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A hyper-converged data center offers SDDC opportunity, IT scalability

Hyper-convergence can increase scalability and pave the way toward software-defined infrastructure. Use these five tips to learn how and to see if the technology is right for you.

Thanks to its all-in-one approach, hyper-convergence is becoming a more appealing option in the enterprise data center. Organizations with the financial backing and architectural ability to pursue a hyper-converged data center can benefit from simplified hardware acquisitions, streamlined IT management and more. However, this does not mean that all legacy hardware is making its way out of the data center, and that hyper-converged infrastructure is taking over completely.

Hyper-converged infrastructure may increasingly appeal to a wider IT audience, but is it really necessary for smaller and mid-level operations? To help decide if the hyper-converged data center is right for you, here's a recap of some of SearchDataCenter's top tips on hyper-converged technology this year.

Explore the benefits of a hyper-converged data center

The traditional data center setup of servers, storage and networks gets the job done for many organizations, but hyper-convergence can bring additional benefits if deployed properly and for the right applications.

Because hyper-convergence is a scale-out platform, it can especially benefit scale-out workloads, such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and web server farms. Hyper-convergence allows for more consistent performance for these workloads, and increased scalability.

IT staffing for hyper-convergence

In a hyper-converged data center, you can also remove infrastructure silos, as well as the dedicated networks associated with those silos. With this simplified structure, it's often easier to find IT staff, since you require fewer specialized skills.

Hyper-converged infrastructure can also expand the capacity of your data center with added nodes. As workloads grow, you can add extra capacity to the infrastructure to work alongside that growth without a noticeable slowdown in delivery times. Hyper-convergence also simplifies management by using policy-based virtualization. IT can spend less time optimizing the platform, and instead focus on other areas of the infrastructure.

Weigh tradeoffs between hyper-convergence vs. blade servers

Blade servers -- the original choice for converged systems -- are now a more outdated option compared to other possibilities, such as hyper-converged systems. Longer testing cycles and a slow evolution have altered enterprises' perceptions of blade servers, but simplified installation and management still keep them in the conversation.

Blade servers also lack storage options compared to hyper-converged systems, since you can cluster multiple drives in a converged node. However, converged and hyper-converged systems can present vendor lock-in risks, so enterprises need to make their decisions carefully.

Optimize workloads for hyper-converged technologies

A hyper-converged data center is not the end-all answer for all IT problems. Because hyper-convergence requires a large amount of resources to be pooled together properly and work in collaboration, it's not suitable for all IT workloads.

For example, hyper-converged technologies are a good fit for VDI, because they can dedicate resources to handling login storms and reduce latency. Remote office and branch office configurations can also benefit from a hyper-convergence, as the plug-and-play format makes it easy for IT to deploy.

However, unpredictable and disparate IT workloads can be a problem for hyper-converged infrastructure. Because of this, IT shouldn't view a hyper-converged data center as a component of a larger cloud platform.

Increase scalability with a hyper-converged data center

There are a number of scalability benefits that come with hyper-convergence. For example, with a hyper-converged system, IT teams support growing workload demands by adding more nodes to a cluster, rather than having to replace existing servers.

It addition, these converged systems can help scale applications for distributed systems, such as a NoSQL database, by adding more database clusters to the infrastructure. While this is not a one-size-fits-all approach for all organizations, consider hyper-convergence for reduced operating costs and increased horizontal scale as the technology improves in the future.

Consider hyper-convergence for an SDDC

While hyper-converged systems deliver some software-defined parts, they can't deliver an entire software-defined data center (SDDC).

Hyper-converged infrastructure comes into the SDDC mix with its hypervisor, which provides some software-defined networking components on each node. This is a step in the right direction, but it's still far from a complete SDDC. Some hyper-converged options are more geared toward SDDC with backup and replication services that are policy-driven.

Most hyper-converged products offer some software-defined components to serve as the basis for an SDDC. And, to differentiate themselves in the market, many hyper-converged vendors will likely add more software-defined features moving forward.

Next Steps

Hyper-converged infrastructure becomes a more enticing option

How well do you know hyper-converged systems?

Storage in a bundle with hyper-convergence

This was last published in November 2016

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