Scaling HCI Into the Enterprise Datacentre

Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) is rapidly gaining popularity and looks set to become a mainstay of the modern data centre. What makes it so appealing is the combination of storage, compute, networking and virtualisation within a single appliance from a single vendor that’s agile, scalable, easy to manage.

But the first wave of HCI focused on the entry end of the market, best suited for organisations with small IT departments. The major push when HCI first came to market was the simplification of the IT infrastructure. The target workloads were non-mission-critical applications, single workloads as well as branch office type applications that required greater flexibility and scalability, up to a point.

Ironically, although HCI was first introduced to eliminate traditional data centre silos, the smaller scale application and deployment often resulted in the creation of new hyper-converged silos within the data centre. HCI couldn’t be easily managed or integrated within the overall company environment because it simply wasn’t flexible enough, unable to work with existing storage and infrastructure.

Now we’re starting to see a shift whereby organisations are looking to put more complex, sophisticated workloads on the platform. There’s clearly a demand for an enterprise-scale hyper-converged offering that can deliver the performance, consistency and scaling required by next-generation applications.

Another downside of first-gen HCI solutions is that hardware configurations are pre-defined. The ability to customise based on a particular requirement is fairly limited since the storage and compute capacities can’t be scaled independently of one another. So if you need more compute capacity for example, you have to increase the number of nodes, which would mean you’re also getting more storage which you may not necessarily need. This can easily lead to over-provisioning in terms of either storage capacity or performance.

To address these limitations, NetApp HCI was designed as an enterprise-scale hyper converged infrastructure solution to meet the needs of the next-generation data centre. Realistically, as a company grows, resource requirements as well as infrastructure consumption will not grow linearly over time. For that reason, NetApp HCI comes with intelligent scaling. This gives enterprises the flexibility to independently manage the five basic pools of resources: storage performance, storage capacity, virtualized CPUs, virtualized memory, and licensing costs according to their unique requirements.

What this basically means is that NetApp HCI allows for a true pay as you grow model. Companies big and small have the option to buy what they need when they need it and then they can grow and scale out as their needs change later on. Furthermore, the ability to independently mix and match the different sizes of storage and compute nodes along with the ability to utilize existing vSphere licensing at any level enables users to easily consolidate all workloads across every application and scale in ways that won’t strand resources.

NetApp certainly aren’t the first to market in hyper-convergence, but with NetApp HCI they’re entering the market with the right approach and technological chops to bring a remarkable product to the table. With the architectural design choices NetApp have made, enterprises can now confidently scale on their own terms, making HCI viable for core data centre applications and platforms for the very first time. For more information, click here

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