Virtualization Technology News and Information
4 Critical Decisions for Architecting the Hyperconverged Data Center

Article Written by Jesse St. Laurent, VP of product strategy at SimpliVity

With all eyes focused on hyperconvergence, now is the perfect time to explore the solution and fully understand the benefits it offers. There are, however, a number of architectural elements that must be considered in order to determine the best path forward and four critical decisions IT must make before implementing hyperconverged infrastructure. The decisions are:

Decision 1: Server Support

A hyperconverged infrastructure is only as good as the server on which it is deployed. Hyperconverged solutions are based on x86 building blocks, so finding the server that matches a company's wants and needs is an important matter of preference, whether it be Cisco, Dell, HPE, Lenovo, or others. Most hyperconverged vendors offer appliance-based solutions. These platforms offer the highest grade of simplicity as they come pre-built and ready to go.

Decision 2: The Storage Layer

Every business would like to cut out cost and complexity from their data center, especially the high CapEx and OpEx associated with traditional storage. Too often, businesses find themselves paying for terabyte upon terabyte of additional capacity to meet the availability, capacity, and performance requirements of their virtualized workloads.

Hyperconverged infrastructure is an option for solving this storage problem. At the most basic level, hyperconverged infrastructure unifies the compute and storage layers and effectively eliminates the need for a monolithic storage array and SAN. However, hyperconverged infrastructure solutions differ in terms of the storage services they offer in the areas of resiliency and data efficiency. The best way to vet the resiliency of alternative architectures is to evaluate against the type of failures your organization would like to protect against. Data efficiency is another area where different hyperconverged infrastructure solutions may appear to be similar at a high-level but as always, the devil is in the details. Some solutions set limits based on capacity or by disk group. Another consideration is whether the data efficiency process has any negative impacts on the performance of the workloads hosted on the hyperconverged infrastructure platform. 

Decision 3: Data Protection Services

Data protection should never be an afterthought in the data center; it is a core service that is central to IT operations. When considering hyperconverged infrastructure solutions, one key discussion point is data protection services, and more specifically, Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs).

When exploring vendors, organizations need to investigate whether the solution can meet their RPO and RTO needs. Depending on their needs, a company may also want a solution that integrates data protection. When it comes to integrated data protection, companies will need to consider how simple a solution is as simplicity is often a determining factor in how well-used a data protection solution is.

Companies also need to consider how well the solution replicates data over Wide Area Networks (WAN) since that is often one of the costly elements of a disaster recovery solution. This is closely tied to the storage layer services of the hyperconverged platform. Solutions that offer deduplication of all data at ingest globally are able to replicate data more efficiently over the WAN.

Decision 4: The Management Layer

A hyperconverged solution should ideally reduce the number of management points and tools that are required for administration and troubleshooting. So if new management tools are being introduced, these should ideally deliver improvements in operational efficiencies or improve key IT metrics of value to the business such as time to provision.

  • Virtualization Layer Management - For those using VMware vSphere, vCenter must be in place; Organizations using Microsoft Hyper-V will use System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). Using virtualization layer management reduces complexity in the data center as administrators don't have to be trained on a new management interface.
  • Vendor-Supplied Management - Many hyperconverged solutions provide you with a whole new management interface for your virtual infrastructure. As many customers opt to manage their virtualized environment using native tools available at the virtualized layer, organizations will have to evaluate this option to see if it aligns with their budget and needs.
  • REST APIs - A Relative State Transition Application Programming Interface (REST API) provides the entry point required to integrate multiple management points and automate the data center.
  • Orchestration and Automation Layer Management - Automation helps to make the data center more efficient. Some popular tools which are used to provide orchestration and automation include VMware's vRealize Automation and Cisco's UCS Director.

With so much momentum around hyperconvergence, now is the time to truly understand what all the hype is about. Although architecting the data center with hyperconvergence does require a number of critical decision points, the end result will streamline operations, improve resiliency, and ultimately better align IT efforts with business needs.


About the Author

Jesse St Laurent 

Jesse St. Laurent brings almost 20 years of IT infrastructure experience to SimpliVity. As the Vice President of Product Strategy, he is intimately engaged with customers, channel partners, and SimpliVity's engineering organization as well as helps shape the product direction and strategy.

Prior to SimpliVity, Jesse served as the CTO at Corporate Technology Inc (CTI), a Systems Integration company worth $100 million+, where he focused on evaluation emerging technologies such as NetApp, 3PAR, Acopia, Riverbed, and F5. Jesse frequently speaks at industry events both in the US and internationally.

Jesse holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Brown University.
Published Wednesday, October 19, 2016 7:05 AM by David Marshall
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