What’s All the Fuss About Hyper-Converged Infrastructure?

Guest post By Anita Kibunguchy – Product Marketing Manager, Storage & Availability, VMware

Technology has made it so easy that customers looking to purchase a product or service need to simply look online for reviews. Did you know that 80% of people try new things because of recommendations from friends? It’s the reason why e-commerce companies like Amazon have thrived! Customers want to hear what other customers have to say about: The product, their experience with the brand, durability, support, purchase decisions, recommendations … the list goes on. This is no different in the B2B space. That is why IT Central Station is such an invaluable resource for customers looking to adopt new technologies like hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) with VMware Virtual SAN. Customers get a chance to read unbiased product reviews from the tech community which makes them smart and much more informed buyers.

What is HCI?

Speaking of datacenter technologies, am sure you’ve heard about hyper-converged infrastructure as the next big thing. It is not surprising that according to IDC, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) is the fastest growing segment of the converged (commodity-based hardware) infrastructure market which is poised to reach $4.8B in 2019.

Hyper-Converged Systems

The top-level definition of HCI is actually quite simple.  HCI is fundamentally about the convergence of compute, networking and storage onto shared industry-standard x86 building blocks.  It’s about moving the intelligence out of dedicated physical appliances and instead running all the datacenter functions as software on the hypervisor.  It’s about eliminating the physical hardware silos to adopt a simpler infrastructure based on scale-out x86.

Perhaps more fundamentally, it’s also about enabling private datacenters to adopt an architecture similar to the one used by large web-scale companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon. HCI is by no means confined to low-end use cases like ROBO and SMB (although it does great there too). The real promise of HCI is to provide the best building block to implement a full-blown Software Defined Data Center.

When thinking about HCI, hardware and software are fundamental to this new infrastructure.

  • Hardware: HCI includes industry-standard x86 systems that can be scaled up or out. Almost like small lego bricks stacked together to build a much more imposing infrastructure. By design, it’s simple, elegant, scalable infrastructure
  • Software: I consider this the secret sauce. All the key datacenter functions – compute, networking, and storage – run as software on the hypervisor. They work seamlessly together in a tightly integrated software layer. The software can be scaled out across many x86 nodes. We believe that VMware offers the most flexible and compelling option for customers to adopt the HCI model: a Hyper-Converged Software(HCS) stack based on vSphere, Virtual SAN and vCenter. Customers can deploy the software on a wide range of pre-certified vendor hardware. They get the benefits of HCI, including strong software–hardware integration and a single point of support, while having unparalleled options of hardware to choose from.

Benefits of HCI

This new IT architecture has many benefits for the end customer including:

  • Adaptable software architecture that takes advantage of commodity technology trends, such as: increasing CPU densities; new generations of solid-state storage and non-volatile memories; evolving interconnects (40GB, 100GB Ethernet) and protocols (NVMe)
  • Uniform operational model that allows customers to manage their entire IT infrastructure with a single set of tools.
  • Last but not least, streamlined procurement, deployment and support. Customers can build their infrastructure in a gradual and scalable way as demands evolve

My advice to companies who are not sure about HCI and what it does is – do your homework! It’s important to understand what the technology is and learn how this new paradigm of IT will change your business. There’s no denying that customers have observed lower TCO, flexibility, scalability, simplicity and higher performance with hyper-converged systems.

Looking to learn more about VMware Virtual SAN? The Virtual SAN Hands-on-Labs gives you an opportunity to experiment with many of the key features of Virtual SAN. You can also read more customer stories here and visit Virtual Blocks to learn more about Virtual SAN and VMware’s HCI strategy.

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