This content is part of the Essential Guide: Predicting hyper-converged infrastructure vendors' next moves

What to expect from HCI software vendors in 2017

Hyper-converged software vendors have historically worked only with specific hardware makers, but a more open market could simplify and drive down the cost of deploying HCI.

As the converged and hyper-converged infrastructure markets continue to grow and evolve, it's important to consider the direction these technologies are headed and what to expect from them in 2017.

Hyper-converged software vendors have the ability to work with any hardware manufacturers they want, but have traditionally stuck to specific partnerships. A breakdown of this siloed approach has the potential to lead to more efficient networking and server performance, as well as reduced cost, but how do IT administrators and buyers know what exactly to expect?

To help answer that question, we asked three experts

What changes do you expect to see from converged and hyper-converged infrastructure in 2017?

Jim O'Reilly: The converged and hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) markets are rapidly evolving, and 2017 will see major changes in products and how vendors offer them.

I predict that the spectrum of hardware that vendors offer will expand to accommodate many different use cases. Hardware platforms will move from using hard drives as primary storage to instead using solid-state drives (SSDs) and nonvolatile dual in-line memory modules (NVDIMMs), including Intel's Optane technology. This will stress the networking structure, and vendors will adopt multiple 25 Gigabit Ethernet links by midyear to step up performance.

The move toward fast SSDs and NVDIMMs will push in-memory products to the fore. Coupled with containers, this will reduce the total server count in a given environment, but improve the efficiency of those servers.

The ecosystem of hyper-converged software will expand, and as HCI software vendors open sales to all comers, shops will be able to assemble systems built on white boxes. This approach will be more cost-effective. At the same time, the rich set of software offerings will open up configuration and use case options considerably.

Hopefully, to allow easy interoperability of these HCI software services, we'll soon have an accepted industry API standard. This will provide a design target for service module developers to build and test against.

Orchestration tools are still evolving, too. In 2017, I hope we'll see tools that integrate software-defined networking (SDN) and SDS and tie back to apps and virtual machine management. Remember that SDS has a two year lag on SDN and is still playing catch-up. 

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