Hyper-converged infrastructure systems (HCI) are becoming a new standard for many businesses. Research firm Forrester even predicts that HCI will become a ubiquitous platform for on-premises deployments. If you’re not using it now, there’s a good chance you’ll want to soon.
Like converged infrastructure (CI), HCI brings together virtualization, storage, compute power, and even network technologies into a single box. The additional benefit is that HCI adds a layer of software to streamline further and blend these technologies. Organizations get the same scalability and simplified management they would usually only get from public cloud infrastructure, but in an on-premises environment, they control. Companies considering the move to a hyper-converged infrastructure should take note of a few key benefits.
Simplified Multi-Site Management
The blanket benefit of an HCI solution is that it simplifies infrastructure management in a few ways. Rather than disparate systems that require you to blend storage, virtualization, backup, and computer resources, it’s all combined for you. In many cases, software-defined storage platforms offer you a dashboard that allows you to monitor and manage your infrastructure. You can track multiple sites, allocate storage resources, manage backup snapshots, and much more. With better management capabilities, you can re-allocate workforce hours to improving other parts of the IT realm.
Focused Vendor Relationships
One way to gain efficiency as an IT provider is to hand-pick a few dependable vendors and use their solutions exclusively. Since hyper-converged storage solutions bring together a variety of storage, backup, and networking needs into one appliance, you stop relying on an ever-growing list of vendors. Instead, you can focus your efforts on getting the most from the few solutions you use. With fewer vendors, you simplify billing, develop better relationships, and can begin to take advantage of incentives vendors offer you as a premium provider of their solutions.
Software-defined storage allows admins to continually add on and allocate storage resources as they see fit. Since software-defined storage treats all storage hardware as a single resource to draw from, it’s much simpler to provision storage resources, even across multiple sites, systems, and users. When you need to add more storage, you can often pick and choose which types of drives to add and it’s plug-and-play from there. Traditional converged infrastructures often don’t play well with other vendors’ hardware, which means you’ll have a higher cost each time you need to add some storage, and as you know, you’ll always need more storage.
Superior Data Protection
Many HCI solutions have baked-in data protection and management tools. These can be things like data deduplication, built-in backup and cloning technologies, multi-site replication, and more. The benefit is you can reduce the effort it takes to manage a reliable backup and disaster recovery strategy, reduce the hardware it takes to support it, and still have great recovery capabilities.
Note, however, that while HCI solutions can be an active part of a backup and disaster recovery strategy, they likely won’t be the only part of your disaster recovery strategy. If you do implement HCI solutions, consider carefully how these new solutions will help you meet recovery objectives, and take care to fill in the gaps with a dedicated backup and DR solution.
For many organizations, HCI solutions are a no-brainer, and the growth of the market is proof. If Forrester is correct in their predictions, HCI will be the standard soon. If your goal is to stay ahead of the curve and continually innovate, HCI solutions are the next big step to take.