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Hyperconvergence is one of the biggest data center trends of the year. You might have heard of hyperconverged systems but still not understand their function or their necessity. Well, it’s time to get up to speed because these systems can be effective and efficient for virtualizing and managing your IT. Here, we’ll answer some of the most common questions you might have about this streamlined and cohesive option.
Hyperconvergence is an IT framework that combines storage, computing and networking into a single system in an effort to reduce data center complexity and increase scalability. Hyperconverged platforms include a hypervisor for virtualized computing, software-defined storage, and virtualized networking, and they typically run on standard, off-the-shelf servers. Multiple nodes can be clustered together to create pools of shared compute and storage resources, designed for convenient consumption.
The use of commodity hardware, supported by a single vendor, yields an infrastructure that’s designed to be more flexible and simpler to manage than traditional enterprise storage infrastructure. For IT leaders who are embarking on data center modernization projects, hyperconvergence can provide the agility of public cloud infrastructure without relinquishing control of hardware on their own premises.
HCI converges the entire datacenter stack, including compute, storage, storage networking, and virtualization. Complex and expensive legacy infrastructure is replaced by a platform running on turnkey, industry-standard servers that enable enterprises to start small and scale one node at a time. Software running on each server node distributes all operating functions across the cluster for superior performance and resilience.
Hyperconverged infrastructure promises to deliver simplicity and flexibility when compared with legacy solutions. The integrated storage systems, servers and networking switches are designed to be managed as a single system, across all instances of a hyperconverged infrastructure. The inherent management capabilities enable ease of use, and software-defined storage is expected to yield greater scalability and resource efficiency. Companies can start small and grow resources as needed. HCI vendors also tout potential cost savings in areas including data center power and space; IT labor; and avoidance of licensed software such as backup or disaster recovery tools.
HCI systems were initially targeted at virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and other general-purpose workloads with fairly predictable resource requirements. Over time they’ve grown from being specialty solutions for VDI into generally scalable platforms for enterprise applications, database, and private cloud, according to research firm Forrester.
In a survey of infrastructure pros whose firms are planning, implementing or expanding their use of hyperconverged systems, Forrester found the most common workloads being run on hyperconverged systems are: database, such as Oracle or SQL server (cited by 50%); file and print services (40%); collaboration, such as Exchange or SharePoint (38%); virtual desktop (34%); commercial packaged software such as SAP, Oracle (33%); analytics (25%); and Web-facing workloads such as LAMP stack or web servers (17%).
A couple of key developments have made HCI more appealing for more workloads. One is the ability to independently scale compute and storage capacity, via a disaggregated model. The other is the ability to create a hyperconverged solution using NVMe — an open logical device interface specification for accessing non-volatile storage media attached via a PCI Express bus — over fabrics.
What is the best way for an organization to roll out HCI? There are several key elements to the process, as BizTech has outlined.
First, IT leaders must take time to understand the characteristics of the workloads they plan to run on HCI. Once they have a good understanding of the workloads, they should use this information to design an appropriate HCI environment.
Next, organizations should turn to the marketplace and evaluate each available solution against those requirements. There are numerous vendors that offer HCI solutions, including Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Nutanix, Cisco Systems and VMware.
After evaluating and selecting the right partner, companies should begin to plan the HCI implementation before purchasing and installing hardware. It’s also wise to deploy HCI with a pilot project that migrates a specific workload to test how future migrations will go and validate the benefits of the hyperconverged infrastructure.
Hyperconvergence is winning over enterprises that are drawn to its potential to ease management, streamline the deployment of new workloads, and optimize infrastructure costs.
As much as 20% of business-critical applications currently deployed on three-tier IT infrastructure will transition to hyperconverged infrastructure by 2020, predicts Gartner, which recently gave the technology its own magic quadrant.
IT is continually tasked to do more with fewer resources. In addition to taking care of existing IT infrastructure, it must drive new initiatives such as AI, machine learning (ML), and big data. For large and small organizations, hyperconvergence’s centralized management, scalable architecture, and cloudlike simplicity deliver multiple benefits.
To tackle your toughest challenges, you need a solution that delivers:
The right HCI solution must support a wide set of application deployment models. To run your mission-critical apps, it needs to be fast and consistent, which demands low latency and low IOPS variability.
As multi-cloud environments become more common, your solution must provide the flexibility to support multiple hypervisors and deploy applications in whichever cloud environment is most appropriate for them.
The right solution will support your IT needs today and adapt as those needs evolve, providing the simplicity and flexibility to handle any workload and use case.
Don’t wait for IT infrastructure to support your application demands. Adopt HCI without losing control, increasing costs, or compromising security.