What is HCI (Hyper-Converged Infrastructure)

HCI is a virtual architecture that integrates basically everything your datacenter needs in a single commodity appliance supported by a single vendor.  Compute, networking, storage and virtualization are all included in a single box as opposed to the trend the past several years of separating everything out.  The beautiful thing about HCI is that now your infrastructure is interchangeable.  To grossly over-simplify, if you need more compute?  Add a compute module.  Need more storage?  Plug it in…and so on.  It really is a simple as that.  Once the chassis is full, add another one and everything is fully scalable.  Depending on how you want to configure it, the storage in each individual box could become a pool of shared storage across the entire organization.  In short, HCI is the ability to right-size and build your back office without having to bake in any overhead.  It’s truly pay-as-you-grow.

How does it differ from Converged?  Converged hit the scene several years ago and was really a way to tie all of the different pieces (compute, storage, etc) together so that operation was efficient.  There was limited ability to manage the pieces together but most of the time each piece was managed separately.  In addition, to scale it out could prove to be costly as often you ended up having to over-buy something for scalability.  Often time that over-provisioning turned out to be wasted resources.  The way HCI works is, you have everything in one node (node can interchange between a piece of a block being the 4 in 1 2U appliance, or a full 1U/2U standalone appliance), but each piece has everything in it, compute, storage, and networking…  what differs is that you can “upgrade” an existing node, as in add additional SSD or HDD if the node allows, add additional memory, or possibly a second CPU or upgrade to a higher core count if you chose to.  Beyond that, when you add an “additional” node to the cluster, you can select different configurations…  need additional compute, add a compute HEAVY node…  need additional storage, add a storage node which is storage HEAVY with limited compute, etc.  Typically the first 3 nodes match in configuration for failover and redundancy reasons, but they do not have to match, which is the icing on the cake.  An unlimited number of differing configurations could be designed, simply taking into consideration the amount of redundancy and failover capacity is required for each customer’s unique needs and requirements.

Why HCI?  I’m glad you asked…  😊   We’ve already mentioned several benefits so let’s itemize them here:

  • Simple management – Since everything is single-vendor, it is all managed through a single pane of glass. Imagine being able to manage your entire infrastructure through one session.
  • High Availability – HCI basically eliminates the “single-point-of-failure” and provides as close to perfect up-time as it gets.
  • Scalability – Easy to grow, easy to scale, easy to deploy. Did I mention it’s easy?
  • Single Vendor – You’ve heard of the “one-throat-to-choke” concept. I used to have a customer who chose to refer to me as his “OAK” (One A** to Kick).
  • ROI – Customer have seen as much as an 80% reduction in footprint by moving to HCI. Less footprint means less power consumption, less cooling, less wasted overhead.
  • Improved operational efficiency – Getting more done with less, allowing your IT staff to turn their attention to ways to save money and increase productivity.

HCI By The Numbers1:  Some key stats to consider.

  • 7 and half MONTH payback
  • 518% average ROI in 5 years
  • 55% faster application development life cycle
  • 36% lower cost of operation

Expected growth:  In 2014, Wikibon charted expected HCI growth which has proven to hold a good deal of accuracy so far.

Why BlueLine Services?  BLS has been in business for over 18 years.  We are always on the cutting edge of technology and have a wide range of experience with clients in an ever-expanding range of industries.  As such, we have become experts in HCI.  We work with several vendors and are completely vendor agnostic, meaning we will scope out your unique needs and configure a solution that is both appropriate and future-ready.  Our team of experienced IT professionals operate under the mandate that “Service is the Differentiator”.  We offer 24×7 support and availability.

1 Villars, Richard and Perry, Randy. IDC White Paper, “The business value of VCE Vblock Systems, Leveraging Convergence to Drive Business Agility,” (May 2015).

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