Hyper-converged infrastructure options, vendors and installation tips

Last updated:June 2014

Editor's note

Hyper-converged infrastructure, although still an evolving technology, has received increased attention as a technology that can simplify the architecture of virtual environments.

Products that fall under the hyper-converged umbrella integrate compute, storage and virtualization resources that are preconfigured to work together. These products often include additional storage features such as deduplication or compression, as well as management functionality.

An early player on the hyper-converged scene was Nutanix, which continues to upgrade its platform to compete with Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise-owned SimpliVity and other vendors. Almost all early hyper-converged products were built around VMware hypervisors, but Nutanix and others have added support for additional hypervisors, which could lead to broader adoption.

There's a lot to evaluate when choosing to go the way of hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). For example, implementation details of HCI products can involve vendor lock-in. When a technology advances, IT must often wait on HCI vendors to catch up. And while hyper-converged systems offer similar features as software-defined storage, the two are actually quite different.

Not only is it important for IT staff to learn the ins and outs of hyper-converged infrastructure, but they must also be able to explain to management why the technology is worthwhile for an organization, especially with it still being relatively new. There's simplicity: HCI products require less time configuring components than with a traditional system. There's agility: HCI supports various storage systems, works in remote and branch offices, and can scale out. And there's lower cost: for example, it requires less hardware and fewer network components, and staff don't need to commit the same amount of time to data center tasks.

TechTarget already has a wealth of information to help organizations get in front of this emerging trend. This guide explains what's driving the "hype" in hyper-convergence, how the technology can benefit a virtual environment and what hyper-converged infrastructure options are available today.

1Hyper-convergence grows from virtualization

Some analysts argue that hyper-convergence is a product of converged infrastructure (CI). Offerings became hyper-converged once vendors began designing them with virtualization in mind, adding management layers and storage features. As these products are upgraded and new ones enter the playing field, it can be hard to differentiate hyper-converged infrastructure from other evolving storage technologies. Convergence also plays a role in the evolution of IT jobs, which has gone in a direction that IT administrators in siloed data centers may be uncomfortable with.

2Considerations for hyper-converged storage environments

The first reason a hyper-converged infrastructure might appeal to storage professionals is the convenience; there's very little configuration that needs to be completed, and commodity hardware often puts it at a lower price point. But convergence isn't right for everyone, and companies should know what they need before they dive in.

3Available hyper-converged infrastructure options

It started with just a few hyper-converged products, but an increasing number of vendors offer technology that falls into this category.