Enterprise Service providers

Hyperconvergence: Redefining the Data Center

As optimized platforms for the virtualization era, hyperconverged systems are poised to radically transform the data center.

Looking at the past 20 years, virtualization stands out as one of the true infrastructure revolutions. It brought speed, efficiency and lower cost to on-premise hardware, then fueled the success of cloud computing which, in turn, is the great enabler for mobility today. P2V or physical-to-virtual has been the de-facto slogan of IT data center success.

Now the revolution is unfolding as to where the virtual machines reside. Today’s need for data-centric businesses with distributed architectures that are both flexible and scalable has given rise to hyperconvergence. Hyperconvergence coalesces storage, compute and network hardware into appliances (typically hardware) designed for better virtual machine performance along with simple management. It is a re-thinking of the data center as virtualization-enabling/empowering building blocks with inherent scalability. Hyperconvergence is an optimized platform for the VM world.

This is very different from today’s typical ad-hoc adds of servers and SANs that result in complexity and difficult management. Just setting up a flexible SAN for shared access by high-availability systems is usually a bear, and there is a tendency to over-spend for redundancy. Hyperconvergence promises dramatically lower data center costs because of component pre-integration; appliances tend to be almost half the cost of cobbled-together systems. Operational costs are also low with significant power savings. Easier procurement, deployment and system management frees the IT staff for other projects.

For IT departments, choosing between vendors is a matter of understanding their virtual workload needs.

While power reduction and easy scalability and management will appeal to established enterprise VM practitioners, hyperconvergence should be equally appealing at the low end to small companies. Startups creating data centers can worry less about setting up SANs and high availability servers and opt for a do-it-all appliance. Expansion as needs evolve is easy with these rack-mounted, slim-profile hyperconverged systems.

IT departments everywhere should take heed of hyperconvergence: Simple, low-cost hardware is a compelling value proposition. At the same time, the technology is still emerging and one should be mindful of critics. Some argue that hyperconvergence is rigid and presumptuous in its assumptions of scaling by adding appliances. VMs have varying appetites as to CPU hunger or IO needs and it is rare that physical memory, CPU, storage and networking needs will run out or be needed at the same time. For now, the early adopters of hyperconvergence are singing its praises.