The role of the data center is changing. From traditional or ‘siloed’ data centers which relied heavily on hardware and physical servers to the modern Software-Defined Data Center, it has evolved from keeping the lights on to become the driving force behind the business.

For many years, data centers were the nervous system of an organization, commanding a large footprint and consuming incredible amounts of energy and cooling resources. They consisted of servers connected to SAN-attached storage, requiring a team of IT personnel and significant CAPEX.

While the data center is still the nervous system of the organization, Hyperconverged infrastructure is its new face.

Simply put, hypercconverged infrastructure combines the compute, storage, network, and virtualization layers into a unit that can be scaled up and out to build massive pools of resources that can be leveraged for an organization’s application needs. The environment is designed to be free of custom hardware and for software and hardware to be decoupled providing

Today, companies demand a data center that improves operational efficiency. It needs to foster automation, business agility, and responsiveness while being flexible enough to support changing business needs.

Today, companies demand a data center that improves operational efficiency. It needs to foster automation, business agility, and responsiveness while being flexible enough to support changing business needs. Here are five ways how Hyperconverged infrastructure checks all the boxes.

Simplify IT deployment

Traditional IT infrastructure deployment is designed with the specialist in mind. Specialists work together with administrators and application owners to agree on the infrastructure needs of the workload being deployed. These may include resiliency levels and capacity among others. However, this process is time-consuming and quite often results in conflict if one of the stakeholders don’t agree on a component. Post deployment, administrators and application owners may not have useful insights into utilization or performance metrics.

Hyperconverged infrastructure begins with simplified deployment and high levels of automation. It is designed to be “up and running” with the fewest possible steps and geared toward the IT generalist or VM administrator. Automation is a critical part of the simplified installation, and many vendors automate as many tasks as possible with their hyperconverged offerings.

Scale for Performance

Organisations running hardware-defined systems typically provision to meet the needs of the most demanding workloads resulting in over provisioning or create silos of systems that are right-sized for a subset of workloads but require many points of management.

Hyperconverged infrastructure, on the other hand, can quickly scale compute and storage resources at a very granular level and with near-zero downtime due to its highly virtualized and scale-out nature. IT teams can now purchase, deploy, manage, upgrade and expand an integrated stack of computing, storage and virtualization, far more quickly than previously possible, thus saving significant time and costs by not over-provisioning. Even the most demanding data centre can benefit from multi-hypervisors and a robust set of enterprise class applications.

Accelerate Time to Market

In this era of exponential business opportunities as well as competition, the organisation that gets a head start in providing a product or service gains a significant advantage. IT is under tremendous pressure to identify ways to break down barriers that limit business growth and find new, faster, cheaper ways to deliver an agile infrastructure.

To support business’ demands of speed and agility, most IT departments simply add new servers thus adding more complexity to the data center. By combining servers, storage and networking hardware and management, IT teams can deliver infrastructure in minutes rather than weeks or months, while freeing up their time for higher level tasks.

Reduce costs and improve Return on Investment

IT infrastructure typically relies on IT departments to forecast future performance, availability, and capacity needs at the time of initial purchase. Resources are purchased up front and provisioned over the life of the systems, placing an enormous burden on budgets and increasing the initial capital outlay. This can turn into a nightmare in the case of incorrect forecasts or a sudden surge in business demand.

Hyperconverged infrastructure allows IT teams to start small and easily scale out on demand. The modular-building-block approach allows enterprises to take small incremental steps — in some cases a single node, rather than make the significant upfront investments required by traditional integrated systems.

‘Single Pane of Glass’ Management

One of the biggest issue with IT is separate hardware management consoles managed by different groups of people. Irrespective of whether it is the management of servers, storage or network, this groups have a unique management console from storage devices and optimizers to load balancers and hypervisors.

A single, centralised, easy-to-use administrative system can save an organisation the finger pointing and blame game that starts when something goes wrong. Hyperconvergence solves this issue by providing a single in-depth diagnostics tool with built-in monitoring capabilities which proactively alert administrators to change configurations in case of error. Organisations no longer require multiple management tools as all operations are performed from a virtualization-centric mind set.

Is HCI the New Natural?

The ability of hyperconverged infrastructure to eliminate the rigidity, complexity, expense, and latency often associated with traditional IT, has made it an attractive choice for large companies.

In fact, Gartner predicts that hyperconverged infrastructure will be the fastest-growing segment of the overall market for integrated systems, reaching almost $5 billion, which is 24 percent of the market, by 2019.

According to Han Chon, Director – Data Center Group Asia Pacific, Lenovo, hyperconvergence moves away from a traditional mindset and represents a disruptive force. “The technology has matured, and we are witnessing an increase in use cases with organisations migrating more and more workloads to these systems. It is important for any organisation looking to invest in the infrastructure or update their infrastructure to have a vision of what they want their data center to be, and make that choice accordingly.”

As a CIO, are you thinking about how to make your data center ready for the future? Is your data center ready for web scale – growth at an unprecedented pace? Will your data center be capable of user-centric management – where IT may not even need to get involved in providing the environment? CIOs need to make tough decisions today because the wrong IT infrastructure choice that doesn’t lend itself to a higher level of agility and flexibility can leave their organisations behind.

The future of the data center will be more cloud like, and because of this, Hyperconvergence may soon be the new natural.

Han Chon
Director, Data Center Group, Lenovo Asia Pacific

Based in Singapore, Han leads Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) and Cloud initiatives for Lenovo in the Asia Pacific region. He has over 20 years of experience within the IT industry.