Hyper-Converged Systems – The Biggest Data Centre Trend

Friday, April 17, 2015

IDC estimates that the market for hyper-converged infrastructure is in a nascent state of development and penetration but that the opportunity for this market is quite significant. Hyper-converged infrastructure, although still an evolving technology, has been receiving increasing attention as a technology that can simplify the architecture of virtual environments at a low cost.

Products in the hyper-converged category integrate compute, storage, networking and virtualisation resources that have been preconfigured to work together. Hyper-converged data centres have a single node that contains storage, networking, compute, and virtualisation. The beauty is that it's scalable by just adding more nodes as you go. Some vendors are calling it ‘infrastructure in a box’ or an ‘all-in-one' solution.

In the past, traditional IT infrastructures were made up of technology silos. They included experts in networking, storage, systems administration, and software. However, things have moved on in the past decade as virtualisation has become a prominent technology tying networks and servers together.

Then came converged systems which combined two or more infrastructure components as a pre-engineered solution. While converged solutions help organisations bypass the integration and configuration steps required to deploy virtualised infrastructure, they often require administrators to use multiple interfaces to manage each converged resource.

How Hyper-Converged Systems Differ From Converged Systems

The most important difference between the two technologies is that in a converged infrastructure, each of the components in the building block is a discrete component that can be used for its intended purpose -- the server can be separated and used as a server, just as the storage can be separated and used as functional storage. In a hyper-converged infrastructure, the technology is software defined, so that the technology is, in essence, all integrated and cannot be broken out into separate components.

Hyper-convergence is a type of infrastructure system with a software-centric architecture that tightly integrates compute, storage, networking and virtualisation resources and other technologies in a commodity hardware box supported by a single vendor. A hyper-converged system allows the integrated technologies to be managed as a single system through a common toolset.

Hyper-converged systems are being used in companies where the IT department is looking for simplicity. Maybe smaller companies without the resources to manage multiple systems or larger companies where managing a virtual infrastructure has become too complex. VDI implementations are often a natural fit for hyper-converged systems as they can reduce complexity and performance issues.

The Benefits of Hyper-Convergence

  • Truly modular resulting in a scale-out approach (by adding additional nodes to the base unit) as opposed to a scale-up one (by adding more drives, memory, or CPUs on an individual basis)
  • As close to plug-and-play as it’s possible to get. Deployment is a simple task of rolling the solution from a truck to the data centre and plugging it in. You can go from powering up the rack to the first VM deployment in a matter of minutes.
  • No downtime during planned maintenance, or in the event of disk, network, or host failures.
  • Can be maintained by a single team or person which frees up resources to focus on innovation for the business
  • Supported by a single vendor which greatly simplifies the upgrade process and can reduce maintenance costs

Nutanix – First To Market

Nutanix has been a key player in the emergence of the hyper-converged market and was early to demonstrate demand for the technology. The result has been a leading position in mindshare, as well as market share. The company generated 52% of all global hyper-converged revenue during the first half of 2014 and has clearly been planting the seeds for future growth.

Formed in 2009, Nutanix offered its Complete Cluster, a datacentre-in-a-box that combined Intel processors with PCIe and traditional format flash in a VMware-ready node that could scale out with other nodes via its Scale Out Converged Storage controller software.

Nutanix is providing the substrate for the software-defined datacentre, which will work more like the hyperscale datacentres operated by Google and Facebook, fusing datacentre services into one layer of machines. In this world the SAN will start to look like the mainframe. Like other hyper-converged offerings, Nutanix doesn't make use of external SAN/NAS storage but rather virtualised internal SSD+HDD storage within its server hardware and its distributed file system technology to decrease cost and latency.

Leading Players in the Hyper-Converged Market

Leaders: Nutanix
Major Players: Scale Computing
  Pure Storage
Contenders: Maxta






Hyper-converged systems are becoming more and more popular because they bring the advantages of simple designs, decreased administrative overhead and simplified vendor management to highly virtualised environments.

For any information or advice about the advantages that hyper-converged systems can bring to your organisation please call us on 1 300 780 730.

The Software Defined Data Centre (SDDC) is one trend that we recommend you don’t ignore or overlook. It’s here to stay and adds real value. Read more in our blog This Trend is Here to Stay!