Companies who want to retain control of their infrastructure and data (due to regulatory, security, application requirement, and other reasons), but still want the benefits of the public cloud – such as unlimited scalability, efficient resource utilization, cost-effectiveness of pooling compute and storage resources, easy provisioning of resources on demand – would benefit tremendously by using hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) on their premises.
Hyperconverged infrastructure consolidates compute, storage, and networking in a box. It creates a modular system which can be linearly scaled. HCI takes advantage of commodity hardware (i.e. x86 systems) and advances in storage and networking technologies (i.e. flash storage providing high IOPS and 10GB / 40GB high speed Ethernet).
HCI uses virtualization technology (such as VMware) to aggregate compute, storage and network. It eliminates the need for dedicated SAN and storage arrays by pooling the storage of each node and defining it via software. In addition, HCI usually offers unified management which eliminates the different management silos between compute, storage and network.
There are a variety of HCI solutions to choose from. You can build it yourself using commodity hardware and using virtualization software (e.g. VMware vSphere) and software defined storage (e.g. VMware vSAN). You can also buy hyperconverged appliances from vendors such as Nutanix and Dell-EMC (VxRails). Hyperconverged rack-scale systems for large enterprises, such as Dell-EMC VxRack, are available as well .
There are numerous advantages for using HCI:
1. Faster time to deploy – you can easily add compute, storage and network, and scale it up and out to meet business demands. This in turn reduces development cycles for new apps and services.
2. Simplified management and operations – compute, storage and network provisioning can be done by a unified team eliminating the network, compute or storage silos. Many provisioning and configuration tasks can now be scripted and automated.
3. Cost savings – initial investment is usually lower. Your company can start small and scale incrementally as you grow, adding smaller amounts of compute or storage capacity as required vs buying larger bundles of software and storage arrays. Operational expenses is also much lower, since there is no more SAN to manage.
4. Reduces the footprint of the Data Center which means less power and less cooling requirements. HCI can usually consolidate 16 DC racks into one.
HCI is the ideal infrastructure solution for on-premise data centers.