Despite the amount of press and buzz about public cloud and hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI), both architectures are still in their infancy. The vast majority of enterprise business critical systems still reside in on-premise datacentres, but no-one doubts that change is already happening.
Clearly the many years of investment in open systems, built on in-house datacentres with SAN based storage, cannot be erased overnight or even over a few years, it will likely take tens of years before we see this type of technology become legacy. However, it is also clear that new investment in siloed compute, network and storage is reducing rapidly in favour of public cloud or alternative solutions such as HCI.
So far, the drift towards these new platforms has been tactical rather than strategic. Companies will identify a specific application, or look at non-critical systems, or even look at an isolated new project and dabble by putting that onto a cloud platform such as Azure of investing in HCI specifically for that single application.
The irony in this should not be overlooked.
One of the real benefits of these new platforms is that they overcome a siloed approach. All aspects of IT infrastructure become managed together. However, by implementing these new platforms, tactically the new infrastructure becomes a new silo (albeit more manageable) that runs separately and concurrently with the legacy infrastructure.
This is not surprising, it’s a big step with far too much risk to move an entire operation away from a proven platform to a completely new technology. Therefore “dabbling” is a good way for IT teams to understand how platforms such as public cloud and HCI really perform.
Add to that that Public Cloud and HCI are in the early iterations, it is questionable whether they really could provide the scale and performance required by enterprise class IT operations. NetApp recently announced what they refer to as next generation HCI which they believe answers scalability questions and makes replacing an entire infrastructure possible.
Developments like this will accelerate the move away from traditional fixed datacentres. IT departments want to get out of managing the infrastructure and focus more on service levels and application management. That is why public cloud is so appealing. However Public cloud comes with sovereignty, connectivity performance and long-term cost issues that means it is unlikely that most companies will ever move everything to public cloud.
This is where next generation HCI combines so perfectly. At its core HCI is the same technology that underpins public cloud. Massively scalable with simplified management. Essentially HCI will enable true benefits of cloud within your own datacentre, and with companies like NetApp who embrace public cloud with their Data Fabric, the ability to move and manage workloads between on premise cloud built on HCI and public cloud when relevant, is truly starting to become a reality.
For more information, click here to read Gartner framework and compare HCI architectures.