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Hyper-Converged Storage for Increased Flexibility of Data Center

Hyper-converged storage systems have made significant mark as a cost-effective, easy to deploy storage option for use cases like virtual desktop infrastructure and remote offices.

Hyper-convergence, used as an infrastructure system with a software-centric architecture, that closely merges compute, storage, networking and virtualization resources and other technologies from scratch in a commodity hardware box supported by a single vendor.

Hyper-convergence is of independent IT components and manages discrete devices or I can say, it has specialized training in component-level technology, like storage area networks (SANs). Hyper-convergence, enormously clarifies IT infrastructure, which makes operations more effective. It enhances the speed and agility of deploying resources for virtual workloads. Plus, hyper-convergence helps to reduce significant costs.

However, hyper-convergence has not been implemented by some large enterprises, may be due to some drawbacks of the technology, — capacity and performance are often required to be scaled together, and many enterprises are concerned about vendor lock-in. However, vendors in today’s hyper-converged market are addressing these problems with new systems to push the technology farther mainstream. For example, many vendors offer several configurations of their products, while hyper-converged software and all-flash versions are also emerging on the market.

Differentiating hyper-converged systems from converged systems
Hyper-converged systems, as earlier discussed,  is an infrastructure system with a software-centric architecture that closely merges compute, storage, networking and virtualization resources and other technologies.

For an instance, the storage group manages the purchasing, provisioning, and support of the storage infrastructure. The storage group usually keeps storage system architecture and the relationship with the storage hardware vendor. Similarly, for the servers and the network groups. The concept of converged systems, merges two or more of these infrastructural elements as a pre-engineered solution.

Whereas, converged systems are isolated elements, engineered to work well together, hyper-converged systems are modular systems designed to scale out by adding more modules. These systems are primarily designed around storage and compute on a single x86 server chassis that connects each other by 10 GB Ethernet. At the very first glimpse, it  looks like a server with a bunch of storage. From a physical point of view, it is accurate; but more clearly, some software takes advantage of a very similar architecture.

Differentiating a hyper-converged system from servers
As a stack of disks are engineered and software has  managed a Hyper-converged system, its solutions leverage improvements at the storage controller software layer to enable these systems to scale out. Adding more appliances, means getting the greater performance and capacity. Rather than scaling up by adding more drives, memory, or CPUs, you scale out by adding more appliance modules.

In the simplified architecture, a simplified administration model is also available. The hyper-converged systems are operated through “a single pane of glass.” Instead, having a set of applications and a team to oversee your storage array, another team to handle virtualization, and a team to see the server hardware, only one team or one person in some cases, can manage the complete hyper-converged stack.

There are two approaches to embracing a hyper-converged infrastructure. You can purchase a pre-manufactured system from companies or build your own hyper-converged system. With  your own approach, you can choose your desired server hardware manufacturer and your preferred drive configuration, just considering the hardware is supported by the software merchant.

Appropriate ‘Use Cases’ for hyper-converged systems
Like any storage technology, buying decision, an interpretation of hyper-converged solutions must start with how they well suited to the data center’s environment. Originally, these products were chosen by small to midsize enterprises, specifically those enterprises looking for simplified operations with cost effective resources. From an application point of view, there are no restrictions to the application that can be deployed, although requiring high performance may not be as suitable (some vendors are addressing performance issues). So companies are using hyper-converged systems for all types of workloads, making it a challenge to traditional vendors, selling individual component architectures. Besides that, hyper-converged systems may be appropriate for more distinct tasks, like supporting virtual desktop infrastructure environments or hosting other types of standalone applications.

Software-defined approach to hyper-converged infrastructure
A software-defined approach to storage is where infrastructure is managed and automated by the software that is separate from hardware. This enables more flexible and simplified management of data storage that can be managed from a central location through one interface. Centralized management lies fine with the requirement to add new sites to the remote site infrastructure, reducing dependence on remote IT.

With the use of this approach, hyper-converged infrastructure, coating your compute, storage, networking and virtualization components at a software-level, you can easily scale the solution to multiple remote sites.

Directions to adopt hyper convergence
Highly virtualized medium size enterprises having less than 200 VMs can adopt a hyper-converged infrastructure.

Hyper-converged integrated systems (HCIS) adoption shall involve concurrent I&O enterprise redesigning to better adjust with hyper-converged solutions, especially if the infrastructure has silos of server, storage and network groups.

Make sure that HCIS providers identify ultimate account management and support responsibilities, specifically when working through a partner.

Hyper-converged systems may came up with the benefits of simple designs, minimized administrative overhead, and simplified vendor management to highly virtualized environments. But, consider the systems’ confinements before you decide to embrace hyper-convergence infrastructure.