Converged infrastructure is one of the major data center trends of the past few years. Get ready for the hyper-converged infrastructure, according to tech columnist Howard Marks.
A new trend involved integrated stacks that combine computing platform, storage and networking in a complete system. The total available market for converged infrastructure will be an estimated $420 billion by 2017, according to a report by analyst David Vellante. Two thirds of the infrastructure that supports enterprise applications will be some form of converged solution in the next five years, the report predicted.
“Customers like the idea of an integrated stack because it eliminates finger pointing when something goes wrong and reduces implementation time,” Marks noted in his column. “Vendors like them because they get to sell a lot of kits, and loyal customers won't even think about using some other vendor's products.”
Converged infrastructure stacks include the Cisco-VMware-EMC VCE joint venture, the Virtual Computing Environment, as well as reference architectures such as NetApp's FlexPod and EMC's (News - Alert) VSPEX.
There have traditionally been three different levels of converged infrastructure, according to Steve Chambers at ViewYonder.com. There is semi-converged, which “means the product is either not complete when you receive it, or it only has limited capabilities/capacity compared to a fully converged offering.” There is fully-converged, which “means the product has complete network, compute, storage and virtualization capabilities and is ready to use when you get it.” There also is super-converged, which “means the product contains additional functionality such as data protection, perhaps installed applications ready to go, and is most likely to represent a complete application appliance, deployed in pairs for DR.”
What’s new is combining storage and computing not just into a preconfigured rack, but also into a single brick that can serve as a scale-out-system. This new type is called hyper-converged.
“The target market for these is typically small-medium business,” Chambers wrote, “but [it] doesn’t have to be: a large, multi-national might use them for remote office/branch office, and the same large company might by lots of these nodes to create farms from them.”
Marks elaborated, saying, “The hyper-converged systems are usually based on server hardware that uses a virtual storage appliance that manages the SSDs and/or spinning disks in that node and communicates with the VSA in other nodes to create a clustered distributed file system and publishes the data to the hypervisors via iSCSI or NFS. The whole thing is then managed by a vCenter plug-in so while there is a sophisticated storage system in the back end, the whole shebang can be managed by a virtualization or server admin.”
Vendors that offer hyper-converged systems include Nutanix, SimpliVity, Pivot3 and Scale Computing, according to Marks.
He added that the next logical step might be to include an Ethernet switch as part of the package.
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Edited by Rich Steeves