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Western Digital 2019 Predictions: The Year Composable Infrastructure Goes Mainstream

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2019.  Read them in this 11th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by Martin Fink, CTO, Western Digital

The Year Composable Infrastructure Goes Mainstream

Data is not rigid and the infrastructure it lives on can't be either.

Western Digital believes that 2019 will be the year the enterprise embraces that reality, in the form of Software Composable Infrastructure (SCI).

Unlike today's proprietary solutions, which are inflexible, SCI can be customized - and, more importantly, optimized - to meet a company's specific data needs by disaggregating networking, computing, and storage into shared resource pools that can be reallocated on the fly. And because SCI is built on open standards, enterprises are allowed to build specialized configurations tailored to their workloads, delivering new levels of scalability, flexibility and analysis.

New Light will be Shed on Dark Data

"Composability" is not a new term, but its wider adoption has been held back as enterprises have just recently awakened to the opportunities buried in their data, and are looking for solutions to better optimize their complex data workflows. Enterprise leaders are now more readily accepting that what they once dismissed as archive or ‘dark data' are now untapped resources they can use to analyze and extract insights, create new business opportunities and reap value. These leaders are embracing change and are lighting up dark data and using it in interesting ways to create value.

Simply put, how organizations deal with the ongoing growth and value of data and the corresponding architectures will be critical to their success in the near future. As data-intensive applications continue to grow in both importance and bandwidth, general-purpose infrastructure cannot keep up pace. Composable infrastructure will drive new levels of scalability, efficiency and responsiveness to help businesses overcome the challenges of data at scale and harness the power of data.

Disaggregation will Lead to Flexibility and Efficiency

Because of their fixed ratio of compute, storage and network bandwidth, traditional system architectures are inadequate for IT teams seeking to build flexible infrastructure. According to one recent survey conducted by IDC1, many data centers utilize only 45% of their available capacity.

SCI, on the other hand, allows enterprises to move beyond the limited resource ratios of general-purpose computing architectures, and disaggregates compute, storage and network into shared resource pools that can be treated as services, with IT teams provisioning servers, as needed, in real time.

Not only can this approach dramatically improve server utilization and deliver better performance than traditional hyperconverged architectures, it can improve efficiency by up to 40%. It's also more capable of satisfying the needs of complex and dynamic applications and data workflows, and in a more cost-efficient and agile way.

RISC-V: A Data-driven Way Forward

RISC-V is an excellent example of the physical form SCI can take, and a perfect illustration of how computing design is evolving to accommodate the changes driven by data and the desire to extract more value from it.

Open-source and purpose-built, RISC-V is a modular architecture that is ideal for open standard interfaces to be leveraged.  These solutions can be scaled to the precise needs of its application environment, whether that's IoT, embedded SoC, data center CPUs, or accelerators.

True to the ideals of SCI, a rapidly growing RISC-V community is taking an open-standards approach to developing these special-purpose processors, which will complement and extend the legacy general purpose processors upon which the industry currently relies.

New Problems Demand New Solutions

The processing power that we've been using to control devices is decades old. New classes of applications like machine learning and artificial intelligence demand new types of architecture and open standard interfaces, and that's what SCI and RISC-V provide: the ability to solve new problems in new ways without being held back by the rules of the past.

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About the Author

Martin Fink 

Martin Fink joined Western Digital as Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer in January 2017. In this role, Fink leads the company's technology innovation agenda as Western Digital continues to transform its business and expand its capabilities and technology portfolio.

1 From the IDC report entitled, "Quantifying Data Center Inefficiency: Making a Case for Composable Infrastructure." 2017

Forward-Looking Statements:

This article may contain forward-looking statements, including statements relating to expectations for Western Digital's products, the market for these products, and potential new markets. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements, including development challenges or delays, supply chain and logistics issues, changes in markets, demand, global economic conditions and other risks and uncertainties listed in Western Digital Corporation's most recent quarterly and annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, to which your attention is directed. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and we undertake no obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

Published Thursday, January 17, 2019 8:01 AM by David Marshall
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