Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) leverages virtualization to converge three common data center tiers; computing, networking, and storage, into a single tier. It promises to simplify operation and ease expansion while also lowering material costs. A key component is the storage software which runs on each node in the virtual cluster and either stripes or replicates data across the cluster, creating virtual pools of storage that all virtual machines can access.
Thus far most HCI deployments are either in medium-sized businesses or in point projects within larger organizations. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and Tier 2 virtualized applications are two typical examples. The point solution use of HCI doesn’t allow the concept to realize the full potential of its investment. The ideal situation is for HCI to be used for all, or at least most of the data center’s operations.
2019, however, promises to be an important year for HCI, one that enables it to break out of its point solution use case. HCI vendors are focusing on three critical areas to broaden its appeal. First, they are improving the node hardware with high performing CPU, networking and storage. Second, they are improving the HCI storage and networking software, and third, they are pursuing certifications from vendors of Tier 1 applications.
Each of these improvements allows HCI vendors to embrace more data center uses cases. More CPU power, faster NVMe based storage and faster networking enable more virtual machines per node, slowing node sprawl. Improved HCI storage hardware that leverages NVMe performance by servicing IO requests on the node on which the VM is running, further improves performance.
HCI vendors are also tightening their partnerships with software-defined networking (SDN) vendors to simplify HCI networking. When IT adds more nodes or needs to manage high node count HCI clusters, network complications slow progress. SDN can significantly reduce those.
Strengthening relationships with Tier 1 application vendors provide HCI customers with the confidence to deploy those applications in the HCI environment, knowing that the configuration is supportable.