Dell is set to showcase an early hardware solution implementing Intel's Rack Scale Architecture (RSA) that aims to break down servers into pools of compute, storage and memory that can be allocated as necessary to meet the needs of applications.
Dell said that it will use the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco this week to demonstrate its implementation based on the next-generation G5 rack infrastructure introduced last year combined with Intel's RSA software and API solution.
RSA was first detailed by Intel a couple of years ago, when the firm outlined a vision to redefine the data centre. Intel said that, in order to deliver greater flexibility for scale-out applications and workloads, it would be necessary to "break down the artificial boundary of the server" and make the compute, storage and memory resources inside each node available for allocation as required.
Stephen Rousset, a distinguished engineer in Dell's Data Centre Solutions division, said on the Dell4Enterprise blog that the firm's rack-scale G5 hardware solution offers a glimpse into how RSA could address the requirements of building scale-out infrastructure.
"if implemented correctly, RSA promises a future of fully disaggregated hardware, whereby a customer can independently upgrade their compute, storage or networking capabilities, coupled with an open source software layer that will let companies of any size stand up, manage and orchestrate cloud infrastructure just like the big guys," he said.
The idea is that customers will be able to procure a pre-built rack of hardware, which their RSA software layer will catalogue and make available as a pool of compute, storage and networking to the orchestration layer. The orchestration layer, in turn, will compose these as required into a set of cores, memory, storage and network I/O that is optimised for the workload.
The end result is similar to the converged infrastructure solutions that have seen vendors offering pre-integrated racks full of servers, storage and network hardware, but goes a step further, effectively turning the rack itself into the basic data centre building block.
But the hardware is just one part of the puzzle, and RSA will depend on some clever management tools to make it work. Intel is working on this, according to Dell.
"Intel RSA adds management extensions to the Redfish 1.0 specification that will allow administrators to manage all of their compute, storage and networking through a single common 'southbound' API - whether those systems come from Dell or another vendor. Next, RSA promises a single, common 'northbound' API that will let customers manage all of their workloads, whether that's done via Microsoft, VMware, OpenStack or their own custom orchestration platform," said Rousset.
Redfish is an open standard management API being developed by the Distributed Management Task Force in concert with data centre vendors such as Dell.
RSA version 1.0 is due to be released by Intel sometime in early 2016, and Dell said that it will have an implementation using G5 when this is available.
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