Choosing the best-fit hyperconverged infrastructure for your business needs

IT is under pressure to keep up with the diversifying demands of enterprises undergoing digital transformation. Often, these enterprises deal with a range of issues such as ageing infrastructure, working under tight budgets, or simply seeking ways to address complexity in their data centre and at their distributed sites.

Since debuting over a decade ago, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) has remained a popular choice for IT transformation. The main reasons for this are the benefits HCI offers companies over a legacy 3-tiered infrastructure.

Today’s IT teams are struggling to keep up with the demands of digital business. Legacy infrastructure is often slowing down time to market, with limited time to resolve issues whilst supporting new app demands, along with more cost pressures. As we look forward, teams will require dynamic and sophisticated HCI solutions that are easy to manage and maintain. These solutions can help them focus on projects and initiatives that drive their business forward.

IT budgets are finite and often tight. Legacy infrastructure usually has attractive face-value; however initial costs can quickly escalate when considering other factors for separate support, licensing, upgrade, administration, storage provisioning, and power.

Hyperconverged infrastructure addresses these drawbacks by unifying computation, storage, and networking resources into one system. Intelligent software behind the HCI helps abstract underlying hardware into flexible blocks manipulated to achieve various business goals. Hyperconvergence of IT resources enables simplicity of management through unified interfaces.

In hyperconverged infrastructure, storage and networking are software-defined, enabling workloads with flexible architectures. Hyperconverged appliances unify all necessary IT resources in an easily managed footprint deployed across various environments. Support is available through a single vendor.

Important considerations

When selecting a HCI solution, companies should look past the benefits of simplicity, performance and scale. HCI now has the capability of moving beyond software defined infrastructure to AI-driven intelligent HCI. This will be beneficial as we look to the future. Requirements will change to where infrastructure needs to be autonomous, able to predict and prevent disruptions, and self-heal. As IT moves from being reactive to predictive, the need will emerge for infrastructure to optimise itself across distributed environments.

Machine learning and AI are widely used in industry to boost enterprise productivity. In the HCI world, AI enhances storage and automatically manages and optimises application workloads. AI-based hyperconverged infrastructure is particularly beneficial to geographically distributed environments with multi-cloud workloads. AI can help with monitoring, upgrading and securing infrastructure.

AI-driven predictive analytics platforms provide intelligent automation and drive business value by preventing problems before they occur. HPE Infosight, for example, is a global intelligence engine that uses telemetry data from servers across the world to analyse and predict system performance. HPE Infosight is designed to manage infrastructure performance and uptime using AI to forecast and prevent problems before they arise across an infrastructure stack. As a result, the Infosight platform can learn to anticipate the issue and use pattern-matching algorithms to determine if any other system in the installed base will be susceptible. Application performance can be modelled and tuned for new infrastructure based on historical configurations and workload patterns. 

HPE InfoSight determines the appropriate recommendation needed to improve and ensure the ideal environment based on predictive analytics. Recommendations are system operational decisions that free IT and eliminate the guesswork in managing their infrastructure.

Through mutual trust between the infrastructure and HPE InfoSight, recommendations can be applied automatically on behalf of the IT administrators. When automation is not available, specific recommendations can be delivered through support case automation. Complex problems can be resolved with the direct help of HPE’s level 3 experts.

Infosight is an integral part of HPE’s Simplivity and dHCI solutions that helps in their differentiation in the HCI market.

1. Simplivity – intelligent and hyperefficient

HPE Simplivity is a product intended for enterprises of all sizes, but not for all types of users. While Simplivity provides simplicity and flexibility, the scalability is limited to the same kind of nodes. These features best suit customers who have consistent and predictable patterns of usage across both compute and storage for the life of the estate.

Unlike other HCI solutions, Simplivity allows customers to scale compute and storage separately. However, the scaling is possible only if all nodes in the fleet scale in the same way. 

Customers can scale Simplivity based workloads by deploying new nodes. Each node can be tailored to support its specific workloads with the appropriate CPU, storage and memory resources. Simplivity nodes are sized according to the business expectations in 3 to 5 years at the time of deployment. 

Simplivity delivers an intelligently simple solution from deployments to upgrades and is controlled via a single pane of glass. It’s hyperefficient for industry-leading data efficiency that’s edge optimised for admin-free sites, offering high availability in the smallest footprint and provides support for comprehensive data protection direct to cloud. It’s cloud connected, helping customers with their hybrid cloud journey. HPE Simplivity also supports many virtual machine applications including databases, file sharing and virtual desktop infrastructure, like Citrix and VMWare Horizon View.

Simplivity is built for edge computing. Zero administration is enabled by centralised, unified management across all sites, empowering users to seamlessly manage workloads across distributed sites where staff resources are scarce. For superior business continuity, with rapid multi-site failover, businesses can rapidly failover (and failback) virtually any number of edge sites in the event of disaster, using automated efficient VM Mobility and recovery. It maintains two complete copies of the VMs on each cluster, with a minimum of two nodes. Businesses only need two nodes to achieve high availability with all services included, offering users an optimised solution for multi-site/edge deployments in the smallest footprint. 

