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Bid Adieu to Legacy Infrastructure With HCI for Modern Businesses

Gurpreet Singh, Managing Director, Arrow PC (Titanium Partners – Dell Technologies).

In today’s data-driven business landscape, legacy infrastructure though essential cannot meet the demands of the fierce competition. For the success of modern businesses, agility and cost-efficiency are vital components. The pressure to modernize and replace this infrastructure with systems that are flexible, scalable and responsive to change is greater than ever. Applications, databases and business-critical workloads require computing resources that deliver high levels of performance, reliability and availability. At the same time, organizations must balance the need for operational efficiency, optimized capacity and on-demand scalability. Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) balances these conflicting objectives and precisely meets business and IT requirements. The worldwide hyperconverged systems market generated nearly $2 billion in the first quarter, up more than 8 percent year over year, compared with $1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2019, according to data by IT research firm IDC. Today, HCI is the choice for companies that want to stay competitive and ensure their data centers are cloud-ready.

Understanding HCI

Companies are moving towards HCI after realizing the limitations of traditional infrastructure. Hyperconverged infrastructure is a software-defined, unified system that combines all the elements of a traditional data center – storage, compute, networking and management software to create flexible building blocks that replace legacy infrastructure consisting of separate servers, storage networks and storage arrays. This integrated solution uses software and x86 servers to replace expensive, purpose-built hardware. With HCI, one will decrease data center complexity and increase scalability. Traditional three-tier architecture is expensive to build, complex to operate and difficult to scale and adopting HCI will help in not losing control, increasing costs or compromising security.

Companies are increasingly embracing HCI to address security, productivity and other concerns, especially with Covid-19 pandemic leading to WFH and remote working scenarios. At times like these, reduced expenditure and increased profits are what the companies look for and HCI helps them in achieving this goal. Lower IT costs accelerate speed to market and reduce complexity related to the IT environment and business as a whole. When it comes to cost efficiency and performance, HCI is helpful as companies need to purchase less equipment making the maintenance and support easier because it enables a pay-as-you-grow approach to start with what is needed today and expand incrementally rather than purchasing a large amount of compute and storage upfront. It also addresses the typical over-provisioning and over-purchasing that occurs when technology is intended to last for multiple year cycles.

Converged vs Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Converged and hyperconverged infrastructure are terms that are often misused and over-used. So for a better understanding, we need to know the difference between the two:

  1. While converged infrastructure relies on hardware and employs building blocks, HCI is software-defined.

  2. HCI is more flexible, manoeuvrable and scalable than converged infrastructure.

  3. Converged infrastructure is a large rack-scale platform that merges compute, storage and networking into a turnkey product, whereas HCI normally consists of 1U or 2U systems that consolidate one or more multi-core servers with a local storage array.

  4. HCI has a storage controller function but converged infrastructure is attached directly to the physical server.

  5. HCI shares storage to all compute and virtual machines (VMs), whereas converged infrastructure does not.

Organizations may have a concern about data protection and recovery. If they want to opt for HCI, they should know that it offers really good modern backup methods which include data de-duplication, data compression, efficient load balancing, intelligent backup and rapid snapshots. Managing data protection in traditional infrastructure requires a multitude of different tooling and solutions from multiple vendors. As it does for other aspects of management, HCI integrates all these tools into the stack, without compromising the level of protection.

To sum it up, there are a lot of benefits when one chooses an HCI which includes:

  • Optimized infrastructure costs

  • Simplified management

  • Simplified hardware selection and upgrades

  • Simplified Deployments

  • Simple Scalability

  • Increased Flexibility

  • Increased Reliability

  • Future-proof IT

  • Good overall performance

HCI use cases will continue expanding as companies set a course to the software-defined data center, private and hybrid clouds, and the edge. Breaking down silos and easing operations, HCI puts IT in a better position to support business objectives as the pace of innovation and change accelerates.