Configuring the fit-for-purpose infrastructure

Cutting edge is good; custom-configured is better.

Technology moves fast. Keeping up with it is not always easy given the constant presence of disruption and the demands for consolidation. Digital service providers (DSPs) can’t stand still for a minute. If they do, there are others who keep moving, innovating, capturing the hearts and minds –and consequently the business – of customers with their own agendas for being at the cutting edge of the digital age.

As virtualisation continues to change the perception the enterprise has of what technology actually means, and even what it looks like, customers are looking for guidance as well as services. It’s not so much that they sometimes don’t know what they want; it’s more that the proliferation of choice deals a strong hand to the DSP. But it also brings a huge amount of responsibility in getting it right for each use case.

Whilst some customers look for their digital service providers to deliver the most up-to-date solutions, others simply want to know that the CPU, RAM, storage capacity and network bandwidth are optimum to meet their needs.

Abstraction removes the specifics and distils the compute and storage resources down to their lowest common denominators. For many digital service providers’ customers, this is their perception and thus their reality. To a DSP, details matter. In that lowest common denominator resides the highest possible value and relevance; where the difference between 15K SAS and SATA Midline matters; processor specification matters, and connectivity and out-of-band management matter.

Configuration options for servers are extensive and they continue to become more so. For many years, AMD might have been considered a side-show in the server processor market. It was regarded by many as more of a consumer brand. That all changed when AMD introduced the new generation EPYC 7002, with up to 64 cores per processor, 128 lanes of PCIe 4 and 4TB of DDR4-3200.

With server chassis and motherboards that support AMD EPYC Rome widely available on the market, should you be considering these as your new base building blocks for your infrastructure? The cost per core metrics, RAM capacity and PCI expansion options for GPU and FPGA cards look attractive, consolidating the datacentre and reducing both the physical and carbon footprint. Looks like a win-win situation. Other considerations, however, come into play.

How about maintaining the uniformity of the infrastructure to simplify break fix management? How about maintaining ease of management through a unified platform? With all that compute power in one box, where does Bare Metal fit into the equation?

Customers are becoming more sophisticated, and performance issues change the game. Dedicated Bare Metal fulfils the demand for dedicated hardware provisioned at the speed of a virtualised infrastructure. EPYC 7002 might bring density, but it will not cut it if your customers are demanding dedicated solutions with resources such as Xeon E3-12xx, 16GB RAM and 1TB HDD.

This is not a binary decision between virtualised cloud or dedicated tin. In the digital service provider landscape, you need to be able to offer a mix of solutions to meet the demands of all customers; demands for new processors, NVMe-oF, liquid cooling, OCP3 expansion cards, composable infrastructure. There’s a ceaseless wave of new technologies to learn, new specifications to figure out, and ever-proliferating configuration options to get to grips with. Dropping the ball means missing opportunities. Meanwhile, DSPs need to exude vision, leadership, future-thinking and can’t always necessarily allocate manpower and talent to delving down into the evolving world of detail that supports such high-level competitive differentiation.

It’s at the detail level that Excotek operates, supporting the digital services provider. We can help with the specification, design, build and delivery of new servers; from latest generation of EPYC-based servers for those at the leading edge, to previous generation servers for ensuring platform uniformity, and through to commodity and blade servers for that Bare Metal infrastructure. Just get in touch any time you want to discuss a resource boost to the practical aide of your service proposition so that you can get on with winning business: [email protected]

Mark Wood
Custom Configuration
Dec 20, 2019
4 min read
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