Hyper-converged infrastructure framework enables companies to simplify their IT infrastructure. Source: Shutterstock

Hyper-converged infrastructure framework enables companies to simplify their IT infrastructure. Source: Shutterstock

Hyper-converged infrastructure framework, demystified

AS BUSINESSES embark on their digital transformation journey, many enterprises are completely reimagining and reinventing their processes and workflows to better face the challenges of the digital era.

In line with that approach, they are also exploring new technologies that deliver better business performance and operational efficiency.

And there is one solution that has taken the enterprise technology world by storm in recent times, promising unprecedented agility, flexibility, and simplicity: Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI)

What is ‘hyper-converged infrastructure’?

Hyperconvergence refers to an IT framework that combines computing, storage, and networking with software abstraction into a single system, vastly simplifying the IT ecosystems, reducing the complexity of data centers, and increasing overall scalability.

The software-centric architecture is quick to deploy and tightly integrates and virtualizes the various facets of a data center to optimize resource usage while ensuring a high power performance.

Further, many HCI solutions also fuse other functions such as backup software, data deduplication, snapshot capabilities, as well as WAN optimization, into a common system.

Why is HCI beneficial to businesses?

One of the key benefits of an HCI platform is the unprecedented flexibility it offers to companies, for their budget.

The performance level of HCI is dependent upon its configuration and usually determined by the individual businesses goals and application requirements.

Companies usually have the freedom and options to experiment and explore numerous configurations and possibilities within a setup until they find one that is optimal for the highest workload.

Further, they can pick and choose solutions and offerings from different vendors – entry-level HDD appliances to high-end all-flash HCI appliances – to build the infrastructure of their choice.

Other than that, the HCI framework also allows companies to stack up appliances or nodes, upgrading both computing power and storage capacity at once.

This scalable feature of HCI is ideal for a growing company and further simplifies the budget projection for the IT department as well.

Beyond that, latency issues that are all too common with traditional host-to-SAN connectivity are also a thing of the past, as, with HCI, the host and storage are within the same physical box, delivering lightning fast response times.

Thus, by switching to HCI, companies stand to gain more in savings, operational efficiency, and overall ease of infrastructure management than they would with a traditional three-tier IT setup.

What are common the use cases of HCI?

Since HCI is a fully integrated platform, all the different facets and functions of IT could be managed as a single system using a common toolset.

Typically, for high availability, HCI systems require a minimum of three hardware nodes, which could be expanded by adding more nodes to the base unit. One grouping of nodes is referred to as a cluster.

HCI platforms were initially deployed in smaller use cases such as virtual desktop infrastructure but have since been adopted by enterprises to simplify the deployment, management, and scaling of IT resources.

Recently, many database systems have also approved their software to be run on HCI platforms, as the shift towards big data has increased the demand for computing power as well as storage.

Further, many business applications such as CRM software, email servers, web servers, and EMR/EHR systems could run on the platform, to increase an organization’s IT agility.

In short, HCI is yet another innovative leap in the world of IT architecture that will immensely benefit many enterprises. By removing unnecessary complications and optimizing IT resources, HCI marks a paradigm shift in how data centers and IT infrastructure is deployed.