A Tale of Two Data Center Strategies: Hyperconverged Systems & Composable Infrastructure

5 minute read

It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times; it’s the age of new converged technologies, it the age of tightening IT budgets.

Between figuring out how to minimize the data center footprint, protect data, and drive down costs without sacrificing performance or resiliency, it’s safe to say the new digital landscape is forcing organizations to rethink their strategy for their infrastructure. If you look at the way our data centers are structured today, you’ll notice two types of models for delivering applications: traditional server technology (second platform), and mobile, cloud and big data technologies (third platform). CIOs and line of business executives are at the forefront of major transformation aimed at leveraging the competitive advantages of a hyper-connected enterprise.

Which brings us to hyperconverged systems and composable infrastructure. When it comes to comparing the two, it isn’t a matter of either-or, but rather a matter of comparing specific business requirements. So, what does this mean for your data center architecture?

IT Can Drive Business Outcomes

Let’s face some cold, hard facts. The largest initiative IT administrators are undertaking is setting up their IT practice to help support business outcomes. This drive comes from the outstanding business need to turn ideas into value faster than the competition.  Simply put, IT can now directly impact the business strategy to:

  • Energize growth
  • Strengthen profitability
  • Boost productivity
  • Enhance innovation
  • Increase organizational agility
  • Improve the customer experience

Between 2013 to 2020, organizations’ investment in mobile, social, cloud and big data technologies will grow over 20 times faster than organizations’ investment in client/server technologies, with the third platform technologies accounting for 95 percent of the cumulative growth investment, according to research firm, IDC.

Business demands for performance and agility are already well beyond the ability of traditional siloed infrastructures.

How can IT organizations balance the resources and investments needed to keep core legacy systems up and running while also creating value by integrating the new technologies needed to keep the business competitive and growing?

What Really Matters with Hyperconverged

A typical hyperconverged system integrates storage, compute and networking into one virtual structure, managed in scale-out clusters through a single interface. It powers the data center with workload ready resources that can be deployed in minutes instead of days. Essentially, it delivers more capacity in a smaller footprint that takes up less space in the data center and uses less of your data center resources. It’s no wonder researchers are seeing more enterprises make the shift toward hyperconverged technology. 

IDC reports the largest segment of software-defined storage is hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), which boasts a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.6 percent and revenues that are forecast to hit $7.15 billion in 2021.

In addition to cloudlike economics, a hyperconverged environment offers a host of benefits such as:

Data efficiency: Reduces storage, bandwidth, and IOPs requirements.

Elasticity: Makes it easy to scale out resources.

Workload-centricity: Maintains a focus on the workload as the cornerstone of enterprise IT, with all supporting constructs focused on applications.

Data protection: Ensures data restoration in the event of loss or corruption is a key IT requirement, made far easier by hyperconverged infrastructure.

VM mobility: Enables greater application/workload mobility.

Resiliency: Enables higher levels of data availability than possible in legacy systems.

Cost efficiency: Brings a sustainable, step-based economic model that eliminates waste.

Hyperconvergence goes far beyond servers and storage. HCI brings many features into the convergence fold that make legacy services obsolete in some IT environments, including data protection products, deduplication appliances, wide-area network (WAN) optimization appliances, solid-state drive (SSD) arrays, SSD cache arrays, public cloud gateways and replication appliances or software.

What Is a Composable Infrastructure?

Similar to a converged or hyperconverged infrastructure, a composable infrastructure brings together compute, storage and networking fabric into one platform. It offers an experience that empowers IT to create and deliver new value instantly and continuously. Good news! If you’re looking to use a DevOps approach within your systems, a composable infrastructure easily enables a broad range of applications and operational models such as virtualization, hybrid cloud, and DevOps. Maximizing speed, agility and efficiency, composable infrastructure also enables IT to operate like a cloud provider to lines of business and the extended enterprise.

This new architecture is designed around three core principles:

  • Fluid resource pools effortlessly meet each application’s changing needs by allowing for the composition and recomposition of single blocks of disaggregated compute, storage and fabric infrastructure
  • Software-defined intelligence provides a single management interface to integrate operational silos and eliminates complexity. Workload templates speed deployment and frictionless change eliminates unnecessary downtime.
  • Unified application programming interface (API) provides a single interface to discover, search, inventory, configure, provision, update and diagnose the composable infrastructure. A single line of code enables a full infrastructure programmability and can provision the infrastructure required for an application. 

Hands down, the biggest advantage to using a composable infrastructure is the ability to rapidly reconfigure systems to meet changing requirements in a matter of seconds, compared to months when operating traditional IT.

Transform IT with the Right Mix of Converged Technologies

At the end of the day, IT must provide value. Businesses have a clear mandate: Thrive in the digital economy — that is, embrace a disruptive technology-centric business strategy (aka digital transformation) or perish. It is a high-stakes game that requires the ability to run next-generation applications alongside legacy apps, which in turn, requires IT departments to manage infrastructure duality.

Do you have to choose between hyperconverged or composable? Not necessarily. In many cases they can work together, providing the right mix of features for your business specifications. Finding the right blend for your IT comes down to your specific capacity needs, performance and application requirements.

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