Information Technology is continually tasked to do more with fewer resources especially under a technology refresh.
HCI (Hyperconverged Infrastructure) combines a modular approach to compute, memory, storage, networking and virtualization on standard hardware. Then operates under unified management to deliver infrastructure within minutes, leveraging distributed horizontal building blocks. HCI vendors either build their own appliances using common, off-the-shelf infrastructure (computing, memory, storage and networking), then add an operating system, architecture and virtualization or they engage with systems vendors that supply an OEM appliance then package the HCI vendor’s software stack on top.
HCI is a pre-configured bundle (hardware and software) in one unit that all the components are tightly integrated such that they cannot perform on their own, or be broken down into separate components but must operate unified as a single appliance.
The definition is meant to allow HCI appliances and HCI software ( supports a broad set of certified OEM hardware partners’ systems).
It is a cloud-like environment where the resources can be scaled without making compromises to performance, reliability and availability. It is thus effectively used in managing virtual workloads.
Enterprise and SMB can both take advantage of HCI’s centralized management, scalable architecture, and cloud-like simplicity delivering multiple benefits.
Benefits of using HCI
- Simplicity and Agile – easily provisioned resources
- Cloud Support – simplifies Hybrid Cloud environments by reducing the time, the cost of transitioning and movement of application workloads back and forth between on-premise servers and the public cloud
- Elasticity – It provides better scalability, provisioning added resources based on the demanding application workloads – seasonality or spikes in marketing campaigns scaling compute and storage separately
- VM-Centricity – A virtual-machine-focused development or workload is given more importance
- Data Protection and Security – Data loss is reduced, data recovery is made easier, backup and security are all baked into HCI
- VM Mobility – Application and workload mobility is made easier
- High Availability – Achieves availability within itself with redundancy; casting the replicated environment remotely would elevate it to 99-100% availability
- Data Efficiency – It reduces storage, bandwidth and IOPS requirements
- Cost Efficiency – It creates efficiency of resources and increases cost effectiveness. The integration of HCI components reduces solution footprint, lowers the power used, mitigates or lowers maintenance costs, and provides a effective TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)
What are the HCI differentiators from Converged?
Converged infrastructure operates by grouping or “converging” multiple technology components into a single, optimized computing package or cluster. Components of a converged infrastructure may include servers, data storage devices, networking equipment and software for IT infrastructure management, automation and orchestration.
Differentiation is a Converged infrastructure has the same components, but they’re discrete, separable, and cumbersome to manage compared with HCI. Hyperconverged infrastructure fully integrates all components and as SDx (Software Defined) and the x being each component. this can range from a Data Center, Storage, Network, etc…
In essence, HCI is designed to work as one appliance, server or system with software-managed storage, as opposed to converged solutions and their separate components of storage, SAN, etc.
Hyperconverged systems can deploy in a fraction of the time of converged systems. The automation reduces the need of specialized people to make simple management adjustments, freeing up staff and administrators to focus on more on the business application strategic initiatives.
Security, backups and disaster recovery are all baked into hyperconverged systems such as self-encrypting drives, highly visible tools as well as many other critical components necessary to support an HCI environment.
What challenges will HCI solve?
Digital transformation is the new lifeblood of the Data Center and included on most CxOs list of CSFs (Critical Success Factors) to move workloads away from old topologies. The NEW needs are to support Analytics, Big Data, AI (Artificial Intelligence), and the Hybrid Cloud combining the on-premise operation with the public cloud to meet the dynamics of fast-growing workload demands. Current IT Legacy infrastructure weighs data centers down with sluggish hard-to-manage components, preventing them from keeping up with the dynamics of the business.
By centralizing resources and management, HCI lowers costs, reduces complexity, alleviates staff burdens, raises performance, delivers deeper abstraction, higher automation and scalability than converged infrastructure. HCI simplifies administration by providing a single point of management and can fully integrates with your entire data center. Gone are the days of separate servers, SAN and network storage for data-centric workloads.