Today, almost every other product is bundled with more than one utility or benefits. Having said that, the first thing that comes to mind, (w.r.t product) is mobile, and (w.r.t service) the internet. As the virtual world is fast becoming a reality, by defining every aspect of a business into software, enterprises look to reap the same benefit that you and I reap from Mobile or Internet. The same is in the case of a Hyperconverged Infrastructure – A modern era Data Centre.
The transformation of this high-tech world is exciting, but enterprise’ IT teams are under constant pressure to keep up with the pace of ever-evolving Technology. So what is Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI)? How is it lessening the burden of IT teams? And from the business perspective, does it suite all Enterprises?
Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is a system that virtualizes storage, compute and networking resources. It combines storage, networking and compute into a single framework allowing enterprise IT teams to control all the three resources from one central software – further each component can be virtualized. HCI’ inception began, when enterprises started managing virtual desktops (VDI) using PCs, rendered as virtual machines. However, enterprises today use HCI to simplify deployment, management, and scaling of IT resources in turn ensuring Capex and Opex benefits. Sold as a software, it can be installed on enterprise’ existing hardware or can be purchased as a separate hardware. HCI is nothing but a smart software-defined data centre (SDDC) supported by a Virtual Machine Monitor (a central software layout) which is designed by the vendor. HCI helps IT orchestrate three crucial pillars of IT infrastructure – Storage, Compute and Networking. VMs are accordingly set for each resource and can be adjusted without hampering activity on running on other VMs.
Hyperconverged systems require a minimum of three hardware nodes which can be expanded by adding additional nodes. Once the number of VMs reaches the capacity of the hyper-converged infrastructure, scaling becomes easier by adding more nodes. New nodes — with compute, storage and networking resources — can be added to the overall storage pool which can be shared among the VMs.
A single-pane-of-glass management provides, IT administrators with a comprehensive view of the state of the IT environment that they are managing.This is done by integrating and presenting data from various sources in a console that unifies setup, configuration, management, and monitoring.
Virtualizing network while implementing HCI is not as easy as virtualizing storage and compute. Both for storage and compute, IT needs to virtualize a very few aspects like RAM and CPU cycles, but when it comes to virtualizing a network, virtualizing resources like controllers, switches and distributing bandwidth, throughput, security and policies among all existing virtual machines becomes hectic. Moreover, network is the most important aspect of HCI, if it doesn’t work, everything goes for a toss.
SD-WAN has already shown a way to enterprise IT teams to create and build WAN of the future. It has not only simplified enterprise networking but has also opened doors to create and adopt Next-Gen IT infrastructure. By unifying SD-WAN architecture and rollouts with the adoption of hyperconverged platforms (HCI) and the public cloud, enterprises will own and manage their own WAN infrastructure.
Lee Doyle, Principal Analyst – Doyle Research, in one his article Can hyper-converged systems benefit from SDN architecture? highlights what software-defined networking architecture has to offer to HCI. “Hyper-convergence combined with software-defined networking architecture might seem like hyper-hype, but SDN offers many network capabilities required of hyper-converged systems”. “While tight integration is desirable, these systems have many of the same networking challenges as other data center deployments, including requirements for scalability, automation, security and management of traffic flows. Additionally, they need to link to other data center resources inside the data center, at remote data centers and in the cloud. Software-defined networking architecture can ease some of the scaling, automation, security and connectivity challenges of hyper-converged system deployments” he continues.
HCI can benefit IT infrastructures of small and medium businesses. It offers IT teams a simplified way to control IT resources. Cost effective and simple to operate business can scale adding one node at a time. It suits SMBs or start-ups offering them an option to just Plug and Play. Not just SMBs, HCI offers benefits for larger enterprises as well. Specifically in case of enterprises who wants to set up new branches or remote offices.
In HCI, enterprises need to purchase a node, every time they want to add additional compute infrastructure. It’s here where SMBs benefit, but larger organization due cost factors rely more on traditional storage systems based on scale-up models. Although debatable at this point time, we have witnessed successful use cases of HCI in the past.
What are your thoughts on HCI? Is your enterprise using one these modern era SDDC ? Put in your thoughts in the comment section below. We’ll be more than happy converse further on this.