Since the days of the mainframe, enterprise data centers have evolved through several crucial pivot points. Think the x86 revolution, virtualization, and more recently the cloud.

Organizations see the benefits of the cloud and are eager to achieve them, yet the pull to keep some workloads on premises is strong. However, on-premises architecture can be unwieldy and complex. Traditional data centers have isolated, separately managed silos of compute, storage, and networking resources. These resources are on distinct life cycles, are sold and supported by separate vendors, and are individually managed.

Many organizations look to public cloud offerings thinking they are a quick affordable way to simplify and achieve cloud benefits. But many workloads are not a good fit for public cloud, or would require costly migration. So public cloud is simply not a complete solution for some companies.

Enterprises can still take advantage of cloud-like scalability while using on-premises infrastructure in what could very well be the next major pivot point in data center evolution: hyper-convergence.

You’ve heard of converged infrastructure: it brings compute, storage, and networking together in a single chassis as a unit of infrastructure that is sold as a single solution. VCE Vblock Systems are a typical example. Converged infrastructure is designed for virtualization, and it is easy to scale out. When your business needs more infrastructure, you can simply add more building blocks.

Hyper-convergence is a newer concept which some say is the next logical evolution of the enterprise data center. This post explains the difference between converged and hyper-converged infrastructure and tells you why you might want to pay attention.

What Is Hyper-converged Infrastructure?

As with converged infrastructure, hyper-converged infrastructure combines compute and storage in a single chassis, or node. It then adds a layer of virtualization software that manages all of the resources in a node or cluster as flexible pools. The building-block unit is typically smaller than in converged infrastructure, so you are less likely to overprovision when adding infrastructure.

Where convergence is hardware-centric, hyper-convergence is software-centric. It “consolidates server compute, storage, network switch, hypervisor, data protection, data efficiency, global management, and other enterprise functionality on commodity x86 building blocks to simplify IT, increase efficiency, enable seamless scalability, improve agility, and reduce costs.” (For more information, see Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Dummies, available from www.hyperconverged.org.)

What Drives Adoption of Hyper-convergence?

According to the 2016 State of Hyperconverged Infrastructure market report, by HPE Simplivity and ActualTech Media, companies are turning to hyper-convergence for a few predictable reasons:

  • Legacy infrastructure costs are too high.
  • They need to improve IT operational efficiency.
  • They need to service a wide variety of workloads and applications.
  • Private and hybrid clouds are increasingly important.

Due to its focus on SDI, hyper-convergence lends itself well to organizations looking to make advances
in all of these areas. Cost savings and the need to improve operational efficiency were top concerns for IT departments, according to the HPE Simplivity study. Hyper-convergence is particularly well suited to these areas:

  • Costs: Compared to legacy architectures, hyper-converged infrastructure is likely to cost less than a traditional solution. Most hyper-converged infrastructure systems are built on general-purpose x86 hardware, vastly reducing hardware costs in a data center. According to the HPE SimpliVity study, more than one-third of organizations that have adopted hyper-converged infrastructure identified cost savings as an outcome.
  • Efficiency: By consolidating many data-center functions in hyper-converged infrastructure, organizations can begin to apply VM-centric policies that flow through the complete data-center lifecycle without having to make adjustments from one vendor to another or between different kinds of devices. This capability supports extensive policy-based automation, which can vastly improve operational efficiency.

Hyper-convergence is seeing increased adoption as a result of its alignment with IT priorities. Again from the HPE Simplivity report: 37 percent of survey respondents in 2016 had deployed hyper-converged infrastructure, compared to just 24 percent in 2015—an increase of 13 percent year-over-year. 36 percent of enterprise organizations surveyed (those with more than 1,000 employees) and 23 percent of mid-market companies plan to adopt hyper-converged infrastructure within the next 2–3 years.

Intel Exhibits Hyper-convergence Leadership

The Intel Builders program plays a leading role in enterprise adoption of hyper-convergence by providing tools and documentation to speed solution deployments as enterprises seek to modernize their data centers.

How do we know? Because Prowess was proud to recently support two initiatives from Intel Builders that move enterprises closer to hyper-convergence: Intel Select Solutions for VMware vSAN and Intel Select Solutions for Windows Server Software-Defined Storage.

Intel Select Solutions are verified hardware and software stacks that are optimized for specific software workloads across compute, storage, and networking resources. The solutions are developed from deep Intel experience with industry solution providers, in addition to extensive collaboration with the world’s leading data-center and service providers. When organizations are ready for hyper-converged solutions, Intel Select Solutions might be the shortest path because they provide pre-configured and validated platforms for easy deployment with less tuning required. Click here to learn more about Intel Select Solutions.

Click here to learn more about hyper-converged infrastructure in general.

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