Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI): Learn the Basics

Updated October 6, 2023

A software-based system design known as hyperconvergence tightly integrates computing, memory, resource-virtualized networking, and other components into hardware that is supported by just one manufacturer. Modular systems called hyperconverged systems can be simply and quickly expanded up to the necessary capacity.

Utilizing a single administration dashboard, a hyperconverged system enables you to manage linked technologies as one system. Additionally, by including nodes to the core module, they can be expanded. Resource virtualization is a frequent application. The idea of converged infrastructure is where hyperconvergence first emerged. A software-defined, unified system called hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) incorporates all the components of a conventional data center, including storage, computation, networking, and administration.

How it works?

Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

For over ten years, HCI methods have been available. They were first utilized by businesses with huge cloud-like infrastructure for storage and processing massive amounts of data, like Google, Apple, and Facebook. The distributed storage nodes and virtual machine carriers in them both function as the same cluster nodes. There are no specialized storage solutions in a hyperconverged solution, in contrast to a traditional or converged architecture. On the servers’ internal disks, the data is kept. The system uses a hypervisor to virtualize server resources and a storage controller to provide virtual servers. HCI systems are a great option for a range of use cases because they are dynamic, flexible, highly scalable, and economical. They also offer the scalability and availability of cloud computing for enterprise applications.

The use of dedicated monolithic storage systems is fully justified when you need to make storage invulnerable in case of failures. They use mirroring technologies, duplication of components – controllers, disks, access paths, etc. As computing systems in this configuration, you can use blade servers that are maximally integrated in form factor into special shelves.

Hyperconverged solutions in many cases successfully compete with such classical systems due to the cost of a unit of computing power or a unit of storage. The basis of HCI is standard node servers. Their disks are considered as part of distributed storage – physical capacity at the cluster level (single pool). Capacity is increased by adding servers and disk drives.

Because much of the hardware in such an architecture is standard, maintenance and scaling of HCI are less expensive. Consortia have been established in the real world to create open hardware solutions. This is an open compute design, which calls for the production of servers in accordance with established specifications for mounting in a rack while sharing power. These servers are organized horizontally and are comparable to blade systems. Although normal rack servers with inner disks are extremely suited for HCI, they are best for hyperconverged setups.

What are the main benefits of HCI?

In contrast to legacy systems, HCI is all about being simple and flexible. It is an one system made up of servers, network switches, and integrated storage devices. The key benefit of this design is its simplicity, and the storage offered by software devices should result in more effective resource management and increased scalability.

IT infrastructure needs less resources because of the rise in costs brought on by digitalization. It should support not only the current IT infrastructure but also new initiatives like AI, machine learning (ML), and big data.

If you consider organizations as a whole, it becomes abundantly evident that resources are required as needed for businesses to start out small and expand. Vendors of HCI are keen to point out energy cost reductions, data center space savings, IT manpower, and license disclaimers for backup or disaster recovery technologies.

Why is hyperconvergence important?

It takes time and effort to create an effective heterogeneous data center infrastructure. It is necessary to buy hardware and software separately, integrate them, set them up, optimize them if possible, and then manage them using tools that are frequently specific to the vendor’s own goods. As a result, maintaining a diversified infrastructure often requires IT professionals to be experienced with a variety of tools. When the network has to change or expand, this results in extra time and integration problems.

Business is evolving much more quickly today. To keep enterprise applications operating and secure, IT departments must be significantly more responsive to business needs. They must immediately provide new resources for rising workloads while simultaneously addressing system management errors and omissions that might expose important systems to risk. And IT staffing and expenditures are both getting smaller and smaller. Infrastructure that is hyper converged allows for rapid deployment and flexibility.

In essence, HCI products are mini data centers. Simply add additional “boxes” if a business requires extra data centers. HCI’s appeal, though, goes beyond data centers. HCI technology has become crucial for creating remote offices/branch offices (ROBOs) and edge computing because compact, highly integrated devices are simple to construct and can be managed remotely.

What is the main goal of HCI?

By redesigning data centers as transportation systems for software processes and transactions rather than a chain of processors having storage and memory caches connected to them, HCI aims to streamline the process of operating data centers.

The following are examples of the convergence that HCI offers in data centers:

A single platform centered on the functionality of those apps is utilized to manage both the servers that house the applications and the applications themselves. managing workloads, memory utilization, storage requirements, and network connectivity. Every workload is bundled under the same design class. Virtual machines (VMs) are often made to run on hypervisors like VMware ESX and ESXi, Xen, KVM, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Nutanix HCI. These mocks aid HCI platforms in validating them as significant, comparable software components with various operational needs.

HCI Trends

According to the forecasts of reputable analytical institutions, the global market for hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) will grow by 24.9% annually until 2028. In 2020, it was valued at $5.88 billion. Demand for HCI is fueled by the need to modernize data centers, save money and improve operational efficiency.

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