, memory, and networking. Then, you add a layer of abstraction on top of it. Frameworks define how you access and manage your resource pool.

Next, there are API or Application Programming Interfaces. By using these APIs, you can automatically create the required infrastructure using the resource pool. Thus, you don’t need to physically build and configure your IT infrastructure.

As a developer, you can define your application’s hardware requirement using code. By using the API calls, you can then create and compose – whether it’s provisioning database, storage, or networking. All of this runs on bare metal, either as a virtual machine or as a container.

There is no industry standard for deploying a composable infrastructure. So, you have the flexibility to determine how to define and deploy.

You treat every resource as a separate component that is API-controlled. Hence, you can meet the real-time needs of computing, storage, and networking. Additionally, you can achieve this without disrupting any other applications that you might be already running.

Key Components of Composable Infrastructure

In order to completely leverage the power of composable infrastructure, you need to ensure that certain key components are in place. Let’s take a look at them.

#1. Open APIs

An API or Application Programming Interface is the fundamental tool using which you will communicate with your hardware abstraction. APIs act as integration connectors for your organization to seek resources from the resource pool.

In a composable infrastructure, you can broadly categorize the APIs into two:

  1. Authentication API – This lets you easily authenticate your users and enable Single Sign-On (SSO) in your workflows
  2. Process API – You can design your processes and easily connect them to your other solutions

#2. Management Software

While the API lets you communicate with the hardware, you need management software to easily use the APIs. In low-code businesses, good management software gives you a single pane through which you can provision and manage your entire infrastructure.

Some examples of management software include HPE’s OneView, OpenManage from Dell EMC, and OpenFlex from Western Digital.

#3. Process Models

You can create a map of your existing processes and visualize your workflow using process models. This allows you and your organization to streamline your integrations. Thus, you can build, test, and deploy your solutions faster.

With process models integrated into your composable infrastructure, you can streamline any business need.

Now that you know what composable infrastructure is, along with its key components, let’s understand the benefits you get.

Benefits of Composable Infrastructure

Now, let’s take a look at the benefits that you can get in your business by using composable infrastructure.

  1. Simplicity: Because the infrastructure provisioning is taken care of, you can focus more on your application code. For low-code business process models or BPMs, simplicity is key. Having a simple abstraction layer for managing IT makes it easy for teams in their day-to-day tasks.
  2. Optimal software performance: You might have some applications that need more processing. On the other hand, others may require more memory. Using composable infrastructure, you can dynamically provision resources to meet your requirements.
  3. Agility: As a result of using composable infrastructure, you get agility in your IT infrastructure. There’s less friction when it comes to handling hardware needs.
  4. Efficiency: Owing to the idea of keeping hardware resources segregated, you can create a resource pool. Because of this, you can efficiently use your resources and reduce over-provisioning. This leads to reduced infrastructure costs.
  5. Simplified management: You don’t need to physically provision hardware. Composable infrastructure often comes with management software that lets you easily manage your fleet.
  6. Cost-effective: Due to resource pooling and keeping over-provisioning in check, you can reduce the costs of managing your infrastructure. Although it’s difficult to quantify long-term costs, you can expect to reduce it.
  7. Business acceleration: Applications shifting to on-demand delivery need highly responsive IT. Composable infrastructure meets that by speeding up this provisioning. Now, you can meet your IT demands dynamically.
  8. Modernization: Composable infrastructure serves as a tool for modernization. By enabling on-the-fly resource allocation and adaptability, you can empower your team to swiftly embrace the latest technologies and agile development methodologies. This aligns perfectly with the infrastructure-as-code paradigm.

Converged vs. Hyperconverged vs. Composable Infrastructure

Apart from composable infrastructure, there are two other IT infrastructure management processes – Converged infrastructure and hyperconverged infrastructure. But what do these terms mean, and how do they differ from composable infrastructure? Let’s find out.

In converged infrastructure (CI), all IT components are bundled into a single unit. This includes computing, networking, visualization tools, servers, and storage. Converged infrastructure is a hardware-based approach. The aim is to minimize compatibility issues between storage systems, servers, and network devices. 

On the other hand, hyperconverged infrastructure, also known as HCI, is a software-based approach. All the hardware elements in your IT environment are unified and virtualized. With virtual servers as the backbone, HCI uses small units of CPU, storage, and networking from a large cluster. A single hypervisor governs the cluster.

Now, let’s take a look at the differences between composable infrastructure, converged infrastructure, and hyperconverged infrastructure.

