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An Overview Of The Top 3 Converged Infrastructure Offerings

Servers, Storage and Networking | Posted on June 5, 2012 by Emily A. Davidson

Even with the latest infrastructure technology, IT departments must continue to support applications running in both bare-metal and virtualized environments. This causes a few problems for IT managers including:

  1. Staggering growth means complex infrastructures need to become more efficient to adapt dynamically to workload demands and use servers, storage, networking and power optimally.
  2. Manual assembly requires time consuming, error-prone support for every step from server refresh to cloud computing for siloed, hierarchical, point-to-point infrastructures.
  3. Multiple switching layers and fragmented management tools make it difficult to observe, manage, debug network traffic and support the latest applications that can leverage on-premise, private cloud and off-premise resources.
  4. Administrator productivity suffers when rushed to configure new servers to keep up with scale. Also, operations often take up more time than is spent on strategic planning.

Before you rip-and-replace, have you considered a converged infrastructure?

A unified, shared infrastructure offering has taken traditional IT to the next innovation level. A converged infrastructure typically comes in three main components: the foundation, the application and management layer and the cloud layer – all with a single interface for monitoring and management.

Learn more about these vendor offerings:

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We’ve done some research for you and created an agnostic view of Cisco, IBM and HP’s converged infrastructure offerings so, in the spirit of convergence, here they are in one unified place.

Hardware Offerings:

  • HP VirtualSystem provides a choice of modular systems that includes simplified end-to-end management and integrated services that maximize virtual server and client performance. The HP VirtualSystem is ideal for hosting one or multiple applications and provides a foundation for the HP CloudSystem.
  • IBM PureFlex supports intelligent workload deployment and management for maximum business agility with the FlexSystem Enterprise chassis: a 14-node, 10U chassis that delivers high-performance connectivity. The chassis supports multiple generations of technology and offers independently scalable resource pools for higher utilization and lower cost per workload.
  • Cisco Unified Computing System brings together server, network and storage access resources to create a physically distributed but centrally managed system of blade servers, rack servers, fabric interconnects, UCS Management and Virtual Interface Cards.

Application Layer Offerings:

  • HP AppSystems provide a portfolio of integrated systems that are optimized for dedicated workloads and tuned for high application and SLA performance requirements. HP AppSystems provide a choice of real-time analytics, data warehousing, and collaboration that incorporate top-tier applications from Microsoft, SAP, Vertica, and more. These are all open, configurable systems designed to fit with your current business architecture and applications.
  • IBM PureApplication allows you to browse and provision your patterns of software, middleware and virtual system resources from the PureSystems Centre. You can provision these patterns within an innovative framework that is shaped by a unique expertise: IBM’s codified IT best practices and industry standards built into pre-integrated deployment patterns.
  • Cisco’s UCS does not seem to have an application-specific component, but UCS is a scalable, high performance data center and networking solution that provides a solid platform for Microsoft, Oracle and SAP applications.

Management and Automation Offerings:

  • HP’s Matrix Operating environment uses HP InsightDynamics and HP Insight Control to draw from resource pools of server/storage/network infrastructure and pre-defined shared service application catalogs to dynamically link the right resources when provisioning application instances.
  • IBM’s FlexSystem Manager is designed to help you get the most out of your IBM PureFlex System while automating repetitive tasks. From system set-up procedures with wizards and built-in expertise, to consolidate monitoring for all of your resources—compute, storage, networking, virtualization and energy—Flex System Manager provides core management functionality along with automation.
  • Cisco’s UCS Manager recognizes components as they are added into the system and incorporates them into an abstract model that includes every available resource. UCS Manager maintains inventory automatically and accurately. It provides unified, embedded management for all software and hardware components

Power and Cooling

  • HP’s Data Center Environmental Edge provides customers with a new level of visibility into data centers by using small sensors to monitor power and cooling distribution–24 hours a day, seven days a week. HP Offers Power Supply units with the 80PLUS Platinum rating that are 94% efficient at 100% load, (80 PLUS is a performance specification for Power Supplies used within Servers and Computers). HP Insight Control offers extensive power management tools and analysis.
  • HP Dynamic Power Saver automatically puts power supplies into a hot-standby mode to ensure the remaining power supplies are operating at optimal efficiency. The entire enclosure shares up to 10 HP Active Cool fans in zones. Zoned cooling precisely routes airflow over the hottest components and minimizes airflow waste.
  • IBM’s power supplies are 80 PLUS Platinum certified, they are 93% efficient at 100% load.
  • Cisco offers a Unified Computing System power calculator. According to Cisco’s UCS Power White Paper, if the Cisco UCS exceeds its power cap, the power in the enclosure is reallocated in 20-30 seconds – a significantly slower response than a circuit breaker. Within the bounds of the system there are multiple opportunities for power and cooling efficiencies.
  • 3rd Party Integration

    • HP Converged Architecture is interchangeable between HP Converged infrastructure components and heterogeneous components. It can connect to an existing heterogeneous environment and in-house or third party automation software to take advantage of the virtual/physical pools of resources, including rack-mount servers, hypervisors, SAN and NAS Storage , and network devices.
    • IBM PureSystems offers complete management of all hardware and integrates, but does not manage, third party and legacy hardware. IBM offers ‘patterns of expertise’ that customers can use to simplify the rollout of third-party software apps by optimizing them for PureSystems environments.
    • Cisco UCS Manager facilitates a comprehensive open XML API that exposes 9000 points of integration to facilitate custom development and integration with third-party systems management tools.

    Cloud readiness

    • HP CloudSystem combines an HP Converged Infrastructure with HP Cloud Service Automation software, providing a ready-to-go cloud platform that increases agility for enterprises and drives revenue growth for service providers.
    • IBM PureSystems are built for cloud with integrated elasticity and virtualization capabilities to provision new services in minutes and improve business flexibility while reducing cost.
    • Cisco UCS extends virtualized data centers and creates a foundation for private clouds that federate with compatible virtual private clouds. With the virtualized environment defined by a dynamic, scalable data center fabric, a workload really can run anywhere; the resources needed to support a workload can even come from an outside service provider in a cloud-computing model.

    How to buy:

    HP Converged Systems offers a choice of three flexible delivery models:

    • Turnkey solutions—for fastest time to value and optimization
    • Built-to-order solutions—for maximum customization
    • Hosted solutions—for a balance of optimization and time to value

    IBM PureSystems offers a built-to-order option or three pre-configured options:

    • Express – designed for small and medium businesses and is the most affordable PureFlex System entry point.
    • Standard – optimized for application servers with supporting storage and networking, designed to support your key ISV solutions.
    • Enterprise – optimized for scalable cloud deployments and has built-in redundancy for highly reliable and resilient operation to support your critical applications and cloud services.

    Cisco offers a build-to-offer option and 6 pre-configured bundles to choose from ranging from Entry to Value to Performance platforms with specific lists of hardware.

    With the onset of such high performance consolidation and virtualization technologies, companies can now shift to an elastic, self-service, pay-as-you-go computing model with IaaS and SaaS cloud services or even build their own private cloud.

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