Hyper-converged Infrastructure is here to stay. In this fast-paced IT world, where technology advancements are happening on a daily basis, it makes sense that we see more and more vendors selling us the idea of Hyper-converged Infrastructure (HCI). And while it makes perfect sense to use the “bigger is better” approach to technology, where more hardware in the system equates to better performance and efficiency, it doesn’t necessarily apply to HCI.
Yes, a bigger footprint and more CPU, RAM, hard disk, and other storage capabilities are better. But when it comes to a hyper-converged infrastructure appliance, this becomes an opportunity for HCI vendors to differentiate. We see vendors offering us HCI platforms that are built with the idea of reducing hardware footprint, energy consumption, and management overhead. The following are the reasons why some of us are starting to believe that HCI is the future of IT.
When companies deploy HCI, they will need to purchase fewer components. In addition to your server, storage, and operating system, you will need fewer virtual machines, hypervisors, and network servers to run your virtualized environment.
Additionally, you may use fewer network switches, storage, and backup/disaster recovery systems. The fewer items you need, the lower your total hardware and software costs will be. With HCI, you may also be able to lower your energy consumption costs since the virtualization and management of multiple servers can be performed in one system. HCI also makes adding, upgrading, or replacing any components in your environment without worrying about how your virtual machines will react.
The primary goal of HCI is to speed up the time required to bring the solution to your doorstep for you to start reaping its benefits. Most people know that deploying new servers is a process that usually takes a lot of time. However, even before that process is complete, you need to upgrade your operating system, install virtualization software, and start configuring virtual machines. If you do all of that work on your desktop system, which can take hours, you can easily see how deploying a new system could be an extremely time-consuming process.
But when you deploy your virtual infrastructure in a hyper-converged environment, you can have it all done in much less time. The initial startup of all your hypervisors and virtual machines will be faster, and you won’t need to wait hours to complete your virtualized environment.
So even if your company plans on deploying new servers and virtual machines on a regular basis, you can speed up the deployment process significantly. You also eliminate the downtime that occurs when your system goes offline for upgrades or maintenance.
Although disaster recovery may not be your primary reason for deploying hyper-converged infrastructure, it is one of the many benefits you can enjoy. Most traditional data centers do not have the luxury of allowing their systems to shut down completely, or else they may experience downtime. If your data center is powered down, it’s hard to know how long your servers are going to be down. It is also difficult to know how long it will take to bring your servers back online and when they will be back and functioning as normal.
When it comes to the loss of any of your servers, you may find yourself trying to reconstruct a working system from backups. But if you’re using a hyper-converged infrastructure, there are in-built software features and replication scenarios that allow avoiding a single point of failure: usually, 2-4 nodes will comprise an HCI cluster, so that if something fails, the system will continue to work as nothing happened.
Since hyper-converged infrastructure combines hardware and software in a single system, you won’t have to worry about data loss or downtime if one of your servers fails. When it comes to disaster recovery, hyper-converged infrastructure gives you a much better chance of success. Even if one of your servers fails, your other systems are still in place and functional.
You may experience some slight downtime, depending on your redundancy configuration, but you won’t have to start all over and rebuild your entire virtual infrastructure from scratch. Instead, your data will be accessible on one of your other servers. With HCI, you will be able to recover quickly without any data loss. Thus, you can always design and implement disaster recovery of Azure Stack HCI by using stretched clustering.
One of the most important benefits associated with hyper-converged infrastructure is that it helps users improve their IT environments’ agility, which, in turn, enhances business agility. It provides a unified management platform that can be applied to all the infrastructure and applications in an enterprise. This makes delivering new and innovative solutions easier.
A hyper-converged solution, in essence, provides a physical solution for each function of infrastructure. It includes all the components needed to deliver a solution, and you can customize the configuration to meet the exact needs of your infrastructure. The solution will include virtual elements, but its core is intended to focus on physical computing elements, storage, and networking performance, governed by a virtualization layer.
Hyper-converged infrastructure solutions can be deployed in various configurations, depending on the end user’s requirements. For example, hyper-converged infrastructures are available as single-node, multi-node, cluster, and rack-based solutions. The solutions can also vary in terms of the distribution of virtual, physical, and cloud elements, which helps create and maximize efficiencies across all computing platforms.
HCI systems are often designed to reduce IT complexity. You don’t have to worry about ensuring that your servers are on the right version of Linux and that all the software is configured correctly. Instead, the systems that you use have been tested by experts. They have been tested to be sure that they will work. You can get a full HCI system without having to worry about any of that. HCI is a key part of the cloud, and it allows you to be more flexible and focus on growing your company.
One of the biggest advantages of hyper-converged infrastructure is the efficiency that it provides. HCI allows you to purchase servers as a service, which are virtualized to make them fully portable between different deployments. Thus, once you’ve placed your initial server order, you can add as many additional servers to the pool as you’d like. This means that you can keep adding more infrastructure elements as your needs grow.
There’s no need to purchase new servers once you’ve added more power to your system; HCI makes upgrading as simple as adding a new node to the system. This means that your power bills will be much lower than they would be if you had to run in-house hardware, and you’ll also save money on cooling since you’ll no longer need to provide your own air-conditioning or air filtration. Besides that, HCI also reduces the costs associated with managing power usage since you’re not purchasing and maintaining in-house equipment and power.