Few data center technologies currently generate more buzz than hyper-converged infrastructure solutions. By combining compute, data protection, flash, scale-out, and virtualization into a single self-contained unit, organizations get the best of what each of these individual technologies has to offer with the flexibility to implement each one in such a way that it matches their specific business needs. Yet organizations must exercise restraint in how many attributes they ascribe to hyper-converged infrastructure solutions as their adoption is a journey, not a destination.
In the last few years momentum around hyper-converged infrastructure solutions has been steadily building and for good reason. Organizations want:
- The flexibility and power of server virtualization
- To cost-effectively implement the performance of flash in their environment
- To grow compute or storage with fewer constraints
- To know their data is protected and easily recoverable
- To spend less time managing their infrastructure and more time managing their business
Hyper-converged infrastructure solutions more or less check all of these boxes. In so doing, organizations are shifting how they approach everything from how they manage their data centers to their buying habits. For instance, rather than making independent server, networking and storage buying decisions, organizations are making a single purchase of a hyper-converged solution that addresses all of these specific needs.
But here is the trap that organizations should avoid. Some providers promote the idea that hyper-converged infrastructures can replace all of these individual components in any size data center. While that idea may someday come to pass, that day is not today and, in all likelihood, will never be fully realized.
Hyper-converged infrastructure solutions as they stand today are primarily well suited for the needs of small and maybe even mid-sized data centers. That said, the architecture of hyper-converged infrastructure solutions lends itself very well to moving further up to the stack into ever larger data centers in the not too distant future as their technologies and feature sets mature.
But as their capabilities and features mature, hyper-converged infrastructure solutions will still not become plug-n-play where organizations can set-‘em-and-forget-‘em. While an element of those concepts may always exist in hyper-converged solutions, they more importantly lay the groundwork for a needed and necessary evolution in how organizations manage their data centers.
Currently organizations still spend far too much managing their IT infrastructure at a component level. As such, they do not really get the full value out of their IT investment with many of their IT resources utilized at less than optimal levels even as they remain too difficult to efficiently and effectively manage.
By way of example, what should be relatively routine tasks such as data migrations during server or storage upgrades or replacements typically remain fraught with risk and exceeding difficult to accomplish. While providers have certainly made strides in recent years to eliminate some of the difficulty and risks associated with this task, it is still not the predictable, repeatable process that organizations want it to be and that it realistically should be.
This is really where hyper-converged infrastructure solutions come into play. They put a foundation into place that organizations can use to help transform the world of IT from the Wild West that it too often is today back into a discipline that offers the more predictable and understandable outcomes that organizations expect and which IT should rightfully provide.
Organizations of all sizes that look at hyper-converged infrastructure solutions today already find a lot in them to like. The breadth of their features coupled with their ease of install and ongoing management certainly help to make its case for adoption. However smart organizations should look at hyper-converged infrastructure solutions more broadly as a means to introduce a platform that they can then use to start on a journey towards building a more stable and predictable IT environment that they can then leverage in the years to come.