In the not-too-distant past, technology solutions consisted of separate servers, storage and networks configured and physically managed on-premise based on a custom design for every client.
Then came converged technology which combined servers and storage according to a reference architecture to deliver a pre-built, pre-packaged solution.
The next evolution of converged technology is hyperconverged technology – solutions that integrate servers, storage, networking, virtualization, and automation, orchestration and IT services into a single solution.
A key distinction between converged and hyperconverged is the addition of built-in software-defined storage. While industry pundits agree that hyperconverged may well be “the next big thing” in tech today, Logicalis US, an international IT solutions and managed services provider, cautions CIOs to begin their investigation by first understanding their project scope, requirements, and their long term strategy.
“Hyperconverged technology offers a lot of promise, but you have to align the promise with your specific requirements and the vision of what you’re trying to accomplish,” says Paul Abram, data center and enterprise compute practice leader, Logicalis US.
“Hyperconvergence is a great solution for specific workloads. If you’re deploying a VDI solution, have requirements for remote branch offices, or need to build a pilot hybrid cloud strategy with automated on-prem-to-cloud workflows, a hyperconverged strategy may be right for you.
“It’s an exciting set of technologies, but it’s not necessarily for every application workload. We see clients adopting this as part of their multi-year IT strategy, but it is framed to specific use cases and business needs.”
According to Abram, the value that hyperconverged solutions offer over other forms of IT infrastructure is flexibility and the inclusion of a software-defined management layer that makes the software-defined enterprise easy to achieve and cost-effective to scale out.
The built-in automation and orchestration capabilities allow customers to take a strong step forward in creating a cloud-like experience within their own data center and to move from a manually intensive second platform operating model into a very dynamic environment that lends itself to third-platform flexibility.
“This is one of the chief reasons HPE’s recent acquisition of SimpliVity is making headlines,” says Brett Anderson, senior director, HPE Solutions, Logicalis US.
“HPE’s hyperconverged solutions deliver integrated management and IT automation features, while SimpliVity provides policy management, data protection and backup capabilities with file-level restore and guaranteed data efficiency. Their strengths are complementary and will provide a very powerful HCI solution when merged.”
Is hyperconverged the right solution?
Are you undergoing a data center refresh because of a merger, acquisition or aging technology? Do you need to refresh branch offices? Do you have a relevant application stack?
Logicalis experts say these are the kinds of scenarios that should trigger CIOs to begin investigating hyperconverged solutions.
To help IT pros determine if hyperconverged is the right solution for their business, Logicalis has created an eight-step process that begins with clearly defining the needs of the business.
Applications: Start with the application layer – what applications (i.e., SAP) or business services (i.e., email) do you need to run? How business-critical are these applications and what are your performance demands? Growth considerations? Answering these questions is a solid first step in determining what your core requirements really are.
Hypervisors: Hyperconverged solutions are designed for virtualized environments, so ask yourself, do you have hypervisor or physical requirements in your project scope?
Resources: Consider your compute, memory and storage requirements to ensure you’ll get the performance you require. How many users do you have today? What are your growth plans? One of the top advantages to a hyperconverged infrastructure is the ability to expand linearly as business needs change – and to do it cost effectively.
Network: While looking at your resources and considering growth paths are important considerations that will extend the life of your solution, knowing your networking, security and audit requirements – and matching them to the right hyperconverged solution – are critical to your success.
Dependencies: Applications don’t operate in isolation; they integrate with other systems in the business environment, which means it’s critical to fully consider the ways these technologies will interact with each other and within the context of your cloud strategy because certain hyperconverged infrastructures may align better with these requirements.
Data Protection: Each version of hyperconverged infrastructure provides some level of data protection, but does that align to your business’ data protection strategy? Define your backup and recovery service requirements before shopping for a hyperconverged solution.
Management: What are your operational and management requirements? Understanding the business’ requirements around alerting, updating and logging are another critical step toward success with hyperconverged solutions.
Migration: Once you’ve implemented a hyperconverged solution, how will you get from here to there? Define your migration strategy before moving forward, and determine up front if you’ll need a professional services partner to assist.