What you need to know about hyperconverged infrastructure

Hyperconvergence or hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is a data center architecture that embraces the principles, costs, and benefits of cloud computing. The third-generation in a series of converged technologies to hit the market, HCI consolidates compute, storage, networking, hypervisor, data protection, replication, disaster recovery (DR), global management, and other enterprise functionality onto commodity x86-server hardware to help organizations simplify IT complexity, deliver digital transformation, and drive agility, innovation, and business value.

The promise of these benefits is driving rapid HCI adoption. Sales of hyperconverged systems reached $1.5 billion in Q2 2018, accounting for over 41 percent of the total converged systems market. And analysts expect growth to quicken: Stratistics MRC predicts the global HCI market will grow at a CAGR of 42 percent from 2016 to 2023, reaching $17 billion in revenue by 2023.

This post will help you decide if hyperconvergence is a fit for your company.

What can hyperconvergence do?

Today’s business leaders struggle to manage data centers with disparate legacy systems, distributed data, shrinking IT staff, constant demand for new services, and increased pressure to move to the cloud. HCI can help your organization tackle these challenges and reduce risk, boost productivity, and enhance flexibility, scalability, and availability.

Hyperconverged infrastructure is an easy way to modernize technology. Because of its non-disruptive implementation, you can phase in new architectures and phase out the old elements as needed with LEGO-like efficiency. HCI also delivers a central point of administration, allowing you to manage hypervisor, storage, backup, replication, and DR tasks from a single pane of glass.

Because an HCI vendor will become your single point of contact for solution acquisition, maintenance, renewals, and support, you’ll be able to eliminate complex hardware compatibility requirements, convoluted relationship management, and unnecessary finger pointing.

HCI’s software and virtual machine (VM) focus, shared resources, and easy automation will allow you to achieve a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) compared to traditional infrastructure. You’ll spend less on procurement, operating, and upgrade costs over the solution’s lifetime, yielding direct and indirect benefits to your business, such as the minimization of training and integration services, reduction of downtime from outages, and the elimination of rip-and-replace upgrades.

2 things to keep in mind before adopting HCI

The robustness, scalability, and flexibility across HCI vendor platforms vary. You’ll want to choose an HCI solution that will allow you to satisfy new business requirements and meet growing workload demands without being wasteful. For example, if you only need more storage capacity or performance, you’ll want the ability to add it without having to grow your compute resources, which typically requires additional application licensing fees.

HCI has the potential to propel your business along its hybrid cloud journey, but you’ll want to choose a hyperconverged solution that eliminates vendor lock-in and delivers seamless workload and operational mobility. You can do this by avoiding proprietary systems and verifying the HCI solution’s automation, monitoring, orchestration, management, and other ecosystem tools work flawlessly across boundaries.

3 HCI architectural models to choose from

Customers adopting HCI can select from three architectural models: VM-based storage, hypervisor-based storage, or independent storage. Here’s how they differ:

  • The VM-based storage model installs the hypervisor on bare metal and places the storage in a VM. These HCI solutions achieve the fastest time to market and are offered at the lowest entry point. They offer platform compatibility and support for multiple hypervisors. Management tools like graphical user interfaces (GUIs), command line interfaces (CLIs), and application program interfaces (APIs) help differentiate the solutions within this category.
  • In the hypervisor-based storage model, the hypervisor is installed on bare metal and the storage is integrated into the kernel of the hypervisor. The intellectual property (IP) for these HCI solutions lies with their deep hypervisor integration, their advanced feature set, and integration capabilities with other software-defined components. Solutions in this category can reduce risk and deliver bare metal performance because the infrastructure is not exposed as a VM, which utilizes many server resources.
  • The independent storage model installs both the hypervisor and storage operating system (OS) on different bare metal node types. These HCI solutions provide the greatest flexibility and scale, allowing you to avoid management, hypervisor, and use case lock-in. If you adopt solutions in this category, you will gain access to enterprise SAN capabilities, achieve predictable performance for pools of compute and storage capacity, and reduce per-core licensing fees.

Need help evaluating HCI solutions?

Organizations of all sizes are relying on hyperconvergence for their mission-critical business applications like Microsoft SQL, Oracle, and SAP; test and development environments; cloud-native workloads that leverage containers and microservices; edge computing for industrial Internet of Things (IoT), medical equipment systems, ships, and oil rigs; and big data analytics processing.

But determining whether HCI is the right technology for your business can be difficult, and selecting the best HCI solution for your company’s unique requirements can be even more challenging. To avoid making an embarrassing, costly, or detrimental mistake, start by conducting a proper needs assessment.

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