What is HCI?

The growing demands of enterprise applications and the fast pace of modern business threaten to put legacy IT design — with separate storage, storage networks and servers — at risk of failure. The silos created by traditional datacenter infrastructure often present barriers to change and progress, adding complexity to every step from ordering to deployment to management. Data center infrastructure is constantly improving, but every so often a whole new way of thinking emerges. These new infrastructure paradigms are almost always birthed as a solution to pressing business needs which the existing technology is incapable of meeting. Hyperconvergence is one of these new ways of doing IT.

The top-level definition of Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) is actually quite simple. HCI is fundamentally about the convergence of compute, networking and storage into shared industry-standard x86 building blocks.  It’s about moving the intelligence out of dedicated physical appliances and instead running all the datacenter functions as software on the hypervisor.  It’s about eliminating the physical hardware silos to adopt a simpler infrastructure based on scale-out x86.

Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) is transforming the way private datacenter infrastructure is being built.  It eliminates the traditional hardware silos of compute, storage and networking, to move all the intelligence into a single software layer running on industry-standard x86 servers.  By doing so, HCI makes private infrastructure a lot simpler, higher performing, and more cost-effective.  In essence, the infrastructure starts looking like the datacenters of web-scale companies such as Google or Amazon.

Most HCI solutions consist of two fundamental components:

  • A Distributed Data Plane

    that runs across a cluster of nodes delivering storage, virtualization and networking services for guest applications – either VMs or container-based applications.

  • A Management Plane

    that allows for the easy administration of all HCI resources from a single view, and eliminates the need for separate management solutions for servers, storage networks, storage and virtualization.

     

Nearly all modern hyperconverged infrastructure solutions are 100% software-defined, with no dependency on proprietary hardware. Each HCI node in a cluster runs a hypervisor (Nutanix AHVVMware ESXi, or Microsoft Hyper-V), and the HCI control features run as a separate virtual machine on every node, forming a fully distributed fabric that can scale resources with the addition of new nodes.

IDC forecasts that HCI is going to grow at a 64% annual growth rate to reach $4.8B in revenue by 2019. That would make it by far the fastest growing storage segment by a pretty wide margin.

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Companies, big and small enterprises everyday are moving their traditional data centers to new era of digital transformation, becoming more efficient and agile with HCI, including some of other features of it :

  • Simple infrastructure for the SDDC because it eliminates a lot of hardware clutter and runs fully integrated with vSphere and vCenter
  • Highlyscalable infrastructure for the SDDC because it can be scaled very easily by adding small standardized x86 nodes
  • High performance infrastructure for the SDDC because bringing the data close to the compute and leveraging SSDs enables massive amounts of IOPS at very low latencies
  • Cost-effective infrastructure for the SDDC because we are riding x86 cost curves, and Virtual SAN typically enables a 50% CAPEX reduction compared to traditional storage.

idc-nutanix-hyperconvergence-and-the-pulling-forces-in-the-datacenter-21-638

 

Next we will see Top Vendors of Hyper Converged Infrastructure and a brief overview of their products.

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