6 Pros (and 3 Cons) of Hyperconverged Infrastructure

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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

What are the advantages and disadvantages of hyperconverged infrastructure you need to know about?

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6 Pros (and 3 Cons) of Hyperconverged Infrastructure

As digital services become more essential to the way every firm operates, and networks continue to increase in complexity and sprawl, many firms are turning to new technology tools to retake control of their infrastructure. And one of the most in-demand solutions right now is hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI).

Converged infrastructure has been a popular choice for many enterprises for making their systems simpler and, hyperconverged solutions take this principle of running multiple components in a single, centralized system to the extreme.

HCI promises a more efficient, cost-effective way of managing sprawling IT infrastructure, but it may not be right for every situation. Therefore, there are a few things you need to know about the advantages and disadvantages of HCI systems before making a decision.

Understanding hyperconverged infrastructure

HCI is a software-defined solution for infrastructure that virtualizes all parts of a traditional hardware-based system. This includes storage, compute and networking, all contained within a single system.

By having everything under one umbrella, many of the complexities usually associated with data center operations can be eliminated, allowing for a more streamlined, flexible solution.

With greater use of automation, HCI differs from other converged infrastructure tools by focusing on services, rather than servers. With applications and the hardware they sit on managed together from a single system, any changes can be reflected instantly across the entire network and workloads managed from a single location.

6 benefits of adopting hyperconverged infrastructure

The idea of HCI is to make the management of rapidly-expanding networks as straightforward as possible. And there are a range of benefits that businesses can expect to enjoy as a result of this.

1.  Simplified deployments

Streamlining the deployment of services is one of the major benefits of HCI solutions. Having single, virtualized networks means IT administrators don't have to spend time worrying about ensuring compatibility between products, as they’ll be working with a single vendor for all the necessary tools. As components come preconfigured, this avoids the time and energy needed to procure, integrate and implement traditional infrastructure.

2.  Easier management

Once systems are deployed, keeping them up and running effectively is also made much easier. Monitoring and optimizing HCI deployments is simple compared with legacy alternatives, with the automated software taking much of the day-to-day administration out of the hands of IT pros. What's more, when changes are required, administrators can work from a single management platform at a remote location, with basic processes like backups able to be completed through straightforward point-and-click operations.

3.  Better scalability

This simplicity also extends to adding to the system as and when required. Because HCI solutions are deployed as self-contained blocks called nodes, it's easy to add or remove them to clusters, which makes for a highly scalable solution. As long as they’re using nodes from the same vendors, admins won't have to worry about integration issues. This also means they can start relatively small and test HCI as proof of concept before building out without having to rearchitect their initial deployments.

4.  Reduced costs

The potential for lower costs may vary from business to business. But in general, firms can often make savings due to the fact HCIs reduce workloads and optimize the usage of resources. VMWare notes that some firms have seen their total cost of ownership fall by as much as 30%, while also allowing businesses to do more with less.

5.  Improved performance

Because HCIs operate as a single system, they can help improve the overall performance of your workloads. For example, a HCI solution can utilize both HDDs and SSDs for storage, ensuring that the different demands of various applications are met in the most cost-effective way. What's more, as storage and processing functions are kept close together, this reduces the need for cabling and, thereby, cuts down on latency.

6.  Greater reliability

Using software-defined infrastructure allows automated tools to take on tasks such as workload balancing and monitoring to make the best use of resources and keep a real-time eye on the health of a system, making adjustments as necessary to maintain performance. What's more, if there are any issues that cause one node to fail, others can step in to ensure continuity of service, boosting resilience and allowing admins to add or replace nodes without interrupting operations. 

3 hyperconverged infrastructure drawbacks

Before making any decision on adopting HCI, it's vital firms also understand the potential issues they may face. As a relatively new solution for managing data center activities, there are a few challenges that’ll need to be overcome, especially if firms are transitioning from legacy technologies for the first time.

1.  Greater power requirements

HCI architectures include a lot of workloads in a limited space, which can often mean they draw more power than data centers have been designed for. While this can be tackled by offloading some workloads to the cloud where possible, administrators may need to look at reorienting their locations to ensure there are enough power and cooling solutions in place to meet demands, which can come with its own costs.

2.  Compatibility issues

It's important not to confuse the virtualization capabilities offered by HCI tools with a true cloud computing solution and therefore expect them to work seamlessly side by side. It can prove challenging for some HCI environments to effectively share resources across multiple systems and offload specific operations to cloud services. This is especially true when businesses are using equipment from multiple manufacturers.

3.  Hardware interconnectivity

Many HCI services are built around the idea that everything comes as a package from the same manufacturer, and if you're not careful, this can lead to issues such as vendor lock-in in order to guarantee performance. While it's usually possible to expand an HCI environment using low-cost commodity hardware, this is likely to lead to performance issues, as this won't work as well as a fully-converged platform that’s been configured specifically to work in that environment. This can often leave businesses facing a choice between price and performance when they come to scale up their systems.

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