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Hyper-converged benefits and concerns for storage

There is a lot of information out there on hyper-converged storage, and it can be difficult to get down to basics. Here are five common questions about hyper-convergence, answered.

Should you go hyper-converged? That's the big question, and there are a million different answers as to why you should or should not hop on the hyper-converged storage bandwagon.

When it comes to storage, the verdict on whether going hyper-converged benefits you or not will vary from organization to organization. Depending on what you're looking for, what your other options are and how the higher-ups feel about it, you may decide it's not worth it.

From potential cost savings to simplified infrastructure, there is a lot to love about hyper-converged storage. When facing off with other storage options out there today, hyper-convergence holds its own. However, there are still some factors that may hold people back.

There are a lot of questions out there concerning different hyper-converged benefits and drawbacks, and the amount of information can get a bit overwhelming. Below, we answer five frequently asked questions that can help you get started with hyper-convergence, or just get a quick refresher on the technology.

What are the benefits of going hyper-converged?

Just as solid-state arrays have begun to replace disk arrays, hyper-converged storage has begun to supplant flash as the storage of choice for many. Why? As more people have begun using flash, questions about its performance and reliability have arisen.

As an alternative, hyper-converged storage offers not only higher performance, but potentially lower costs -- we'll get more into that later -- and simplified installation and use. Nearly all major storage platform vendors are offering hyper-converged storage products, making it readily available, with options suited to different organizations.

Does hyper-convergence really reduce costs?

As with most technologies touting cost savings, hyper-converged storage vendor claims come with an asterisk. At its most basic level, hyper-convergence can be a lower priced storage option. However, as features are added, costs go up.

Here you may find yourself asking, "Can't I just pass on adding extra bells and whistles?" Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Features that add costs to hyper-converged platforms are often important elements, like licensing costs, storage capacity and networking capabilities.

Why choose hyper-converged storage over the public cloud?

When deciding on a storage platform, it's a given that you will consider the alternatives, and for running enterprise workloads, the public cloud is a popular alternative to hyper-convergence. So do hyper-converged benefits outweigh those of the public cloud?

While the public cloud can help you save on hardware costs and can be easily scaled, it has its drawbacks. Large amounts of bandwidth may be required to communicate with the cloud, making it unsuitable for certain workloads. If you're considering hyper-converged storage, it's best to examine all the alternatives out there and find the one that best suits your needs.

How can I get the higher-ups on board?

Good news, you've decided on hyper-convergence! Less good news: Now you need to get the thumbs up from management. Taking on a hyper-converged storage infrastructure most likely requires approval from the company and definitely requires a budget.

To make your case, be sure to highlight the main hyper-converged benefits for storage: simplified IT, agility and lower total cost of ownership. As discussed above, that last benefit may require a bit more work on your part to establish a plan for keeping costs down over the lifecycle of the hyper-converged infrastructure.

Should I be worried about vendor lock-in?

While the one-stop shopping aspect of a hyper-converged platform is appealing in its simplicity, you may be concerned about getting locked into one vendor for all of your storage needs. Contrary to popular belief, there is no reason why you cannot buy the hardware components on your own after buying a hyper-converged product.

However, you will have to continue buying the accompanying software from the same vendor. Is this necessarily a bad thing? While a common hardware and software vendor can simplify things like maintenance, watch out for a lack of flexibility when it comes to support and any financial issues your vendor may be facing.

This was last published in November 2017

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