Simplivity provides superior resiliency to failure and, in the rare instance of multiple concurrent failures, is able to tolerate them without data loss or VM downtime. With built-in disaster recovery and backup architecture, the solution eliminates the need for external backup software along with the resources needed to execute and monitor regular data backups. This means your data is constantly online and recoverable. With the backup and disaster recovery included in the solution, these components are highly performant, enabling restoration of 1TB of VM in less than 60 seconds. 

All data is de-duplicated and compressed, preventing the duplication of VMs across the WAN. As one of the standard Simplivity features, Auto Resource Balancing is a proprietary solution designed to optimise VM performance, ensuring predictable overall performance and giving customers a highly available architecture. Automatic balancing efficiently mitigates storage imbalances by moving virtual machine data that is less than 500GB.

Simplivity supports multiple software versions across the federation. The solution comes with automated firmware, hypervisor, and Simplivity upgrade manager to simplify version control. Simplivity does not incur any costly software licenses or add-ons – all features are included and always on.

Simplivity embeds intelligence through advanced data services. The solution integrates HPE InfoSight, which permits monitoring of data centre infrastructure 24×7. HPE InfoSight can monitor the entire Simplivity federation and provide visibility into virtual machine throughput, I/O, and latency. InfoSight has predictive capabilities, telling you when you will run out of storage based on your operation profile.

With the addition of InfoSight’s machine learning predictive analytics, HPE has set a new standard for intelligent HCI.

2. HPE dHCI – simple and easy-to-use

HPE’s HCI solution called disaggregated HCI (dHCI) is designed for users who want to scale compute and storage layers independently. The solution is built with one of the world’s most secure servers, HPE ProLiant Gen 9 and 10. Users that already leverage this technology can benefit from dHCI directly, a cost-effective approach for resource-conscious IT teams.

The solution is beneficial for users that cannot predict their workload easily. This is especially true for companies going through a digital transformation and unable to forecast the load on their infrastructure as their business evolves. dHCI is suitable for companies of all sizes. Scaling can be done starting with as little as two servers and scale up to 100.

dHCI is a cost-effective solution; however, it does not include disaster recovery and backup out of the box. Users will need to add these components as additional equipment.

dHCI targets IT workloads that change over time. One of dHCI’s primary advantages is its ability to scale to meet those new demands while being simple and easy to use. Its flexible, independent scaling allows you to grow compute and storage independently, extend across a hybrid cloud, with industry-leading data efficiency. The ability to add only the required resources eliminates over-provisioning while still offering the flexibility to grow.

The solution can be set up in less than 15 minutes. Through the dHCI setup software and VMware vCenter plug-in, HPE Nimble Storage dHCI automates server and storage deployment, configuration, provisioning, and cluster setup for the VM admin, eliminating hundreds of manual steps versus converged systems.

HPE dHCI is resilient and can support heavy workload applications while offering 99.9999% availability with sub-ms latency. Through AI-driven HPE Infosight, the solution can predict issues before they occur and self-heal once they do. The solution efficiently scales to the cloud with native data mobility between on-premises and cloud storage while supporting Google Anthos.

3. VMWare vSAN – widespread and cost-effective

If you are already leveraging VMWare-based infrastructure, you may consider a HCI solution based on vSAN. Consisting of a software stack comprised of VMWare VSphere for the compute virtualisation and vSan for storage integration, vSAN can be managed by the business’s existing management tool, vCentre.

vSAN logically pools storage resources across the servers in a network. VMWare’s vSAN runs on a vSphere hypervisor that defines the storage requirements such as performance and availability across the whole cluster. vSAN management software performs administration and maintenance of policies that allow easy automation.

VMWare’s vSAN and vSphere software runs on x86 servers. HPE offers VMware vSAN ReadyNode configurations for HPE ProLiant servers. ReadyNodes are flexible and can be pre-configured to provide ideal performance for any workload – virtualisation, data processing, accelerated infrastructure, or data warehousing. vSAN ReadyNodes are beneficial for customers who are looking for the fastest path to optimised workloads. vSAN can lower your storage costs by 50% or more and HPE can supply the required VMware licenses. The solutions can scale quickly and have enough flexibility to fit any IT environment. 

HPE has recently released their vSAN on HPE’s Gen10 server bundles for Q4. As your IT partner, we can assist in tailoring a server and license package for your business needs.

How to choose the best solution for your needs

HCI has some very compelling benefits, such as simplicity, flexibility, scalability, and cost-efficiency. It allows users to refresh or transform their business faster with lower risk, while making use of existing assets, or continuing to use the same underlying technology. HPE offers HCI solutions that embed these benefits and can satisfy a broad range of workload needs. When choosing a suitable solution for your business, it’s important to consider a wide range of factors, which should result in substantial organisational benefits.  

As your trusted IT partner, we have the expertise and business knowledge to help you plan and maximise your HCI solution.