IT teams are under increasing pressure to roll out new applications and services quickly to meet changing business demands. Public cloud platforms can help accelerate IT deployments, but the public cloud isn’t right for every workload. Organizations often want to keep applications on-premises out of concerns for data privacy, regulatory compliance, cloud service provider lock-in and cost.
That means IT teams must find ways to implement on-premises infrastructure more efficiently. Hyper-converged infrastructure solutions have emerged as the answer to this conundrum.
In the traditional data center, IT teams put together systems, storage and network resources using best-of-breed components from disparate vendors. This slow, painstaking process is becoming untenable given the relentless demand to add more computing power, storage, devices, and applications. As density and complexity rapidly increase, the data center becomes more difficult to operate, a challenge that is further complicated by a siloed approach to data center management and maintenance.
Converged infrastructure was introduced a number of years ago to relieve this complexity. Converged infrastructure combines servers, storage systems, network devices and virtualization resources in one pre-configured, pre-tested solution that can be centrally managed.
Sometimes called “data center in a box,” converged infrastructure can be quickly deployed with minimal risk of compatibility issues. This is in stark contrast to the best-of-breed approach that requires significant effort to install, integrate, configure and test the data center infrastructure.
Hyper-converged infrastructure takes this concept several steps further by more tightly integrating fundamental data center components. While converged infrastructure can be separated into its component parts, hyper-converged infrastructure cannot. Hyper-convergence takes a software-defined approach that collapses compute and storage functionality into one highly virtualized solution.
“Organizations are constantly juggling the demands of the business with the day to day demands of keeping the lights on,” says Ray Hall, Senior Sytems Engineer at Cerium. “HCI helps IT staff keep the lights on through automation, simplified support models, hardware consolidation and update management. By adopting HCI infrastructure, IT can pivot itself from a business cost to a revenue-generating operation by spending its time developing internal efficiencies and customer-facing applications.”
The first hyper-converged infrastructure solutions to reach the market were turnkey, pre-configured appliances. Later, software-based solutions became available that could be deployed on generic hardware. Some hyper-converged products are marketed as primary or secondary storage solutions, with added functionality such as data de-duplication and compression, backup/restore and replication.
Hyper-converged infrastructure speeds deployment and reduces risk, providing greater agility without moving workloads to the public cloud. A scale-out architecture and automated provisioning means that capacity can be increased by simply adding nodes. Performance improves as nodes are added. Resources are pooled so they can easily be shared by multiple virtual machines (VMs). Integrated management software makes it possible to administer all components through a single pane of glass. Hyper-converged infrastructure solutions also provide a high degree of automation due to the software-defined nature of the technology.
According to an Enterprise Strategy Group research paper published in May 2018, the top five benefits of hyper-converged infrastructure are:
- Reduced TCO (28 percent)
- Easier scalability (28 percent)
- Improved service and support (23 percent)
- Faster deployment (21 percent)
- Simplified management (21 percent)
Thanks to these benefits, the hyper-converged infrastructure market is red hot. Research firm IDC reports that sales of hyper-converged infrastructure solutions increased a whopping 76.3 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2018. As a result, the market has become increasingly crowded as more and more vendors introduce hyper-converged infrastructure solutions.
“One such HCI offering is the market-leading, Dell EMC VxRail,” says Ray. “The VxRail appliance is the only HCI solution that was co-developed and is co-supported by VMware. Dell EMC brings the hardware platform with its leading PowerEdge 14G servers, and VMware brings its virtualization with vSphere and vSAN. This solution offers customers one-click full stack, automated upgrades, single user interface, single support contact; all while providing immense performance increases. Cerium Networks brings it all together with a turn-key implementation through our certified field implementation engineers and technical sales staff.”
If you’re exploring hype-convergence, you need a trusted guide to help you navigate this rapidly evolving technology. Let Cerium’s data center experts help you develop a strategy that best capitalizes on the benefits of hyper-convergence.