In the last decade, converged systems have revolutionised the world of data centre management. They have transformed the now-defined ‘traditional approach’, which sees a huge amount of business time poured into choosing storage, servers and networking software, to then spend even more time testing and deploying it. Plus, when support is needed, multiple vendors need to be contacted.
The arrival of converged systems has more than halved the time conventionally needed. Manufacturers now offer converged, pre-packaged solutions, composing multiple IT components in a single, optimised package that has been pre-tested and is ready to rollout.
Given the speed at which technology is moving, it’s no surprise that there’s been an evolution in converged systems. There’s a new data strategy that’s making waves in the tech industry – hyperconvergence. But just what exactly is it?
Although still in its infancy, HCI has huge potential to help organisations overcome the challenges of smaller budgets, cumulative demands for data access, and the need to remain flexible
What is hyperconvergence?
By definition, hyperconvergence is a software-centric architecture that tightly integrates compute, storage and virtualisation resources in a single system that usually consists of x86 hardware.
When compared with convergence, it has fewer steps in the process from the planning stage to deployment, meaning it takes a much smaller amount of time to get to market. According to analyst firm IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Converged Systems Tracker, the appeal of this solution has seen the market grow 64.7% year-on-year.
The main objective
Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) has been created in order to simplify the management of data centres. It does this by reassigning them as transportation systems for software and transactions, rather than networks of processors with storage devices and memory caches.
This is executed through combining server, networking and storage in a single box – virtualising using software.
By [manufacturers] making the entire solution from industry-standard server components, hardware costs are minimised. Also, HCI is scalable by nature, so if you want to grow the system, you just add boxes or nodes.
There are multiple apparent benefits to HCI, including:
✓ Low cost
✓ Simple to manage
✓ More efficient IT staff
✓ Increased data protection
✓ Improved performance
✓ Easy to deploy
✓ Fewer resources needed
Points to consider
HCI is a fast-growing phenomena, fuelled by low hardware costs, simplicity and flexibility. Hyperconverged systems are a big investment; therefore it’s important to understand its potential limitations.
The following should be taken into account:
✗ Unable to grow storage capacity without investing in compute
✗ Possibility of slow network
✗ Inflexible configuration options
✗ Only accessed by virtual machines
✗ Expensive software
✗ Could become a silo when not meeting requirements
The future of hyperconvergence
Although still in its infancy, HCI has huge potential to help organisations overcome the challenges of smaller budgets, cumulative demands for data access, and the need to remain flexible.
The IDC report also stated that sales of HCI grew by 104.3% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2016, generating £406.59m [US $570.5m] worth of sales, amounting to 22% of the total converged systems market value. Looking more towards the future, analyst house Gartner suggested the market for HCI would be worth £3.5bn [US $5bn] by 2019, as more businesses begin to investigate HCI and its benefits.
There is not a ‘one-size fits all’ solution for every data centre, but HCI is a future-looking technology and appears to have more pros than cons. It has the potential to help many organisations overcome many challenges.
Kat Cooke is Senior Content Writer at SCC. She was previously Senior Journalist at the Aesthetics journal, and has worked for Sky News, providing live coverage of the last two General Elections and the EU Referendum. Kat has a 2:1 degree in Journalism from City University London.