Converged infrastructures first emerged in the early 2010s. While Hewlett-Packard (HP) coined the term, Gartner calls converged infrastructures “integrated systems.” On the other hand, Cisco Systems refers to them as “Unified Computing Systems (UCSs).” In any case, converged infrastructures are ready-made solutions from manufacturers that aim to speed up deployment from a few months to a few days.
Further development of converged systems has led to hyperconverged infrastructures. Besides a simplified architecture, a hyperconverged system has a simpler administration model. Instead of needing a group of IT administrators to manage the data array, virtualization, and server hardware, a hyperconverged system is managed by one team (sometimes one system administrator).
This article will explain why you may need to implement HCI and what benefits you will achieve.
What Is a Hyperconverged System?
A hyperconverged system combines computing and disk resources, a hypervisor, and management tools into one element, with the ability to scale the entire infrastructure by adding similar elements. Hyperconverged systems include data compression hardware, data backup and recovery tools, replication tools with traffic optimization, and diagnostic and analytics tools based on machine learning (ML) algorithms in each element.
How Does a Hyperconverged System Work?
In a broad sense, hyperconvergence combines computing power, network resources, and storage facilities using standard components as common building blocks. At the same time, the system is not entirely tied to individual physical devices. The data center’s functions are performed by software.
Hyperconverged systems consist of several physical modules. Each contains a computing core, network components, storage resources, and a hypervisor. The system is easily scaled to the required capacity as the modules are combined into clusters. When scaling, it is enough to add a module or its component. Thus, performance will improve due to an increase in the number of modules rather than increasing memory, disks, or processors.
What are the Parts of a Hyperconverged System?
The architecture of the hyperconverged system cloud includes hubs and satellites. The hub is the primary supporting node of the network. Satellite auxiliary nodes are connected to the hub. Information that needs to be transmitted from one satellite to another passes through the hub. The hub and satellites are connected via Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) or Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) backbone networks.
The cloud hub is distributed across data centers—one-half of it is located in one data center, the second in another, and the transfer of information between these data centers can take a maximum of 2 milliseconds. Since the hub is built as a safe cluster, both halves of the cloud do not notice physical distances that can span even tens of kilometers. Satellites do not have such a disaster-resistant architecture but are reserved on a hub.
What Are the Advantages of Hyperconvergence?
Among the evident advantages of using hyperconverged systems are:
- A reliable, flexible, consolidated IT infrastructure, which makes it possible to accelerate innovative developments and time to market by providing unprecedented reliability, flexibility, and scalability
- Ability to centrally manage virtual environments using a single interface, reducing time-consuming operations
- Scalable approach to building infrastructure using structural blocks with the possibility of simple expansion
- Improvement in availability, performance, and capacity while reducing the total cost of ownership of the IT infrastructure and preparing it for future needs
- Accelerated acquisition, deployment, support, and management
What Operational and Economic Results Can Implementing Hyperconverged Infrastructure Bring to a Customer?
Hyperconverged infrastructures are among the tools necessary for the survival of companies in the era of “uberization” of the economy. Users have become even more demanding and spoiled by the convenience and speed of IT services, technologies appear very quickly, and the world is becoming more dynamic before our eyes.
That is where the main advantages of hyperconverged infrastructures manifest themselves. They allow you to rebuild data centers much faster at all levels—technical, financial, and managerial.
Hyperconvergence reduces the complexity of technical parameters to one thing—the number of available hyperconverged nodes. Scaling becomes very simple and understandable regardless of the data center’s size, whether a small office or public cloud with thousands of servers. That is the technical transparency a data center provides, which makes transitioning to a hyperconverged infrastructure possible. The consequence of technical transparency is financial transparency.
Since the data center is now being built from standard elements, the price of which is known to the company in advance. If it needs to be expanded, the cost of such a project is determined instantly, both at the technical and managerial levels. Rapid decision-making is an important element of agility, which we often hear about.
Another advantage of using a hyperconverged infrastructure is that it requires fewer specialized IT specialists. No separate experts are needed for each part of the infrastructure. One specialization on hyperconverged devices is enough, within which an employee can dive deep into the subject, which, in turn, only improves the quality of infrastructure maintenance.
How Can We Assess the Effect of the Introduction of Hyperconverged Infrastructures in Quantitative Terms?
When building IT systems to perform comparable tasks, a hyperconverged infrastructure allows you to reduce the cost of technical support due to a reduction in the number of devices, the cost of scaling the system, energy consumption, and others.
The data center area is also very noticeably saved due to the use of compact 4N2U format devices. In addition, hyperconverged systems often work with the storage subsystem faster than traditional devices, meaning virtual servers can be more densely placed on physical ones. It also reduces space, power consumption, and the number of supported devices.
The customer’s costs for creating a hyperconverged infrastructure and the classic one practically do not differ. However, after two or three years of using a hyperconverged infrastructure, significant savings are achieved in terms of maintenance, technical support, and the cost of expanding and updating the equipment fleet.
For any company, efficiency and optimization of funds are the main reasons for launching changes. There is no doubt that the use of a hyperconverged approach will remain a priority in the coming years.