You might have heard about hyper-convergence, especially as applied to data centres and infrastructure. The term describes a system in which storage, networking, and virtualisation technologies are centralised and integrated (or converged) into a singular structure. The concept arose out of the drawbacks of first-generation data centres, which tended to treat existing components of the infrastructure as separate packages.
But these packages need to communicate on a near-instant basis. Especially the rise of cloud storage has necessitated a more fluid approach, in which storage is virtualised in a private environment that is both more flexible, more powerful, and more effective.
So much for the definition. As an IT decision maker, chances are you know this much about hyper-convergence in data centres. But do you know enough to make a choice that can move your operations in this direction? Here are 10 facts about hyper-converged data centres that your company should know to move forward.
1) Hyper-Convergence is Still in its Infancy…
In 2012, hyper-convergence did not exist. The concept is still in its infancy, having grown out of a need that simply was not obvious to most until the last five years.
2015 was the first year in which hyper-converged data centres were recognised as an industry in their own right. In the two years since, as the benefits of the concept become clearer, that growth is starting to accelerate.
2) … But it is Gaining Traction Quickly
According to Gartner, we are now less than five years away from hyper-convergence entering the main stream. The concept is expected to gain a market share of 24 per cent by 2019, turning into a $9 billion industry. In 2016 alone, it grew 79 per cent year-over-year. According to one Gartner expert:
We are on the cusp of a third phase of integrated systems. This evolution presents IT infrastructure and operations leaders with a framework to evolve their implementations and architectures.
3) Most IT Professionals are Just Catching Up
The same expert, of course, also points out that most cases of use of hyper-convergence have been limited. And that makes perfect sense; as any IT professional knows, a shift into virtualisation of this magnitude can come with significant risks. In other industries, risks can be significant; in technology, they can make the difference between a company’s life and death.
Fortunately, the evidence does suggest that demand is catching up to capabilities. Take the market growth above as an example, which looks to be a precursor for future success. Once more case studies and use cases enter the conversation, more companies will be willing to make the jump to hyper-convergence.
4) Hyper-Convergence Could be a Silo Buster
Integrating your data infrastructure into a single, virtualised system could naturally act as a silo buster. The right solution and data centre management could effectively act to circumvent past purpose-built solutions that required specialised, niche expertise and expensive micromanagement.
It’s too early in the cycle to know whether this will definitely be the case regardless of your solution.
5) The Staff Savings Could be Immense
Scaling IT as your business grows can be a significant challenge. In a hyper-converged data centre environment, that may not be the case. In fact, as the complexity of managing data streams and storage decreases so does the need for highly skilled professionals that need to be continually trained on new solutions.
Make no mistake: hyper-convergence does not make IT professionals irrelevant. As you build your data infrastructure, you will still need a team capable of taking care of that infrastructure and the centres in which the data is stored. The concept does, however, save significant time and resources, allowing your tech professionals to focus their efforts elsewhere.
6) Convergence and Hyper-Convergence are not the Same Things
It’s tempting to confuse hyper-converged data centres with their ‘regular’ converged alternatives. In reality, the latter has been around for a while. In the meantime, the former is an evolution of the latter that comes with significant differences.
Hyper-converged data centres, above all, are software based. The storage, rather than being attached to physical servers (even converged servers), runs in a service capacity on each node in the cluster. The result is a singular, integrated system that traditional converged data storage simply cannot achieve.
7) The Cost Savings Can be Significant
Not all hyper-converged solutions are alike. But generally speaking, the concept can save businesses around the world significant budget through its integration.
The reason goes beyond the lack of hidden costs, as detailed in #5 above. In addition, the scalability of the system allows businesses to build out their data centre as they grow, even providing automated provisioning of storage capacity for dynamic workloads.
8) Asia is at the Forefront of Hyper-Converged Infrastructures
Remember the point made in #1 above? As it turns out, Asia is ahead of the curve. In fact, a 2016 survey of 1,000 industry professionals found that 46 per cent of businesses in the Asia Pacific region have adopted hyper-converged infrastructure, compared to only 37 per cent of respondents worldwide.
The same survey also found that improving operational efficiency, managing data growth, and data centre consolidation are the top organisational priorities for IT professionals in Asia Pacific. That these priorities overlap directly with the benefits provided by hyper-convergence is further proof for the region’s increasing awareness and emphasis on the concept.
9) A Lack of Need and Potential Costs Prevent Some Companies From Embracing the Concept
Given the above benefits, it’s tempting to wonder just why some companies still look to stay away from hyper-converged data centres. Two reasons stand out: a lack of urgency in moving away from a system that works and the perceived costs of changing processes to overhaul existing data storage solutions.
Of course, these reasons may ultimately prove to be stepping stones, rather than insurmountable walls. As the world moves toward hyper-convergence, the status quo will no longer be cost-efficient. Over time, a single, integrated storage solution will simply outpace its more outdated alternative.
10) The Potential Applications for Hyper-Convergence Range Widely
As this story in Computer Weekly shows, we are only scratching the surface for the potential reach of the concept. As companies in all industries across APAC begin to recognise the benefits of hyper-converged data centres, vendors will continue to provide more customised solutions to help you succeed in your specific situation.
Already, the potential applications of the concept range widely. Tal Apparel, for example, valued the benefits of the concepts for its own IT infrastructure so much that the fashion warehouse and investing firm underwent a wholesale hyper-converged integration just last year.
The future will only bring more examples and case studies like Tap Apparel, who are beginning to use hyper-convergence to their advantage. The undeniable benefits make this option a central opportunity for your data centre to maximise its resources and optimise its efficiency.