Hyper-converged infrastructure is a software-first data centre architecture that embraces cloud computing and virtualisation.

It combines storage, computation and networking into a single system. The way this works is quite simple in concept; software and x86 servers are used to replace purpose-built hardware and other enterprise functionality, which decreases data centre complexity and boosts scalability without compromising control or security.

The benefits

This setup provides significant benefits, including:

Data efficiency: It reduces storage, bandwidth and resource usage
Elasticity: It makes it easier to scale out and in with business demands
Workloads: It puts workload and system productivity first
Resiliency: It enables higher levels of data availability than legacy systems
VM mobility: It achieves greater app and workload mobility than legacy systems

Perhaps the greatest benefit of hyper-converged infrastructure is that it creates efficiency benefits while also streamlining operations. This increased efficiency enables IT to use their time better, and match skills to tasks. That better allocation of resources is joined by improved agility, because by its very nature, HCI is agile. It can be deployed quickly to meet business and end user demands in real-time.

The challenges

Hyperconvergence comes in many forms, and in practice, it is not as simple as the standard definition above, for it does not take into consideration the ongoing operational challenges of virtualisation. These challenges are very real and must be overcome for IT to work correctly, and HCI to bring value to the enterprise.
The challenges include:

Infrastructure innovation: HCI runs the same risk as a legacy system with regards to innovation and upgrades – it can garner so much stuff it becomes unusable, or inefficient. The challenge comes in applying only the good stuff.
Storage: Will you have enough dedicated storage for all your applications and data? If each of these has its own storage requirements, can you meet them?
Multiple management interfaces: From storage devices and optimisers, to hypervisors and load balancers, there are a lot of interfaces out there. This can hold IT back and create an endless fresh cycle. A single, centralised interface is desirable.
Deployment difficulty and delays: Multiple challenges on resources can expose weaknesses in HCI, such as increased workloads from VMs and capacity challenges across islands.
Policy misalignment: In addition to performance-related challenges, HCI can bring about policy misalignment in the physical and virtual world. Two policies might not match. They may need modifying or changing to align.

DSI work with a number of leading HCI vendors and can help you realise the benefits of adopting a hyperconverged infrastructure. Discover more