When is Hyper Converged Infrastructure right for my business?

Hyperconverged infrastructure represented by converging lines.

What is Hyperconverged Infrastructure?

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is the fundamental IT element in a software defined data centre (SDDC), removing the complications of traditional data centre infrastructure. HCI integrates all functions of the data centre natively, including compute, storage, and networking in a virtualised platform. This virtualised platform is then operated and monitored through a cohesive management console. Adding further value to this virtualisation, automation and orchestration tools allow you to extend the capabilities and benefits of both the SDDC and the public cloud, delivering a complete hybrid cloud infrastructure that addresses current and future application and infrastructure needs. But is hyperconverged infrastructure right for your business?

Based on the above it would come as no surprise that the HCI market is growing fast. By 2023, Gartner predicts that 70% of enterprises will be running some form of hyperconverged infrastructure, up from less than 30% back in 2019.

Melusi Phiri

About the Author

Melusi Phiri is a Senior Account Manager, helping clients of all sizes, across sectors to find and make best use of technology. Melusi can advise on the full technology stack, including cloud, application modernisation, security, networking and remote working solutions.

Key benefits of HCI in the SDDC include:

Removes the complexity of managing different hardware components and infrastructure silos found in traditional data centre environments.

Cost efficient
Minimises capital expenditure on hardware as well as cost and storage efficiency. Easily scalable to fit in with demand fluctuations.

• Agile
Tackle dynamic business needs proactively with wide range of deployment choices with no vendor lock-in, on-demand scalability, and support for traditional and modern applications.

So, is HCI right for you?

HCI has become increasingly popular for general purpose workloads. These are those functions that every organisation has to have; they can include infrastructure servers (DNS, DHCP, Active Directory, print servers, and so on), file servers, application servers, database servers, and anything else that the company needs to operate.

HCI aims to provide business with greater operational efficiency and reduced costs, in an increasingly data-driven business environment where more technology and computing power are demanded. So, for those that recognise the above demands being part of their business, the question will most probably be ‘when and how’ rather than ‘if’ to move to HCI.
To make that decision and transition easier, both traditional and HCI can co-exist and it is likely that some will make the decision to run specific applications on-premises whilst others transfer to the SDDC, with the decision to go for a full-stack option made at a later date.

To manage the businesses portfolio of applications across on-premises and cloud will require careful consideration, the following should be on your ‘key questions’ list:

• What are the requirements of the application?
• How will the application be managed and scaled?
• What is the business value of the application?
• What kind of environment does the application need to maximize its business impact?
• Can the application be migrated to a public cloud, and is the cost of rebuilding or refactoring the application for the cloud warranted?

Is there an alternative to HCI?

Moving away from traditional on-premise data centres, an alternative to HCI could be Converged Infrastructure (CI). CI, in contrast to HCI, is hardware based, converging storage and processes, whereas HCI is software based.

Converged Infrastructure comes as a pre-packaged bundle of systems, which includes: servers, storage, networking and management software. These systems are usually bought from one vendor, instead of buying the hardware and software components separately from different suppliers. CI systems are typically pre-configured and pre-tested, making them easier and faster to deploy.

The Pros and Cons of Converged Infrastructure

CI systems are, more often than not, bought from a single vendor and come with the following advantages:

• Improved compatibility: Minimising or even eliminating hardware and software compatibility issues.
• Cost effective: Converged infrastructure saves money on data centre provisioning, deployment and management.,
• Simplification: CI rationalises data centre management as it eliminates the need for IT to have expertise in products from multiple vendors.

The downsides to converged infrastructure include:

• Vendor reliance: Converged infrastructure can lock you into a single vendor, which could result in reduced features and functionality, and limited customisation options.
• Increased complexity: Adding further components to a converged architecture after installation can be complicated and expensive.
• Multiple tools: Currently many converged systems still require separate management tools for compute, networking and storage even if they come from the same manufacturer.

To converge or to hyperconverge?

Establishing a move away from traditional on-premise data centres is a given, but is converged or hyperconverged infrastructure right for your business? Which one is right will depend on a number of factors; the following should give you an idea by comparing converged with hyperconverged.

Put simply Converged Infrastructure is hardware-based and specialises in packaged hardware and software from a single vendor, Hyperconverged Infrastructure compresses compute and storage resources into highly virtualised, industry-standard x86 servers, with unified management.

Converged architecture; servers, storage, networking and management remain independent of each other, taking advantage of existing hardware. This flexibility will allow individual components to be used for specific and separate purposes, plus servers and storage can be scaled independently.

Hyperconverged infrastructure components are software-defined, offering more flexibility than converged infrastructure. Virtualised compute and storage resources also make HCI easier and faster to scale, compared to converged infrastructure. Hyperconverged infrastructure allows you to easily scale up by adding or replacing drives in existing servers, or scale-out by adding nodes to a cluster. This often means that even if you only need additional storage, the new node will also come with compute. Nodes can be added one at a time for incremental growth, whereas storage arrays often require a new controller or shelf of drives, which is a much larger single spend.

Hyperconverged infrastructure shown as converging arrows.

By using either converged or hyperconverged systems, you will be able to reduce the data centre footprint, simplify management and increase infrastructure efficiency. Companies often choose one versus the other, based on variables like the size and desired amount of control over the environment, cost, existing infrastructure and future IT goals and vision.

If, after reading this blog, you feel that converged or hyperconverged infrastructure might be right for your business, having a partner who can help guide you through will be invaluable to making the right infrastructure decisions. Pendulum offers support and infrastructure expertise to help you get the most out of migrating your data centre.

About Us

Pendulum IT p logo

Pendulum is a leading IT company providing services, hardware and software across the UK and internationally. For further information on remote working, public cloud hyperscalers, cybersecurity, modernising the data centre, HCI or any other area please contact your account manager or email info@pendulum-it.com