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Uniting elements such as networking, computing, storage and virtualisation into a single management layer, hyperconvergence (HCI) exists to complement and invigorate traditional data centres, rather than replacing them wholesale.
When thinking about the move to a hyperconverged infrastructure, businesses should focus on precisely what applications stand to benefit most.
Thorough testing should inform this analysis, in partnership with a more general assessment of how existing IT infrastructures can be optimised to embrace hyperconvergence.
Plans to shift – or migrate – to hyperconvergence should be sobered by the reality of the varied environments into which the technology will have to embed. This might include aspects such as clouds and converged appliances (those units engineered with none of HCI’s software-defined direction.
When evaluating HCI options, IT bosses can understandably become concerned by the prospect of being locked into heavy contracts with vendors. Between purchase and installation, costs can mount up, especially if organisations have ongoing investments in the same area that are yet to significantly depreciate.
Executives with such worries should aim for platforms that provide native tools for shifting all or elements of applications from the HCI unit to and from public clouds. Besides optimising workload portability, this flexibility allows firms to identify the perfect blend of onsite versus cloud resources, and alterations can be made over time.
After an HCI solution has been put in place, some organisations can come up against problems with system management. These issues are frequently rooted in an excess of management policies put in place to control hyperconverged systems to deal with storage, networking and virtualisation resources.
The best remedy is to issue a single management position that puts forward unified software-defined policies across all affected elements. Many vendors find that HCI management software can operate easily with converged and traditional IT environments.
Further important elements to incorporate are integrated analytics which enable IT admins to comprehend fluctuations in performance requirements before bottlenecks can materialise; should a HCI node approach full capacity, data analysis can propose adding a node, or re-organising workloads so that other nodes can share the burden.
The future of your IT environment should play a large role in the choice and implementation of HCI. Bosses can ask vendors to plot prediction routes to establish a HCI appliance’s suitability for future iterations of microservices and applications.
A key aim is to align deployment of hyperconvergence with the development of the organisation’s cloud strategy. Scalability will be fundamental to this, and is often seen as a plus point with hyperconvergence, because traditional growth can hit obstacles when elements such as storage capacity or computing power reach their limits before others.
Expansion may not be possible within storage capacity if that area is running to its extreme, and the only option would be to plug in another fully integrated system. Some vendors allow IT managers to independently scale up computing, storage and networking resources to offset excess provisioning.
Benefits can come through running more mission-critical workloads on HCI systems, with reliability taking up pole position; in the greatly minimised event of production systems hitting a malfunction, HCI systems can be brought back up to speed in double quick time.
Some hyperconverged systems run firmware and software patch updates automatically to offset the likelihood of system crashes and to plug holes in security. These features greatly contribute to HCI’s reputation as a robust technology.
Furthermore, some vendors now place themselves as the central contact point for all issues that crop up with HCI systems, even if the solution put in place employs components from other companies, such as hypervisors; instead of IT admins head scratching and looking to one another for answers, the vendor can be contacted to help sort the problem out.
Industry leaders that sell hyperconvergence strategies have endeavoured to make simplicity a priority for the next generation of the technology. Focus is now on identifying and correcting errors so that bosses can spend more of their time on the work that enables the business to grow.