How hyper-converged secondary storage fits in the HCI world


Converged secondary storage expands the HCI model

Hyper-converged secondary storage takes the concept of hyper-converged infrastructure for primary storage and adapts it for secondary storage. But instead of combining storage, servers, virtualization and networking into one product, it merges non-primary storage use cases. These include data backup, disaster recovery, archiving and copy data management.

Placing them on one hardware system or under a common management system makes these secondary storage functions more efficient and reliable. One of the primary benefits of HCI in general also applies to hyper-converged secondary storage -- easier management. The software used to make secondary storage more efficient often requires a great deal of management attention to reduce data backup conflicts or errors in systems that often rely on things like temporary copies of data to check for redundancies. Using the virtualization and single-pane management features of HCI in secondary storage helps reduce that complexity. In addition, using a hyper-converged infrastructure for secondary storage enables end users to archive entire virtual machines that no longer have a function but may be needed at a future date.

The market is still relatively small for HCI secondary storage, but one of the pioneers in the market, Cohesity, reported a 600% growth in revenue in 2017 over the previous year. The company more than doubled both the size of its workforce and the number of customers in 2017. Another relative newcomer, Rubrik, has helped make the concept popular, and backup software vendors such as Commvault and Asigra have gotten into the act.

Like HCI in general, hyper-converged secondary storage was initially aimed at small to midsize customers but the target market has expanded to enterprise companies.