What is Hyper-Converged Infrastructure?

Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) or hyperconvergence refers to a software-defined data center structure that merges storage, compute, and networking virtualized components. Compared to other architecture styles, hyper-convergence offers a fully integrated solution with more flexible resource deployment. HCI removes legacy systems traditional siloed architecture and accomplishes that integration without the dedicated hardware requirements of converged infrastructure (CI).

Hyperconvergence benefits

Hyper-converged infrastructure typically runs on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS), x86-based servers. The fully virtualized operational model completely removes traditional silos from IT teams, which has a number of distinct business benefits, including:

  • Cost: Cost varies by vendor of course, but HCI generally incurs lower CapEx and OpEx than converged infrastructre and traditional architectures. Cost savings resulting from streamlined acquisition, deployment, management, and support costs as well as reduced complexity, interoperability issues, and operational expenses.
  • Scalability: HCI creates a virtualization-ready environment and allows businesses to start small and add capacity as needed, meaning data centers can be transitioned to HCI and expanded incrementally.
  • Efficiency: HCI shifts the management paradigm from a hardware approach to an application-focused one, with centralized management, policies, and mobility conducted at the virtual machine level. The simplified management approach means IT teams can do more with less and have capacity to turn their attention to broader IT challenges/goals.
  • Agility: HCI is ideal for business-critical workloads like virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and database softwares because of its high availability. Data is processed using a single-policy engine.

Top HCI vendors

The agility and flexibility of HCI make it especially appealing for small and medium-sized businesses, whereas large enterprises might prefer the customization options that come with CI s separate but still streamlined IT assets. HCI systems are typically served in a commodity hardware box supported by a single vendor. Some companies offer additional technologies in their hyper-converged infrastructure systems beyond compute, storage and networking resources such as data deduplication and compression and WAN optimization.

Prominent HCI vendors include:

  • VMware
  • Cisco
  • Microsoft
  • Dell EMC
  • Nutanix
  • HPE
  • Pivot3

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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