Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (Questions/Answers)

Discover the benefits of hyper-converged infrastructure and how HCI can help organizations across Los Angeles.

What is Hyper-Converged Infrastructure and How Does it Benefit Your Business?

As digital transformation marches forward, many businesses are changing to hyper-converged infrastructure, or HCI, so much so that the market saw a 19.3% year-over-year increase. Combining common datacenter hardware, an HCI provides local storage resources and intelligent software to build flexible systems to replace your legacy infrastructure. This includes separate servers, a storage network or storage arrays, so the space savings alone can make a big difference to a growing business with limited space for IT expansion. Another one of the reasons many companies are making this switch is due to the lower total cost of ownership while realizing better productivity and increased performance for your IT teams and across your company. Here’s a quick look at what exactly an HCI is, how it works and how it will benefit your company’s productivity, efficiency and bottom line.

What is Hyper-Converged Infrastructure and How Does it Benefit Your Business?

It used to be, back in the dawn of the popular internet in the 1990s, that your IT department would have entire racks full of components, including storage units, servers, networking hardware and, more recently, virtualization hardware. These components in their racks would take up a large amount of space, but this separate configuration format allowed your IT department to quickly change out or update individual modules within the rack without impacting other parts of the system, which was a revolutionary concept in IT at the time.

However, as cloud computing and hybrid systems have taken over, three-tier systems are no longer able to keep up with the frantic pace of IT advancements and needs. Because it’s too complex and unwieldy, it no longer provides a solid foundation for your software development and IT operation needs. It doesn’t scale well due to its size, which is a vital part of the flexibility needed by today’s digitized company. Instead, today’s company is looking to HCIs to provide the same level of infrastructure. This helps the company remain competitive and their data centers cloud-ready. However, not every HCI solution will work for your business. Let’s start by looking at how HCIs work.

How a Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Works

In an HCI system, all of the components in the datacenter stack, such as storage, networking, computing and virtualization, are all compressed into a single unit. Instead of trying to coordinate complex, expensive legacy infrastructure, an HCI platform uses a turnkey server following industry standards, allowing companies to start small and scale by a single node at a time. The software that is running on each node distributes the load of all operating functions across the entire cluster, resulting in exceptional performance and higher levels of resilience.

The HCI has two major components, the management plane and the distributed plane. The management plane makes it easy to administer the HCI’s resources from a single location and viewpoint, which eliminates the requirement to have separate management options for your storage, virtualization, networks and servers. By comparison, the distributed plane works across a node cluster to deliver the storage, virtualization and networking services for guest applications, whether it’s in the form of a virtual machine or container-based applications.

Almost all HCI solutions are completely defined by the software, eliminating any dependency on proprietary hardware. Every node in the HCI’s cluster uses a hypervisor, such as Nutanix AHV, VMware ESXI or Microsoft Hyper-V. The HCI control features then run as a separate virtual machine on each node, which provides you with a fully-distributed fabric that makes scaling resources as simple as adding a few new nodes to your existing system.

The Benefits of Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

The reason why so many companies are moving to a hyper-converged infrastructure as compared to maintaining or upgrading legacy systems is partially because of a lower cost of acquisition, but also because it reduces the space required for the datacenter, improves productivity and efficiency for IT, provides better, more consistent performance and the infrastructure can realize a maximized ROI. However, there are some specific benefits that may make you decide that a HCI is a good option for your company.

  • An HCI provides infrastructure in a single turnkey package, with the server, storage, virtualization and networking resources alongside end-to-end management of systems and operations.
  • The infrastructure can be deployed very quickly, often within a matter of minutes, allowing IT to move their focus to applications and services that drive your business.
  • Because it is completely driven by the software, it can use a wide range of different hardware platforms. This includes three of the four most popular options for server platforms worldwide.
  • Each node of the hyper-converged server includes top-of-the-line hardware, including flash-based SSDs, traditional SSDs and a range of software options that allow you to use the one that best matches your needs.
  • Because the nodes each have their own copy of the software, the load is distributed across the entire cluster, so if one goes down, you still have the others to provide service while awaiting a replacement.
  • Superior flexibility is possible, as a single cluster can have as many nodes as you’d care to add to them, with each node type having different storage limited, CPU and memory, allowing you to maximize the efficiency of your workloads.
  • HCIs provide a superior option to hybrid cloud computing, delivering on-premises IT services that operate with the speed and efficiency of public cloud options, allowing you to develop a rapid enterprise or hybrid cloud network.

As you can see, making the switch from a legacy IT system to a hyper-converged infrastructure can be an absolute game-changer for your business, making it much easier to get further along with your digital transformation strategy at a lower cost than you may have expected. If you’re considering making the change to an HCI system, GenIX can help.

Our experienced team of Los Angeles-based IT professionals is ready to help you find the right solutions for your business’ needs. Feel free to reach out today to get started.