In many (medium-sized) companies, servers, storage systems and networks from different manufacturers often coexist in the data centers – with different operating systems, protocols or management software. This complex infrastructure results in additional administration costs, higher costs and a lack of flexibility. It also ties up resources that are missing for digital projects. A Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) can help here.
The market figures prove their relevance. Sales for corresponding solutions have increased enormously in recent years. For example, according to IDC market researchers, HCI systems worth over $ 2.3 billion were sold worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2019. This corresponds to an increase of around 17 percent compared to the previous year.
HCI solutions integrate server, storage and network components as well as virtualization and management software in one system. Because HCI focuses on virtual machines and applications, companies can use it to decouple their workloads from the physical infrastructure. The virtualization software combines the underlying IT resources in pools and then dynamically assigns them to the applications in virtual machines or containers.
In addition, HCI solutions such as VMware vSAN offer additional functions such as deduplication, data compression for transport over the network or WAN optimization. They can also be embedded in a disaster recovery concept that spans multiple data centers.
VMware vSAN forms the core component of a Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) that meets current requirements and also forms the basis for the digital future. Companies can easily add resources (server, storage, network) via the HCI platform and react flexibly and agile to new business requirements.
Because vSAN Direct Attached Storage devices are grouped into vSphere clusters, a distributed, shared datastore is created. Customers benefit from optimal resource utilization for all workloads. vSAN also offers policy-based storage management for comprehensive control at the application level. Storage investments already made are protected by virtual volumes (vVols).
Further advantages of VMware vSAN are a uniform infrastructure management for local (on-premise) or cloud environments as well as a smooth operation with a seamlessly integrated SDDC stack in private and public clouds. Because vSAN is hardware and cloud independent, customers can use their current infrastructure or choose their preferred provider. In addition, there is a high level of security thanks to FIPS 140-2 validated, software-based encryption for dormant data and seamless integration into the security-focused virtualization solution VMware vSphere Platinum Edition.
HCI solutions are generally suitable for a wide range of application areas, for example virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), edge computing, disaster recovery, application development with DevOps or containers. They are currently being used increasingly when entering a hybrid cloud / multi cloud.
One example of this is the ready-to-use Dell EMC VxRail ™ appliance, which supports both traditional and cloud-native workloads. VMware vSAN provides the required virtualization functions. This HCI appliance architecture can be expanded with VMware Cloud Foundation ™ for full integration into the SDDC stack or expanded to a multi cloud with the largest public cloud providers (AWS, IBM and Microsoft). Another deployment option for VMware VSAN is the construction of an HCI infrastructure with vSAN ReadyNodes, which can be expanded in a modular manner.
Regardless of the type of deployment, an HCI solution based on VMware vSAN offers a number of advantages: In addition to flexible scalability, high availability and security, simpler administration and reduced overall costs are particularly noteworthy. Since HCI consolidates all necessary IT resources, the traditional IT silos are no longer necessary. Administrators can see and control all resources (server, storage, network) and the underlying hardware in the management console at a glance. Thanks to automation, many tasks can be done quickly and based on existing guidelines.
HCI with VMware vSAN also reduces investment costs because companies no longer need additional components such as storage systems or SAN switches; administration, operating and license costs are also reduced. There is no need for expensive special hardware, since existing software and x86 servers can also serve as a basis. So companies benefit in a variety of ways.
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