Consumer technology is constantly changing, and the same goes for the technology used in data centers around the world. Just as consumers are now able to buy a single smartphone device to do just about anything they can dream up, IT buyers can now acquire a single device or solution for just about any infrastructure service they need.
This single device solution concept is made possible by faster and faster server hardware, virtualization, and hyperconvergence.
How Virtualization Was Supposed to Change IT
It’s great to look at server virtualization from the perspective of the business and show all the money that can be saved. After all, in many cases, some of that money saved can be used in the IT organization for other uses.
But what if you look at server virtualization from the perspective of the staff who administers the infrastructure? How does server virtualization change the daily life of the infrastructure admin?
Server virtualization offers far greater efficiency in administration because:
- Virtualized servers (and VMs) are portable. They can easily be moved from one server to another, and virtual hardware can be resized when new resources are needed — they can be cloned or copied to add more VMs.
- Virtualized servers (VMs) are all managed from a single centralized management interface. Monitoring, performance management, and troubleshooting are all far more efficient than having many physical servers to contend with.
- By having many fewer servers, admins have fewer servers to keep current. This is especially helpful when servers need updating (both hardware and software) or when troubleshooting, should the unexpected occur.
As you’ve learned above, server virtualization immediately offers the IT organization numerous benefits. However, data centers rarely shrink. Data center footprints tend to grow over time, creating the need to add more virtualization hosts (physical servers) to provide resources to run more VMs. As the infrastructure and application criticality grows, so does the need for high availability. Availability assurance is one of the most popular features of most server virtualization hypervisors. With server virtualization, when a physical server fails, all VMs that were running on it can be automatically restarted on surviving hosts.
Virtualization Is a Commodity
We’re pushing in to the third decade of x86 virtualization being available to consumers, and into the second decade of server virtualization being utilized in the mainstream data center. At this point, most data center architects just expect virtualization. Many organizations have a “virtual first” policy, which essentially dictates that all workloads should be virtualized unless there’s a good reason to dootherwise.
If you haven’t been living under a rock, it’s very likely that you’ve heard the term hyperconvergence over the past couple of years. Just like almost all IT buzzwords, it has become notorious for being overused and under-defined. Before discussing the value of hyperconvergence and how it can transform IT in your organization, you need to understand the term. So let’s define the term hyperconvergence and briefly discuss the inception and drivers for it.
What Is Hyperconvergence?
At the highest, most abstract level, hyperconvergence can be understood to be the combination (or convergence) of many potentially disparate platforms into a single platform. In relation to the physical hardware, this means placing compute (CPU and memory) and storage (spinning disk and solid-state drives [SSDs]) into a single server. From a software perspective, this means that at the very least, all components of the system are managed from a common interface. Depending on the offering, this may be a custom user interface built by the manufacturer, or it could be an add-on or extension to the existing hypervisor management software.
How Hyperconvergence Came to Be
The story of how hyperconvergence came to be is really a chapter in a bigger story about the cyclical nature of the data center. As you may have noticed, the data center tends to evolve in a cyclical fashion. What was once the standard is continually improved upon until nearly the opposite architecture is the standard. Then it is improved on again and looks very much like it used to a decade ago.
An example of this cyclical nature is end-user computing. As technology developed to allow multiple users to share a single computer, users connected with “dumb” devices that were simply a display and controls to manipulate the computer running in the data center. As technology evolved further, the desktop computer became the standard for end users, and everyone had one on their desk. Today, many organizations choose to use virtual desktop and thin or zero client devices for end-user workstations. This looks very much like the terminal server architecture of the past, but with a new breath of life.
Comparing Traditional Storage and Hyperconvergence
When comparing the differences between traditional storage infrastructure and hyperconvergence, you’ll find that hyperconvergence offers the following 5 benefits over traditional infrastructure:
- Single point of administration, monitoring, and control for storage, servers, and virtual infrastructure
- Lower cost infrastructure due to both the elimination of dedicated SAN/NAS and the greater efficiencies of management
- Highly available storage and compute that’s built-in and available should a node fail
- Included data protection in the form of wide-striping and replication
- Reduced cost (through eliminating dedicated storage maintenance and support contracts), greater utilization of servers and storage, increased uptime, and inclusion of advanced features
Download This Guide To Learn:
- About the IT challenges that remain in a post-virtualization data center
- Gain an understanding of all that hyperconverged infrastructure has to offer
- Zero in on the business benefits that come with the adoption of hyperconvergence