Hyperconverged Infrastructure Basics

Defining ‘Hyperconvergence’

What are the key concepts behind the hyperconverged infrastructure model?

Corporate technology undergoes a massive shift every so often as new models emerge to meet changing business needs. This chapter is about hyperconverged infrastructure, which is the culmination and conglomeration of a number of trends, all of which provide specific value to the modern enterprise.

So, what is hyperconvergence? At the highest level, hyperconvergence is a way to enable cloud-like economics and scale without compromising the performance, reliability, and availability you expect in your own data center. Hyperconverged infrastructure provides significant benefits:

  • Elasticity: Hyperconvergence makes it easy to scale out/ in resources as required by business demands.
  • VM-centricity: A focus on the virtual machine (VM) or workload as the cornerstone of enterprise IT, with all supporting constructs revolving around individual VMs.
  • Data protection: Ensuring that data can be restored in the event of loss or corruption is a key IT requirement, made far easier by hyperconverged infrastructure.
  • VM Mobility: Hyperconvergence enables greater application/workload mobility.
  • High availability: Hyperconvergence enables higher levels of availability than possible in legacy systems.
  • Data efficiency: Hyperconverged infrastructure reduces storage, bandwidth, and IOPS requirements.
  • Cost efficiency: Hyperconverged infrastructure brings to IT a sustainable step-based economic model that eliminates waste.

Hyperconvergence is the ultimate in an overall trend of convergence that has hit the market in recent years. Convergence is intended to bring simplicity to increasingly complex data centers.

Hyperconvergence Constructs

Convergence comes in many forms. At its most basic, convergence simply brings together existing individual storage, compute, and network switching products into pre-tested, pre-validated solutions sold as a single solution. However, this level of convergence only simplifies the purchase and upgrade cycle. It fails to address ongoing operational challenges that have been introduced with the advent of virtualization.  There are still LUNs to create, WAN optimizers to acquire and configure, and third- party backup and replication products to purchase and maintain.

Hyperconvergence is a ground-up rethinking of all the services that comprise the data center. With a focus on the virtual machine or workload, all the elements of the hyperconverged infrastructure support the virtual machine as the basic construct of the data center.

The results are significant and include lower CAPEX as a result of lower upfront prices for infrastructure, lower OPEX through reductions in operational expenses and personnel, and faster time-to-value for new business needs. On the technical side, newly emerging infrastructure engineers — people with broad knowledge of infrastructure and business needs — can easily support hyperconverged infrastructure. No longer do organiza- tions need to maintain separate islands of resource engineers to manage each aspect of the data center. To fully understand hyperconvergence, it’s important to understand the trends that have led the industry to this point. These include post-virtualization headaches, the rise of the software- defined data center, and cloud.

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