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Hyper-convergence and converged infrastructure – what’s the difference?

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Many of today’s data centres are struggling to cope with the demands of a modern business. Legacy infrastructure simply cannot cope with what is being asked of it – it can be slow, inflexible and expensive when the business needs it to be the exact opposite.

Additionally, data centres have traditionally been slow to embrace change; they are big, complex environments that are built to last a very long time.

That, however, is changing. The shift to a more software-defined world coupled with digital transformation mean that the data centre is now becoming a vital part of the business, the technological hub that can drive productivity, cost savings, innovation and more.

At the centre of that are a couple of massive disruptions that a fundamentally changing the way data centres operate: Hyper-convergence and converged infrastructure. Although the two share similar names and similar features, they are different.

What is hyper-convergence?

Hyper-convergence and converged infrastructure- whats the difference-Body Text ImageIn a hyper-converged infrastructure all the necessary components – network, storage, compute – are virtualised and integrated together. Traditionally the compute element, meaning the servers, was separate from the networking and storage elements. Each element is offered in a single bit of hardware – one small but incredibly powerful and intelligent box. Crucially everything is managed from a single management console.

Hyper-convergence provides IT with a vastly more scalable, faster, resilient and flexible environment that is much easier to manage. Its potential is so great that an Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) report found that 70% of enterprises are planning on rolling out hyper-convergence, with a further 10% interested without having any concrete plans in place. 15% of respondents have already embraced a hyper-converged infrastructure.

What is converged infrastructure?

A converged infrastructure brings together disparate elements such as servers, storage, networking and virtualisation in one pre-configured and pre-engineered box. The elements remain independent but are designed to work well together.

Benefits of a converged infrastructure include 55% faster application development and 36% lower costs. There is also a reduction in downtime and greater resource utilisation. The ESG study mentioned above found that converged infrastructure adoption is more mature, with 32% of respondents already using it, and a further 56% looking to adopt it in the near future.

The difference

So, hyper-convergence and converged infrastructure are similar, but the primary difference is that while a converged infrastructure focuses on the four core aspects of a data centre, hyper-convergence adds other data centre elements into the mix. These can include backup and replication and WAN optimisation.

Converged infrastructure is more hardware-focused, while hyper-convergence is software-defined; it plays a crucial role in the software-defined data centre as intelligence is separated from the hardware. This makes it more flexible than a converged infrastructure, and it is easier to scale up and down as demand dictates.

You can think of it as converged infrastructure being made up of building blocks that can be used together or as separate entities. With hyper-convergence those elements are tightly integrated and must be used together.

So how can you ensure that your business gets the software-defined data centre right? Click here to find out.


Steve Evans

Steve Evans

Steve Evans is a freelance technology writer with a focus on how IT impacts businesses across the globe, from the boardroom to the basement. Formerly web editor at Computer Business Review (CBR), Steve has also written for Computer Weekly, Silicon.co.uk (formerly TechWeekEurope), ZDNet, SC Magazine UK, Infosecurity Magazine and Capacity Magazine. During his technology writing career, Steve has covered a wide variety of subjects, including cloud computing, security, networking, storage and mobility.

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