What’s the Deal with Hyperconvergence?

In CIO/IT by Daniel Newman1 Comment

Hyperconvergence?Hyperconvergence is a complicated-sounding word for the technology that simplifies life. It offers storage, computing, networking, and virtualization all in one package. Hyperconvergence systems store and utilize components working in tandem from a single vendor. These systems are becoming more and more mainstream as more businesses seek to simplify their workflow.

Hyperconvergence technology challenges traditional data center architecture—that is, the classic three-tier system where platform administrators separately purchase and manage networking tools and storage arrays. Hyperconvergence offers some tempting benefits, such as a smaller footprint, easier acquisition, and simpler management. But is it the right choice for everyone?

Will Hyperconvergence Technology Work for You?

Gartner predicted hyperconvergence would grow 79 percent by 2016, and those numbers are soon to be up for analysis. The company also said the technology would be up to $5 billion by 2019. But popularity doesn’t automatically mean it’s a good idea for all businesses. Consider the pros and cons before jumping onto the bandwagon. Here are a few of the pros:

  • Easy deployment and management. When acquisition is more streamlined, it’s much easier for your entire team to jump onboard. With hyperconvergence systems, it’s as simple as plugging it in and switching it on. These systems alleviate the worries about computing and storage components working together because the vendor has already integrated the system, which saves your IT team a lot of time.
  • Agility. In today’s world, businesses must be agile to succeed, and they need to leverage agile technology to make that happen. The software-defined storage of hyperconvergence systems means one can manipulate workloads in any number of ways, as well as reassign resources and adjust workflow.
  • Vendors describe these systems as Legos. I’m not convinced they will be as much fun, but adding more resources is as simple as adding boxes that automatically have storage and computing capabilities, which makes the expansion of infrastructures a snap, so to speak.
  • (Possibly) Cheaper. In theory, companies base hyperconverged systems on commodity hardware, which should be cheaper than traditional systems. Simplified management also means a smaller hardware footprint, which then contributes to a lower total cost. That’s the idea, anyway, but complaints have surfaced suggesting the ROI hasn’t materialized yet.

As I mentioned, you must still do some homework before you decide if these systems are right for you. Here are some considerations.

  • Performance. Despite all the pros for hyperconverged systems, if they don’t perform well, they aren’t going to help your business. Because they don’t always have the more current components, performance can suffer when compared to traditional systems. The point of hyperconvergence solutions is their interoperability—but that testing can take months. An easy-to-deploy system, unfortunately, may mean a slow system.
  • Expense. As you might have guessed, price is on both the pro and the con list. Hear me out, though. Right now, some customers are saying the system isn’t worth the investment. One reason is that vendors are charging premiums to support hyperconvergence systems, which makes sense, because integration can make troubleshooting more difficult. Do a cost analysis before jumping in. It may be that the expense is worth it.
  • Limited Use of Existing Hardware. With a hyperconvergence infrastructure, customers don’t have the option to add more storage without increasing hardware—and prior hardware won’t likely integrate well with the new system.
  • Vendor LockIn. Though it seems counterintuitive, once you deploy a hyperconverged infrastructure from a particular vendor, it’s extremely difficult to switch vendors without replacing your existing hardware. Software and hardware for these systems is integrated tightly, making vendor changes challenging, to say the least. 

Know if Hyperconvergence Systems Are Right for Your Business

If you’re on the fence, know that hyperconverged infrastructures work best if you need:

Hybrid Cloud. Most companies have both a private cloud for privileged data and a public cloud for workloads. A hyperconvergence system offers agility and scalability that is compatible to both.

Virtual Desktops. Virtual desktop infrastructures (VDIs) are extremely suited to hyperconvergence systems. They scale out with additional users, and a software-defined environment works great for this kind of virtualization. 

Remote Work Staff. Edge computing is gaining more popularity, and ROBO environments – remote office/branch office – don’t have onsite IT. Easy-to-manage systems are crucial for these situations.

Look to the Future, but Do Some Research First

As I mentioned, there are many reasons to employ a hyperconvergence system, but cost analysis and the certainty of whom you will work with matters—a lot. For those businesses where scalability is a priority, hyperconvergence systems may be the way to go. Regardless of where your business is today, understanding hyperconvergence systems may matter to your tomorrow.

Photo Credit: ARPO2011 Flickr via Compfight cc

Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.