Selecting data center infrastructure: It’s all about the use case

Growth estimates for the hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) market may lead some to believe that every data center professional is abandoning more traditional converged infrastructure systems in favor of the shiny and new. But a closer look at how HCI is different from converged infrastructure (CI) paints a more nuanced picture. As Alastair Cook notes in a SearchVirtualDesktop article, “CI and HCI simplify things differently and are useful in different situations.”

An August 2015 Gartner report forecasts total integrated system spending will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19 percent from 2014 through 2019, reaching a total of $20.4 billion. This is a significant increase in the proportion of overall data center hardware spending that this category represents, up from 7.9 percent in 2013 to 22.6 percent in 2019.* The rise in popularity of both CI and HCI systems can be closely tied to the faster deployment times and simpler operations they afford, coupled with a rising expectation among business users for instant delivery of new applications and functionalities. Most of the time, it is simply not possible to fulfill these demands with legacy infrastructure and traditional approaches.

For any new data center project, it’s worth considering options in both CI and HCI categories and determining the best fit based on workload requirements, as each has unique benefits and drawbacks.

HCI is a converged infrastructure with a software-driven architecture that vendors run with generic hardware. Compute and storage are typically included in a single box, along with a unified software management layer. Capacity can be expanded simply by adding more boxes, but cost can become an issue at large scale because software on each node acts as the storage cluster. This is referred to as HCI resource tax.

CI, on the other hand, refers to pre-assembled and integrated compute, network and storage units and is often based on partnerships between hardware vendors. FlexPod, which includes Cisco servers and routers and NetApp storage systems, is an example. Using traditional methods, CI configuration is not as fast as HCI, but this drawback alone should not compel IT professionals to turn to HCI if CI is the better fit for the application they plan to deploy. StrataCloud SDI Install addresses the challenge of lengthy deployment times through software that automates configuration of CI.

In the following video, StrataCloud CEO Brian Cohen offers more details about HCI and CI and explains how StrataCloud aims to provide the ease of implementation and management that HCI provides to CI environments.

*Gartner, Forecast Analysis: Integrated Systems, Worldwide, 1Q15 Update, Adrian O’Connell, 05 August 2015

About the Author

Lanier Norville

Lanier has been writing and editing for online publications for more than six years. Before joining StrataCloud, she led the content team at AirWatch, where she launched the AirWatch Blog and anchored AirWatch TV. Lanier has also served as the chief editor of TechNation and other magazines. She has worked with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Rick Bragg and has won several writing awards of her own. She is passionate about storytelling, emerging technology and the way software increasingly shapes our world.