“Hyperconverged infrastructure” is a relatively new concept, but it’s one that is already gaining serious traction among enterprises.
IDC predicts the hyperconverged market will grow from $2 billion in 2016 to more than $7.6 billion by the end of 2021. As a turnkey infrastructure solution, hyperconverged infrastructure includes virtualised computing, a virtualised SAN, and virtualised networking. The difference between it and converged infrastructure, and the basis of its advantage as a technology, is that in hyperconverged infrastructure the storage abstractions are not implemented physically in the hardware.
“Flexibility and agility are the key mandates for modern day infrastructure, as businesses need to adapt quickly to changing market conditions and scale on demand,” IDC group vice-president heading domain research group, Avneesh Saxena, said “This has triggered the need to have systems that are easier to manage, faster to scale and quite resilient. Customers are warming up to hyperconverged systems that are synonymous with some of these features.”
According to Saxena, the drive to hyperconverged infrastructure is most appealing to organisations as a solution for scale-out applications that can sit on virtual machines, and not place a very high demand on memory/GPU. One of the principle driving reasons for this interest in adoption is the ability of hyperconverged infrastructure to run legacy applications.
“New applications designed for the cloud or applications used less than one-third of the time during a three-year period are perfect for public cloud,” Lenovo solutions alliance manager A/NZ, Andrew Silvers, said at a recent event in Australia (https://www.computerworld.com.au/article/630863/when-hyper-converged-infrastructure-may-your-best-bet/).
“However, higher use of legacy workloads is generally better suited to in-house infrastructure or private clouds. This is where there is potential bill shock as high use applications can also require frequent data transfers that can be costly and time-intensive, which results in underwhelming performance.”
Another benefit of hyperconverged infrastructure – particularly to the public sector, where growth is expected to be particularly strong – is its ability to run large workloads (and a large variety of workloads) at extreme cost efficiency.
And, according to IDC’s Saxena, the adoption of hyperconverged infrastructure doesn’t introduce any additional regulatory concerns into the environment. This means organisations that need to grapple with significant regulatory and compliance regulations – such as public organisations – can make hyperconverged infrastructure central to their IT modernisation strategy.
Research supports the idea that this trend is happening. “Many hyperconverged vendors have also made inroads with large deals within the Department of Defense and universities. The appeal is obvious as government agencies and universities must handle a large variety of workloads while often dealing with very limited IT budgets,” Eric Sheppard, Research Vice President, Server and Storage Infrastructure wrote in an IDC report, Reviewing the Hyperconverged Market and Lenovo’s Portfolio of Nutanix-Based Hyperconverged, Hybrid Cloud Solutions.
Organisations even find greater data protection in adopting hyperconverged infrastructure. This is because hyperconverged solutions have a distributed approach to data storage, spreading the data across multiple nodes, either within the one data centre, or across multiple data centres. So, if a part of that data centre fails (be that an appliance or a rack), the system’s performance and availability remains.
And because hyperconverged infrastructure is software-defined, it’s quite easy to take snapshots of the data, and then use a public cloud storage solution as the target for the backups.
This last point is especially important as organisations look to manage the increasingly demanding regulatory environment around data. For example, under the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) brought in by the European Union regarding data retention and privacy, organisations found to be non-compliant face massive fines (upwards of four per cent of global turnover) for each instance of non-compliance.
Despite the potential business-ending significance of these fines, Gartner has predicted that more than 50 per cent of companies affected by the GDPR laws will not be properly compliant by the end of 2018 (http://metaphor-it.com/will-you-be-amongst-the-50-not-compliant-under-gdpr/). Unsurprisingly, resource and skills-strapped small enterprise is disproportionately struggling to manage the burden. The strength of hyperconverged infrastructure as a backup and disaster recovery system – and its ease of use – offers a good opportunity for businesses to rapidly bring themselves into compliance.
One final benefit of hyperconverged infrastructure is that despite the newness of the term, the solutions that leverage hyperconverged infrastructure can be build from robust, mature technology provided by leading vendors – there isn’t the same level of risk that comes from adopting many technologies at the early adopter stage.
As Sheppard noted in his Lenovo Delivers Seamless Rack-Scale Hyperconvergence with ThinkAgile SX for Nutanix report: “Lenovo's use of its ThinkAgile HX Series appliances as core building blocks for its ThinkAgile SXN ensures a consistent, seamless experience for customers based on a mature and truly tested hyperconverged technology.”
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