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The Data Center of the Future, Here Today: Technologies from The Machine Program Drive Hybrid Infrastructure Portfolio and Future Innovations

By Keith McAuliffe

 

The Machine project, HPE’s ambitious research project to reinvent computing from the ground up, reached a major milestone at HPE Discover 2016 London with the successful demonstration of a proof-of-concept prototype. Going where no other architecture has gone before, The Machine project is revolutionary in that it is focused on a new architecture that puts memory at its center. We call it Memory-Driven Computing.

This prototype gives us a glimpse into what is now possible with an architecture that grants access to a massive, flat memory pool designed to drive instant and secure access to data via an efficient photonic fabric. Envision a data center of the future that will support new application processing models, enable businesses to turn big data insights instantaneously, power an extensive internet of things and open up new possibilities we can’t even imagine today.

It’s an exciting moment for the company, but customers won’t have to look too far into the future to see the impacts of this shift towards Memory-Driven Computing on today’s data center. In fact, HPE is already rapidly commercializing such technologies, many of which are related to The Machine project, into new and existing products. These technologies currently fall into four general categories: Non-volatile memory (NVM), fabric (including photonics), ecosystem enablement and security. These four tenets are represented in data center infrastructure solutions and initiatives that HPE customers can take advantage of today to glean faster insights, break down technology silos and expand the limits of what is possible. In a world of digital disruption, speed is the new currency of competitiveness. Accordingly, these solutions are built to accelerate time to value – from the applications and data to the delivery of new services.

 

Low-cost, non-volatile memory brings unprecedented speed to data centers

As part of The Machine project, HPE’s work in persistent and non-volatile memory has resulted in the company being first in market with application-integrated HPE Persistent Memory. This currently-available technology allows our customers to make faster business decisions today—with up to 4x faster transaction performance for Microsoft SQL Server thanks to HPE Persistent Memory within ProLiant DL300 servers.

As HPE continues to innovate in this area, there is an opportunity to apply the principles of Memory-Driven Computing to enhance HPE’s already market-leading all-flash HPE 3PAR StoreServ Storage. Over the past several years, the industry has seen flash storage rapidly evolve from niche accelerator to the default media for critical applications. During this time, HPE’s 3PAR StoreServ Storage platform has emerged as a leader in all-flash array market share growth, performance and economics. HPE is already a pioneer in ensuring end-to-end data integrity from applications through to all-flash storage and continues to look at ways to optimize the data path. Look to HPE server and storage platforms as showcases to bring storage class memory (SCM) and non-volatile memory (NVM) technologies from prototype to production in the coming year.

 

Laying the pipes needed to distribute massive amounts of data

HPE Synergy systems available today are enabled to accept photonics and optics technologies currently in advanced development. HPE expects the first commercially-available HPE photonics modules will be embedded into the HPE Synergy product line. Looking beyond, HPE plans to integrate photonics into additional product lines, including its storage portfolio. The company also plans to bring to market fabric-attached memory leveraging the high-performance interconnect protocol through open standards being developed under the recently announced Gen-Z Consortium, which HPE recently joined.

The data center of the future—like today’s data centers—will need the right storage and networking bandwidth and software-driven control to provide the right access between apps, data, and infrastructure. This is something that will become even more crucial in the shift towards Memory-Driven Computing, and is why HPE continues to innovate in the areas of data center and storage networking. For example, the latest generation of networking technology supports instant, always-on access to data by ensuring that the memory resources in compute and storage are able to pass information at double the bandwidth of previous generation networking components. The latest generation of HPE SAN networking components also support embedded next-level intelligence unique to HPE—a technology that we call HPE Smart SAN. This standards-based technology is embedded in HPE StoreFabric switches and directors and enables fully automated SAN orchestration directly from within HPE 3PAR StoreServ Storage arrays. Smart SAN reduces provisioning and change management time by 90 percent and reduces risk of human error, assuring resilience and even enabling proactive risk mitigation when network changes are made.

 

Utilizing HPE Distributed Cloud Networking automation and integration with HPE Helion and HPE OneView, customers can improve networking provisioning times by 10X while reducing configuration errors and operational expense by 50 percent. With the introduction of Arista as our preferred networking partner in Data Center Networking as an infrastructure foundation for HPE’s software-defined infrastructure solutions, HPE provides secure end to end Hybrid IT solutions built on the industry’s leading software-defined data center infrastructure portfolio.

 

Protect, detect and recover—from the base of the infrastructure and up the stack

The Machine project has also had significant influence on security and resiliency technology developments within HPE. With the focus on the untapped level of performance and connecting data on high-speed networks, security must stay at the forefront. Over the next 12 months, HPE plans to continue this innovation and integrate additional new technologies into its products, guided by a vision of embedding security throughout the entire hardware and software stack. By focusing on protecting the base of the infrastructure, HPE plans to secure every piece of data along each step of its journey through the data center, a concept we call “root of trust”.

Agility to take advantage of digital disruption is at the heart of tomorrow’s data center architecture, but it’s also a winning business strategy for the here and now. That’s why HPE is working to bring you the future of the data center, today.