Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) is a software-centered architecture that combines compute, networking, storage, back up, and virtualization into an exclusive resource that primarily utilizes the x86 server hardware. It was introduced in 2014 to automate repetitive tasks, minimize the risk of human error, and increase performance at lower costs. Every HCI node in a cluster runs a hypervisor such as Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware ESXi, or Nutanix AHV, and the control feature on HCI functions as a distinct virtual machine on each node, creating a fully distributed fabric that can be scaled up with the addition of new nodes.
Numerous IT Functions Consolidated
The centralized management solution offers numerous unique advantages that traditional data centers do not; high performance, proficient architecture, straightforward deployment, and secure management. For fault tolerance, at least two copies of hyper-converged storage are put on distinct nodes. Direct attached storage (DAS) on every node uses data virtualization to create a virtual SAN. According to Enterprise Strategy Group's survey, the HCI's ability to consolidate numerous IT functions like deduplication, backup, migration of VMs between different appliances or even data centers, and WAN optimization into a single platform are the most appealing reason to use hyper-converged infrastructure.
The technology enables the system to garner the Capex and Opex benefits, streamlining deployment processes, management, and scaling of IT resources. HCI has Evolved with the necessity to expedite scaling, remove infrastructure complexities, and boost overall performance. The integration of servers and storage with management from a hypervisor has brought much more feasibility and practicality. Recently a new class of hyper-convergence has appeared, called Tier 1 hyper-convergence or by another name, disaggregated HCI – where storage and servers are again physically detached entities and fused only at the software layer that makes them appear as one.
Some of the top-notch HCI vendors offer premier services like HPE Simplivity, Nutanix with its AHV hypervisor; VMWare's vSAN, Pivot3 with its top-to-bottom NVMe data path that enhances storage performance, HPE Simplivity, which offers HCI and data protection mashup with high levels of data reduction.
There's a lot of pressure on an organization's IT team to enhance their performance, efficiency, and flexibility – many executives end up typically unhappy with their IT department's ability to quickly introduce new technologies.
Hyper-convergence is at the core of enterprise or hybrid cloud management with methods to deliver on-premise IT service with the operational efficiency and speed of public cloud services like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) – bridging the gap between conventional infrastructure and public cloud services.
Here at ADS Consulting, we use an HCI infrastructure for power computing, storage, backup, and recovery requirements of our ecosystem. We see it as a paradigm shift in how companies build their IT infrastructures and data center management, with a lot of benefits and very few disadvantages. HCI systems are the grounds for Public, Hybrid, or Private cloud infrastructure. Here we have presented the top three benefits of HCI that are attracting more and more enterprises to the HCI realm.
HCI Equals Simplicity and Productivity
One of the favorite benefits of HCI is its simplicity in managing and overall productivity. While traditionally, an IT infrastructure had numerous components from different vendors, each managed by a separate team with meticulous employee training required. The diverse hardware with their distinct interfaces and functions historically have been complex to manage – expensive and time-consuming.
Hyper-converged infrastructure solutions with its virtualized workloads are managed with a single toolset that solved all the problems faced by organizations by consolidating all components into one and integrating them with existing work environments. HCI also assists in troubleshooting and monitoring, as most HCI solutions provide tools on a single dashboard.
Robust speed – HCI enables accessing, sharing, and sending data across multiple appliances faster.
Better analysis – all the enormous amounts of data generated by businesses have brought complexities in accessing, collecting, and swiftly analyzing the data. HCI streamlines access and data-driven decisions for organizations.
Remote management – HCI enables real-time remote management of your workload with its software layer.
Data protection – HCI provides swift snapshotting, data deduplication, data security, and makes disaster recovery more straightforward. It offers high resiliency with a distributed model – data being spread across multiple nodes throughout the data center, or between data centers in different geological locations.
Modernization – replaces old hardware at far less cost without negatively affecting your business operations.
Flexibility and Lower Costs of Hyperconvergence
Regardless of what platform or technology, often the impetus behind the selection of respective technology is cost. In the case of hyper-converged infrastructure, cost savings are in-fact the driving force for its rapid growth. Inherently, management complexities result in addition to cost incursion in terms of working-hours in hardware maintenance, administering the workflows, and multiple vendors to consult for support and issues resolution.
HCI provides higher levels of flexibility and scalability, as every HCI node is an independent unit with every type of hardware needed for the powerhouse performance a data center needs. With a single-vendor HCI solution, the entire process of implementation, customization, and scalability comes down to saved time and cost. All in all, HCI requires less equipment to buy, in both cases of new or upgrading, which means saving money, time, space and headaches.
HCI Improves Agility
A hyper-converged infrastructure enables significant infrastructure and management savings over the traditional 3-tier – centralized storage, storage network, and compute. But the most significant opportunity for enterprises is to harness the improved business agility. Proved by an independent study funded by Nutanix – one of the top HCI vendors today, the study states that the HCI solutions were shown to offer notable infrastructure savings and increased productivity. But the single most-highest benefit was in business agility – productivity and responsiveness to changing business needs, accounting for 43 percent of the overall benefits.
The report further asserts that the increased agility results from three areas: less downtime, enhanced performance, and higher revenues.
- Less downtime: IDC reported organizations averaged a 99.7 percent reduction in unplanned downtime and a 100 percent decrease in planned downtime – increases average user productivity due to reduced downtime.
- Increased performance: The IDC report puts the average enhanced application performance on Nutanix at 50 percent, which is a significant leap.
- Higher revenue: Improved performance and application scaling boosts employee productivity and generates higher revenue.
ADS Consulting Group brings decades of experience to the table in IT consulting, and we're here to help you. Regardless of what you may already understand about HCI and the different solutions available, it's at the very least worth a no-obligation consultation with someone on our leadership team who will be able to really understand what you need, then make the right recommendation based on performance requirements, storage requirements, budget and other factors.
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