Converged infrastructure (CI) is an approach to data center management that relies on a specific vendor and the vendor’s partners to provide pre-configured bundles of hardware and software in a single chassis.
A CI essentially turns disparate data center components into an appliance form factor that can be centrally managed. The goal of a converged infrastructure is to minimize compatibility issues and simplify the management of servers, storage systems and network devices while reducing costs for cabling, cooling, power and floor space. Converged infrastructure is sometimes called unified computing, datacenter-in-a-box or infrastructure-in-a-box.
As the CI market continues to grow, vendors are differentiating their products by bundling virtualization software with their CI offerings. Such an approach is sometimes marketed as being a "hyper-converged infrastructure" solution. (The prefix "hyper" refers to the hypervisor in the virtualization layer.) Vendors may also provide additional functionality for cloud bursting or disaster recovery, providing administrators with the ability to completely manage both physical and virtual infrastructures in a federated manner.