Hyperconverged infrastructure gets you the benefits of a public cloud with the control and privacy of traditional infrastructure.
The inclusion of next-generation technology like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), big data, etc., to grow business demands scalability and flexibility.
However, limited options for virtual computing, like the costly private or risky public cloud, are not dependable to accelerate innovation and growth.
You will need help to configure your servers, networks, and storage to sync with virtual computing while your competitors will get the product to market or start deploying services before you.
Here comes hyperconverged infrastructure for digital businesses that must host business applications on the cloud without managing minimum IT infrastructure like separate servers, storage, networks, etc.
Difficulties in Driving Innovation in Digital Business
Organizations that depend on information technology must focus on revenue earning like sales, marketing, product innovation, becoming the first mover, etc. However, conventional IT infrastructure has a lot of moving parts.
Before you can start a new product development or innovation project, you need to configure software, development platforms, servers, storage, virtual machines, and countless other things.
Conventional physical servers and storages have a one-to-one relationship. This scenario increases effort and money investment in an IT project.
You might say virtualization will reduce some of the drawbacks of conventional server and node systems. But virtualization has its shortcomings. The main problem is the increased demand for storage capacities in virtual computing.
Your business will generate terabytes of redundant data for which you need to invest in storage devices for your business data center constantly. This approach wastes IT resources.
Hence, wasted effort, money, work hours, and time are some of the main barriers to the innovation and growth of digital businesses.
What Is HCI?
Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is the futuristic architecture for data center design. This concept is compatible with both small-scale and large-scale data centers. In a conventional server-based system, there are different sections for the network, computing, and storage.
Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) combines computing, virtualization, storage, and networking in a single cluster. Usually, a single vendor will supply the whole package. At its core, the compute, network, and storage are hardware-controlled entities. Hence, virtualization is either costly or not that easy for small and medium businesses.
With HCI, the software controls IT resources. The IT resources like computing, network, and storage are located on top of a hypervisor.
You can just modify your software from time to time to meet project requirements. This saves your business from overhead costs on IT hardware and service.
The software-based data center control approach has made way for novel data center concepts. You can deploy an HCI system on any hardware or hypervisor using the followings:
Application programming interfaces (APIs)
Virtual machine translation
With HCI, you can deploy a converged infrastructure under software to control storage and computing resources. Now, a different location or department of your business needs to use a different hypervisor.
You do not need to buy extra computing and storage resources for that hypervisor. The HCI system can translate virtual machines between hypervisors so that different departments can use shared resources without bandwidth conflicts.
It does not stop here! HCI allows APIs so that you can —
Integrate your private cloud with a public cloud platform to cater to user needs
Take your business data to the center beyond the private cloud architecture
Integrate and collaborate with external and internal hypervisors
Use automation for business apps and tools
How Does HCI Help in IT Efficiency
Your business’s IT efficiency depends on costs, complexity, and hybrid cloud access. HCI addresses all these requirements. Learn in detail below:
HCI solutions are vendor-neutral. You do not need to chase multiple vendors for hardware and software compatibility support. You can control all the IT resources for your data center using central software. Modifications within the app enable you to configure the data center for different IT projects without disturbing the hardware setup.
You can transfer IT resources from one workstation to another, one department to another. No need to own different servers and storage farms for different departments in the same organization.
Also, HCI uses existing computing and networking protocols like x86 servers, Ethernet ports, etc. Hence, you do not need to invest in high-cost futuristic IT infrastructure.
Scaling up of HCI comes with automation. If your business or customer-facing app gets sudden traffic, the HCI solution scales up automatically in the back end. You do not need to increase or decrease compute, storage, and network quota manually.
Make Way for Hybrid Cloud
HCI enables you to use advanced APIs to connect your sandboxed or private cloud computation with public cloud interfaces. Everything goes through stringent encryption and other security checks so you do not need to worry about business data security.
How Does HCI Work
An HCI system connects several data center server hardware to local storage, often containing a software layer. The software distributes server capacity according to the system load of the workstations.
Also, virtualization can enable you to connect servers from different departments and office locations to create a holistic pool of computing, networking, and storage resources.
A standard HCI contains the following components:
One or many hardware chassis. These are mainly server resources. For High Availability (HA) cluster appliances, you need to connect multiple HCI nodes.
You will also see a storage area network (SAN) controller.
A hypervisor for virtualization like Hyper-V, VMware, Citrix, etc.
Benefits of HCI
You need to deal with a minimum number of vendors and their representatives since one vendor offers all the software and hardware solution.
Since HCIs host storage, computing, and network devices in one location, you spend less time and money on managing IT infrastructure.
HCIs stay closer to the business workstations where users use the resources. Hence, you experience more performance.
HCI solutions are available in simple packages so that businesses of all types can buy HCI according to their workload.
