integratedSSDs are one of a number of components being included in more tightly integrated systems
Many users are on a journey – moving through consolidation, integration and virtualisation of their data centre resources. Thinking about servers and the role they play in virtualisation, the inclusion of SSDs (as Claus writes about) is just one of many other components being included in new data centre systems. For instance:

  • Intel’s new Xeon E5 processor launched recently and has been endorsed by all x86 server producers; it was interesting to see that storage and networking OEMs were also on its list; the provision for SSDs has been included in many of the chassis approaches
  • AMD also endorses SSDs, allowing machines based on its chips to boot quickly among many other functions; it has also talked about the inclusion of Smasung’s SSDs in Opteron servers as long ago as 2010
  • IBM has launched its PureSystem, bundling server, storage and networking components in a fully integrated approach based on its Cloud reference architecture; both its SVC storage hypervisor and SSDs are included in the V7000-based draw in the chassis
  • HP’s POD activities involve its designers and Foxcomm employees in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic fitting dense racks of integrated components together, using Proliant servers, 3Par and HP storage and HP networking building blocks in container-based data centres; SSDs are included in its Proliant servers of course

Vendors take a more active role in building physical systems
Systems architectures continue to evolve, with solutions becoming increasingly complicated at the component level: as a result many CIOs are shifting their focus away from physical to virtual choices, often picking from different development stacks and basing their focus on VMware, Microsoft and/or RedHat ecosystems. Systems suppliers and aggregators are proposing to take up the slack in physical system design by applying their deep technical knowledge of ‘what works with what’, building bundled systems and simplifying management, sometimes with a ‘one click to deploy’ approach. For physical hardware it’s a big step from the mix ‘n’ match horizontal approach of 10 years ago. Integrating and optimising SSDs, new networking and other new components is becoming a producer, rather than consumer, issue.

Widespread adoption of integrated systems will affect the way advanced virtualisation solutions are sold
So what for the choices in infrastructure and virtualisation software? Are the options open for users, or will they be restricted by the integrated hardware the systems suppliers design? The answers vary in the extent to which the hardware itself is based on Open and/or Industry Standards of course and whether users also want suppliers to pick how the virtualisation layer sits on top of the infrastructure.
The adoption of specific storage hypervisors is bound to be affected, with some dependent on users remaining intimately involved in picking and deploying systems components themselves – at least until the virtualisation ecosystems evolve to accommodate integrated hardware design tuned for the purpose. Understanding the degree of choice users want to exert in building their physical infrastructure is important for suppliers looking to provide advanced virtualisation solutions and software.

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