Composable InfrastructureConverged InfrastructureHyperconverged Infrastructure
ResourceResources are separated and pooled. You can dynamically allocate resources based on needs.A Hardware-based approach where resources are pre-integrated into a single package.A software-based approach that combines computing, storage, and networking in a single unit.
ScalabilityHighly scalable with the ability to add or remove resources on-demand, making it suitable for variable workloads.Scalable to some extent but typically requires adding pre-configured modules. This can lead to over-provisioning.Scalable to some extent but less than composable infrastructure.
HardwareHardware is abstracted and can be provisioned on demand.Hardware is abstracted in pre-defined units.Provides minimal hardware abstraction, as you get tight integration between hardware and application.
CustomizationHighly customizable, allowing you to create your resource configurations based on specific application needs.Limited customization as they come pre-configured.Suitable for highly specialized workloads having very little scalability or customization needs.
UsageWell-suited for environments with variable workloads for cloud-native applications. You benefit from having a higher degree of flexibility.Ideal for traditional businesses with predictable workloads that do not require frequent resource changes.Suitable for highly specialized workloads having very little scalability or customization needs.

Key Terminologies in Composable Infrastructure

It’s important to be familiar with key terminologies in order to understand composable infrastructure. Let’s take a look at them one by one.

#1. Container

A container is a lightweight, standalone, and executable environment that has everything needed to run a piece of software. This contains your code, runtime, libraries, and dependencies, ensuring consistency across different environments.

#2. Bare Metal

Bare metal is a computer hardware that doesn’t have any software or operating system installed in it. You can program them to directly execute instructions. Traditional businesses benefit from running applications on bare metal as they perform very specific tasks.

#3. Hypervisor

A hypervisor is a software which acts as a layer that lets you abstract your resources. Also known as a Virtual Machine Monitor or VMM, it allows you to use one host computer to support multiple guest VMs by sharing its resources, such as memory and processing. Hyperversiors sit on top of your physical hardware.

#4. Fluid Resource Pool

In composable infrastructure, a dynamic and flexible pool of resources is called a fluid resource pool. This can involve things like CPU, memory, and storage. You can rapidly allocate and de-allocate these based on your demand. Thus, you get optimal resource utilization. Additionally, you can also adapt to your changing workloads.

#5. Stateless Infrastructure

When you’re running your applications using composable infrastructure, there is no direct link between the software and hardware. The hardware remains stateless – they don’t preserve any data of the software they’re running.

#6. Infrastructure as Code

Infrastructure as Code in composable infrastructure is a paradigm where computing resources aren’t provisioned through physical configurations. Instead, you write code that allows you to use the resources that you need. Thus, you can maintain your infrastructure provisioning requirements. Additionally, you also get the benefit of version control.

#7. IT Silo

If you’re running an application that needs a particular dedicated machine with a set configuration, you might have an IT silo. This means that your application is tightly dependent on the kind of hardware it can run on and is difficult to move or scale.

#8. Mission-Critical Applications

Your business might have certain running applications that aren’t allowed to have any downtime. These can be called your mission-critical applications. These usually run on their own dedicated server. Any outage of any such application can lead to business disruption.

#9. Software-Defined Intelligence

Software-defined intelligence is a powerful software layer that acts as an abstraction for provisioning any resources. This allows you to configure, deploy, and version-control your resources and applications programmatically.

Unlock the Future with Composable Infrastructure

Composable infrastructure is the next step toward automated IT infrastructure management. Using this, you can align your organization to keep up with the latest trends and modernize traditional workflows.

At its core, it simplifies the allocation of hardware resources – something that traditionally was a manual task. By abstracting the complexities of physical infrastructure and providing a layer of APIs, you can now spend fewer resources on managing your hardware. Additionally, you save up on cost and significantly reduce the time and effort spent on IT configurations.

The benefits that you get from composable infrastructure are abundant – from enhanced simplicity and optimal performance of your applications to cost-effectiveness and modernization. It allows you to align with the infrastructure-as-code paradigm and lets you adapt to the changing needs.

To sum it up, composable infrastructure can help you empower your IT teams to break from traditional process silos in hardware provisioning and deliver better software experience for your customers.

You may also explore some best infrastructure automation solutions for medium to enterprise.

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  • Debanjan Choudhury
    With five years of experience under his belt, Debanjan is a Senior Software Engineer at one of India’s leading eCommerce platforms. He enjoys simplifying technical jargon and complex architecture for fellow tech enthusiasts. Outside work…
  • Narendra Mohan Mittal

    Narendra Mohan Mittal is a versatile and experienced digital branding strategist and content editor with over 12 years of experience. He is a Gold Medalist in M-Tech and B-Tech in Computer Science & Engineering.


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