Virtualization Technology News and Information
Easing the Admin Burden: Hyper-Converged Infrastructure for Centralized Management of Remote Data Centers
Article Written by Megan McMichael, Principal VxRail Product Marketing Manager, Dell EMC & Wayne Pauley, Senior Director for Global Alliances, VMware

IT organizations know what a challenge managing a distributed data center can be. Many an IT Director has spent sleepless nights figuring out how to maintain - or fix - data-center infrastructure deployed at regional offices. While they serve a purpose for companies with specific needs, such as those with branch offices far from headquarters or manufacturing facilities spread across the globe, distributed data centers are notorious for being a drain on resources. They can be siloed systems running well below capacity, and they usually require expensive, on-site data-center support, often requiring IT admins to jet around the globe in direct, hands-on-support roles.

But times are changing. The old model of hardware-focused data centers operating as silos in various geographies has given way to a new technology: hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). While HCI's predecessor - converged infrastructure - combines compute, networking and storage capabilities on a single chassis in the data center, HCI goes a step further by integrating all of those functions in a software-defined environment. HCI involves running all of the functions of a datacenter as software on the hypervisor rather than on dedicated physical equipment. HCI is packaged in a compact, factory-integrated appliance, enabling data centers to scale by running compute, networking and storage in virtual building blocks and stacking those blocks to create a flexible infrastructure.  

The software-defined nature of HCI features robust management and orchestration tools that provide for automation and self-service of common IT tasks such as desktop provisioning, resource allocation and system monitoring. With the infrastructure, itself, proactively managing many of these functions, the IT organization doesn't need administrators constantly attending to them.

What does that mean for the overtaxed IT organization?? Ultimately, it means easier and more cost-effective data center management by fewer resources, including consolidating data center support in a single location while also greatly reducing the physical travel around the world to distributed sites. And that means cutting operating expenses (OpEx).

Why HCI?

What is it specifically that makes HCI such a cost-effective option for managing distributed data centers? The key word is control. HCI effectively enables companies to stand up complete data center infrastructure on site - creating, in essence, a self-contained private cloud - while managing these on-site data center operations remotely. That means an IT administrator can manage distributed data centers from a single location, without needing to hire extra admins to staff remote offices or traveling from one data center to another.

For many businesses, HCI in remote locations is an ideal option. Companies with major regional offices a long distance from headquarters, large retail chains, and manufacturers with facilities around the globe can all benefit from HCI. Moreover, HCI works for businesses accommodating location-based peaks in demand that change predictably as time zones change (think streaming services) and businesses such as social networks or mobile carriers that must be able to address unanticipated and geographically distributed spikes in demand.

HCI Efficiencies

Deploying HCI delivers benefits that are sure to put a spring in the step of any weary IT admin:

  • Reliability and performance: Factory engineered, assembled, and tested, HCI appliances offer peace of mind to IT managers who previously had to research and purchase separate data center components and piece them together on site. HCI appliances take the guesswork out of data center deployments.
  • Flexibility: These self-contained private clouds can scale in a way hardware-focused data center configurations never permitted, allowing for great agility as business demands change. And automation of common IT tasks combined with remote management result in greater uptime.
  • Lower costs: HCI lowers capex as small data center building blocks require less of an investment up front than hardware resources through a pay-as-you-grow approach to budgeting. HCI reduces opex, too, with fewer IT personnel are required on-site (and fewer plane trips for admins) due to strong centralized management.

The Key to Success? Finding the Right Solution Provider

The promise of HCI is tremendous, as are the results... when the model is properly implemented. For companies looking to move to HCI in their distributed data centers, the benefits of the model won't come together without the right solution partner in place. Companies looking to implement HCI need to find solution providers that offer:

  • A superior solution: Performance and reliability matter, and so does tight integration of compute, storage and networking capabilities. HCI is, after all, an integration and control play above all else. The closer the functions work together, the more effective the solution will be. And monitoring and automation are also critical. Admins need systems that fix as much as possible for them and enable them to deal with everything else through a single viewpoint in a single location. Look for a provider that has logged thousands of development and testing hours.
  • Domain expertise: Any kind of project involving the data center is mission-critical. That's where finding a solution provider with proven domain expertise becomes so important. Distributed deployments can be costly and confusing; the deployment, itself, should tie in seamlessly wiith existing operations so as not to negate the benefits of the hyper-converged system.
  • A track record of success. Expertise is important, but companies shouldn't take a solution provider's word for it. The right solution provider will be able to demonstrate success with software-defined data center (SDDC) solutions. Also, the solution provider should be able to point to a long track record of supporting distributed data centers and understanding the challenges of the distributed model.

A New Era Dawns

Fortunately for weary IT admins, the days of staffing-or visiting-distributed data centers are coming to a close. HCI delivers software-based control and management of distributed data centers that cuts costs and eases the management burden. The key for distributed companies is to find the right solution provider, one with superior technology, strong expertise and a track record of success. Those that do can finally let their IT admins sleep at night-and stay out of the airport.


About the Author

Megan McMichael


Megan McMichael is a Principal VxRail Product Marketing Manager focused on enabling sales teams to win with VxRail. She joined EMC in 2014 to help lead global partner marketing efforts for VSPEX BLUE, and transitioned into a Product Marketing role for VxRail in 2015. Prior to EMC, Megan spent 3.5 years at one of EMC's top partners managing marketing and alliance relations for all of the EMC Federated companies.

Wayne Pauley


Wayne Pauley is Senior Director for Global Alliances at VMware, driving go-to-market strategies in support of VMware and Dell EMC joint solutions. He has over 30 years of experience combining business and technology skills in Engineering, Product Marketing/Management, Sales and Professional Services roles. 

Published Monday, October 17, 2016 8:01 AM by David Marshall
Oscar Coscar - December 4, 2016 3:08 AM

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