DataCenter in a BOX! Converged or Hyper-Converged Infrastructure?

In my last blog I shared my views on Converged Infrastructure for Private,Public and Hybrid Cloud based on Vblock,Flexpod and BYO(build your own) POD. Now its turn of Hyper-Converged Infrastrcture.  If your organization has yet not started planning for migration to the cloud, it’s high time to do so. I will try to explain how and why you should go Cloud with your limited budget based on Converged or Hyper-Converged Infrastructure. Technology Research firm Gartner also estimates, that by 2015, one-third of all servers will ship as managed resources integrated in a converged infrastructure.With the exponential growth of x86 market and its support for critical business applications (like SAP,Oracle,SQL  etc), IDC predicts  the Integrated system market   will grow from $5.4 billion in 2013 to $14.3 billion by 2017, a five-year compound annual growth rate of 32.8 per cent.

what are Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Datacenter?

Hyper-Converge d Infrastructure came out of concept of Converged Infrastructure . Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (hyperconvergence) is a type of infrastructure system with a software-centric architecture that tightly integrates compute, storage, networking ,virtualization resources and other advanced technologies such as snapshot/backup,auto-tiering, compression, deduplication etc  from scratch in a commodity hardware box supported by a single vendor. The  Hyper-convergence includes software defined Storage along with Software defined Networking, Compute and Virtualization.So please note Software-centric architecture will eat up most of the hardware SILOS in coming days.

how is it different from Converged Infrastructure ?

A hyper-converged Infrastructure differs from a converged Infrastructure in its tighter integration of the software components, which may expand beyond compute, storage, ne​tworking and virtualization to also include technologies such as data deduplication and compression.In a Hyper-Converged system, everything is virtualized.That means server virtualization,storage virtualization,network virtualization and I/O  virtualization are used together and made available from one integrated management interface to deliver resources on demand. Systems that fall under the hyper-convergence category also have the hypervisor (Vsphere,Hyper-V and KVM) built in and are used specifically in virtual environments. Storage and compute are typically managed separately in a virtual environment, but hyper-convergence provides simplification by allowing everything to be managed through a common toolset. Software defined storage plays an important role in hyper-convergence.Hyper-convergence uses local disks with both Flash and HDDs Drives for hot and cold data respectively thus an improved IO.


why one should go for  a Hyper- Converged Infrastructure ?

So why one should go for Hyper-Converged Infrastructure to support and host their Cloud datacenter? The "Infrastructure in a Box" concept of hyper-convergence makes it particularly attractive to small and medium-sized business. Smaller organizations with less budget need a small Infrastructure which can be scaled up and out to host their XaaS(where X can be any IT Service) as per requirements. But when the final product is ready the size tends to be too big, exhausting  more space,power,cooling and most important your time in design,build and then run it. That’s where the ‘HYPER’ Converged Infrastructure  can really shine, because their units are a lot smaller like a single BRICK.The same BRICK can be used to make a small platform of few yards and the same BRICK can be scaled out to build a Multi Storey building . Some of the least costly systems start around $100,000 with prices easily rising to more than $1,000,000 per rack which doesn’t include advance features like snapshot/backup,auto-tiering, compression, deduplication etc. Basic Hyper-Converged Infrastructure block takes upto 2U space and pricing ranges between $20000 to $60000 per block which can be scaled out on demand without downtime and also provides addon features.


who are the main players?

The Converged Infrastructure and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure market is a new market and everyone wants to be a leader in this segment. Established vendors  and few major players like HP,EMC,Cisco,Dell ,NetApp and IBM are already ready with their converged products and busy in integrating their own parts to offer a converged Infrastructure solution. But the basic building block of these solutions  takes atleast  20 RU space and multiple management plugins. So actually these are not the Hyper-Converged Infrastructure but yes Converged Infrastructure solutions.

Some famous Hyper Converged infrastructure players which are doing great in the datacenter market are NUTANIX, SIMPLIVITY Omnicube, Scale HC3 and Pivot3.Vmware vSAN is also one of the candidate which can be declared in VMWORLD2014. Infact NUTANIX and SIMPLIVITY are front runners in Gartner Magic Quadrant  for Integrated systems on Vision Completeness axis. The best fact is that both of them utilizes software defined storage as their prime technology.

So why don’t you go and ask for a quote from all the Hyper-Converged Infrastructure OEMs with the same compute,network, storage, backup and DR requirements? Do a calculation of total CAPEX and OPEX requirements based on the BOM and take a call thereby reducing your TCO.Recently Nutanix has signed a global  OEM agreement with Dell to offer a new family of Converged Infrastructure based on Nutanix web-scale technology.  I guess Simplivity is also looking for a strategic partnership with other x86 Server OEMs.

advantages and my personal recommendations

Hyper-Converged Infrastructure is very new to market but no doubt gaining momentum exponentially. 

Some of the major advantages of Hyper Converged Infrastructure   are

  1. Grow and Shrink your Infrastructure Incremently and on demand based on requirement and without downtime of existing Infrastructure.
  2. Simplified deployment based on converged single window unified  management which takes hours and not days or weeks to get up and running.
  3. Simplified pricing and Licensing structure which could help to move away from concept of IT silos.
  4. Intelligence lies in software and so gives room for new capabilities without hardware upgrades.
  5. Lower CAPEX and OPEX while reducing total cost of Ownership.
  6. Interoperability of hardware and software should be Hyper Converged OEMs responsibility thereby reducing the complexity of following the Interoperability matrix.

The choice is yours based on the above factors. 


My personal recommendation while choosing  between a Converged Infrastructure and Hyper Converged Infrastructure will be specific to applications I am going to host on these Integrated systems. I would prefer to virtualize business  critical and large applications like SAP, Oracle etc.  on a Converged Infrastructure from established OEMs. Hyper-Converged Infrastructure solutions can be used for VDI solutions  to start with . Once this product attains the maturity level like Vblock and Flexpod, definelty there are more rooms to virtualize business critical applications on Hyper-Converged Infrastructure.

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Deepak Jha

I'm an expert solutions engineer working in IT delivery. I have more than 8 years of professional experience in the I.T. infrastructure data center and cloud computing field. I'm specializing in IaaS design and deployment of private and public cloud infrastructure based on Cisco datacenter technologies.