Hyperconverged Infrastructure on the Rise

IT planners are increasingly turning toward hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solutions to simplify and speed up infrastructure deployments, ease day-to-day operational management, reduce costs, and increase IT speed and agility. In fact, according to recent ESG research, 70% of IT respondents indicated they plan to invest in HCI over the next 24 months (see Figure 1).

Plans for Converged and Hyperconverged Infrastructure Technology Solutions

What Is Hyperconverged Infrastructure?

HCI consists of a nodal-based architecture whereby all the required virtualized compute, storage, and networking assets are self-contained inside individual nodes. These nodes are, in effect, discrete virtualized computing resources “in a box.”

However, they are typically grouped together to provide resiliency, high performance, and flexible resource pooling. And since HCI appliances can scale out to large configurations over time, these systems can provide businesses with investment protection and a simpler, more agile, and cost-effective way to deploy virtualized computing infrastructure.

Another important attribute of HCI is ease of management. With minimal training, HCI systems can typically be mastered by the veteran administrator or the IT novice alike. VSPEX BLUE was EMC and VMware’s initial HCI solution offering. This platform combines VMware vSphere and Virtual SAN, along with server compute, tiered storage (flash and HDD) resources and networking components to deliver a fully integrated, software-defined data center (SDDC) solution. As a first generation HCI product, however, VSPEX BLUE often paled in comparison with competitive HCI technologies.

Start Small and Scale Granularly?

One of the primary limitations on the first generation edition of VSPEX BLUE is that it didn’t provide for the same levels of flexible deployment and granular scaling capabilities that end-users have come to expect from HCI platforms. For example, many competitive HCI solutions allow users to start with a three-node configuration and then scale up in increments as small as a single node. VSPEX BLUE, on the other hand, required a four node configuration starter kit and could only scale up in four-node increments. This rigidity in scaling a VSPEX BLUE environment could very likely result in over provisioned and underutilized infrastructure and ultimately, a higher total cost of ownership compared with other solutions. This is particularly true for smaller data center environments and remote/branch offices where the ability to granularly scale server compute and storage resources is especially important.

Limited Storage Services

Another limitation with VSPEX BLUE is its lack of data storage services like data deduplication and compression. Data deduplication can deliver significant storage savings to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), user file sharing applications, and email systems. Likewise, data compression can deliver up to 50% storage reductions in database application environments like Microsoft SQL. Lacking these storage services, businesses will likely consume more storage resources faster and incur higher costs over time.

The VxRail Appliance—An EMC VCE Hyperconverged Infrastructure Solution

“VxRail” is a hyperconverged appliance offering delivered by VMware and EMC VCE that addresses the shortcomings of the VSPEX BLUE offering. Designed to meet the virtualized computing requirements of mid-sized data centers and remote enterprise edge locations, VCE’s VxRail Appliance will be sold and supported by VCE, EMC, VMware, and their combined partner ecosystems. Through tight integration with vSphere 6.0 and Virtual SAN 6.1, VxRail administrators can continue leveraging the same VMware management tools that they are already familiar with to manage a holistic, software-defined data center stack of virtualized compute, storage, and networking resources.

Flexible Configuration Options

To address the shortcomings of the VSPEX BLUE offering, VMware and EMC co-developed the VxRail Appliance to create a cost-effective and highly scalable HCI solution that provides flexible configuration and deployment options; more granular scaling of compute, memory, and storage resources; and highly efficient deduplication storage data services. VSPEX BLUE customers who wish to integrate their existing environment into a VCE VxRail Appliance configuration can do so through a no-charge EMC VCE professional services engagement.

Performance Optimized

The VxRail Appliance is integrated with vSphere 6.0 and Virtual SAN 6.1 to provide businesses with a highly scalable architecture that can be configured with a mix of flash and hard disk drives, or deployed as an all-flash array. This gives businesses the ability to support a wide variety of application workloads, from virtual desktops and test and development environments to end-user file sharing and business applications. Moreover, through the storage I/O and cache optimization enhancements delivered in Virtual SAN 6.1, application workloads can gain up to a 2x performance boost. These performance improvements can enhance application service levels and potentially increase infrastructure efficiencies by enabling virtual administrators to increase VM to server densities across their environments.

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Getting the Software-defined Data Center Right