How to Get Started with Hyperconverged Infrastucture
Even though hyperconverged infrastructure is a concept that has been around for a while, it’s not a trend that has enjoyed widespread mainstream appeal. There remains a major need to help people truly understand what is meant by hyperconverged infrastructure and, more importantly, how (or whether) to leverage hyperconverged infrastructure inside an organization. With VMware’s announcement at VMworld 2014 of EVO: RAIL, VMware’s own hyperconverged infrastructure solution, expect the work of hyperconvergence to explode as more people begin to give this architecture a much closer look.
If you’ve read the other parts of this site, you already understand the potential benefits that await you on the other side of a hyperconverged infrastructure implementation. Getting underway with hyperconverged infrastructure isn’t all that different than getting started with other kinds of environments. Here are some tips for getting started, no matter the size of your organization.
Consider All the Cost and Complexity Factors
The data center is a complex beast, even for the SMB and small midmarket. There are a lot of different devices and services that comprise the data center environment, including servers, storage (both rotational and solid state), the hypervisor, backup and recovery tools, and a whole lot more. As you’re considering your next data center architecture, make sure you are all-inclusive .
Here are just some of the costs that should be considered when trying to figure out just how much you’re spending on your data center:
Storage. But, just as importantly, is your current storage meeting your needs, both from a capacity standpoint and well as a performance standpoint. It can be expensive to add solid state disks to small environments in a way that is manageable, so a hyperconverged solution may be the right choice.
Backup and recovery. Backup software is a must-have no matter the size of the organization. In some hyperconverged appliance solutions, backup and recovery software is a part of the deal.
Replication. Many SMBs don’t do disaster recovery because it can get expensive. A hyperconverged solution usually has replication capabilities built in.
Complexity. Does all of your current data center stuff have an easy administrative experience or, at the very least, do you have staff that can keep up with everything? If not, streamlining the process with a solution that centralizes administration may make the most sense.
The people. If you had a solution that required less in the way of staffing resources, could you redirect some of those staff efforts to more value-add activities?
When considering hyperconvergence as a possible solution, make sure you’re really considering the full spectrum of costs and needs and choose a vendor that can help you simplify as much as possible. SimpliVity, for example, includes everything but the kitchen sink in their hyperconvergence solution.
One of hyperconverged infrastructure’s most compelling benefits is the granularity by which infrastructure can be scaled, or extended. You can start small – with just enough nodes to meet minimum cluster and data protection/availability needs. As your environment grows, just add more nodes. The scaling unit with hyperconverged infrastructure is generally very reasonable and doesn’t break the budget. When you add additional nodes, you’re adding compute, memory, and storage resources while, at the same time, you’re adding more disks, which further improves overall performance.
There are some natural times at which it makes sense to start working with hyperconverged infrastructure:
When you have a new need that the legacy environment cannot meet. For example, suppose you want to do VDI, but you know that your SAN can’t do it. The VDI project may be an opportunity to bring hyperconverged infrastructure into the organization to meet that specific need. As time goes on, you can scale the environment and migrate other services to it.
At budget time. Many organizations replace data center systems on a predefined schedule. At an appropriate time, use some of those funds to buy into hyperconvergence. Some hyperconverged solutions – but not all, so watch out – integrate very nicely with legacy architectures.
Most importantly, to get truly started on your hyperconvergence journey, get educated by reading through all of the content you see here at HyperConverged.org and make sure to come back as we continue to populate the site with case studies, white papers, videos, blog posts, and much, much more.
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