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Should My Business Consider Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI)?

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By Mark Nilsson - Senior Solutions Architect

Over the past 4-5 years, hyperconverged technology has taken the industry by storm. What started out as a niche offering to service VDI and tier 2 applications in the SMB space has quickly advanced to provide a full array of enterprise class features, well suited for most all application sets. 

What is Hyperconverged (HCI)?

In a nutshell, hyperconverged infrastructure takes the traditional technology stack (compute, memory, Storage Area Network (SAN), storage, virtualization), and combined them into software defined, easy to manage building blocks. To simplify it even more, it is the same servers you know and love, with internal storage, all clustered together, and managed through an easy-to-use interface.

With hyperconverged, there is no separate storage array and no SAN to manage. Think of it as the “easy button” for your server and storage needs.

But wait, there’s more!

As hyperconverged solutions have evolved over the past several years, a whole array of features have been built into the technology to combine even more features. Modern hyperconverged technologies include things like:

  • Data Optimization (Dedupe/Compression)

  • Data Replication

  • Backup Capabilities

  • Cloud Connectivity

  • Orchestrated DR/BC functionality

All these features are typically managed from the same, simple to use interface. Often from your hypervisor management console.

To add to that list of features, hyperconverged technology is easily scalable. In the traditional technology stack, when you maxed out the storage arrays capacity or performance, you had to buy a new array, migrate all your data, reconnect all your hosts to the new array, and so on. This process can be very time consuming and expensive. With hyperconverged technology you simply add a node to your existing cluster when you need more storage or compute. Often this can be done in minutes, with no interruption in service.

Is Hyperconverged the Panacea it Appears to Be?

Yes and no. Hyperconverged technologies solve a great number of problems faced by data center professionals today. It is a great fit for many environments, but not everywhere.  

Where hyperconverged fits:

  • Organizations with highly virtualized IT environments

  • Organizations with multiple locations

  • Organizations with a single location, but need for cloud DR/BC

  • Organizations with IT teams composed of primarily generalists

  • Organizations implementing VDI solutions

  • Organizations seeking to simplify their IT environment or shrink their data center footprint

  • Organizations looking for a single point of management for their environment

Here are some places hyperconverged may not be the best fit:

  • Organizations with large amounts of un-optimizable data (video, pictures, etc.)

  • Organizations with very large storage needs, but relatively small compute needs

  • Organizations where the storage footprint is growing much faster than the need for compute resources

This list is not all encompassing, and there are certainly other variables to consider. This is strictly a rough rule of thumb.

Who are the Hyperconverged Players?

Over the past few years, a number of companies have come and gone from the hyperconverged market. Some simply failed while others were acquired by larger organizations. Below is a list of some of the major players in the space:

  • Nutanix

  • HPE SimpliVity

  • Dell/EMC VxRail/VxRack

  • Cisco Hyperflex

BlueAlly partners with industry leading Hyperconverged solution providers and can help you find the right solution that will perfectly compliment your company’s virtual environment. Please contact your BlueAlly Account Manager or email us at reach@blueally.com to discover ways that we can help!