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Hyperconverged Computing

Hyperconverged Infrastructure makes it possible to combine networking, storage, and computing into a single system.

The real meaning of "hyper-converged"

When the term ‘hyperconverged’ was coined, it meant a converged infrastructure solution that natively included the hypervisor for virtualization.
The “hyper” wasn’t just hype as it is today. This is an important distinction because it has specific implications for how the architecture can be designed for greater storage efficiency and simplicity.
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Who can provide a native hypervisor?

Anyone can, really. Hypervisors have become a market commodity with very little feature difference between them. With free, open source hypervisors like KVM, anyone can build on KVM to create a hypervisor unique and specialized to the hardware they provide in their hyperconverged appliances. Many vendors still choose to stay with converged infrastructure models, perhaps banking on the market dominance of VMware even with many consumers fleeing the high prices of VMware licensing

Benefits of HCI

Saving money is only one of the benefits of HCI. By utilizing a native hypervisor, the storage can be architected and embedded directly with the hypervisor, eliminating inefficient storage protocols, files systems, and VSAs.

The most efficient data paths allow direct access between the VM and the storage; this has only been achieved when the hypervisor vendor is the same as the storage vendor.

When the vendor owns the components, it can design the hypervisor and storage to directly interact, resulting in a huge increase in efficiency and performance.

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Efficient management

In addition to storage efficiency, having the hypervisor included natively in the solution eliminates another vendor which increases management efficiency.

A single vendor that provides the servers, storage, and hypervisor makes the overall solution much easier to support, update, patch, and manage without the traditional compatibility issues and vendor finger-pointing.

Ease of management represents a significant savings in both time and training from the IT budget.
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What does Hyperconverged Infrastructure include?

Although there are some software-only solutions that call themselves HCI, appliance-based HCI hardware solutions offeradditional benefits. Not only can a combined solution of hardware and software in an appliance be more thoroughly tested to avoid instability, but single-vendor support provided for a HCI appliance can cover both hardware and softwareseamlessly.

An HCI appliance can include server compute resources, the storage, preferably the hypervisor, and often disaster recovery and backup features. HCI is sometimes referred to as a “datacenter in a box” because, after the initial cabling and minimal networking configuration, it has all of the features and functionality of the traditional 3-2-1virtualization architecture.
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What's included:

Although HCI can sometimes be deployed as a single appliance for selected use cases, it is usually deployed as a cluster of appliances for high availability. This way, not only can an appliance absorb the loss of a disk drive, but the cluster can absorb the loss of an entire appliance. Clustering also allows the HCI system to scale seamlessly by adding more appliances to the cluster. Some HCI solutions require clustering appliances of the same model and configuration while others (like Scale Computing’s HC3 system) allow clustering of dissimilar appliances.
HCI solutions can generally be managed from a single management interface, eliminating the multiple management consoles and interfaces found in 3-2-1 architectures. This is not necessarily the case for HCI solutions using 3rd party hypervisors which typically end up using 2 interfaces. For HCI with a native hypervisor included, this single interface approach significantly reduces management time and effort and simplifies management tasks for the administrator.
Rapid Deployment
HCI systems can be deployed more rapidly than other virtualization solutions because of the appliance-based architecture. Racking and networking are often the most time consuming factors in implementation. Deployment times vary by vendor, especially if there is a 3rd party hypervisor to install and VSAs to configure but with a native hypervisor pre-loaded (as with Scale Computing’s HC3 system), an entire cluster of appliances can be up and running in under an hour.
Software and Hardware Updates
Doing regular system software and firmware updates can be a dreaded task but HCI tends to make this process easy. By owning the entire virtualization/server/storage stack and operating in a highly available cluster, updates can be performed automatically across the entire cluster. All software layers (hardware firmware, hypervisor, storage, and management) can be upgraded in unison as a single, fully tested system to eliminate component compatibility concerns. VMs can be automatically moved from appliance to appliance in the cluster as updates are made to keep all systems operational. HCI can eliminate downtime and headaches when performing updates, as seen in the Scale Computing HC3 system.
Backup and Disaster Recovery
Backup and disaster recovery are included at no extra cost in some HCI solutions to help eliminate yet another vendor from your IT environment. And truly, backup, failover, failback, and recovery should be a part of every IT environment. In that line of thought, it makes perfect sense to include these features natively in HCI solutions. Unlike 3rd party solutions, native solutions are typically embedded in the storage layer and allow innate awareness of block changes for cleaner backup, replication, and recovery options.
Lower Cost of Ownership
HCI may not always be the lowest cost solution in terms of the initial Capex investment although it often is because the ease of scalability allows organizations to purchase only the needed appliances and does not require excessive over-provisioning in the initial investment. Buying only what you need when you need it can lead to significant savings. In addition to Capex savings, HCI provides considerable Opex savings over time by greatly reducing the costs of management andmaintenance. Simplifying an IT environment with HCI can save over 50% in the total cost of ownership over 3-2-1 solutions
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