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4 Must-Haves for Your Hyperconverged Data Center

Servers, Storage and Networking | Posted on April 23, 2018 by Arun Kirupananthan

You want to combat complexity in your data center.

Your weapon of choice? Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). This technology consolidates core data center functions – compute, virtualized server, storage, and networking – into one appliance.  

Unlike its predecessors, HCI allows you to manage everything from a single system. These “all-in-one-box” data center solutions pack a host of advantages, including:

CAPEX savings from consolidated hardware and software

OPEX savings from a smaller physical data center footprint

Simpler administration and less need for dedicated or specialized IT resources

Fast deployment and flexible, linear scaling of compute and storage resources

Less time spent on maintenance and more time for innovation

Forrester estimates that HCI lowers total cost of ownership by 73% over traditional on-premises infrastructure. But the hyperconverged market offers a lot of options. Not all stack up. Most HCI products cover the data center “basics.” Only the best have all the essentials of a modern, powerhouse data center.

Choose incorrectly and you may miss the mark on core capabilities. Or worse, you may end up adding cost and complexity. In the article below, we explore 4  important considerations when evaluating “all-in-one” HCI options for your data center.

It’s All There in the Box

All HCI offerings merge compute, networking and storage components. Each also offers a “single pane of glass,” a management tool that abstracts the underlying complexity of the architecture.

Combining these core components is a promising start. But HCI brings its real advantage to bear by integrating extra components. These include elements like back-up, replication, disaster recovery, and de-duplication. Not all HCI offerings package these capabilities together.

Mixing many solutions adds to your upfront investment and license costs. Different tools need different interfaces. In turn, these need more time and resources to learn and manage. Be sure to consider whether adding extra license arrangements and vendor relationships to the mix may add to the complexity of your environment. Also, will scaling your data center become more difficult? Vendors may not play well together when things go wrong. The more components your chosen solution integrates into a single offering, the simpler and less expensive it will be to operate.  Conducting an honest cost-benefit analysis will help determine the best HCI path to take.

It’s Got Your Back

They’re not always pleasant. But data backup and disaster recovery are mission-critical tasks for any IT department. HCI offers better data protection than legacy IT. It does so by integrating backup and recovery rather than leaning on third parties.

In some cases, HCI reduces backup and recovery windows from hours to minutes. But in this category, not all hyperconverged solutions are alike. The differences in recovery speed between offerings are sometimes dramatic. The best ones can backup and restore a one-terabyte virtual machine (VM) in seconds.

It may happen that your primary data center goes down. In this case, replicating critical data to remote sites ensures it’s not lost. There are many third-party services and devices that can enable data replication. But adding these devices can also adds costs in upfront investment, staff training, and maintenance.

To best protect your data, select an HCI solution with the power to improve backup/recovery performance.

It’s Data-Efficient

In the modern data center, capacity is king. Data compression and de-duplication can optimize the efficiency of data moving in your network. Compression acts to reduce a file’s size. De-duplication is the process of eliminating copies of the same data. Both create cost savings and reduce the number of input/output operations per second (IOPS) on the system. This means far less strain on your data center infrastructure.

Choose a solution that provides fine-grained, “always-on” de-duplication and compression. This will ensure your data remains at optimal size through its life-cycle. Advanced de-duplication will offer granular control by eliminating redundancy within individual files.

Using one software stack also helps reduce the need to “hydrate” data. This means converting it to a readable state for a system that doesn’t support de-duplicated data. This is critical when you need to lower your processing burden and data footprint on the network.

It Uses Best-in-Class Software

The option to source core data center resources from one vendor is one of HCI’s biggest “pros.” The single-vendor scenario brings the enormous potential for reduced implementation time and operating costs. But not all turnkey solutions are the same. Some vendors use industry-standard hypervisor and management software. Others use a proprietary one.

Using custom management software improves a vendor’s ability to provide direct support to the customer as they control product roadmap and upgrade cycle. A common software and hardware platform also makes maintaining and expanding the system easier.

On the other hand, selecting an HCI offering with an industry-standard hypervisor, such as VMware or Hyper-V, means your team works with a solution they already know. At the same time, your HCI is more likely to inter-operate with other components of your IT infrastructure. You also benefit from best-in-class product support from enterprise providers.

The Next Step

The first step toward a hyperconverged data center is to start small and scale up. Begin by surveying your existing infrastructure. Identify the specific improvements you want to achieve by adopting HCI. This will help you refine your needs and select a vendor with everything you need “all-in-one-box.”

Take HPE SimpliVity, for example. This industry-leading platform delivers powerful capabilities like RAID 5 or 6 data protection, fine-grained compression and deduplication, industry-standard VMware hypervisor and many other mission-critical features.

Want to learn more about how HPE SimpliVity can help you create a simpler data center? Click here.

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