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The next wave of virtualisation - hyper-convergence
Fri, 17th Jun 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Currently, many organisations are running legacy architectures that simply can't accommodate today's business demands. In response, many IT organisations have launched server virtualisation and cloud computing projects to achieve improved service delivery and increased IT agility. However, for some organisations, ambitious virtualisation, cloud and infrastructure initiatives have led to lengthy projects, increased management complexity and higher operational costs.

This is where hyper-convergence comes into play. It provides many of the benefits of a virtualised data center in a compact, cost-effective system that is easy to deploy, manage, support and integrate with existing infrastructure.

How hyper-convergence helps

With hyper-convergence, everything is pre-configured, pre-installed, easy to manage and designed to scale - with no need for a separate SAN. Its scalability is also linear as new systems and nodes can be added seamlessly to a common cluster. The hyper-converged architecture integrates grid software that automatically discovers and adds new nodes to the cluster, delivering additional compute and storage resources with the addition of each new module.

The simplified nature of hyper-converged systems also means that IT departments can reduce capital and operational expenses as everything is now in one easily-managed, easily-serviceable, small-footprint appliance that helps organisations pack more computing and storage capacity into their valuable data center space. Even better, a single vendor can support the entire solution - including both hardware and software.

On the technology side, hyper-converged systems make day-to-day life easier for IT professionals. They no longer have to manage disparate server, storage, and networking systems, each with its own management tools. The infrastructure includes built-in resiliency and is easy to set up, easy to learn, easy to service, and easy to scale. And just because the system is small doesn't mean it's not mighty.

Growing demand for hyper-converged solutions

The market around hyper-convergence is continuing to grow at a rapid pace, with Gartner recently predicting it will grow from $371.5 million in 2014 to nearly $5 billion by 2019. Locally, hyper-convergence is creating a huge buzz, similar to what we have seen around all-flash storage arrays.

There is a huge opportunity for the channel to provide hyper-converged solutions to mid-sized companies and enterprises with remote locations or branch offices who want to maximise their IT resources and budgets, while helping them speed up their time to value. In fact, a recent global survey conducted by HPE across 550 IT professionals revealed that 33% of respondents have deployed hyper-converged solutions in some form, while 46% are considering it.

Opportunities for the channel

In New Zealand, we are seeing smaller companies considering deploying hyper-converged solutions to replace their entire data centre environment, while larger companies are adopting this technology as a part of their overall data center strategy.

The sales opportunity for the channel is especially strong amongst businesses with remote locations or branch offices, which will benefit from standardised systems that are pre-integrated for efficient deployment, easy to manage, and scale. To keep pace with growing and sometimes unpredictable workloads, remote sites need systems that can scale quickly and seamlessly.

To maintain business continuity, these businesses need systems that allow centralised backup, recovery, and replication of data, following standard configurations and corporate processes. Hyper-converged systems meet all of these needs.

Likewise, the sales opportunity is also strong within many large organisations as lines of business or intra-company departments need a simple way to handle application services without a lot of IT overhead and without reducing performance expectations.

For example, take a finance department that routinely deals with quarter-end report generation. As the data grows, the reports take longer and longer to process. This finance department also has new projects in the planning stage, including an advanced accounting system that could need to be rolled out within the quarter.

A hyper-converged system is a perfect solution to support new applications or services, as it can be easily ordered and set up quickly with pre-scripted configuration tools. The ability to rapidly roll out a fully functioning IT environment could allow the company to deploy its new accounting system before the end of the quarter, generate reports in a timely manner, and avoid the end-of-quarter chaos of the past.

And finally, for a mid-size business that needs to expand its server and storage capacity and wants to avoid taking on a lengthy, costly IT project a hyper-converged system is essentially a turnkey data center in a box that can be easily procured and deployed in a matter of minutes.

Because of the versatility of hyper-converged solutions, the opportunities for the channel are many and varied and have the potential to help buyers navigate their way through the challenges they face in an increasingly data-driven environment.

Article by Brendan Sit, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise storage technology evangelist