Marvell Blog

Featuring technology ideas and solutions worth sharing

Marvell

March 6th, 2019

Composable Infrastructure: An Exciting New Prospect for Ethernet Switching

By George Hervey, Principal Architect, Marvell

The data center networking landscape is set to change dramatically.  More adaptive and operationally efficient composable infrastructure will soon start to see significant uptake, supplanting the traditional inflexible, siloed data center arrangements of the past and ultimately leading to universal adoption.

Composable infrastructure takes a modern software-defined approach to data center implementations.  This means that rather than having to build dedicated storage area networks (SANs), a more versatile architecture can be employed, through utilization of NMVe and NVMe-over-Fabric protocols.

Whereas previously data centers had separate resources for each key task, composable infrastructure enables compute, storage and networking capacity to be pooled together, with each function being accessible via a single unified fabric.  This brings far greater operational efficiency levels, with better allocation of available resources and less risk of over provisioning — critical as edge data centers are introduced to the network, offering solutions for different workload demands.

Composable infrastructure will be highly advantageous to the next wave of data center implementations though the increased degree of abstraction that comes along presents certain challenges — these are mainly in terms of dealing with acute network congestion — especially in relation to multiple host scenarios. Serious congestion issues can occur, for example, when there are several hosts attempting to retrieve data from a particular part of the storage resource simultaneously.  Such problems will be exacerbated in larger scale deployments, where there are several network layers that need to be considered and the degree of visibility is thus more restricted.

There is a pressing need for a more innovative approach to data center orchestration.  A major streamlining of the network architecture will be required to support the move to composable infrastructure, with fewer network layers involved, thereby enabling greater transparency and resulting in less congestion.

This new approach will simplify data center implementations, thus requiring less investment in expensive hardware, while at the same time offering greatly reduced latency levels and power consumption.

Further, the integration of advanced analytical mechanisms is certain to be of huge value here as well — helping with more effective network management and facilitating network diagnostic activities.  Storage and compute resources will be better allocated to where there is the greatest need. Stranded capacity will no longer be a heavy financial burden.

Through the application of a more optimized architecture, data centers will be able to fully embrace the migration to composable infrastructure.  Network managers will have a much better understanding of what is happening right down at the flow level, so that appropriate responses can be deployed in a timely manner.  Future investments will be directed to the right locations, optimizing system utilization.

Comments are closed.