The hyper-converged future of infrastructure

Simple, scalable and cost-effective here’s why businesses are turning to hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI)

The rapid change facing businesses has exposed the traditional IT systems many firms have in place.

Legacy infrastructure—with separate storage, storage networks, and servers—is not well suited to meet the growing demands of enterprise applications or the fast pace of modern business.

The silos created by traditional infrastructure have become a barrier to change, adding complexity to every step from ordering to deployment to management.
However, the solution is very much upon us—hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI).

HCI tightly integrates compute, storage, networking and virtualisation technologies in an x86 server-based rack system or appliance allowing the component resources to be managed as a single system.

Broad in an application, HCI is used in enterprise datacentres, SMEs, and remote or branch offices to quickly extend a virtual environment, simplify operations and support any new and growing workload requirement. HCI systems also provide scale-out solutions with predictable results and operational costs.

 

Growth projections

Gartner projects that hyper-convergence revenue will grow at a compounded annual rate of more than 60% in the next few years, with revenues hitting $6bn (£4.3bn) by 2020.

Gartner found that Phase 1 of hyper-converged integrated systems was the peak period of blade systems (2005 to 2015), Phase 2 marked the arrival of converged infrastructures and the advent of hyper-converged integrated systems for use in specific cases (2010 to 2020), and Phase 3 represents continuous application and microservices delivery on hyper-converged integrated systems platforms (2016 to 2025).

That third phase of integrated systems will deliver dynamic, composable and fabric-based infrastructures by also offering modular and disaggregated hardware building blocks, driving continuous application delivery and continuous economic optimisation, stated Gartner.

“This evolution presents IT infrastructure and operations leaders with a framework to evolve their implementations and architectures,” said Andrew Butler, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

An IDC white paper, sponsored by Dell EMC, also found that HCI has moved past its early market phase and is now being leveraged by a large number of organisations for a wide range of uses.

 

Why HCI?

Hyper-converged infrastructure allows organisations to simplify IT operations, scale easily and incrementally, increase service agility, optimise total cost of ownership, support both traditional and cloud-native workloads, alongside increasing focus on business outcomes.

A big driver behind HCI adoption is simplified management and operations. Many traditional SAN environments are still organised around specific resource silos, which have highly skilled, dedicated IT, staff, such as storage admins, server and network admins, or VMware admins.

These silos typically have their own dedicated management toolsets for day-to-day operations. Unfortunately, these silos often create organisational complexity and require tight coordination between teams to build and operate the infrastructure, which becomes increasingly cumbersome especially as the size of the environment grows.

HCI architectures break down IT silos by creating a single pool of virtualised resources that can be shared. This leads to faster deployments, simpler upgrades and expansions, and a streamlined support model when issues arise.

Then because the infrastructure is virtualised and based on software, many traditional management tasks that were manual can be automated, often through a single toolset. This greatly simplifies the ongoing provisioning, troubleshooting, and lifecycle operations in the datacentre.

In an independent study, 47% of surveyed customers are now loading their primary infrastructure onto HCI. That shift is expected to keep on increasing.

 

 

The Dell Technologies offering

Dell Technologies – the world’s largest privately-controlled tech company – is able to combine Dell EMC offerings with VMware hyper-converged infrastructure appliances.

Dell EMC’s HCI offerings include VxRail Appliances, VxRack Systems and XC Appliances. They allow businesses to modernise their datacentre with a scalable appliance that provides simplified management, improved performance and elastic scalability.

VxRail Appliances allows users to build their software-defined datacentre with the only fully integrated, pre-configured and pre-tested VMware hyper-converged infrastructure appliance on the market.

The VxRack Systems enables a datacentre to be driven with rack-scale engineered systems that achieve the scalability and management requirements for traditional and cloud-native workloads.

XC Appliances bring agility, efficiency and reliability to the datacentre through converged storage and compute solution for non-VMware environments.

IDC interviewed organisations that have deployed Dell EMC VxRail and VxRack hyper-converged solutions and found they had a 619% five-year return on their investment in Dell EMC HCI solutions, which IDC puts at a value of $150,776 (£108,745) per 100 users per year, resulting in a six-month payback period.
Through Ingram Micro, Dell EMC also offers support to the whole solution from hardware to software.