What is Hyperconvergence? Hyperconverged vs. Converged Infrastructure?

27 Jan 2020 by Bryan Smalley

What is hyperconvergence? Hyperconvergence referred to as HCI, is a framework that combines storage, computing, and networking into a single system to reduce complexity and increase scalability. Hyperconverged platforms combine hypervisors for virtualized computing, software-defined storage, and virtualized networking technologies. Most hyperconvergence platforms like Nutanix operate on conventional, off-the-shelf servers. Further, multiple nodes can be clustered together to make pools of common compute and storage resources, designed for consumption.

With hyperconvergence, IT departments are able to leverage commodity hardware, supported by a single vendor, for increased flexibility and ease of management when compared to traditional enterprise data storage infrastructure. For IT professionals that are focused on digital transformation and IT modernization projects, hyperconvergence offers the agility of public cloud without relinquishing control of on-premise hardware.

Hyperconvergence vs. Converged Infrastructure?

Hyperconvergence adds deeper levels of abstraction and higher levels of automation. Converged infrastructure entails a preconfigured bundle of software and hardware in one system for simplified management. However, with converged infrastructure – compute, data storage and networking components are discrete and may be separated. Within a hyperconverged environment, components cannot be separated. Instead, software-defined is implemented virtually, with seamless integration in the hypervisor environment enabling IT to quickly expand capacity by deploying additional modules.

Benefits of Hyperconverged Infrastructure?

What are the benefits of hyperconvergence? Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) provides increased simplicity, seamless integration and flexibility when compared with legacy solutions. Integrated systems such as storage, servers, and networking switches are designed to be managed across all instances of the infrastructure.

HCI offers increased management capabilities and ease of use from a management perspective. In addition, leveraging software-defined storage increases scalability and resource efficiency – this helps organizations start small and develop resources as required while limiting waste. Hyperconvergence can help increase savings in the data center and with IT staffing, software licensing and disaster recovery.

“Hyperconvergence is a game-changer when it comes to future proofing your IT infrastructure and technologies,” said Mike Allen, SVP of Solutions and Engineering at Datacenters.com. “I was once told by a colleague many years ago that software would eat up the world and that prediction is coming true with software defined everything and automation.”

Best IT Workloads for Hyperconvergence?

It’s interesting that hyperscale platforms initially targeted virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) along with other simulated workloads with fairly predictable resource requirements. They have since grown from being specialization solutions for VDI into typically scalable platforms for enterprise applications, database and private cloud.

What are the use cases for hyperconvergence? A recent survey of IT departments that were planning, implementing or expanding their hyperconverged systems focused on the following systems: 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%).

In addition, hyperconvergence has become more appealing for more workloads with a couple of recent developments. You can now independently scale compute and storage capacity, via a disaggregated version. You can also produce a hyperconverged solution utilizing NVMe -- an open logical device interface specification for accessing non-volatile storage media connected through a PCI Express bus over cloths.

The benefits of HCI are quickly realized by organizations of all shapes and sizes. Smaller organizations and IT departments may not need or want full-scale data center infrastructure. However, they may want to retain some level of control over their environments. For larger organizations and data center operators, the rising use of hybrid cloud environments lines up nicely with all the software-defined datacenter hype.

How is Hyperconverged Infrastructure Offered?

Hyperconverged infrastructure is available to customers as an appliance. An appliance is a reference architecture that integrates hardware and software from a single vendor. Your organization can select from bundled packages or customize their appliances to include solutions like data deduplication, compression, data security, snapshots, WAN optimization, and backup and disaster recovery options.

Furthermore, your appliance-comes ready to use, offering vendor-guaranteed performance levels and requiring very minimal quantities of installation and configuration function. With hyperconvergence technologies, organizations no longer have to be concerned about the underlying hardware because the vendor takes care of everything. Vendors like it because they have greater control of their hardware which facilitates troubleshooting and performance optimization. Examples of top hyperconvergence appliance vendors include Dell EMC, Nutanix and HPE SimpliVity.

Software-Only Hyperconvergence

Is it possible that your organization for you’re to bring its own hardware? Absolutely. Software-only hyperconvergence option exist for organizations that want to bring their own technology stack or hardware. Software-only HCI can be configured to match a customer's CPU, memory and data storage requirements without overprovisioning. This allows customers to scale up or down, which makes a software-only hyperconverged solution easier to manage and less costly to operate.

Hyperconverged Infrastructure Market Growth

Hyperconvergence is experiencing monumental growth because it facilitates management, streamlines the deployment of new workloads, and maximizes infrastructure costs. According to Gartner, up to 20 percent of business-critical applications now deployed on three-tier IT infrastructure will transition into hyperconverged infrastructure by the end of this year.

What is the outlook? The global hyperconverged infrastructure market is expected to post a CAGR of more than 38% during the period 2019-2023, according to the latest market research report by Technavio.

Selecting the Right Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Is your organization or IT department considering making the move to a hyperconverged infrastructure platform? There’s a lot of hype, buzz and technology jargon out there when it comes to this technology. HCI is also becoming a crowded space for both hardware vendors and software-only HCI vendors. Furthermore, you have to decide whether you are going to select a hardware-based or software-only platform for your hyperconverged platform.

At Datacenters.com, we can help you make these important decisions by analyzing your current IT infrastructure, reviewing your goals and objectives as it relates to HCI and determining your budget and potential cost-savings. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with your IT modernization efforts.

Author

Bryan Smalley

Bryan is offering over 27+ years of progressive IT support and management. Demonstrated success in leading large scale IT projects with globally dispersed teams. He has a keen understanding of business strategy, objectives and requirements and architecting/implementing the right solutions to meet or exceed your companies needs. Highly organized and decisive, adept at leading and motivating technical professionals in team-oriented environments. Bryan is an Out-of-the-Box thinker, intuitive and always seeking ways of bettering your business while reducing overhead.

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