This content is part of the Essential Guide: Data center convergence and the role of storage

How can I decide between converged and hyper-converged infrastructures?

Is a converged or hyper-converged deployment the best option for you? While both infrastructures are similar, there are key differences in use cases and deployment.

The key to determining which type of infrastructure you should select is to understand the differences between converged and hyper-converged deployments. Both of these terms have been evolving significantly over the last year or so, and every vendor seems to have its own idea of what convergence and hyper-convergence entail.

For the purposes of answering this question, think of converged systems as being compute, storage and network hardware sold as a turnkey product. The individual components have been certified by the vendor to work together. Although not technically a requirement, it is common for all of the hardware components to be of the same brand.

A hyper-converged system is also designed to be a turnkey offering. The key difference between converged and hyper-converged options, in this regard, is that hyper-converged systems are based around a series of modular nodes, each one of which contains compute, network and storage resources. Hyper-converged products typically also include tightly integrated virtualization and management software.

Converged and hyper-converged systems also have different use cases. Converged systems are best suited to situations in which the organization requires a high degree of control over the hardware.

Converged systems vendors commonly allow customers to choose the specific compute, network and storage components that best fit their requirements. Although these components are often preconfigured, it is possible to make configuration changes to individual components within the converged stack. As such, converged systems are best suited for enterprise environments with the IT staff expertise to configure and manage such systems.

Hyper-converged systems, on the other hand, are based around very tightly integrated hardware and software. While this tight integration allows hyper-converged systems to be deployed quicker and easier than converged systems, the tradeoff is a lack of flexibility. Typically, hyper-converged systems are built in such a way that granular management of individual components is prevented.

Converged and hyper-converged systems both have their benefits, but hyper-convergence is ideal for use in SMB environments that may lack the IT expertise to fine-tune individual components. Hyper-convergence is also often the choice for branch offices and virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

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