Research firm Forrester predicts that hyper-converged systems will “become ubiquitous” as a common platform for deploying on-premises infrastructure. Compared to legacy infrastructure approaches, converged infrastructures promise lower costs, more scalability, and more flexible management. But as with any technology, there are a few competing philosophies in the infrastructure realm. How do you know whether to place your bet on convergence, hyper-convergence, or open-convergence? Let’s weigh the merits.
Converged infrastructure (CI) simplifies IT management by consolidating and simplifying infrastructure resources. Instead of having disparate systems that don’t always play nice and multiple vendors to provide support and service, CI brings storage, compute power, and networking capabilities together in a single on-premises box. For many companies, the converged is approach is a no-brainer thanks to cost savings and management simplification.
While CI is hardware-defined, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) is software-defined. HCI gives companies all the benefits of a converged infrastructure with a bonus layer of software that allows storage, virtualization, backup, and compute resources to blend even better. Often, HCI solutions provide IT managers with a dashboard that lets them manage multiple sites, allocate storage with a few clicks, manage backups, and more. In some cases, these systems can bring together various pieces of dissimilar hardware and use them as a single, easy-to-allocate resource pool.
With both CI and HCI, storage, compute power, etc. all exists in one configuration. An open-convergence infrastructure (OCI) system, however, consists of two components: compute nodes and data nodes. This means OCI separates storage performance from storage capacity. Nodes no longer rely on one another to perform, and it’s easy for organizations to pick and choose the nodes they need when it’s time to procure. Proponents claim this approach offers more flexibility for IT admins, further cost savings, and more consistent compute performance.
Hyper-Converged vs. Open-Converged
Hyper-convergence is a simple approach to infrastructure management, but it’s slightly more rigid than an OCI approach. The argument goes that because OCI separates nodes, a company can save money by purchasing faster nodes for VMs that need them, and slower ones for those that don’t. And because of the flexibility to procure only necessary hardware, open-infrastructure can be more accessible to smaller companies that don’t have the resources for a more sophisticated HCI solution. This separation in data and compute power does add flexibility, but it can also add complexity for IT managers.
IT managers interested in simplifying infrastructure management should put a few vendors to the test. Whether you look at CI, HCI, or OCI, share your goals with vendors and see which has the best ways to meet them. Don’t use something because it’s new or trendy. Use whatever will simplify your infrastructure, bring your costs down, and ensure that IT isn’t a challenge but a competitive advantage.