As hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) has emerged as a compact and simplified alternative to traditional three-tier IT infrastructure, IT organizations have found many ways to deploy it in the enterprise. HCI is being used to streamline and consolidate data center infrastructure, decrease management overhead, simplify operations, and support new IT projects.
What makes HCI appealing to IT organizations? Unlike the usual 3-tier model, which may include disparate hardware products and software platforms, HCI provides a turnkey infrastructure that may be installed and scaled with minimal work. IT organizations are deploying HCI nodes in a variety of use cases, from private clouds to disaster recovery and edge computing.
HCI consolidates essential IT resources – compute power, networking, storage, memory, data services, and cloud management—into an x86 box or software-only stack that runs both virtualized or containerized workloads. Because HCI uses software-defined infrastructure, it’s flexible and capable of supporting different workloads and application requirements. Additionally, multiple HCI boxes can be clustered to pool resources.
HCI grew out of an earlier model called converged Infrastructure (CI) that consolidates computing resources in a looser package of pre-validated components—storage, networking, CPU, etc.—that customers assemble themselves. Another model is disaggregated HCI, or dHCI, which separates the storage and compute components so they can be scaled separately. dHCI is useful in environments that require large amounts of storage or, conversely, more CPU and memory.
The most common Hyperconverged Infrastructure uses
Following are some of the common ways in which organizations are deploying hyperconverged infrastructure:
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) enables users to access their virtual desktops from other computers or devices. Each desktop, with its operating system, software, and data, runs in its own virtual machine on a server. Virtual desktops require a lot of storage to support multiple desktops and data, as well as hardware that is easily scaled as the user base grows. HCI offers a compact footprint that is easy to scale and manage remotely, making it a popular infrastructure for VDI.
Data center consolidation
Consolidation is a major driver for HCI adoption. HCI appliances—whether bought or built—provide a flexible, stackable infrastructure for consolidating multiple types of IT environments. HCI’s software-defined infrastructure gives IT the ability to customize the environment for different uses while providing a basic VM platform to support multiple servers.
Private cloud and hybrid cloud
HCI offers a quick path to private cloud development. Workloads vary greatly in their performance, bandwidth, security, and memory requirements and some require an on-premises solution. HCI can also work well as part of a hybrid cloud. This combination gives IT the flexibility to migrate workloads across public and private cloud environments without re-writing code or resorting to multiple development tools and management interfaces. HCI provides a comprehensive compute environment that scales easily and is flexible enough to support a broad range of workloads.
Backup and disaster recovery (DR) solutions benefit from HCI’s ease of scalability and administration. HCI supports VM replication within or between HCI clusters and, depending on the product, may include failover and other DR features as part of the software. With HCI, IT can use low-cost, standard x86 hardware with support for replication and rapid recovery. Production environments are replicated to the VM on the HCI appliance and can be failed over or back nearly instantaneously. The DR environment can reside on an HCI appliance or software stack at a remote data center or colocation facility, or in the cloud on a private HCI environment or using HCI-as-a-service.
Edge computing enables organizations to conserve network bandwidth and decrease latency by moving content and computing power closer to end users. HCI provides a preconfigured, integrated package of hardware and software that is easy to deploy and scale. IT can manage HCI nodes at the edge remotely, without requiring them to visit each location. Because HCI is a preconfigured package, it does not require an IT specialist to maintain.
Remote office and branch office (ROBO)
A single HCI node or a larger HCI cluster can provide the full range of IT resources needed by remote or branch offices. Because HCI is easy to install and administer, IT departments can leverage HCI to meet their future computing needs without having to rehost or rewrite applications. IT can manage several HCI deployments from a single control interface, saving the cost of having IT staff at each location or the need for local tech support visits. HCI nodes are particularly attractive for situations that would otherwise require specialized IT personnel. Because they are preconfigured and simple to operate, general IT staff or even non-IT employees can administer them.
HCI nodes can replace storage area networks (SANs), which contain storage arrays, servers, and network switches – all demanding their own connections and management interface. An HCI cluster with a virtual SAN replaces the traditional SAN configuration with a simplified, virtual solution.
How would your business benefit from Hyperconverged Infrastructure?
Hyperconverged infrastructure is one of the technologies and best practices that are helping IT organizations modernize their data centers. As enterprises tackle digital transformation projects, they need to streamline data center infrastructure, as well as provide flexibility and scalability to support rapid change. HCI and software-defined infrastructure offer a cost-effective model for current and future IT needs.
TierPoint offers support and consulting services on HCI and other infrastructure questions. In addition, we provide customers with access to HCI products and services in its 40-plus data centers across the U.S., as well as a full menu of disaster recovery services and solutions.
Learn more about our Hyperconverged Infrastructure & Hosted Private Cloud solution powered by Nutanix.