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All things converge—and storage runs through it

River_valley_sized.jpgHave you ever watched the Robert Redford movie, A River Runs Through It? In it there’s a famous line: “Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”

The explosion of hyper-convergence into the marketplace in the past couple of years has had me thinking about just how far we can go in merging, if you will, the separate components of traditional IT – servers, storage, networking and management. All things IT will eventually converge, no doubt. We may be a ways from that point, but it’s clear which way the river of storage innovation is flowing.

With hyper-convergence, it’s flowing into compact, super-efficient, software-defined forms and architectures that deliver fast time-to-value and greatly simplify day-to-day operations. Everything’s pre-configured – you get virtualized compute, a shared storage array and central, integrated management, all in a single compact appliance. 

You may have heard hyper-convergence described as “an automated software-defined data center in a box,” and that’s not a bad way to think about it. I like to think of its value in terms of the 3 E’s – the things that a true hyper-converged system should be able to provide for your business:

Economics. A hyper-converged system shouldn’t deliver a large dent to your CAPEX. And if you want to scale it up, you should be able to do so at a very predictable investment cost, because you’ve got that fixed ratio of storage to compute.

A hyper-converged solution should merge easily with your existing infrastructure. I sometimes come across a misperception in the marketplace that a hyper-converged system is a special, separate infrastructure stack that’s hard to hook up with the rest of a data center’s hardware. As I blogged here, the reality is that a true hyper-converged appliance can blend easily into your existing environment. After all, the components – storage, compute, network fabric, virtualization software, management software – are common to both.

Empowerment. Look for an open, standards-based solution that can adapt to any hardware and hypervisor. If you look around the infrastructure and functionality that you have today, you likely have compute processes for your applications, a certain set of data services for your storage, and you’re probably virtualized on a standard platform across the environment. You can bring those together in a converged environment without losing any of the capability that you have today. You can meet all the workload requirements of your applications and adapt flexibly to business needs as those change. The solution should take out the complexity. You don’t need to know what’s going on under the hood – you can simply manage the entire stack through a common management interface.

Efficiency. In a traditional IT shop, you basically have separate infrastructures for servers, storage and network, each running on a different platform and often managed by different teams. If one team wants to kick off a new project they have to check with the others, and may end up having to wait on the other teams’ time and budgets. This is what causes a lot of the delays in rolling out new applications and services.

The simplicity of a hyper-converged solution and its management tools make it easy to understand the environment. You’re less dependent on specialized expertise that may be hard to come by. So chances are you’ll find that you can get great results with a smaller team and more general IT expertise.

We’re not quite to the point where everything in IT has “merged into one,” but the journey to a software-defined, converged infrastructure will continue to be an exciting one. New developments are cropping up almost weekly – for example, in early December HPE and Microsoft unveiled a new hyper-converged system with true hybrid cloud capabilities. It brings Microsoft’s Azure services to the datacenter via HPE hyper-converged technology. Think “software-defined datacenter in a box” that “direct connects” to the cloud. (You can read about the HPE Hyper-Converged 250 for Microsoft Cloud Platform System Standard here.)

Learn more about HPE software-defined storage and how it can help you reduce complexity in your virtualized data center. And you can register here to unlock 1TB of free HPE storage for use on any x86 server.

What do you see as the sweet spot for hyper-convergence?

Are you planning to investigate hyper-converged systems for your organization? Drop a comment in the box below and let’s get a conversation going.

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About the Author


I have been working across the HPE portfolio for over 12 years marketing hot topics including storage, software-defined, big data and hybrid cloud.

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