Factors to Consider before Deploying Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

By CIOReview | Wednesday, July 6, 2016
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With the IT infrastructure evolving, two of the significant transformations seen are in the space of Convergence and software-defined data centers. Both trends work towards simplifying IT realities and reducing the cost of infrastructure ownership.

Evolution of Convergence

The earliest infrastructure Convergence solutions were merely the combination of existing hardware and software. There was hardly any innovation on features, and organizations had to look at other options to solve the serious challenges they faced. As such, this led to the ascent of Converged infrastructure products which combined the server and storage components in a single appliance. This ended the need for dedicated Storage Area Network (SAN) based storage. Though the products offered simplified management and faster deployment, it faced flak for failing to address performance problems in the legacy infrastructure and systems—not addressing all data problems. This ultimately led to the emergence of Hyper-Converged infrastructure.  

Hyper-Converged infrastructure or Hyper-Convergence Data Centre is a growing trend in the last couple of years or so among CIOs across various organizations; be it small or large showing great interest in deploying it. Hyper-Convergence, an IT infrastructure framework for integrating storage, networking, and virtualization computing in a data centre helps in optimizing these elements to work together on a single commodity appliance from a single vendor. With Hyper-Convergence offering many benefits compared to traditional set-ups, there is no wonder that CIOs are fast getting attracted to employ it in their organizations. As Hyper-Convergence is relatively a newcomer to the data centre race, it is advisable to consider certain factors to find out whether the deployment would be beneficial for organizations. The factors can be categorized as:

  • The in-vogue technology — One of the prominent reasons why IT organizations look to set up Hyper-Converged data centers is primarily because customers are looking at them. With Hyper-Convergence being a very fashionable phrase, CIOs can have a look at it, to find whether the technology suits their enterprise needs.
  • Scale-out workloads — Hyper-Convergence suits scale-out workloads as it is a scale-out platform. The Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) having hundreds or thousands of desktop Virtual Machines (VM) is the classic scale-out workload. Though each VM accounts for a fairly small load, the total VDI load is large. The platform helps in delivering consistent performance.
  • Growing workloads — Hyper-Converged infrastructure helps in expanding the capacity of data center employed in organizations by adding new nodes over time. Hyper-Convergence allows companies to obtain extra capacity as and when the need arises. It also offers the option to decreasing the data infrastructure if growth lags behind.
  • Simplification — Another significant feature of a Hyper-Converged data center is simplified management. With Hyper-Converged platforms including policy-based virtualization management, it reduces the effort and time required to manage a collection of VMs. It enables IT teams to cut down the time required to adjust and optimize the platform, which ensures them to focus more on the VMs and applications that helps in bringing value to the company.
  • Eliminate technology silos — Eliminating the storage silo and its dedicated network is considered a massive headache for organizations. A Hyper-Converged data center is helpful in this regard as it relieves the organizations from maintaining the expertise in the storage array and network. It also helps in removing the need to manage the logical unit numbers, presentation and storage paths that come with a Storage Area Network (SAN) thereby enabling businesses to focus on other aspects of data centre and application stacks.
  • Infrastructure resources — With large converged infrastructure platform not considered suitable for small projects, Hyper-Convergence helps in deploying smaller units of infrastructure. As the nodes can be combined into a single cluster, it is particularly helpful when deployed in a series of projects with each requiring a few nodes. This in return helps in curtailing the operational costs of running the projects even if each project grows. 
  •  ROBO support and management — Nowadays, with many organizations having numerous Remote Offices or Branch Offices (ROBO), IT has become an essential tool in order for them to avail the benefits of a robust virtualization platform. Hyper-Convergence is useful in that regard as it simplifies the process of managing them and keeping the operational costs within control.
  • Hardware refresh — Another factor to be considered by organizations regarding Hyper-Convergence is that it makes the process of replacing the entire virtualization platform of a business simpler. As it approves the node-by-node replacement process of updating a cluster, large outages or long VM migrations to get a new infrastructure in-place can be avoided.
  • Staffing — Hyper-Converged data centers save organizations from having to screen out the most competent and specialized staff, because using it is very simple. This enables the same number of staff in managing more VMs as compared to the current lot that they handle.
  • No public cloud — A Hyper-Converged data centre allows reduced infrastructure management of cloud services while keeping the IT infrastructure within the framework of legal, business, and compliance rules. This feature makes it popular among the vendors who offer Hyper-Converged products to build private or hybrid clouds and design platforms for making programmability easier.