The past three years have seen the amount of commentary on Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) increase exponentially, and a great deal of this has focused on weighing up the case for HCI vs Converged Infrastructure (CI).
The maturity of HCI and the fact that it has gained traction more quickly in certain areas than others has led to its ‘detractors’ fostering or re-inforcing several misconceptions about the technology. With the decision to invest in HCI or CI being a critical one for many organisations, I think it’s about time to put the record straight.
Myth 1: HCI requires the IT department to invest in HCI Systems Experts to replace their current teams
With many organisations being forced to run a bi-modal IT strategy, those who embrace HCI are able to easily upskill their siloed server engineers (think for example database, network, systems) into multi-skilled DevOps engineers. Organisations that have invested in recruiting HCI specialists or working with external consultants to show how to implement the technology have seen their existing teams really embrace it and the required skillsets. Another common myth is that HCI will force IT managers to reduce their teams. The reality is that, with HCI, systems are now managed by the same platform therefore less integration needs to occur. This is a positive for IT teams as it frees up time and resources to focus on innovating for the business.
Myth 2: HCI is not suitable for mission-critical applications for FS and Healthcare
I can understand how this myth has taken hold, but have to say it doesn’t fit with the current actuality. While it was an emerging technology VSAN 5.X was used on edge use cases, but this is no longer the case. Since the release of VSAN 6.X, for more than 8,000 customers worldwide the majority of applications running on HCI are classed as business critical. It’s interesting to note the majority of these customers’ preference was for traditional SAN prior to deploying HCI. The reason HCI ended up as the technology of preference was not just because of TCO but the benefits of Scale Out and more simplified management.
Myth 3: HCI is the start of the end for SAN solutions
Whilst there are concerns that HCI will create more confusion and a fragmented view of a company’s primary storage requirements, it comes down to how individual businesses choose to manage the policies and use-cases for HCI solutions. Backups and secondary storage solutions should not require a HCI solution – large-scale SAN implementations can indeed co-exist with HCI.
Myth 4: VM sprawl is amplified with self-service provisioning for Development teams
I’m not completely sure why this one comes up so often as it seems to me this is more related to cloud and automation than HCI. However, ultimately it comes down to the IT team’s understanding of the developer’s requirements to correctly provision VMs with well-defined deployment policies. This will give both teams greater visibility over the use of compute, network and storage resources and the confidence that each instance is actually required.
What does HCI success look like?
One very recent example of an Asystec implementation which can shed light on the ‘reality’ of some of the above myths is that of a major card payments provider with global data centres that needed its IT to be robust, agile and efficient to support an aggressive competitive push, putting both Ops teams and developers under pressure.
Asystec implemented an architecture that provided rapid automated infrastructure provisioning and micro-segmentation for PCI workload management. Developers are now able to self-provision virtual machine blueprints within minutes rather than waiting weeks. The Architecture and Operations team can now focus their time on improving their solutions, instead of having all their time consumed with rudimentary infrastructure implementation.
The company saw immediate value due to developers being able to self-provision infrastructure. The cost savings on buying multiple servers and network devices for PCI compliant workloads will also be realised instantaneously and there’ll be a considerable saving in Opex and Capex to the business through logical as opposed to physical isolation of environments for compliance.
Where to start with HCI?
The best way of stress-testing whether HCI is right for you is to develop a proof of concept. Asystec are regularly helping companies take control of their strategic future by building a proof-of-concept with VMware. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in hearing more about for your company, just drop me a line.
Carrie Morris, VMWare Account Manager