This is the third post in a 3-part series about composable infrastructure and how it is supported by the HPE Synergy platform. In the first part of the series, we examined the benefits of composable infrastructure and looked at the The HPE Synergy 12000 Frame - a 10U rack-mountable unit that provides the foundation of an HPE Synergy system. In the second post we look at the management and composability support modules, the compute modules, and the data storage modules that can be configured with the HPE Synergy 12000 Frame.

In this post, we look at the composable fabric and the various hardware modules and some external storage systems that can be integrated into an HPE Synergy system.

HPE Synergy Composable Fabric

The HPE Synergy Composable Fabric brings everything together to form a composable infrastructure. It creates a pool of networking capacity that can be rapidly configured to provision connectivity for a broad range of applications. Moreover, the HPE Synergy Composable Fabric employs a master/satellite architecture to connect multiple frames in an HPE Synergy system. The master networking module provides the intelligence and extends connectivity to satellite frames through an HPE Synergy Fabric Interconnect Link Module. This design consolidates network connections, reduces complexity, and eliminates the need for top-of-rack switches. In this manner, all traffic between frames is east/west through the master. There is no north/south traffic with the risk of bottlenecks to worry about.

When you add a new frame to an HPE Synergy system, and connect it to the master frame using an HPE Synergy Fabric Interconnect Link Module, the frame is automatically discovered. Because the new connection is east/west directly with the master, the system scales with no performance penalty on the existing workload.


Figure 13. HPE Synergy Master/Satellite Network

Figure 13 illustrates the master/satellite architecture for an HPE Synergy system containing 3 frames in a single rack. In this illustration, Frame 1 is the master. You can see that is has two networking modules - one Virtual Connect Module and one Interconnect Link Module. Frames 2 and 3 are satellites and they connect to Frame via their Interconnect Link Modules. For redundancy, Frame 2 also has a Virtual Connect Module. If Frame 1 should go down, or Frame 1’s Virtual Connect Module should go down, then Frame 2 can take over as the master. Frame 3 has only interconnect Link Modules, but notice that the top one is connected to Frame 1 and the lower one is connected to Frame 2 for redundancy.

In addition to this fabric for networking among frames, HPE Synergy provides support for two other fabrics. These three fabrics are supported, with full redundancy, by 6 bays in the rear of the frame.


Figure 14. HPE Synergy Fabric Bays

HPE recommends that, as a best practice, these fabrics be used for the following purposes:

  • Fabric 1 primary use—Storage
  • Fabric 2 primary use—Storage or networking
  • Fabric 3 primary use—Networking

Looking back at Figure 2 from the first post, you can see an example of these best practices. In Figure 2, slots 1 and 4 contain redundant HPE Synergy 12Gb SAS Connection Module devices. These provide the fabric for the in-frame HPE Synergy D3940 Storage Module. Slots 2 and 5 contain redundant Brocade 16Gb Fibre Channel SAN switches. These provide fabric for an external SAN storage system - perhaps based on HPE StoreServ technology. Slots 3 and 6 contain an Interconnect Link Module and Virtual Connect Module. These provide fabric for inter-frame networking. The arrangement of modules is the same as shown in Figure 13 for Frame 2, so Figure 2 from the first post illustrates a satellite frame that can server as a failover master.

In the following sections, we look at some of the modules that provide support for these three fabrics.

HPE Virtual Connect SE 40Gb F8 Module for HPE Synergy

The HPE Virtual Connect SE 40Gb F8 Module for HPE Synergy is the master module supporting the composable infrastructure networking fabric across frames. As described above, each multi-frame HPE Synergy system needs a master frame with this module, and one of the satellite frames also needs this module for redundancy.

HPE Virtual Connect is a proven and popular technology from HPE that decouples the network addresses of the compute modules from external networks so that changes in compute or network infrastructure do not require complex coordination among LAN and SAN administrators. HPE Virtual Connect is widely used in c7000 and other HPE BladeSystem installations. It is also the default master module in HPE Synergy environments.


Figure 15. HPE Virtual Connect SE 40Gb F8 Module for HPE Synergy

HPE Synergy Interconnect Link Modules

The HPE Virtual Connect master module works with HPE Synergy Interconnect Link Modules in the satellite frames to provide intelligent networking capabilities across an HPE Synergy system. There are two versions of the Interconnect Link Module: a 10G and 20G. The 10G version provides 12 x 10Gb Ethernet downlinks to the compute modules in its host frame and can connect up to 4 satellite frames to a master frame. Likewise, the 20G version provides 12 x 20Gb Ethernet downlinks to the compute modules in its host frame and can connect up to 2 satellite frames to a master frame.

nullFigure 16. HPE Virtual Connect SE 40Gb F8 Module for HPE Synergy

HPE Synergy 40Gb F8 Switch Module

If you have an existing datacenter environment, with traditional switch functionality and administration, then you may want to integrate your HPE Synergy into it. In that case you can use the HPE Synergy 40Gb F8 Switch Module - an Ethernet switch that provides manual control to network administrators from a command-line interface (CLI). While still part of the HPE Synergy Fabric, this module provides high-speed switching capabilities and allows a network administrator to independently manage the switch within the frame.

Like the HPE Virtual Connect SE 40Gb F8 Module, the HPE Synergy 40Gb F8 Switch Module supports the master/satellite frame architecture through the HPE Interconnect Link Modules. It can also be monitored by HPE OneView, although it is not controlled by the HPE Synergy Composer.

