INTRODUCTION TO HYPERCONVERGENCE
Hyperconvergence is without doubt one of the hottest trends in the Integrated Systems market today. Its popularity is growing across all market verticals in businesses of all sizes looking for a means to simplify their data centre environments.
Born from a reaction to an increase in costs and complexities in traditional IT infrastructure, hyperconvergence takes converged infrastructure to the next level by allowing users to manage their compute, storage, network (and in some cases) hypervisor and backup in one bundled solution managed from a software-defined data centre. It’s a relatively simple concept, but one that’s beginning to dominate the IT market, with Gartner Inc. forecasting a 79% growth in 2016 alone and a $15-38bn market opportunity for hyperconverged systems between 2020 and 2030.
There are myriad benefits to implementing a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) to your data centre, including enhanced flexibility and scalability, accelerated deployment, a centralised data management system, improved protection and most importantly, reduced costs. It’s, therefore, no surprise that more and more businesses are migrating to HCI to manage their data requirements.
With more businesses taking notice of these benefits, there are a number of vendors offering their own HCI solutions to meet this growing demand. In this first of three articles, we’ll be providing a brief overview of one of the biggest hyperconvergence vendors, Pivot3, followed by reviews of alternative solutions from Nutanix and Simplivity, to help you decide which solution is the best match for your business needs.
A relative veteran in the hyperconvergence market, Pivot3 has long been the go-to supplier for the surveillance and security businesses and is now beginning to achieve a steady footing in the wider corporate market.
The early dominance of Pivot3 is largely thanks to its highly secure and resilient approach to data storage. By implementing distributed RAID architecture and by pioneering erasure coding technology to spread customer data across a cluster of units, Pivot3 enables its users to maximise their usable storage capacity and increase data utilisation as a result.
In a failure scenario, the remaining nodes in the Pivot3 system will take on the application workload, enabling maximum fault tolerance and data protection and allowing the company to market itself as one of the sole vendors committed to 99.9999% availability of customer data. Pivot3 has also recently introduced support for third party backup and disaster recovery solutions, but obviously, this will incur additional costs to your business.
Pivot3’s unique and intuitive approach to software-defined storage and data management solutions does set it apart from its competitors, but that doesn’t necessarily place its solution ahead of the pack in terms of manageability or value for money.
Nutanix is one of the most established brands in the hyperconvergence market, having first made a name for itself by becoming one of the pioneers of SSD storage and VMWare hypervisor support. Another coup for Nutanix was the company’s partnership with Dell in 2014 to meet demands for hyper-converged infrastructure from their consumers.
In terms of innovation, Nutanix seems to be coasting on its early successes rather than moving forward with more advanced infrastructure and custom-built solutions. That being said, Nutanix does now support its own Acropolis hypervisor, but the true success of its native solution remains to be seen.
Furthermore, up until 2015, Nutanix was only able to provide a hypervisor and storage solutions where other vendors (SimpliVity, for example) provide additional elements as standard. However, following an OEM deal signed with CommVault in 2015, Nutanix is now able to bolster its offering with enterprise-level backup support which could certainly make their offer more appealing to prospective customers.
From the outset, SimpliVity would appear to have an edge over its competitors, thanks to its bespoke solution with an advanced console consolidating compute, hypervisor, storage, backup and DR. SimpliVity’s focus on in-line data optimisation, compression and deduplication mean its users can reduce storage costs and physical space requirements by only saving data elements once, regardless of how often they appear across a data set.
Businesses working in virtualised environments will find this especially beneficial, and this is particularly beneficial for businesses with large amounts of documents, which can comfortably reduce their storage requirements by 40-50%. However, for businesses dealing with rich media as well as heavy databases and applications, deduplication technology will only work to minimally reduce storage requirements.
In terms of hypervisor support, SimpliVity currently only supports VMWare but will introduce support for Hyper-V within the next 12 months. While this could cut costs, it remains to be seen whether this new introduction will impact the centralised system’s overall usability.
As for costing, adopting SimpliVity’s fully-bundled solution is likely to save you money overall, however, if you only require individual elements of SimpliVity’s hyperconvergence solution you will most likely end up paying more than you would for those of other vendors. However, their unique approach to backup and DR can help save on administration and storage costs in the long term.
What is also worth bearing in mind here is that SimpliVity has built each individual element from scratch, so providing your IT engineers are well-versed in SimpliVity software; this may be worth the premium price tag.
There are a number of reasons why IT directors are migrating to a hyperconverged infrastructure, but the main aim should always be to simplify your data centre environment while improving operational efficiency through a flexible, scalable and centralised approach.
Reduced maintenance and administrator costs should also be a big draw for any business looking to update its infrastructure. The ability to easily scale out your infrastructure also has its obvious advantages, though it does come at a higher cost than more traditional approaches. It’s therefore vital that any business implementing a hyperconverged infrastructure accommodates its growing business requirements over the following few years.
The vendor you choose for your hyperconverged appliance will ultimately depend on the needs of your business and your ongoing data workload. Any savvy IT solutions provider will be able to support you in reviewing your existing infrastructure and future requirements, helping you make a confident, informed decision to enhance your existing infrastructure.