Converged and hyper-converged infrastructures are becoming more ubiquitous in the IT market. Yet even as the terms themselves are used more often, there is still debate about what, exactly, is needed before a product becomes "converged."
Ben Woo, managing director of analyst firm Neuralytix, gave his view on the issue in a Storage Decisions presentation, starting with the question, "What is converged?"
Woo put forward some commonly cited technological requirements for converged systems. To him, converged is dependent on bringing together discrete technological components "into something that's much more manageable." This comes from the single pane-of-glass management approach. IT departments can manage all their technical requirements together instead of dealing with them as separate infrastructures.
For Woo, "that's the most basic element of converged."
In his definition of converged, Woo stepped away from the technology itself and brought in the business process of purchasing the infrastructure. He argued that a converged infrastructure should require only one purchase order and one IT service contract because "the idea of converged must exist with one purchase order buying everything."
What works for the management of technology also applies to the purchasing of these technologies. In the same way single pane-of-glass management makes converged systems easy to use, a single IT service contract can greatly ease the burden of an IT department.
When not using a converged system, a company may require a wide range of IT service contracts, constantly needing to renew contracts or renegotiate for the best prices.
If you are managing more than one IT service contract, "you did not buy a converged infrastructure," Woo stated.
Woo also expounded on the difference between converged and hyper-converged systems. To him, it is "a matter of scale." Hyper-converged systems tend to come prepackaged, whereas converged systems may be cobbled together from different technologies. The result is that hyper-converged systems tend to be more compact and streamlined, and the consumer pays less for "floor space, cooling [and] power."
Transcript - Convergence offers single pane-of-glass management to ease IT burden
Ben Woo, managing director of analyst firm Neuralytix, discussed converged technology and a single pane-of-glass management approach during a presentation at TechTarget's Storage Decisions conference. The text has been edited for clarity.
What is converged? Converged has a lot of different meanings for a lot of people. Converged could be bringing data centers to cloud -- well that's hybrid, and it's another word for it, right? So what is converged?
Converged, in the context we're talking about, is about bringing discrete components of technology -- and I look at those as being compute, networks, storage [and] management -- into something that's much more manageable.
I still have all those components, but for me, converged is trying to get my arms around this. That's what converged means to me.
There are two types of convergence out there. The one on the right is -- and I use a Vblock as an example -- is taking these discrete elements and putting it all in a box. We put it all into a rack, we put a beautiful symbol on the side, and we've just converged everything.
The important thing isn't that we put that into a rack. The important thing is that we have a piece of software that makes that all look pretty, and we put all the panes of glass that used to be there onto one, hopefully useful, pane of glass. That's the most basic element of converged.
The second component of converged is what I've got here as the second blue dot or bullet. [There is] one PO [purchase order], one service contract. So let me explain something. Reference architectures are not converged, they're just reference architectures. The idea of converged must exist with one purchase order buying everything. Now who does that really, really well? Your resellers, they bundle everything together, you write them one PO, they write 15 other POs in the background, but you get one SKU (stock keeping unit).
That's awesome. But the question I have for you is: "How many service contracts do you have to manage?" If the answer is more than one, you did not buy a converged infrastructure.
The second way we can look at this is as a matter of scale. What we saw before was discrete storage and software, management, servers and networking. Now we squeeze them all together and miniaturize most of it, still having the components of storage, network, compute and management all in the same box; that's where we get hyper-converged.
That's where we all dance around and say "Awesome, it's not as big as I used to have. I don't have to pay as much for floor space, cooling, power or any of those things."
And that's where you get the happy dance around hyper-converged.
It's a function of scale, not a function of technology. Now they have slightly different uses, but for the purposes of what we're talking about, for now, they're the same thing; it's a matter of size.