Lately, it seems, quite a few technology players are jumping on the composable infrastructure bandwagon, claiming that their take on a modern infrastructure is a truly composable one. I beg to differ. Upon inspection, many of these offerings appear to be piecemeal efforts dedicated to some part of the infrastructure, rather than the whole. To call them composable infrastructure, then, is a contradiction in terms--an oxymoron along the lines of an open secret or a definite maybe.

What, then, is composable infrastructure, you ask? To answer that question, let’s set aside fuzzy logic, and begin with what it’s not.

A Server-Based Approach Won’t Cut It

Composable infrastructure is not a server-based solution (see Paul Durzan’s post A Composable Infrastructure Bill of Rights). To call it so is to defy the very meaning of this new category of solutions. Rather, it’s an architectural approach that uses fluid pools of resources to dynamically configure applications using software and policy to optimize application and infrastructure performance. According to IDC, a composable infrastructure is all about “… looking at the IT assets at rack level or block level versus server level. Instead of thinking about individual servers and how each needs to be configured, IT can think at the rack level, or collection of racks level.”

A Solution for All Workloads … Not Just the Privileged Few

A true composable infrastructure provides an open, industry-standard API that allows access to the entire infrastructure, one that supports all workloads—including databases, mission-critical and SAN. Designed to fully disaggregate and converge compute, storage, fabric and the operating environment, it works at an extremely high bandwidth to enable the kind of rapid composition needed for today’s digital economy, where infrastructure must be provisioned to create new services in a relative instant. The point of a true composable infrastructure is that it can be configured and reconfigured to meet the precise requirements of all workloads that must be run on it--not just a few. Those who would say otherwise are clearly confused.

An Infrastructure That’s a Developer’s Dream

A true composable infrastructure offers a modern, programmable interface within a thriving ecosystem, beginning with the API. An open RESTful API that uses JSON is now preferred by the vast majority of web-based developers, including those at Facebook and Twitter.

Finally, any forward-looking composable infrastructure program understands the importance of enabling DevOps for speed, innovation and collaboration. ISVs and developers need easy programmatic access to the infrastructure to build applications, services and other software required to win in the digital economy.

For this reason, a serious composable infrastructure needs to show partnerships with leading configuration management tools such as Ansible, Chef Software, Docker and Puppet Labs

Composable infrastructure, when delivered as a full design, is simply brilliant, providing the necessary building blocks for a revolution in enterprise data center infrastructure. Delivered incrementally, however, composable infrastructure amounts to little more than magic realism, and should be quickly side-stepped.

For more information on HPE Synergy, the industry’s first infrastructure built from the ground up for true composability, click here.

Paul Miller is VP Marketing, HPE Converged Data Center Infrastructure.