Liqid composes Western Digital OpenFlex storage within and across racks

At the SC19 event Composable systems startup Liqid announced it can compose servers with Western Digital’s OpenFlex storage both within and across racks in a data centre, thanks to NVMe over Fabrics.

Liqid says users can manage, scale, and configure physical, bare-metal server systems in seconds and then reallocate data centre devices on-demand as workflows and business needs dynamically change. 

Marius Tudor, VP for Sales and Marketing at Liqid, said in a release quote: “By coupling Liqid’s… multi-fabric software with the… OpenFlex platform from Western Digital, we deliver fully composable NVMe-oF, with a disaggregated system built from the ground up for adaptive performance associated with artificial intelligence and other data-intensive applications.”

Composable server systems technology enables a virtual server to be set up or composed from individual element resource pools; CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs, storage and networking. This can be done by a server systems suppler, such as Dell EMC with its MX servers and HPE with its Synergy offering, or by independent suppliers such as DriveScale and Liqid. 

Liqid’s composablity environment with added OpenFlex. The CPU boxes include DRAM for the purposes of this diagram.

The rationale is that physical servers are more often than not over-or under-configured for specific applications. By composing them at the granular compute, networking and storage element level you can size a virtual server’s resources more accurately, and return the elements to the pool when the app run finishes. When a customer has hundreds, if not thousands, of servers then this makes for lower costs as the server elements are used more efficiently and not left stranded and unused as they may be with separate physical servers.

WD’s OpenFlex E3000 enclosures with F3100 Series flash storage arrays inside, provides NVMe-accessed storage at the multiple PB level. The disk-based D3000 arrays are not supported. An E3000 appliance can hold up to 10 F3100 arrays, supports 50GbitE,  and delivers up to 110 GB/sec and 22 million IOPS. Liqid has added OpenFlex API support to its v2.2 Command Centre software so it can manage the appliance, including data volume management, sensor monitoring, power usage, fan speeds, etc.

Command Center v2.2 supports composability using several fabrics to link the resource pools; Gen 3 and the twice-as-fast Gen 4 PCIe bus standard, Ethernet, Infiniband, and lays the foundation for the upcoming Gen-Z and CXL specifications. The v2.2 Command Centre software was demoed at SC19 but has no release date.