Today, we're looking into the world of cutting-edge technology that's revolutionizing the way businesses handle their IT infrastructure. That's right, we're talking about Hyperconverged Infrastructure! This article explores what it is, how it works, and the incredible benefits it offers.
What is hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI)?
What exactly is hyperconverged infrastructure, or HCI? It's a software-defined solution that combines compute, storage, and networking resources into a single, integrated system. In simple terms, hyperconvergence brings together all the components required to run your applications and store your data into one compact, efficient package. Gartner defines HCI as:
A category of scale-out software-integrated infrastructure that applies a modular approach to compute, network, and storage on standard hardware, leveraging distributed, horizontal building blocks under unified management. HCI vendors either build their own appliances using common, off-the-shelf infrastructure (hardware, virtualization, operating system), or they engage with system vendors that package the HCI vendor’s software stack as an appliance. Alternatively, HCI vendors sell their software directly to end users, through resellers and integrators, for use as part of a reference architecture, or on an HCI-as-a-service basis, either on-premises or in a public cloud.
Hyperconverged Infrastructure Explained
Now that we have a basic understanding, let's dig deeper into how HCI vs traditional works. Traditional IT infrastructure involves separate silos for storage, compute, and networking, resulting in complexity and inefficiency.
At its core, HCI leverages virtualization technology to abstract the underlying hardware and create virtual machines (VMs) that run applications. These VMs are managed by a hypervisor, which acts as a software layer, enabling the consolidation of resources.
The 3-2-1 architecture was the result of combining these existing hardware components into clusters. Unfortunately, the physical server model dominated IT infrastructure when virtualization first arrived. As a software solution, virtualization required the existing physical servers as well as shared storage technologies like SAN and NAS to survive and thrive.
HCI utilizes a distributed storage architecture, where each node in the infrastructure contributes storage capacity. The storage resources are pooled together, and data is distributed across multiple nodes for redundancy and performance optimization. This distributed storage enables seamless scalability, as additional nodes can be added to increase capacity.
The networking aspect of HCI is also virtualized, allowing for the creation of virtual networks that connect the VMs and enable communication between them.
By virtualizing these resources, HCI enables you to manage and scale your infrastructure more easily. It simplifies the management and provisioning processes, making IT teams more agile and responsive to business needs. The virtualization layer also provides flexibility, allowing you to allocate resources dynamically and efficiently.
You have more options than you probably realize when it comes to virtualization platforms. And with the number of options available, you can choose an IT infrastructure platform that offers a simplified, highly-automated infrastructure that keeps your applications and organization running efficiently.
Many of today’s virtualization solutions are comprised of multiple vendor products—one for the hypervisor, servers, and storage hardware—making it more complicated and expensive than it needs to be. Configuring those disparate server and storage components just the right way wastes valuable time.
On the other hand, Scale Computing’s virtualization software and appliances are based on patented technologies designed from the ground up to minimize infrastructure complexity and cost. The Scale Computing Reliable Independent Block Engine (SCRIBE) is the storage management layer conceptualized, designed, and embedded in SC//HyperCore. SCRIBE treats all storage in the cluster as a single logical pool for management and scalability purposes. This means that virtual machines (VMs) running on Scale Computing HyperCore have direct block-level access to the SCRIBE “virtual storage device” (VSD) virtual disks in the clustered storage pool without the complexity or performance overhead introduced by using remote storage protocols and accessing remote storage over a network (although the backplane network is used to communicate data locally between the cluster nodes).
Our unique technology and the way we use it to provide benefits is unique. Unlike other HCI architectures in the market, the SCRIBE storage layer does not run inside a virtual machine as a virtual storage appliance (VSA) or controller VM but instead runs parallel to the hypervisor, allowing direct data flows to benefit from zero-copy shared memory performance. State machines and SCRIBE work together to eliminate a lot of the management and intervention that our customers have seen with alternatives.
Why HCI? Why now?
There are many conditions driving demand.
With the proliferation of digital content, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the increasing adoption of data-intensive applications, organizations are grappling with massive amounts of data. Traditional infrastructure struggles to handle this deluge efficiently, resulting in storage silos and complex data management.
Digital transformation initiatives also drive the adoption of HCI. As businesses embrace cloud computing, mobility, and data-driven decision-making, they require agile and scalable infrastructure.
Traditional infrastructure typically comprises multiple disparate components, leading to complexity in management, provisioning, and troubleshooting.
Higher operational costs associated with traditional infrastructure are also a driving factor. Separate storage, compute, and networking components require additional physical space, power, cooling, and maintenance.
And with all of these, organizations face additional increased risks related to data loss, downtime, and disaster recovery.
Benefits of Hyperconverged Infrastructure
HCI provides a scalable, simplified, cost-effective, and resilient infrastructure that empowers organizations to meet their evolving IT needs while maximizing efficiency and minimizing risks.
It eliminates the need for managing separate components, simplifying your IT operations. You can manage and monitor the entire infrastructure with a single interface, reducing complexity and streamlining workflows. This simplicity allows your IT staff to focus on strategic initiatives rather than spending valuable time on routine tasks.
Traditional infrastructure often requires complex planning and significant downtime to scale up or down. HCI, however, provides a scalable solution that allows you to add or remove resources on demand. This scalability ensures that your infrastructure grows alongside your business needs without disruption.
HCI leverages advanced technologies like data replication and load balancing to enhance performance and provide high availability. With redundant components and intelligent data placement, your applications and data remain accessible even in the event of hardware failures, ensuring business continuity.
It optimizes resource utilization, reducing the number of physical servers required and consolidating your infrastructure. By eliminating separate storage and networking equipment, you save on hardware costs, power consumption, and data center space. Additionally, HCI's simplified management reduces operational overhead, further lowering your expenses.
HCI provides a robust data protection solution with built-in data replication and backup capabilities. In case of data loss or disaster, you can quickly recover your systems and data, minimizing downtime and potential losses. This level of resilience ensures the safety and continuity of your business operations.
And there you have it! Hyperconverged Infrastructure is transforming how businesses manage their IT infrastructure, offering simplified management, scalability, improved performance, cost efficiency, and enhanced data protection.