What You Need to Know About Hyperconverged Infrastructure
February 10, 2017 | by Wenqi Clark
In the past two years, the hyperconverged market has grown tremendously. Numbers from Gartner, Inc. forecasts hyperconverged integrated systems (HCIS) will become mainstream in the next five years. We have certainly seen more and more customers in state and local government and education starting to investigate this solution.
What is Hyperconverged Infrastructure?
The definition from the most recent Gartner report:
Integrated systems are a combination of server, storage and network infrastructure, sold with management software that facilitates the provisioning and management of the combined unit.
Here integrated systems refer to a broader concept, Gartner categorizes these classes of integrated systems (among others) as:
- Integrated stack systems (ISSs) — Server, storage and network hardware integrated with application software to provide appliance or appliance-like functionality. Examples include Oracle Exadata Database Machine and Teradata.
- Hyperconverged integrated systems (HCISs) — Tightly coupled compute, network and storage hardware that dispenses with the need for a regular storage area network (SAN). Storage management functions, plus optional capabilities like backup, recovery, replication, deduplication and compression, are delivered via the management software layer and/or hardware, together with compute provisioning. Examples include Nutanix, Scale Computing, Cisco (HyperFlex) and SimpliVity.
- Integrated infrastructure systems (IISs) — Server, storage and network hardware integrated to provide shared compute infrastructure. Examples include EMC Vblock Systems and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) ConvergedSystem 700.
- Integrated reference architectures (IRAs) — Products in which a specification for a logical set of hardware and/or software components for an integrated system are certified by two or more vendors (ideally with a common source of service and support). Examples of all listed integrated system types can be deployed as reference architectures.
Our focus today is on hyperconverged integrated systems (HCISs), where we see more interests shared among our customers. Even with the four different categories listed above, they still overlap and compete with each over on use case, product positioning, and underlining design of the product itself. Regardless of what approach it takes, the end result is to solve business problems. Either it’s cost issue, managing complexity, or delivering IT as a service (ITaaS).
What does the market look like?
If you look back a couple of years, a few niche players entered the hyperconverged Market, major system vendors were still focused on Blades, SAN and Networking infrastructure. Gartner’s forecast of the market value was merely $900 million at one time, as I recall, it was targeting application specific use case, VDI, as one of the most successful deployments.
But now, the market has shifted, compared to the forecast we’ve been given by Gartner today, hyperconverged will be the fastest-growing segment across all integrated systems, reaching almost $5 billion, which is 24 percent of the market, by 2019. Although the overall integrated systems market is growing, other segments of the market will face cannibalization from hyperconverged systems, Gartner analysts said.
By 2019, approximately 30% of the global storage array capacity installed in enterprise data centers will be deployed on software-defined storage (SDS) or hyperconverged integrated system (HCIS) architectures based on x86 hardware systems, up from less than 5% today. Twenty percent of mission-critical applications currently deployed on three-tier IT infrastructure will transition to HCISs by 2020.
More and more customers are choosing hyperconverged solutions to replace their traditional IT infrastructure.
Who are the main players?
Gartner Magic Quadrant is the best indicator in the industry:
Nutanix is a fairly new company compared to the major manufacturers in the leader quadrant, but it entered the hyperconverged market very early and very successfully. It has been the “mind share” leader in the hyperconverged space since 2011. It has captured more than 50% of the HCIS market by revenue, with over 3,200 customers worldwide. Nutanix Prism, the management tool, provides an end-to end manageability from underlining hardware to hypervisor software. Nutanix also supports multiple hypervisors, one-click conversion and cross-hypervisor disaster recovery and backup.
Dell & EMC
With the Dell EMC merger, things will get interesting around its go to market strategy on hyperconverged solutions. Dell offers the Nutanix platform running Dell hardware. With the large market share Dell holds both in server and storage market, Dell certainly has its advantage competing in this market. On the other hand, EMC has its own version of a hyperconverged solution – VxRail, launched back in February of last year. These are hyperconverged systems, based on Quanta Computer hardware, VMware vSphere and VSAN software, with additional management software from EMC.
HPE and SimpliVity
HPE entered the hyperconverged market with multiple converged, hyperconverged, and reference architectures. Similar to Dell, HPE holds a large market share in both server and storage, so entering the hyperconverged market was a natural progression. One of HPE’s stated goals is to radically simplify and speed up deployment (thus, the introduction of the Hyper Converged 380 [HC 380]). HC 380 is also the most popular product among our customer base.
HPE announced it would acquire SimpliVity in January. No doubt more features and functions will be added to the HPE hyperconverged portfolio from SimpliVity in the near future. HPE stated in its announcement: “By bringing together HPE’s best-in-class infrastructure, automation and cloud management software with SimpliVity’s industry leading software-defined data management platform, HPE and its partner ecosystem will deliver the industry’s only “built-for-enterprise” hyperconverged offering.”
It will be a strong road map combining both resources. SimpliVity’s unique technology provides data deduplication and compression, and one of the key feature, offloading heavy data processing to the PCIe Accelerator Card. Backup solution and off-site disaster recovery capability is also a strong suit.
Why should you consider Hyperconverged?
When your IT refresh cycles are coming up, and you are investigating the new generation of servers and storage, often times customers will consider taking a look at hyperconverged. Here are a few things to draw your attention:
- Centralized management: in a traditional environment, IT staff has to login to different systems to manage the components of its infrastructure, server hardware, SAN, network switches, and Hypervisor. With the hyperconverged approach, the goal is to manage everything in one place. It’s a software-focused and software-defined solution.
- Scalability: hyperconverged solutions are scalable building-blocks, allowing you to expand your IT infrastructure by simply adding more units. This makes the IT budget planning easier than before.
- Lower cost: a hyperconverged solution, in many cases, offers better ROI than traditional infrastructure. Many of our customers found it more cost-saving to move toward a hyperconverged platform than purchasing server, SAN and switches separately.
- VM focus: automation is the fundamental component of a hyperconverged solution, as all work is now performed in a shared system. Everything is managed in a centralized platform, and administrative tasks are simplified.
This list can go on and on, but the bottom-line is: with the hyperconverged technology, traditional environments can be transformed into a new platform. “It’s a cloud economics, without the cloud.”Why should you consider #hyperconverged technology to replace traditional IT infrastructures? Click To Tweet