Mellanox SH2200 Switch Module

The Mellanox SH2200 Switch Module for HPE Synergy is a high-performance, low-latency Ethernet switch offering layer 2 and layer 3 features. It provides 25/50GbE connectivity to each of the Synergy compute nodes and 40/100GbE to upstream network switches. It is designed for demanding data center environments requiring advanced features such as high-performance, deterministic low-latency network fabric, hardware-based virtualization support, or storage offloading. The Mellanox SH2200 can support workloads such as high-frequency trading, network functions virtualization (NFV).

The Mellanox SH2200 Switch Module is managed by industry standard management resources that allow network functions to controlled by network administrators. It can be used to connect a Synergy Frame into an existing, high-performance, network, but does not support direct connections between frames like the HPE Synergy 40Gb F8 Switch Module.


Figure 17. Mellanox SH2200 Switch Module for HPE Synergy

The HPE Synergy 10Gb Pass-Thru Module

Customers who want to maintain an existing network can use the HPE Synergy 10Gb Pass-Thru Module to connect each compute module in a frame to that network. This pass-through module allows one-to-one connectivity between a compute module’s network adapters and a top-of-rack Ethernet switch and requires a port for each compute module connected to the top-of-rack switch.


Figure 18. HPE Synergy 10Gb Pass-Through ModuleHPE Virtual Connect SE 16Gb FC Module

The HPE Virtual Connect SE 16Gb FC Module is a Fibre Channel Storage Area Network (SAN) interconnect that simplifies the administration of compute module connections with the SAN. It works in conjunction with the HPE Synergy Composer to enable administrators to add, replace, and recover Synergy Compute Modules resources on-the-fly. This module appears as a pass-thru device to the Fibre Channel network, yet provides integrated switching including 16Gb uplinks to the SAN.


Figure 19. HPE Virtual Connect SE 16Gb FC Module

Brocade 16Gb Fibre Channel SAN Switch for HPE Synergy

HPE Synergy also supports the Brocade 16Gb Fibre Channel switch for high-performance, low-latency networking with cut-through mode FC SAN capabilities. This switch is ideal for financial services, trading applications, medical imaging, and rendering.

For management, The Brocade 16Gb SAN Switch Module integrates with HPE OneView, Storage Operations Orchestration Manager, Brocade BNA, and Fabric Vision.


Figure 20. Brocade 16Gb Fibre Channel SAN Switch for HPE Synergy

The modules discussed above support Ethernet or Fibre Channel networking with devices external to the frame in which they are installed. Next, we look that the module that supports Serial-attached SCSI (SAS) connectivity between the compute modules in a frame and the data storage modules on that same frame.

HPE Synergy 12Gb SAS Connection Module

The HPE Synergy 12Gb SAS Connection Module supports the SAS interconnection fabric for the HPE Synergy D3940 Storage Module (see Figure 10 from the second post). This module can connect up to 10 compute modules in a frame with up to 40 SFF drive bays in the D3940. The result is a storage fabric, managed by HPE Synergy Composer, that can compose storage resources to meet the needs of a wide variety of workloads.


Figure 21. HPE Synergy 12Gb SAS Connection Module

This nonblocking SAS fabric allows full utilization of flash storage and can support up to two million IOPs across 10 compute modules. The full architecture is shown below from the SSDs in the D3940 Storage Module, to the SAS Connection Modules to the HPE Smart Array P542D Controller connected to each of the compute modules.


Figure 22. HPE Synergy SAS Infrastructure

Composable Infrastructure Is Ready Today

Particularly if your organization is tired of the complexity of managing multiple physical infrastructures, you should take a close look at HPE Synergy. Brining the management of compute, storage, and networking fabric under the single management umbrella of HPE OneView is a huge simplification. In addition, you reap the benefits of composability that enable your datacenter to support a wide variety of workloads from a single platform. Certainly, before you invest more money upgrading a variety of disparate, specialized, infrastructure, you should investigate this alternative. HPE Synergy has caught on with more than 1,600 customers already.

As you’ve seen in this series of blog posts, HPE Synergy is a comprehensive solution. To help you define the configuration that is right for you organization, we invite you to talk with the experts here at IIS.

IIS - Your Partner for HPE Synergy

International Integrated Solutions (IIS) is a managed service provider and system integrator with deep expertise in HPE Synergy. IIS is a distinguished HPE partner, winning HPE Global Partner of the Year in 2016 and Arrow’s North American Reseller Partner of the Year in 2017.

As your service provider, IIS brings broad datacenter experience as well as expertise in HPE Synergy. Having solved a myriad of problems for hundreds of customers, we bring a holistic view of the datacenter. This experience makes us well suited to helping you realize the benefits of composable infrastructure with HPE Synergy. In particular, IIS can help with:

  • Sizing - providing an assessment methodology and tools to spec out your workloads.
  • Migration Plans - helping you refresh your hardware and migrate applications to a HPE Synergy.
  • Integration - understanding how integrate your existing infrastructure with HPE Synergy effectively.
  • Managed Services - providing remote monitoring and ongoing support for your composable infrastructure


Return to Part 1 of the Series
Return to Part 2 of the Series


Ed Karasinski

Written by Ed Karasinski