Down with the System: Disaggregation in Rack Scale Design

Data Center Maintenance


Chris Adams March 01, 2018

The means to the end is to “break up” traditional IT systems and their fixed ratios of compute, memory, storage, etc.

Ask Intel about Rack Scale Design and they’ll describe it as “a revolutionary, new architecture that disaggregates compute, storage, and network resources, and introduces the ability to more efficiently pool and utilize these resources.”

But what does that really mean? For many data center operators and cloud services providers, it might just mean an ability to better compete with the hyperscale providers like Google. That’s because RSD holds promise to deliver similar benefits as the supersize CSPs get from their purpose-built hardware and proprietary, software-based automation.

The goal is to improve utilization rates, which rarely exceed 40% in data centers today and often fall far below, according to Data Center Dynamics, even with increasing virtualization.

The means to the end is to “break up” traditional IT systems and their fixed ratios of compute, memory, storage, etc. Once disaggregated, these resources can then be composed into logical systems for specific workloads. When the workload is complete, they can be disassembled and returned to the pool for reuse.

Temporary, purpose-built systems are fully optimized to the application, thus avoiding overprovisioning. Because it all happens within software, automation will become increasingly important with RDS, which already works with various cloud and virtualization environments.

A New Era of Reusability

RSD proponents talk about dynamic configuration of systems, manageability based on API-based software, and the interoperability and flexibility of the technology. As we’re in the business of helping clients make the most of their IT investments, we have to admit to being highly interested in RSD’s potential to change upgradability and end-of-life for IT systems.

How does that work? Remember that with RSD, components are no longer dedicated to specific servers or preconfigured systems. They are disaggregated. This means that one can replace components independently. A new CPU could be added this month and more HDD storage next year. Keeping power/cooling, chassis, and other components could reduce refresh costs by 40% or more, and Intel is reporting savings of 77% in technician time.

In many ways, this aspect of RSD builds on the upgrade strategies Park Place Technologies already employs to get maximum life out of IT hardware. As such, we’re interested to see how RSD evolves from carriers to CSPs to the enterprise and how it will fill out the IT professional’s cost-saving toolbox.

We’ll keep you updated.

About the Author

Chris Adams, President and Chief Executive Officer
As President and CEO, he works side-by-side with other key leaders throughout the company managing day-to-day operations of Park Place. His key objectives include streamlining work processes and ensuring that all business initiatives and objectives are in sync. Chris focuses on key growth strategies and initiatives to improve profitability for Park Place, and is responsible for European and Asia-Pacific sales and service operations.