Virtualization and Hyperconvergence
For any modern business that prides itself on staying on top of the tech trends of the day, virtualization is something that must factor high on the agenda. That’s because tech-focused businesses aim to have as few moving parts as practically possible while at the same time offering expanded resources to their users.
IT virtualization, in simple terms, is the creation of a virtual version of a server device or resource (as opposed to physical). It involves emulating the functionalities of a physical system (storage or network resources, for example) within a software system, the result of which is a creation of the virtual version of the hardware in question. In so doing, virtualization makes it possible for businesses to operate hundreds of servers as if they were just a handful of machines. The result is that organizations are able to optimize their server operations while making them easier to run, more cost-effective and manageable.
However, organizations whose infrastructure is housed on-premise find it challenging to optimize their data center capacity and performance, more so considering the fact that conventional virtualization mechanisms tend to result in complex resource islands that are not only under-optimized, but also largely unmanageable.
This is why introducing hyperconverged infrastructure and platforms in your organization makes sense: it allows you to expand your business’s IT capabilities while eliminating the bottlenecks involved in traditional virtualization. This way, downtime can be reduced significantly, scalability becomes easier, and plenty of other benefits. This is achieved by employing separate servers, storage arrays, and storage networks.
What is Hyperconvergence? How Does It Work?
Put simply, hyperconvergence is a process that involves virtualizing all the hardware elements in a traditional data center environment.
Abbreviated as HCI, hyperconverged infrastructure is a cloud-like environment that allows for the scaling of resources without compromising on availability, performance and reliability. The benefits of hyperconverged infrastructure relies on commercial off-the-shelf servers to apply virtualization to three areas in particular:
- Storage units
- Wider network resources
Businesses have the option to set up a hyperconverged infrastructure in their own private data center or team up with a reputable HCI vendor like Sangfor to enjoy the benefits that come with a managed service.
Hyperconverged Infrastructure vs Converged Infrastructure
Of course, before the birth of HCI came another important virtual solution - CI or converged infrastructure. CI and HCI systems alike have evolved from the approaches of traditional data centers, whereas CI was first introduced to simply reduce any complexities involved with data center infrastructure. The aim was to combine separate commodity hardware components such as storage resources, servers, and networks into a single solution that was pre-packaged and pre-integrated, effectively simplifying management and deployment.
Essentially, CI worked as a springboard for hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solutions, where all these ideas for creating a singular system were taken a step further. HCI integrates all these components into a single HCI appliance as opposed to a single system made up of different appliances. This results in a more compact and scalable solution for businesses, especially SMEs or organizations with limited IT resources as it enables them to easily deploy and manage a highly-integrated infrastructure internally.
Benefits of Hyperconverged Infrastructure
Hyperconvergence introduces a set of key benefits to the IT environment and business in general. They include, among others:
- Agility: One of the advantages of a hyperconverged platform is that all the workloads in the organization fall under the same administrative banner. For this reason, shifting workloads from one location to another tends to be easier.
- Scalability: Scaling up your HCI data center is very easy due to the node-based architecture. All you need to do is just add or remove nodes to match your current resource demands.
- Ease of deployment: While some quarters might be overstating it when they describe HCI as a turnkey technology, one of the broader appeals of hyperconverged platforms is the ease of deployment. Typically, an HCI system is easier to deploy compared to other separate technologies since the supplier has already preinstalled and preconfigured the key tech aspects – server, storage and in most cases, networking and virtualization. This not only makes HCI an attractive proposition for SMEs, but remote and branch office location with no IT staff can find it easy to roll out or scale up their IT needs too. The same applies to startups and other fast-growing organizations.
- Cost efficiency: Any IT department can benefit from hyperconvergence in a cost savings sense as the infrastructure reduces resource wastage while enhancing cost effectiveness. Not to mention, the recurring costs of supporting a hyperconverged data center tend to be lower since the business is investing less in the purchase and maintenance of equipment, as well as support.
- Software-defined storage: The storage in a hyperconverged platform is software-defined and there are benefits that come with that. Notably, the storage nodes serve as a super reliable pool of storage that is rarely affected by issues such as downtime. In the event that a particular node goes down, this doesn’t affect the others. HCIs are often characterized by reliable connectivity and uptime. Of course, this will also depend on your vendor of choice, which is why you need to be meticulous when evaluating potential vendors.
- Data protection: With a hyperconverged platform, organizations don’t need to lose sleep over the risk of losing data. The risk of data loss is always there when dealing with digital information since cybercrime (and system failure) is an ever-present threat. However, hyperconvergence embeds elements of disaster recovery and backup into your infrastructure, making it easy to restore data.
Sangfor HCI - Hyper Converged Infrastructure
Sangfor Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) provides innovative 3rd-gen cloud computing architecture that reduces at least 70% of the TCO, simplifies operations, and multiplies network security. It converges compute, storage, networking and security on a single software stack. Watch the introduction video to learn more.
If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of hyperconverged infrastructure and how it can benefit your business, get in touch with us today and we’ll be happy to discuss it with you.
Hyperconverged Infrastructure FAQs
By nature, hyperconvergence can improve your IT infrastructure by simplifying everything down into a single appliance. It combines compute, storage, servers, and networks. This makes it a lot easier for organizations to identify and resolve issues without having to look at a number of different appliances, improving management and maintenance.
Determining if any system is compatible for an organization relies on several factors, for example size and complexity of the IT infrastructure, the organization's specific needs and goals, and any particular factors you require from the technology resource.
As converged infrastructure (CI) systems are made up of different appliances and are generally larger than HCI systems, CI might be more ideal for organizations that house larger data centers and more complex storage systems.
Alternately, the simpler infrastructure of HCI might appear to be better suited for organizations with smaller data centers or limited IT resources but because of their scalability and efficient deployment method, it also makes them an attractive option for fast-growing organizations or companies with multiple locations.
HCI is designed to be highly adaptable, which makes it easy to integrate with a wide range of hardware and IT systems. However, it does depend on various factors. For example, if your organization were to try integrating HCI with a hybrid cloud environment, you would first need to make sure that your HCI solution can seamlessly integrate with the public cloud platform you are using.
Hyperconverged infrastructure is specifically designed to support many different kinds of applications, both traditional and modern. It popularly supports workloads such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), big data, cloud-native applications, databases, and more.