CIOs who want to cement their value within a service defined world have already begun preparing their IT infrastructure to handle the experiential demands that will soon be coming their way. For those at the beginning of this curve, implementing a converged infrastructure strategy is a solid first step.
A converged infrastructure unifies the core data centre components – servers, storage, networks, applications and IT resource management – in a single, integrated IT platform. A recent article in CRN Magazine explains how the interest in converged infrastructures is accelerating rapidly as more and more businesses understand the value they deliver. Agim Isai, General Manager, QLD at Logicalis Australia, contributed to the article, describing converged systems as “An infrastructure solution that provides many of the benefits of cloud consumed in a private model, removing infrastructure complexity with a reduction in capital costs – and, perhaps most importantly, allowing IT to shift its engagement and focus from keeping the lights on to business enablement”.
A converged system can only function effectively when all the individual parts work together, much like in an orchestra, which creates a synergy that makes the collective performance more powerful than the sum of its parts. An infographic created by our colleagues at Logicalis US uses this analogy to explain the concept of converged infrastructure, and how individual stakeholders in an organisation benefit from ‘harmonious IT’. Check it out below:
Weighing up the options
Generally speaking, there are two approaches companies can take to building a converged infrastructure:
- The hardware focused, building block approach which we have been discussing;
- Born from converged infrastructure and the idea of the software defined data centre, hyperconverged infrastructure uses software to put the aspects of a traditional data centre into one box.
The main difference between the two is that in a converged system, each building block is a discrete component that can be used for its intended purpose – the server can be separated and used as a server, just as the storage can be separated and used as functional storage. In a hyperconverged system, the technology cannot be broken out into separate components.
The CRN article compares converged and hyperconverged systems in terms of the three main advantages they offer over the traditional ‘build-it-yourself’ approach:
- Ease of use – Figuring out the components to connect, and which ones are compatible with the others, is a complicated task. By purchasing a converged system, the risk of incompatible parts is outsourced to a single vendor that takes responsibility for all of the internal components, regardless of the manufacturer.
- Cost savings – Converged systems are generally pricier than comparable hyperconverged systems, and are perceived to be expensive when compared simply as ‘tin for tin’. The financial benefit is significant however when taking into account the upfront systems integration and implementation costs as well as the ongoing management costs of the traditional approach. In addition, since the software is a key component to a hyperconverged infrastructure, initial entry costs could be higher.
- Flexibility – In a sense, converged systems represent a trade-off in flexibility since you lose the ability to make explicit choices about components. However, in return you gain a set of validated components whose compatibility has been tested by the vendor, which means less likelihood of a surprise down the road. Converged systems provide more flexibility than their tightly coupled hyperconverged counterparts thanks to the ability to selectively scale technologies, meaning you can increase the compute without growing the storage, for example. As mentioned before, the software defined nature of a hyperconverged infrastructure means the technology cannot be decoupled from the rest of the components.
The choice is yours
Whether you go with the converged or hyperconverged infrastructure option will depend on your organisation’s individual circumstances. Either way, a converged system is a key building block that enables IT departments to move away from being DIY builders of IT solutions to becoming true internal service providers. Surely that’s music to CIOs’ ears?
Download our complimentary white paper, “Enabling tomorrow’s data centre”, to look more about modernising your data centre infrastructure.