Hyper Converged Infrastructure

Converged and Hyper Converged Infrastructure: The Evolution of the Data Center

Traditional Data Centers have been the backbone of many organizations’ IT environment for many years.  The traditional set up included Servers, Storage and Network.  This set up realized that Data Centers needed a significant amount of physical area and power requirements as they grew.  Large enterprises were spending millions of dollars to grow and maintain their Data Centers.

As technology advanced, the concept of virtualizing servers within Data Centers became the new trend for IT departments in midsize and enterprise level organizations.  Virtualization allowed for servers to be condensed by using a software layer called a hypervisor to emulate the underlying hardware.  While the performance of the virtual system isn’t as robust as the operating system running on the actual hardware, virtualization works because most guest operating systems and applications do notServersneed the full use of the underlying hardware.  Virtualization resulted in significant cost savings for organizations by decreasing maintenance and overhead.

Fast forward to today, organizations have many ways to run and manage their IT environment.  Virtualization has spread to desktops, networks and storage thus decreasing the size and overhead of Data Centers even more than before.  Some organizations have decided to completely scrap their Data Centers and migrate their IT infrastructure into The Cloud.  Although the Cloud model is ideal for some organizations, it may not fit the business objectives of others.  How can businesses who want to keep their Data Center on premise further condense their Data Center to be leaner and meaner?  The answer is Converged and Hyper Converged Infrastructure!

What exactly is Converged Infrastructure?  Converged Infrastructure is the concept of taking the components that make up a traditional Data Center (Servers, Storage, Network and Virtualization) into one hardware platform.  The benefit of migrating from a traditional Data Center to a Converged Infrastructure is that all the components that make up a traditional model can be easily managed under one framework.  This reduces costs to maintain and power a Data Center, while freeing up space for growth.  For instance, Cisco and IBM have come together to offer a Converged Infrastructure platform called VersaStack.  VersaStack combines Cisco UCS infrastructure with IBM’s Storwize storage system, and is Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure ready.

Converged Infrastructure sounds like a no-brainer for IT departments looking to increase efficiencies and reduce costs for their Data Centers.  What if they wanted to add data backup software, snapshot capabilities, or WAN optimization into the Data Center?  A Converged Infrastructure would not be applicable in this instance as it is mainly hardware focused.

ServersHyper Converged Infrastructure combines the Converged Infrastructure platform with the concept of the Software Defined Data Center.  This makes Hyper Converged Infrastructure flexible enough to configure at the software level and IT can manipulate it to work with specialized applications or workloads that pre-configured Converged Infrastructure bundles can’t support.  Hyper Converged Infrastructure is optimal to support an environment for virtual desktops as it reduces effects of boot storms and runs anti-virus in the background without the user knowing.  The flexibility of Hyper Converged Infrastructure allows IT departments to add more storage and computing power by simply adding boxes that snap on the stack.  For instance, Dell EMC’s VxRail is a Hyper Converged appliance that provides a seamless integration into Data Centers that are in a VMware environment.  VxRail can be deployed in a matter of hours and significantly improves performance of an organization’s web applications, SQL servers and back office applications.  Other Hyper Converged Infrastructure appliances include Cisco’s HyperFlex and HPE’s Simplivity.

The evolution of the on-premise Data Center has come a very long way in terms of processing power, storage, computing and efficiency.  Hyper Converged Infrastructure is becoming the new standard for virtualized IT environments.  It provides ease of management under a single pane of glass, it requires less physical hardware, and it significantly improves application and workload performance.  If your organization’s data needs are growing at a rate where your IT department is projected to spend a lot of money to expand your Data Center, going with a Hyper Converged Infrastructure may be your best bet.

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