Editor’s Note: This article was last updated on March 26, 2019
A common theme among a lot of our blog content, and the tech world at large, is how data storage and computing technology is always changing and advancing. With seemingly new concepts, products, and practices introduced regularly, it can be overwhelming to try and keep up with every piece of news and technological advancement. One recent trend in IT infrastructure is hyperconvergence. But what exactly is hyperconvergence?
What Is Hyperconvervence?
Simply put, hyperconvergence is an IT framework. Combining storage, networking, and computing into a single system, hyperconvergence should reduce the complexity of data centers while increasing the scalability of enterprises.
Hyperconverged infrastructures are available in two ways: hardware or software. Both have their advantages, whether it’s the cheaper price of just-software, or the convenience of getting everything from a single vendor.
The hardware is usually a single appliance with compatible software from the same vendor. HCI hardware vendors include:
- Dell EMC
A single vendor also offers guaranteed performance levels along with minimal work to install and configure the system.
The plug-in and go approach certainly has its appeal, it’s ready to use out of the box and users won’t have to worry about any of the underlying hardware. That’s the single vendor advantage. Any trouble shooting or performance issues can be taken care of more easily, increasing your overall efficiency.
However, the ease of appliance-based solutions also have their downsides. Since it more or less locks an enterprise to working with a specific vendor, that could potentially cause issues down the road. Especially for those enterprises that value more freedom and flexibility.
HCI software allows for more of a cost effective, add technology as you go approach. HCI software vendors include:
- VMware (vSAN)
Software-based hyperconvergence infrastructures allow users to choose any server vendor. Plus there’s the added freedom of being able to change vendors at any time. Additionally, this approach ensures that enterprises own the software licenses, which can simply be transferred to a new server in the event of a change.
Typically, hyperconverged platforms run on off-the-shelf, industry-standard servers and include a hypervisor for virtualized computing and networking as well as software-defined storage. Designed for convenient consumption, clustering multiple nodes together can create pools of shared compute and storage resources.
Why It Matters
The flexibility and simplicity provided by hyperconverged infrastructures makes day-to-day operations easier and more manageable. And it is also a major convenience for any enterprises looking to build and remodel for the future while also maintaining a high level of security.
Normally, an upgrade to your data center infrastructure could take months. Between swapping out old equipment, selling aged or damaged hard drives, and other general data center decommissioning practices, a modernization project can cause a lot of downtime for your enterprise. Downtime you can’t afford.
Vs Converged Infrastructures
Hyperconvergence grants your infrastructure the agility of a public cloud while still maintaining the control that on-premise hardware gives you. Compared to a converged infrastructure, hyperconvergence increases your capacity for automation.
Converged infrastructures also offer a means for simplified management. Usually in a single-system, preconfigured package of hardware and software. However, the network, compute, and storage components are discrete and able to be separated in a converged infrastructure.
Hyperconvergence doesn’t allow for any components to be separated. Virtually implementing software-defined elements seamlessly within the hypervisor environment allows enterprises to more easily scale up. In this case expanding capacity is as easy as deploying more modules.
Is Hyperconvergence Right for Your Company?
Like so many practices in tech, HCI systems weren’t always intended for mass consumption. Hyperconvergence infrastructures were initially specialty solutions for virtual desktop infrastructures and other workloads with more general, predictable resource requirements. Since then, hyperconvergence infrastructure systems have grown from those specific targets to platforms that help enterprise applications, private clouds, and databases scale up.
So is hyperconvergence right for your company? Common workloads being run on HCI systems by enterprises that are implementing (or planning to implement) or expanding their hyperconverged systems may include :
- Database (example: SQL or Oracle server)
- Exchange or SharePoint (and other collaborations)
- Web-facing workloads (examples: LAMP stack or web servers)
- File and print services
- Virtual desktop
- SAP, Oracle (and other commercial packaged software)
HCI is currently more appealing for more workloads for a few reasons. Newer developments have made it possible for compute and storage capacity to scale independently, using a disaggregated model. Additionally, hyperconverged solutions can be created using NVM Express instead of fabrics. NVMe is an open logical device interface specification for accessing non-volatile storage media attached via a PCI Express bus.
The Benefits of Hyperconvergence
Again the simplicity and flexibility of hyperconverged infrastructures cannot be overstated. Everything in a hyperconverged infrastructure, from servers, networking switches, maintenance, and integrated storage systems, can be managed as a single, integrated system.
It allows businesses to start smaller and develop more resources as they need them. In most cases it should be easy to use and implement because of its inherent management capabilities. Some vendors that offer HCI systems even boast potential efficiencies in areas of cost as far as the power and space of a data center are concerned, as well as the need for licensed software and cost of IT labor.
Sometimes new trends are just that, trends that may come and go or be replaced by the next “big thing.” However, hyperconvergence isn’t necessarily something to be ignored. Right now businesses that want to streamline the deployment of new workloads, optimize infrastructure and management capabilities, are opting in for hyperconvergence.
In fact, Gartner predicts that as much as 20% of business-critical applications currently deployed on three-tier IT infrastructure will transition to hyperconverged infrastructure by 2020.
Keeping a close eye on the major IT, tech, and data-providing organizations and how they may implement hyperconvergence could give you an idea of how it could effect your own IT infrastructure.
If the hardware changes needed for hyperconvergence installation require you to make any upgrades, or even if you’re scaling up using HCI solutions, then your old equipment will need to be properly disposed of. In more extreme cases you may even need a full on data center decommission. If that’s the case, be sure to enlist the help of a certified IT asset disposition company to ensure you get the best return on investment.
At Exit Technologies, we offer full IT equipment services ranging from asset recovery, network equipment sales and recycling, data erasure, and full data center decommission services.
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