This article provides insight into Converged Infrastructure (CI), Cluster-in-Box or Cloud-in-Box (CIB), along with Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) topics along with links to companion resources. CI, CIB and HCI can be complete data infrastructure for smaller environments, or component building blocks in larger organizations.
As a refresher, data infrastructures exist to support business cloud and information technology (IT) among other applications that transform data into information or services. Technologies that make up data infrastructures include hardware, software, cloud or managed services, servers,storage, I/O and networking, along with people, processes, and policies, along with various tools spanning legacy, software-defined virtual, containers and cloud.
What's the Best: CI, HCI, or CIB?
A common question I get asked is, "What is the best CI, CIB, or HCI solution, product, or vendor?"
Of course, if you know me, my answer is, "It depends."
It depends on what you are trying, need, or want to do. It also depends on your applications, along with their current and future growth needs — among other questions. I also turn the question around and ask people what they are looking for, or why they want CI, CIB, HCI, as well as what they want or need as their point of convergence? For example, are they looking to converge around hardware (e.g. servers, storage or networking), software (hypervisors, operating systems, data services), dashboards or other management tools, interfaces, data protection, some applications, or perhaps a particular product or vendor?
What this all means is that technology, product, protocol, file system, data services, feature functions, aggregated, disaggregate, speeds feeds, slots and watts, and software-defined aside, it comes down to what your applications need, as well as the outcome or enablement benefit that a CI/HCI solution provides.
Different Solutions for Various Environments
Just as everything is not the same across different environments ranging in size, scope, number, and application type or industry focus, there are many CI, CIB, and HCI solutions along with packaging. Some of these solutions or products are targeted at smaller-medium business (SMB), remote office branch office (ROBO), workgroup, departmental, or specific workloads, such as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), and workspaces. Other solutions are more flexible, supporting not only VDI, but also more traditional general purpose needs, as well as demands on the database, among other components, on a large or small scale.
What About Aggregate and Disaggregate?
The following images look at disaggregated (CI) along with aggregated (HCI) infrastructures.
What Are Some Considerations?
Considerations for CI, CIB, and HCI include, among others:
- Where or what are the vendor, technology, or solution lock-ins?
- Is lock-in a concern or issue?
- What interoperability exists with your existing environment?
- Can you bring your own licenses, use your own equipment, reconfigure to meet your needs?
- Fast applications and fast servers need fast server storage I/O resources.
- Aggregations (consolidations) can cause aggravation (bottleneck headaches).
- Does a particular solution fit smaller SMB, ROBO, workgroup, or departmental needs?
- Can a solution scale up and out with stability while not introducing complexity?
Is HCI Just for Small Environments?
That depends on in part on particular product solutions. Some are focused on smaller environments, which has also led to the perception by some customers that HCI is only for the small. On the other hand, there are approaches, solutions, and packaging that addresses the needs of those who need to scale up and out.
There are also solutions that focus on VDI and workspace, others on general purpose, including mission critical ones with databases, while others on high performance computing (HPC), supercomputer (SC), Big Data analytics, among others. In other words, look beyond products that try to define the market based on their abilities, as there are others that can meet added or broader market capabilities.
Where to Learn More
The following are links to various articles, webinars, tips and commentary on CI, HCI, CIB along with related cloud, software-defined, management as well as data protection topics.
Via SNIA ESF Webinar (PDF): What Does Hyperconverged Mean To Storage
Networkworld: Whats a Data Infrastructure?
EnterpriseStorageForum: Storage Hyperconvergence: When Does It Make Sense?
EnterpriseStorageForum: Is Future Storage Converging Around Hyper-Converged?
EnterpriseStorageForum: Looking Beyond the Hype at Hyperconvergence in Storage
SearchDataCenter: Life beyond Vblock: VCE repositions as EMC’s new converged division
StorageIOblog: EMCworld 2016 EMC Hybrid and Converged Clouds Your Way
StorageIOblog: Convergence: People, Processes, Policies and Products
StorageIOblog: VCE revisited, now & zen