What is Hyper Converged Infrastructure?
It feels like all the heads in charge of these vendors loved the Six Million Dollar Man as a kid as that is how they position these products. Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) vendors tend to say that theirs is better, faster, smarter and they can rebuild our networks better than they ever were and requiring less support from IT staff.
What then exactly is an HCI product? The most basic level is an appliance – usually in a server form factor – that includes all the parts that a normal server has like processors and memory, and then adds the networking and storage within that same box. The magic comes when multiple nodes are put together – and they always need more than one node. When combined these products are intended to automatically scale up the processing power, network speed, and disk capacity and IOPS with the minimal configuration being required. This is the next step in the move to a software-defined datacenter – the hardware becomes more of a standard commodity – which is flexible and scalable – and can be configured completely by software. What the different vendors bring to the table is their take on how to integrate all the components and make them work seamlessly.
Hyper-Converged hardware may not be a good fit in all scenarios. If you already have investments in current hardware still under support contracts and just need a small amount of additional capacity then HCI likely isn’t for you. However, if all of your infrastructures are aging, your SAN storage (by far the most expensive component of any data center these days) is long in the tooth and not keeping up with the IOPS or feature requirements, then a full replacement with an HCI system may be just what is needed to leverage the most return on investment for your business.
Some of the most common examples of HCI products would be Dell EMC’s VxRail, or PowerEdge FX2, HP offers SimpliVity, and lastly, Nutanix is a standalone company whose software can be layered on Dell, IBM and Lenovo hardware. To learn more about how T