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StarWind is a hyperconverged (HCI) vendor with focus on Enterprise ROBO, SMB & Edge

Converged vs Hyperconverged Infrastructure. What’s the Difference?

  • January 16, 2024
  • 10 min read
StarWind Solutions Architect. Anton excels in storage, virtualization, and networking, specializing in architecting highly efficient infrastructures for clients.
StarWind Solutions Architect. Anton excels in storage, virtualization, and networking, specializing in architecting highly efficient infrastructures for clients.

Today, businesses are on the lookout for solutions that streamline operations and provide better scalability. This shift has moved away from the traditional one-to-one relationship between physical servers and storage systems to a more efficient many-to-one setup involving virtual machines (VMs) and a single storage controller. While virtualization brings benefits, it also results in increased storage capacity requirements and redundant data, which can be a drain on resources.

Luckily, Converged Infrastructure (CI) steps in as a solution. By consolidating workloads, CI simplifies processes and optimizes business performance. As CI evolves, it naturally progresses to Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI), gaining popularity in the IT world.

For businesses aiming for growth without sacrificing performance and looking for cost-effective IT consolidation, the choice between Converged and Hyperconverged Infrastructure is crucial.

This article aims to provide a clear and concise understanding of the key differences between Converged and Hyperconverged Infrastructures, helping you make an informed decision for your organization’s unique needs.

Converged vs Hyperconverged Infrastructure

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What Is Converged Infrastructure?

Converged Infrastructure (CI) is a holistic approach to data center management aiming to minimize compatibility issues between compute, storage, and networking components. Simply speaking, CI is a set of pre-configured systems from a single vendor which makes them easier to deploy when building a new IT infrastructure.

Converged Infrastructure Benefits

So, let’s dive deep into the key advantages of Converged Infrastructure:

  • Guaranteed Compatibility
    Compute, storage, and networking components come from a single vendor and are pre-tested to be highly compatible with each other.
  • Simplified Management
    Even though each group of CI components is usually managed via separate utilities, they are still coming from a single vendor, making the configuration and maintenance process much easier for IT staff.
  • Flexible Scalability
    Compute, storage, and networking resources can be added or removed separately, providing better flexibility. This allows businesses to quickly adapt to changing data center needs.

What Is Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI)?

Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) is a software-defined approach that virtualizes and integrates compute, storage, and network resources into a single system. This approach simplifies IT infrastructure management and optimizes resource utilization, making it a pragmatic choice for organizations prioritizing efficiency and agility.

Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) Benefits

HCI offers a range of compelling advantages, including:

  • Simplistic Design
    With HCI, complex configurations involving multiple disparate systems are replaced by a single unified platform, resulting in significantly less hardware to deploy and manage.
  • Cost Efficiency
    HCI reduces upfront investments in infrastructure (CapEx) and simplifies maintenance, requiring fewer specialized staff and less time for system administration (OpEx).
  • Unified Management
    A single, user-friendly interface enables centralized management of all virtualized system components, significantly reducing management complexity and maximizing resource utilization efficiency.
  •  Reduced Hardware Footprint
    HCI excels in minimizing the data center’s physical footprint by consolidating all IT services and infrastructure together into a unified, shared pool of x86 resources. It also optimizes resource usage by saving on Input/Output Operations Per Second (IOPS) and ensuring maximum availability of CPU resources.
  • Scalability with Ease
    An HCI cluster consists of similar, pre-configured building blocks called nodes, allowing for the expansion of compute and storage capacity by simply adding another unit.
  • Fault-Tolerant Flexibility
    In the event of a node failure in the HCI environment, the system’s inherent flexibility allows seamless transition to the next node, minimizing downtime.
  • Software-Defined Simplicity
    HCI embeds all components in software, creating a software-defined infrastructure. This innovation brings unprecedented control, allowing everything to be managed through software.

Converged vs. Hyperconverged Infrastructures

As businesses navigate the evolving IT landscape, the choice between Converged Infrastructure (CI) and Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) becomes crucial. Let’s compare them:

Aspect Converged Infrastructure (CI) Hyperconverged Infrastructure
Architecture Hardware-based approach Software-defined approach
Scalability Each component can be scaled separately Scales by unified “building blocks”
Hardware Components Components are often from a single vendor, strict HCLs Often deployed on commodity servers with off-the-shelf components
Management Complexity Separate management for each component. Higher complexity “All-in-one” centralized management. Very low complexity
Deployment Costs Moderate deployment costs Lower acquisition costs
Resource Efficiency Moderate resource efficiency, prone to overprovisioning Maximum resource utilization efficiency
Hardware footprint A large, rack-scale platform Starts small (4-6 units) and grows depending on the workload
Use Cases New data center infrastructure, large-scale workloads Small and medium IT infrastructures, VDI, Remote or branch offices (ROBO)

What to choose for your company – converged or hyperconverged?

Choosing between CI and HCI largely depends on the IT infrastructure scale and unique needs of your organization. For larger enterprises with experienced IT teams that prioritize the scalability of separate infrastructure components over the “all-in-one” approach, Converged Infrastructure might be the more suitable option.

On the other hand, if your organization prioritizes simplicity and cost-efficiency to address modern workloads, hyperconverged infrastructure becomes a compelling choice. HCI’s software-defined architecture allows for more flexibility in hardware component choices and simplified “single pane of glass” infrastructure management. It is particularly advantageous for businesses with limited IT staff seeking to optimize resource utilization and improve agility.

Why StarWind

When it comes to Converged and Hyperconverged Infrastructures, StarWind stands out as a leading HCI provider for SMB and ROBO. StarWind VHCI Appliance (VHCA) offers a software-defined solution that includes a hypervisor, storage stack, and centralized web management, simplifying the deployment of new HCI environments on existing hardware. Moreover, StarWind goes beyond with its HCI solutions, introducing a complete HCI hardware “building block” – StarWind HCI Appliance. Seamlessly combining compute, storage, networking, and virtualization software into one robust, cost-effective unified platform.

Despite misconceptions surrounding HCI scalability and costs, StarWind aims to demystify these concerns, helping businesses choose the right configuration for their unique requirements.

This material has been prepared in collaboration with Iryna Chaplya, Technical Writer with almost 5 years of experience at StarWind.

Hey! Found Anton’s article helpful? Looking to deploy a new, easy-to-manage, and cost-effective hyperconverged infrastructure?
Alex Bykovskyi
Alex Bykovskyi StarWind Virtual HCI Appliance Product Manager
Well, we can help you with this one! Creating a hyperconverged environment is a breeze with StarWind Virtual HCI Appliance (VHCA). It’s a complete hyperconverged infrastructure solution that combines hypervisor (vSphere, Hyper-V, Proxmox, or our custom version of KVM), software-defined storage (StarWind VSAN), and streamlined management tools. Interested in diving deeper into VHCA’s capabilities and features? Secure your personalized StarWind Virtual HCI Appliance demo today!