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What is a hyper-converged infrastructure?

Last Updated: February 9th, 2023 8 min read Servers Australia

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In an effort to cut costs and increase efficiency, organisations are constantly searching for new ways to streamline their IT infrastructure. One of the latest and most effective methods for streamlining an IT infrastructure and therefore improving its efficiency and cost-effectiveness is hyper-converged infrastructure.

What is Hyper-Converged Infrastructure?

Hyper-converged storage is an approach to cloud computing data storage in which data is abstracted from its physical storage location and stored on virtualised blocks.  Hyper-converged storage is just one aspect of the hyper-converged infrastructure model. In addition to storage, hyper-converged infrastructure also combines other technologies such as virtualisation, computation, and, in some cases, networking, into a single system made up of x86 hardware that can be centrally managed using a single toolset. In essence, hyper-converged storage allows organisations to present data from multiple sources in one, unified display – making the data easier to access and manage. 

Hyper-converged infrastructure involves tightly integrating storage resources, computations resources, visualisation resources, and more into one single system that can be managed using a common toolset. By centralising most aspects of your IT infrastructure into a single system that can be controlled using a single toolset, hyper-converged infrastructure allows you to drastically improve the ease in which your infrastructure is managed while at the same time lowering both Capex and Opex. 

Hyper-convergence vs Converged Infrastructure

Hyper-converged infrastructure may have been born out of the converged infrastructure model, but there are still quite a few key differences between the two models. Converged infrastructure essentially involves repackaging classic infrastructure components such as shared storage, networking, and servers into a pre-built solution that you can purchase and put into use within your organisation. Rather than having to work with multiple vendors for all the different aspects of your IT infrastructure, converged infrastructure allows you to purchase all of the necessary solutions from a single vendor. This, in turn, simplifies the procurement process as well as the support process. 

However, even though converged infrastructure allows you to purchase solutions in a single package from a single vendor, these solutions are still not fully integrated into one system. In other words. you’ll likely still have to use multiple toolsets and different aspects of your IT infrastructure will still have to be managed using differing procedures and approaches. With hyper-converged infrastructure, though, this is not the case.  

While hyper-converged infrastructure offers all of the same advantages as converged infrastructure, it is a quite different solution. In addition to combining solutions into a single package, hyper-converged infrastructure also allows you to easily manage all of those solutions within the same system using the same toolset. Hyper-converged infrastructure. therefore, is essentially the next logical step beyond converged infrastructure, enabling you to both purchase components of your infrastructure in a single solution from a single vendor and manage all of those components within a single system as well. 

Benefits of Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

Hyper-converged infrastructure offers a number of significant benefits, leading to more and more organisations choosing hyper-converged infrastructure as their go-to model for building and managing an IT infrastructure. Some of the most substantial benefits of hyper-converged infrastructure include:

Easier Maintenance

On the whole, a hyper-converged infrastructure is going to be much easier and less costly to update and maintain than a traditional infrastructure or even a converged infrastructure. Being able to work with only one vendor throughout the process of maintaining your infrastructure is one reason why a hyper-converged infrastructure is easier to maintain. Beyond this, though, the simplicity and efficiency that a hyper-converged infrastructure allows is the primary factor that makes a hyper-converged infrastructure much easier to keep maintained and updated. This benefit allows organisations to spend less time and money on keeping their infrastructure up to date and functioning. 

Less of a Learning Curve 

Since a hyper-converged infrastructure can be managed within a single system using a single toolset, learning how to manage a hyper-converged infrastructure is going to be much simpler than trying to learn how to manage every single unique aspect of a traditional infrastructure. This reduced learning curve means that organisations are able to employ more IT “generalists” to manage their infrastructure rather than having to train their IT employees on how to operate a wide range of different systems and toolsets. 

Faster Completion of the Infrastructure 

A hyper-converged infrastructure is an all-in-one solution that can be quickly implemented regardless of whether you are building your infrastructure from the ground up or updating your existing infrastructure to a hyper-converged infrastructure model. Rather than having to piece together your infrastructure component by component – often dealing with multiple vendors and IT consultants during the process – hyper-converged infrastructure allows you to complete your infrastructure in just a few simple steps. Not only does this drastically reduce the amount of time that it will take to build your infrastructure, it also reduces the costs associated with building an infrastructure as well. 

Over the past few years, hyper-converged storage has become one of the most talked about trends in the IT field. With more and more organisations jumping on the hyper-converged storage bandwagon, it’s natural to wonder whether this innovative new model truly lives up to the hype.

In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at what hyper-converged storage is as well as the benefits and drawbacks of hyper-converged storage that you need to consider before implementing this model into your organisation. 

What are the benefits Hyper-Converged Storage?

Hyper-converged storage offers several notable benefits that make it a model that is well worth considering. However, hyper-converged storage also comes with a few concerns that need to be taken into account as well before you take the plunge and convert to the hyper-converged storage model. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the top benefits and concerns associated with hyper-converged storage. 

Simple to use and install 

Hyper-converged storage allows you to purchase all of the data storage technology that you need as a single physical unit from a single vendor. This means that putting in place a hyper-converged storage system is practically as simple as correctly installing one single piece of hardware. Once you have the hardware installed, managing your data within a hyper-converged storage model is simplified as well since you are managing your data as a single system and working with a single vendor rather than having to manage multiple, different systems and work with multiple, different providers. 

Another factor that contributes to the ease-of-use of hyper-converged storage is the fact that hyper-converged storage allows you to employ a smaller IT staff comprised of generalists rather than having to employ a larger staff comprised of IT professionals who have in-depth knowledge on how to manage all of the various systems that compose a traditional storage model. 

Hyper-converged storage may or may not cut costs

Most hyper-converged storage vendors proudly proclaim that hyper-converged storage will allow your organisation to reduce costs associated with data storage. However, this claim isn’t always accurate. On the surface, hyper-converged storage is certainly a more affordable option. As you begin to add on features, though, the price of the model can quickly begin to climb. With that said, many of the features that can be added on to the base model of hyper-converged storage are necessary in order for you to actually enjoy the full benefits of hyper-converged storage. Before you put too much stock in the money that hyper-converged storage is going to allow you to save, be sure to add up the costs of the features that you will need and not just the costs of the base-level model. 

Increased data security 

Hyper-converged storage is designed with an important inevitability in mind: hardware will eventually fail. To prevent hardware failure from destroying or otherwise compromising important data, data backup systems and disaster recovery systems are automatically built-in to a hyper-converged storage infrastructure. 

Don’t be locked in to a single hyper-converged storage vendor

One of the most often discussed concerns of hyper-converged storage is being locked-in to a single vendor. The all-in-one design of hyper-converged storage means that you will be relying on one vendor for all of your data storage software (hardware, on the other hand, can be purchased from any vendor that you wish). While this certainly has its advantages, it does present some concerns if your vendor begins to demonstrate a lack of flexibility or goes out of business. In most cases, though, the benefits of working with a single vendor – such as ease of procurement and complete, easy integration – will outweigh the drawbacks.