Since HCI follows the building-block strategy, you can scale up or down by adding or removing HCI nodes.
Drawbacks of HCI
Since HCI is still growing and there is no standardization, you might face vendor lock-in.
There is a lack of open standards for logical or physical interoperability between nodes of various HCI vendors or systems.
In the early days, you might need to buy storage, network, and compute as a whole bundle though you may not require all three to scale up.
HCI installation may demand a tremendous amount of power to cool down the data center farms situated in close proximity to each other.
You need at least two HCI nodes to make each other redundant and ready to handle bulk workloads if traffic increases. Hence, the cost of ownership could increase.
Converged vs. HCI: Differences
Hardware-based consolidation of remote server resources.
Software-based consolidation of resources for virtualization or remote access of computation and data.
Modular and clustered
Cost of Ownership
Higher and is not cost-effective
Affordable and cost-effective
Better than converged infrastructure
CI is the ground level
HCI is the next generation of CI
Scope of Use
Optimizing storage-to-CPU ratio
Capitalization, distribution, and productive use of business IT resources
Can be deployed as a standalone server or a group of servers
Standalone deployment is not available
Need to buy new hardware
You can minimize resources in one app and redirect freed-up resources to another app to increase scalability
HCI vs. Cloud: Differences
It virtualizes storage, computing, and network resources and puts them under software for centralized control
Cloud computing consists of storage, computing, and network resources in one architecture. There is an abstraction layer that pools these resources and offers them to third parties for app deployment
It simplifies IT so that businesses can focus on revenue-earning tasks
It enhances user experience (UX) with advanced orchestration and automation
HCI keeps computing, storage, data, apps, and network closer to each other. Hence the performance is better than the cloud.
Cloud performance depends on many variables like public cloud, private cloud, internet bandwidth, distance from the server, and more. Hence, performance is lesser than HCI.
More flexible than a cloud
You need to add the HCI cluster hardware to increase workload capacity.
You just need to pay more and change the subscription tier online.
HCIs are more fault tolerant than any other data center management systems.
Reliability is lesser than HCI.
HCI can handle more work volume and diverse types of workloads.
A pre-configured cloud infrastructure often only handles certain workloads.
Future of HCI
In its early stages of development, IT managers and developers used HCI for remote or branch offices (ROBO) and VDI. However, its dynamic resource allocation and resource recycling technology proved that HCI could become the cornerstone for IT innovation and growth.
HCI has proven itself a reliable tool for advanced data centers. However, it is also getting popular in the cloud computing ecosystem. Organizations can get a cloud-like ecosystem with close control over their business IT resources.
Businesses use HCI to deploy virtualization resources close to where all data processing occurs. Hence, businesses can use HC in edge computing and analytics too.
Tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon have entered the HCI ecosystem recently with products like Azure Stack HCI and AWS Outposts.
Reading Resources on HCI
#1. Hyperconverged Infrastructure A Complete Guide
If you want to develop great HCI solutions, this Amazon book is the ideal resource. It is not a textbook. This book is more of a guidebook for those who can ask the right questions. Also, if you are an agile or DevOps IT business and facing issues in implementing HCI, you should read this Kindle book.
By thoroughly reading and exercising the HCI-centric suggestions in this book, you can develop efficient HCI solutions. You can also asses whether HCI will impact your organization positively or not upon reading this learning resource.
#3. Hyperconverged Infrastructure Data Centers
HCI Data Centers book explains this emerging data center technology in plain English. It also outlines various real-world use cases. Hence, you can get some guidance on implementing this technology or developing solutions for HCI users.
Moreover, the book discusses and compares some HCI solutions in a vendor-neutral approach. You can get the book in paperback or Kindle version.
HCI: Author’s Note
HCI is growing fast! Businesses also understand its value. If you are into data centers and business computing, then hyperconverged infrastructure solution development could be a good career choice.
On the contrary, if you are a business that wants to leverage the best of IT at a cost-effective investment, you should explore some HCI solutions today.
Anyways, HCI will become the mainstream technology to manage futuristic data centers in the coming years.
Are you maintaining too many storages, servers, and network devices for your digital business? Do you see you are leaking thousands of dollars in IT infrastructure maintenance? Other businesses also face similar issues, and they trust that hyperconverged infrastructure is a sustainable resolution to such problems.
Hence, the market size of HCI is continuously growing. By the end of 2020, it was $7.8 billion, according to Markets and Markets. The same think tank expects that the HCI market will reach $27.1 billion by 2025.
If your business is struggling between storage, servers, and network gears, then it is high time you set up an HCI now!
Cloud Computing is a modern solution for modern businesses and users. It allows us to share or use resources directly from a cloud server over the Internet, making this technology more efficient, fast, and cost-effective for everyone.
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