This blog is an excerpt from GovLoop Academy’s online course, “Hyperconvergence in Government.”
As technology evolves, so does IT infrastructure. One of the hottest trends in data center architecture is hyperconverged infrastructure, a means of reducing data center footprint and costs while boosting operational efficiency. Hyperconvergence can be critical to improving operations and services in terms of productivity, data management and staff capacity.
It may come as no surprise, but in the technology world, old isn’t good. Old technology generally means higher cost, more management overhead and a lack of agility to adjust to a rapidly changing mission.
Imagine an IT manager, Susan, who supports old technology within traditional IT infrastructure in a mid-size agency. Susan's department provides file and print services and enterprise resource planning (or ERP), among other applications and services. Susan’s data center is a patchwork of servers, storage devices, and networking, from different vendors. The server that hosts the ERP application is failing, so staff plans to migrate the ERP app as soon as possible.
Susan desperately needs to upgrade her data backup solution to prevent data loss. And storage utilization is always hovering around max capacity, but she can't afford to increase storage until the next funding cycle. She works in reactive mode so often that she doesn't have time to find a better solution.
Sounds pretty grim, right? Maybe these are the conditions you work under every day.
From Convergence to Hyperconvergence
Recognizing the commonality of scenarios like Susan’s and the need for government to shift from traditional IT infrastructures, the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, or FDCCI, strives to cut data center costs, improve energy efficiency and increase security.
IT staff generally want less equipment to manage, fewer moving parts, not as many dials to turn and lower costs. But they still need the same or even better capabilities. To address this need, vendors also came up with a better approach: convergence.
Convergence is a technique that combines or bundles storage and servers. It also attempts to minimize compatibility issues even though you’re still managing individual components made up of multiple vendors. This first wave of integration in IT made deployment faster and easier and simplified management.
Hyperconvergence is a platform that seamlessly delivers the functionality of the entire stack of data center services into a shared pool of commodity resources. This accelerates the speed and agility of deploying virtualized workloads or applications, reduces complexity of your data center, which improves operational efficiency and lowers costs. Hyperconvergence essentially gives you the benefits of a public cloud while providing greater control and security.
One key differentiator between converged and hyperconverged infrastructures is that hyperconverged infrastructures are software-defined, meaning the servers, networking and storage are virtualized and delivered in a single standard server. Most traditional IT infrastructures, like converged infrastructures, are defined by hardware on multiple devices from multiple manufacturers.
The Benefits of Hyperconvergence
With true hyperconvergence, you get the best of both worlds: the scalability and economics of the cloud, with the performance, protection and functionality of on-premise IT. Some of the important benefits that hyperconvergence offers are:
-Reduced IT costs: Hyperconvergence can help save money because you don’t have to buy as many discrete devices for your IT infrastructure. Less hardware means less space to take up in data centers, which results in less energy consumed for power and cooling. This also means spending less on maintenance agreements for each device.
-Simplified infrastructure and management: IT staff will spend less time configuring disparate devices during deployment and maintaining software patches across them.
-Improved agility and time to production: Hyperconverged infrastructure streamlines operations into one platform, with one management console that manages all data center functions. Because such infrastructure is highly scalable, IT is more agile. You can easily and quickly increase services during spikes in demand, and then just as easily scale back when things slow down.
-Data loss prevention and improved recovery time: Data protection features, like backup, recover, and replication, are native to hyperconverged solutions. Building in data protection from the start rather than bolting it on later prevents resource drain and saves costs on purchasing third party backup solutions.
Organizations worldwide have made the switch to hyperconverged infrastructure and for good reason, too. Common outcomes include reduced costs, increased agility, and faster provisioning. In addition, you need less staff and fewer specialists to manage your data center infrastructure. This allows you to redeploy valuable IT resources on more strategic enterprise initiatives.
Once an organization adopts hyperconvergence, it typically virtualizes about 85 percent of its physical servers. Ultimately, hyperconvergence is easy to plan, deploy, and manage. But making sure you do it right can require some guidance. Check out our course on hyperconvergence to learn how your agency can increase its IT efficiency.