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Traditional definitions of hyper-converged infrastructure usually include the phrase "and sometimes network" when describing the physical resources that HCI makes virtual. Compute and storage are a given, as is virtualized management via a hypervisor. But many HCI products on the market don't include hyper-converged networking.
This isn't to say that virtualized networks in HCI don't exist. There are vendors, small and titanic, that offer hyper-converged network products to customers. Some bake networking right into the physical switches and their OSes, like Cisco HyperFlex. Others offer software-defined network products for use by HCI system manufacturers, such as Big Switch Networks and Plexxi, which Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced in May it would acquire for an undisclosed amount.
VMware and Microsoft have hyper-converged networking products or features available, and Nutanix Flow is the HCI pioneer's alternative to VMware NSX. One Cisco executive has even stated that separating networking software and functions from hardware is the future of networking as a whole.
In a traditional IT infrastructure, networking often requires separate or additional skills beyond what is required to manage the servers and storage. Applying hyper-convergence principles to the network enables vendors to sell products with easier management, a hallmark of all HCI products. While it's unlikely that IT departments can eliminate specialized network staff, bringing hyper-convergence to the network infrastructure can make network management easy enough for a wide range of IT staffers to handle.
So, take our quiz on hyper-converged networking, and see how up to date you are.