Users and clients alike increasingly demand ever greater speed, agility and cost efficiency of organisations of all types and sizes. Such demands map near-directly to the need for increased flexibility, scalability and adaptability in IT, across the datacentre and beyond.
Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) can be highly effective in helping achieve such goals, supporting a building-block approach to the Software-Defined Data Centre (SDDC) by collapsing compute, management and storage onto industry-standard x86 servers.
Building Value, Cutting Costs
Offering the opportunity for improved overall business value and reduced TCO, HCI is poised for rapid growth, with industry analysts predicting year-on-year growth of 68% leading to a market of between £1.1bn and £4.5bn by 2020.
In this series of five articles, we will examine some of the key challenges and opportunities faced by CIOs and their teams as they consider HCI as a potential way forwards for their datacentres. This first article will look at costs and business value.
What is HCI?
First, though, a lightning-fast overview of what HCI actually is. A software-defined IT infrastructure usually running on standard, off-the-shelf commercial systems, HCI virtualises every element of the traditional, hardware-defined datacentre. This includes processing, virtualised via a hypervisor, storage virtualised via a Storage Area Network (SAN) and connectivity virtualised through Software-Defined Networking (SDN).
HCI is increasingly being implemented in four key areas: business-critical applications, virtual desktop infrastructure and end-user computing, remote and branch office deployment, and general purpose workloads.
Key among the benefits of HCI is its ability to dramatically simplify IT operations and reduce overall CAPEX and OPEX. Key to this is the inherent scalability of HCI implementations.
Traditional datacentres are typically complex, sprawling and difficult and expensive to scale. As a result, organisations will usually over-provision when making initial CAPEX investments to ensure that sufficient headroom is built in on day one to allow for future expansion. This has long been recognised as an expensive and inefficient way to meet changing demands.
HCI enables a modular approach, allowing CIOs to simply add more capacity as it is required, non-disruptively, one node at a time, cutting deployment times and minimising downtime. With such scalability inherent in the architecture, there is no need to over-provision, allowing significant CAPEX savings to be made.
HCI’s extensive use of virtualisation also enables a highly flexible datacentre. Traditional datacentres rely on diverse systems, each dedicated to particular tasks, which typically cannot easily share data, storage, processing or other resources. The HCI datacentre, using virtualisation to control and manage industry-standard hardware resources through software, makes re-provisioning of those resources quick and easy, allowing them to be redeployed from one use case to another.
This allows existing investments to be reused in new ways, realising further CAPEX savings and reduces the management workload involved in such redeployments, delivering OPEX savings and releasing IT team resources for other value-adding activities.
HCI’s flexibility and scalability delivers further business value benefits, too. With the IT team able to rapidly scale and adapt datacentre services, the business as a whole can respond to changing market conditions and customer demands more swiftly and nimbly, creating better customer experiences more quickly, reducing time to value, and building customer satisfaction, corporate reputation, revenues and profits.
To maximise the net value realised and accurately measure it, careful consideration should be given when considering HCI, or any given HCI solution, to expenditure.
Consider the Costs
Initial purchase costs, ongoing administration expenses and costs relating to flexing the infrastructure, and scaling up and out, should all be taken into account. Other related costs such as those attached to storage and licensing should not be overlooked.
Careful consideration should be given to the optimal budgetary allocation of each cost area, including whether it should be CAPEX or OPEX.
Leverage Your Skills
Existing skills and expertise in the IT department should be reckoned against those needed to integrate and administer the new HCI implementation. Where new capabilities will be required, the associated costs should be identified and quantified. It is worth considering whether the HCI solution can be deployed using the software and hardware expertise already in place within the IT team, or in existing support partners.
A detail-oriented, consultative approach is essential in all datacentre modernisation projects, from minor enhancements through to complete new solutions. Contact MTI for the guidance on choosing, sizing, implementing and securing an HCI solution to meet your organisation’s needs. We’ll assess your existing infrastructure, pain points and current and future needs, providing independent, unbiased advice.
Meanwhile, read our free guide to HCI for a clear explanation of the key challenges and considerations.