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Hyper-Converged Infrastructure: Datacenter in a Box May 2, 2019

by Femi Alabi

I’ve always wanted to be at the intersection of innovative and emerging technology. One exciting emerging technology is Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI). HCI is a software-defined system seamlessly integrated with storage, networking and other computer resources that runs on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) servers.

Some believe that HCI is just another marketing ploy by storage providers to repackage SAN hardware, networking and other computer resources. I disagree. HCI is more like a data center in a box with a short deployment time, small footprint and relatively high reliability.

The benefits of incorporating HCI in data centers cannot be overemphasized. Compared to traditional IT, HCI infrastructure offers better scalability, reduced data loss, workload mobility, availability, data efficiency and cost savings. However, a few HCI user communities report performance issues. So, if the absolute highest level of performance is needed, HCI may not be the best option.

Still, many organizations have begun using HCI in their data centers due to its combined platform capabilities, reliability and integration functionality. In fact, first quarter 2018 sales totaled $1.3 billion – a 70 percent increase over 2017 data. Part of the rationale is the automation HCI offers, eliminating the need for manual tasks. Plus, HCI’s fusing of components includes virtualized computing, storage virtualization and management, making it a simplistic, flexible platform (similar to a cloud-based platform) with an operational model that can be managed as a single solution.

There are many HCI products on the market today – and an exhaustive list of product vendors. Nutanix and Simplitivity lead the field followed closely by Cisco, HPE and EMC.

Femi Alabi is a Senior Systems Engineer with Electrosoft who supports the Federal Aviation Administration.

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