Western Digital rolls out tools for dynamic workloads in the data center

The new family of fabric-attached products, as well as new open standards and architecture, will enable software-composable infrastructure.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Western Digital on Tuesday announced a new family of devices, along with open standards and architecture, designed to bring software composable infrastructure (SCI) to the data center.

The new offerings build on Western Digital's efforts to expand its data center portfolio, as well as its commitment to the open community.

The new OpenFlex architecture is showcased in the OpenFlex product line of flash and disk NVMe-over-fabric (NVMf) devices. OpenFlex is about disaggregating compute, storage and network resources, so they can be independently scaled and quickly orchestrated.

"The great thing about the flexibility of this disaggregated architecture where you can compose and orchestrate applications very quickly using software is they're no longer at the mercy of these fixed hardware building blocks," Western Digital CMO Dave Tang said to ZDNet.

With software-defined architectures, organizations have been able to run applications on white box servers that include compute, networking and storage all in the same box, he continued. However, he said, "because of the dynamic nature of workloads today and the scale we're working at today, those fixed ratios don't really serve the industry as well as they used to."

OpenFlex should be well-suited, Tang said, for high-scale environments with common data sets that are accessed by diverse applications -- both performance-intensive applications as well as more batch-analytics oriented applications.

The OpenFlex family of devices includes the F3000 Series Fabric Device for performance-intensive applications; it's available in capacities up to 61 TB. The E3000 Series Fabric Enclosure, meanwhile, houses up to 10 hot swappable F3000 devices. The D3000 Device, for capacity-intensive applications, offers up to 168 TB of hard disk capacity.

The F3000 and the E3000 will be available in the fourth quarter of this year while the D3000 device will be available in 2019.

The OpenFlex architecture creates independently scalable pools of flash and disk that can be connected to computing resources via common networking technologies, like Ethernet. Western Digital has developed the open Kingfish API (in keeping with the Redfish and Swordfish open management standards) to enable the flash and disk pools to be presented as SCI.

The OpenFlex architecture supports a range of data center hardware and software offerings that currently includes: Hadoop, Spark, Kafka, Cassandra, Mesos, Docker, Kubernetes, Broadcom, Cassandra, Ceph, DriveScale, Inspur, Kaminario, Mellanox; Microsoft SQL Server, Percona, Spark, and Supermicro.

The open architecture should accelerate their adoption into broader environments, Phil Bullinger, SVP and GM of Western Digital's data systems business unit, said to ZDNet.

"Tier-two cloud providers as well as enterprise, they can move forward without hesitation and know they have the freedom of choice," he said, "to not have to wait for someone else to dictate the pace of innovation."

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