Aligning IT with business objectives has been top on the CIO’s agenda for many years, and in an era of disruption, it has become more crucial than ever. In today’s dynamic digital world, technology is also inexorably linked to the products or services it empowers, but many organisations are still not achieving their digital goals.
The main reason for this is the sheer complexity of modern IT enterprises.
Step in hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI), the latest technology causing a stir in the enterprise, promising the simplicity and flexibility that onerous legacy systems cannot. It promises operational efficiency, lowered costs and manageable scaling, as its model combines all of the data centre’s critical components, such as storage, networking, compute, backup and suchlike, into pre-packaged units which can be controlled and managed by a single layer of software.
This is a complete turnaround from traditional IT infrastructures that consisted of proverbial technology silos that needed different people to manage networking, storage, systems administration, and software. It’s no surprise then that forward-thinking enterprises are looking to hyper-converged platforms to fulfil their on-premises IT infrastructure requirements, and as the technology matures, more will follow suit. So let’s look at the benefits hyper-convergence can bring to organisations.
Benefits of hyper-converged infrastructure
One of HCI’s most compelling benefits is its flexibility and ability to scale. Due to the fact that it is based on software, it can provide infinitely better levels of flexibility and agility than its legacy counterparts could. It works on a modular approach, where each HCI appliance is a separate, self-contained unit, which has been designed to include all the necessary elements to boost compatibility. In this way, should the data centre need more capacity, an extra unit or two can be added on, removing the need for the business to have to specifically provision, configure and deploy additional compute or storage capacity.
Another benefit is the improved efficiency HCI offers. HCI lowers costs, both data and operational, without sacrificing features or capacity, and without any disruption to business operations. Compared to legacy infrastructure and integrated systems, hyper-converged infrastructure is far more affordable, and the price tag will drop as the market matures.
With HCI, a significantly smaller amount of equipment is needed, and it is far more cost-effective to maintain and support, as it is software-based. As new features are added, they can be easily updated, without the need to replace any components, and the over-provisioning associated with complex legacy infrastructure is removed.
And HCI is far more resilient than standalone legacy systems. The scale-out model depends on data being spread across multiple nodes across the data centre, and sometimes even between data centres that are situated in various, disparate geographical areas. In this way, should an appliance go down, there is no impact on availability or performance.
Improved protection is a benefit too, as with hyper-converged infrastructure, data protection, and features such as data deduplication and snapshotting are built in as standard. In this way, disaster recovery is simplified and far easier. This is of growing importance in our increasingly stringent regulatory environment, where GDPR and POPIA are forcing businesses across the board to rethink data privacy and security. Having backup and disaster recovery built into the infrastructure, makes data protection more efficient and cost-effective.
Then there’s automated infrastructure. With old, complex and rigid legacy infrastructures, automation was near impossible. However, with hyper-converged infrastructure, everything is virtualised, including storage, servers and supporting services, meaning that the automation of routine operations is totally do-able when centralised management tools, such as scheduling, are employed. And we all know that automation equals far greater efficiency, allowing resources to be allocated to crucial business functions as well as innovation, meaning organisations remain nimble and ahead of their competitors. This is especially vital in an era of Azure, AWS and Google, where companies are looking for a competitive advantage by harnessing the flexibility of public cloud services.
Finally, businesses can reap the benefits of workload consolidation as HCI unites storage, networking and compute functionality into one, fully virtualised solution. Being able to consolidate a plethora of IT functions, including backup, deduplication and WAN optimisation into one platform can only benefit the business on multiple levels. Workloads become consolidated, making it far simpler to migrate virtual machines between appliances and even the data centres themselves.
So where should companies who are looking to reap these benefits turn? Brought to you by Pinnacle, VxRail is the only fully integrated, pre-configured, and pre-tested VMware hyper-converged appliance on the market. It is powered by VMware vSAN and Dell EMC PowerEdge servers, and transforms HCI networking and simplifies VMware cloud adoption, while meeting any HCI use case, including support for the most demanding workloads and applications. VxRail allows customers to continuously innovate, featuring next-generation technology that allows businesses to future-proof their infrastructure, including NVMe cache drives, SmartFabric Services supported by Dell EMC Networking switches, advanced VMware Cloud integration through VMware Validated Designs (VVD) guidance, and automated tools and guides to simplify deployment of a secure VxRail infrastructure.
Moreover, VxRail brings compute, storage, and virtualisation, and automated lifecycle management together, and provides deep integration with VMware tools, including operational transparency with vCenter. It also automates network setup with SmartFabric Services, which dramatically simplifies and accelerates performance, and offers a single point of support for appliance software and hardware. VxRail significantly simplifies IT operations, including network deployment with SmartFabric Services that includes full lifecycle simplification while maintaining the single point of comprehensive support for both hardware and software.
It is also the first and only HCI appliance to deliver fully automated network awareness and configuration during set up, cluster expansion, and day-to-day management.
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