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Ensuring that your organization's IT department is ready to implement converged or hyper-converged infrastructure is vital to a successful transition; IT infrastructure planning is key.
Converged and hyper-converged platforms have a lot in common, so some elements of IT infrastructure planning for convergence and hyper-convergence are similar. But CI and HCI have significant differences when it comes to expanding IT resources.
With CI, each component can stand alone; it's easy to scale up individual pieces. For example, you can add more storage or CPUs by simply adding a box. With HCI, adding individual components is almost impossible. You must add another entire node to increase any one resource. Scaling out in this way, however, increases all resources equally in hyper-converged platforms.
The most important step in planning for either CI or HCI is determining which applications it will run. Once you determine that, analyze the applications' patterns to find bottlenecks and prevent issues such as boot storms. This information will allow you to see how much storage, networking and compute applications consume at peak usage times and provision the right resource amounts.
Choosing between CI and HCI
The applications you will run determine whether CI or HCI is the right choice for your organization. If the end use is virtual machines (VMs) then HCI is likely the best way to go. Most of the VMs will share the same resource profile -- amount of storage, compute and network -- so scaling out the way HCI does makes the most sense.
With a database, the need to scale up individual components, such as storage, as the database grows may make CI the better choice. Also, the way HCI uses the hypervisor to manage network activity may result in lower network performance than in CI, where the overall network is still managed outside the CI.
That doesn't mean that HCI will never be the right choice for a database. If the growth of the storage capacity, compute demands and network access are fairly static, then hyper-converged platforms would work.
Specific planning for CI and HCI
The most important aspect of IT infrastructure planning if the choice is CI is the growth of the individual components in the system. Growth projections for storage demands are usually the most dynamic. Even though CI gives you the flexibility to expand individual components ad hoc, proper planning for expansion will help keep costs down and uptime high.
Staffing becomes one of the most important elements in IT infrastructure planning when the choice is HCI. The growth projections for the number of end users of VMs will determine your future need for scaling out the HCI system. In addition, the easier management of HCI over CI and traditional data center architectures means your department might need fewer staff members, which results in savings.