Converged Infrastructure (CI ) V/s Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI)

Converged (CI) and hyper converged infrastructure (HCI) are the hot topics in the market from 5 -6 years. But what key parameters differentiates converged and hyper converged?

Before discussing about these, why do we need these kind of infra in a modern datacenter model?

 Traditional Datacenter and IT infrastructure models were implemented and maintained at the multiple phases in different life cycles. More number of experts were required to be involved from each datacenter domains like Storage. network, hardware, Datacenter management team, so on. Lots of cost involvement, huge efforts and long duration to make the required applications up and running.

But many things have been changed since decade and also lots of innovation towards datacenter approach helped to implement a new solutions which can together saves cost and time in all phases of datacenter model approaches.

Virtualization became the key technology which can integrates all the domains together.

In overall, two methods or focus normally companies follow to innovate integration solutions (Converged or hyper converged)

Method 1:

Hardware focused Approach integrates different domains hardware’s into one block or solutions to address certain use cases for enterprise and SMB based business problems can be called as converged integrated systems.

Key innovators and companies in the market now are,

  • VCE Company formed under the joint venture & innovation from VMware, Cisco and EMC companies formally acquired by EMC  and now under the Dell’s umbrella. VCE’s VBlock, VxBlock converged product families are addressing converged Solutions
  • HP – HP converged infrastructure solutions integrates HP products from all the domains to built a block based solutions . HP’s 700x and 300 are addressing business challenges now.
  • NetApp – NetApp’s Flexpod converged infrastructure solution integrates Cisco, VMware and NetApp storage components
  • HitachiHitachi’s Unified computing platform product families (HCP)  integrates Hitachi products with VMware’s vSphere and Microsoft components to address different use cases
  • OracleOracles private cloud appliance X5-2 base rack integrates oracle products and softwares.

The main focus of all these vendors are to address datacenter challenges like – cost, time, resources, to reduce datacenter lifecycles.

Method 2:

Software based approach controls and integrates hardware systems to address new challenges like – datacenter scale out and scale up challenges, SDDC,  more easy way of implementing and managing environments compared to converged solutions, more cost and time savings approach.

Key innovators and companies in the market now are,

  • NutanixNutanix’s software based “Nutanix Xtreme Computing Platform” which delivers enterprise compute and storage through the deployment of commodity computing servers (called nodes) which each run a standard hypervisor and the Nutanix Operating System (NOS). Nutanix hyper converged solution simplifies enterprise datacenter infrastructure by integrating server and storage resources into a turnkey platform
  • VCEVCE’s VxRack (Flex, SDDC, Nutrino1000 families are the hyper converged products consists of hyper-converged rack-scale engineered systems, with integrated networking, to achieve the scalability and management requirements of traditional and cloud native workloads.
  • VCE’s VxRail is the  fully integrated, preconfigured, and pre-tested VMware hyper-converged infrastructure appliance family on the market. Based on VMware’s vSphere and Virtual SAN, and EMC software, VxRail delivers an all-in-one IT infrastructure transformation by leveraging a known and proven building block for the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC).
  • SimplivitySimpliVity releases IT from the unnecessary complexity of managing traditional infrastructure. Only SimpliVity delivers convergence that goes beyond compute, networking, and storage to integrate all IT infrastructure below the hypervisor. It’s an agile and cost-effective alternative to the public cloud.
  • Maxta –  Maxta’s MaxDeploy appliances and MxSP software solutions provide organizations the flexibility to hyper-converge on any x86 server, any combination of storage devices, and any compute abstraction layer, eliminating the need for complex and expensive storage arrays.

Including all the focuses of converged infrastructure solutions, hyper converged vendors also focus towards scale out, scale up datacenter models, SDDC enterprise and SMB based solutions.

Key differences between converged and hyper converged infrastructure are:

  • In converged infra solutions Virtualization hypervisor runs on the physical servers manages Virtual machines. Data Storage is provided to the VMs and physical servers from Directly attached storage (DAS), Network attached storage (NAS) or Storage area Networks (SAN) whereas in hyper converges nodes have locally attached HDDs for data storage capacity which includes Flash drives for high performance & cache and SAS and NL-SAS drives for data.
  • Multiple management layers to manage different components in a integrated converged solutions, whereas in hyper converged solutions, most of the vendors have single management layers which manages all the components.
  • Initial investment on Converged Infra would be costly whereas hyper converged infra can address this challenge by providing pay-as-you-grow model.
  • Scale up and scale out of datacenter requirements are easier in hyper converge systems whereas in converge systems requires new Block all together for scale out.
  • In converged infra, all the components in the building blocks are discrete ones which can be used for different purposes whereas in hyper convergence, it’s a software defined approach which controls the hardware components, which can’t be used as break out approach as like server can be separately used as server and for storage components in converged systems
  • Converged infra uses cases are mostly addresses the enterprise business challenges where as hyper converged  solutions address mostly towards SMB based challenges.
  • One advantage of converged infrastructure is its support and service model (one vendor for all components). maintenance cost will be less.

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