By Chris Larkins, Business Unit Manager: Enterprise
Most savvy organisations who are embarking on digital transformation journeys are looking to hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) solutions to deliver flexible systems that are not only capable of running business-critical applications, but are also fueling technological innovation too.
In today’s era of cloud computing, the edge, virtualisation and more, entities are moving away from yesterday’s models consisting of compute, virtualize, and store, towards HCI’s all in one structure, which allows IT teams to allocate resources to focus on innovation. It does this primarily because HCI meets the needs of modern IT, by absorbing compute, networking functionality, and software-defined storage (SDS) into suitable, agile hardware appliances that are pre-engineered and validated, and ready to deploy. By its nature, this integrated design assists IT teams to modernise their data centre efficiently and cost-effectively, break down the silos of complexity within legacy infrastructure, and save a fortune in terms of both time and money.
Moreover, HCI enables end-to-end lifecycle management and automation, promising ideal speed, predictability, and scalability. Return of investment in IT services also is quickened, as HCI is dramatically quicker to deploy than yesterday’s server infrastructures. In a nutshell, the correct HCI platform can streamline the full system lifecycle start to finish, including deployment, management, scalability, and maintenance. Furthermore, HCI has the ability to operate as a sole solution, the time-wasting and arduous job of managing multiple infrastructure tiers is ultimately removed, and updates can be downloaded and installed as a single software package.
Strangely enough, the benefits of HCI weren’t always understood by the IT industry as a whole. HCI platforms were once viewed as a solution for highly specific needs, and to provide a disparate piece of infrastructure that could be used to deliver core infrastructure workloads and similar. Today, however, the value and potential of HCI has become clear, and the more forward-thinking organisations are seeing beyond the expected use cases and are looking to HCI for a whole slew of other use cases, such as the simplification of infrastructure deployment and management, the scaling of operations, to provide enhanced support for business applications, to integrate compute, storage, and networking into a single appliance, and to make more effective use of cloud services.
Looking at a few real-world use cases where HCI is driving innovation, firstly, businesses can use HCI to create virtualised desktop instances with compute, software-defined networking (SDN), and SDS capabilities. These desktops can then be allocated to hundreds or more staff members who are working from home, or on the fly, on any device, and from any location.
HCI is also being used to centralise remote office and branch office (ROBO) operations, which boosts security and cuts the cost of administration, and does this without having to compromise too much on performance. In addition, the majority of HCI solutions offer simple management tools that can be used to transition the company’s resources from on-premise to cloud frictionlessly.
Next, when it comes to testing and deployments, these environments need a scaled-down production environment with a smaller budget than the production itself. The majority of HCI platforms feature automated tools that are able to seamlessly replicate the test and deployment environment from the production cluster.
Another use case where HCI is promoting innovation, is analytics and machine learning. These systems must be able to grow with the ongoing influx of new data and have to handle network and compute-heavy tasks such as streaming analytics. HCIs enable rapid deployment, reliability, performance and scalability.
Whichever way you look at it, almost all companies today can find value and drive innovation by switching part or all of their systems to a hyper-converged infrastructure design. The potential benefits should not be ignored.