Hyper-convergence is a software-centric architecture that tightly integrates compute, storage and virtualisation resources. Originally sold as a hardware/software appliance it is now generally sold as software that can run on industry standard hardware. The integrated technologies are managed as a central system through a common dashboard/tool set. Most systems require a minimum of three hardware “nodes” to provide high availability and can be expanded by the addition of nodes to the base unit. This group of nodes is commonly called a “cluster”.
Hyper-convergence shares many of the attributes of cloud computing in that it simplifies the deployment, management and scaling of IT resources and thereby reduce the cost of ownership. By utilising orchestration type features using wizards it removes some of the complexity and cost of storage management and data protection and the need for in-house storage specialists.
The HCI market began with a number of startups such as Nutanix, Pivot3 and SimpliVity. As the market has matured then the larger server and storage vendors such as Dell (inc VMWare), HPE and Cisco have moved in with their own products or have purchased existing players and adopted their product (HPE -> SimpliVity)..
The Insides (or how it works)
A typical hyper-converged platform integrates compute, storage and networking with an intelligent and automated management system that controls the operational aspects of the infrastructure.
Most HCI solutions work on the following basis:
They have a Distributed Data Plane that runs across a cluster of nodes delivering storage, networking and virtualisation services for VM’s or containers. They also have a Management Plane that allows for the easy administration of all HCI resources from a single view, and eliminates the need for separate management solution for servers, storage networks, storage and virtualisation.
Each node in the cluster runs a Hypervisor (such as VMware ESXi, Hyper-V or Nutanix AHV) and the HCI control features would run as a separate virtual machine on every node. This forms a fully distributed fabric that can scale resources with the addition of new nodes.
The Interest (Next Steps)
HCI has matured and is now suitable for all organisations from SME to Enterprise supporting any IT workloads. It is suitable at both the Datacentre and the Edge. Comtec work with the major players in this market including Nutanix, VMware vSAN, Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct, HPE Simplivity, Dell and Cisco Hyperflex.
The first steps to move to HCI is to contact Comtec and a specialist will work with you on a sizing exercise looking at the number of VM’s Storage IOPS required, types of workload to be provided and VM profiles needed – vCPU, RAM and HDD.