What is Hyperconverged
Infrastructure (HCI)?

The Definitive Guide on How to Build Your Perfect HCI

Hyperconverged Infrastructure Definition

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) combines compute, storage, and networking resources in a single “building block” and adopts the Software-Defined Everything approach.

The Software-Defined Storage (SDS) stack eliminates need for the proprietary storage hardware, significantly reducing costs since dedicated storage hardware is no longer needed. The storage is controlled at the OS or Hypervisor layer with the help of virtual storage controllers. These virtual controllers run on every node within the cluster ensuring unified storage management, better resiliency, and failover capabilities.

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) makes network management agile and flexible by providing a centralized interface allowing administrators to manage traffic and quickly distribute network resources where they are needed.

Such integrated technologies dramatically improve IT infrastructure efficiency by automating provisioning and configuration of the entire networking stack.

How HCI Works?

Hyperconverged infrastructure unifies the datacenter stack elements, namely, storage, networking, compute, and associated software, like hypervisor, into an abstracted layer of available IT resources.

HCI converges datacenter server hardware with direct-attached storage media (HDDs, SSDs, NVMe) by using virtualization. The virtualized resources become a single pool which can then be distributed as needed thanks to the relevant software.

This way, HCI resolves the common issues of typical converged infrastructure: you can build HCI from any commodity hardware, you can scale freely, you can have high performance and disaster resistance with what you already got, and every bit of your underlying hardware potential is put to good use, without any leaks, overhead, hiccups, and bottlenecks.

Hardware or Software HCI Deployment?

There is a lot to take in when it comes to hyperconverged infrastructure. Like always, people like to pit concepts against each other, however, software and hardware HCI are two distinct approaches rather than alternatives.

Hardware HCI Software HCI
Form Hardware platform (appliance) Software solution
Intention Storage-to-CPU ratio optimization based on business and IT infrastructure needs (balanced, performance-focused, capacity-focused, etc.) Hardware resources virtualization for further distribution, capitalization, and optimal use (performance, resiliency, backup, etc.)
Utilization Deployed as is, ready-to-work data center in a compact form Software deployment, virtualizes storage, server, or networking
General Benefit Great for high-intensity workload IT environments and when high hardware modularity and scalability are of the essence Allows to gain HCI benefits and perks on available commodity hardware without buying a new appliance
General Concern Appliances tend to be proprietary to the HCI vendor, scalability can boil down to adding an entire new HCI node instead of granular scaling, vendor lock-in possible Existing hardware won’t be as intentionally picked and tightly integrated as in hardware HCI, may need other software for monitoring and management

Consumers Recommend StarWind in G2’s Reports on HCI

98% of StarWind customers would definitely recommend it to other businesses based on G2’s Summer 2023 Grid® Report for HCI Solutions

StarWind Receives an Overall Rating of 4.7/5.0 Stars

in Gartner® Peer Insights: "Voice of the Customer": Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Converged vs Hyperconveged

The main idea of converged infrastructure (CI) is to minimize compatibility issues between servers, storage systems, and network switching. To achieve this, a converged infrastructure delivers a set of separate compute, storage, and networking resources optimized and tested for better interoperability. While reducing the complexity of the data center IT infrastructure to a certain extent, a converged approach has significant drawbacks.

The components in a converged infrastructure are managed separately, requiring dedicated applications to manage various pieces of hardware, sometimes making administration a challenging task.

Furthermore, such infrastructures have a large hardware footprint – servers, data storage devices, and networking equipment occupy unnecessary space and convert into limited flexibility and scaling options. Additionally, due to a large amount of hardware utilized, CI implies significant deployment and operational expenses.

Hyperconverged Infrastructure Benefits

Unlike other vendors, we’re not saying that converged infrastructure is “legacy” and that hyperconvergence is the only way. Each scenario has its use cases and benefits. HCI brings significantly reduced hardware footprint, infrastructure and environment simplicity, reduced IT resources and IT management costs, as well as visibly increased ROI.

Unrivaled User Experience

StarWind HCI Appliance includes user-tailored configuration, free assisted migration, and dedicated ProActive Support engineers to “babysit” your HCI 24/7/365.

Invisible Hardware Footprint

StarWind HCI Appliance is the only offer on the market that brings all of modern hyperconvergence features and benefits in a tiny 2-node footprint.

Edge Infrastructure Inspired

HCI is inspired by and tailored perfectly for ROBO, Edge, and VDI scenarios with its deployment, operation, and maintenance simplicity with StarWind having your back round-the-clock remotely.

Unprecedented Cost-Effectiveness

StarWind HCI is configured to your requirements, has zero hardware restrictions, and boasts a unique all-flash blend for best longevity, energy consumption, capacity, and performance.

Why Hyper Converged Infrastructure?

Today, the complexity of data center IT environment is continuously growing as the amount of data increases and applications demand more compute power with more infrastructure components needed to support it.

At the same time, IT departments should always be able to provision resources instantly while maintaining flexibility and scalability of the infrastructure to handle unpredictable data growth.

Traditional data center infrastructure is comprised of separate compute, storage, and networking components requiring different administrative groups and systems for their management. The storage team, for example, handles the maintenance of the storage subsystem and the relationship with the storage hardware vendor. The same goes for the servers and the network teams.

Such infrastructures feature multiple management interfaces for separate components, higher maintenance costs, and are a real headache in terms of support since different components often come from different vendors.

All of this makes infrastructure management a highly time- and effort-consuming task forcing businesses to spend their time and money just on keeping the IT infrastructure working instead of focusing on innovations and services delivery.

Why StarWind?

StarWind has been bringing enterprise-quality storage virtualization and hyperconvergence benefits in minimalistic form to the average business for well over a decade. We don’t believe in gatekeeping and don’t practice vendor lock-in. Hyperconverged infrastructure solutions from StarWind are built to deliver white-glove HCI experience at reasonable price and minimum effort.

StarWind Virtual HCI Appliance is a complete set of software services for achieving High Availability on any х86 hardware. The concierge offer fully assists with sizing your needs, solution deployment, configuration, and data migration.
Enjoy highly available hyperconverged
storage benefits on any hardware of your choosing,
outsourcing the proactive IT infrastructure support to us.
StarWind HCI Appliance is an entire data center world enclosed in a compact fault-tolerant two-node footprint. The intricate cutting-edge architecture and native software ensure high performance and resiliency for any scenario.
Refresh your outdated server hardware with
a forward-thinking turnkey IT infrastructure solution
built for high performance, longevity, and efficiency.

More About HCI

There are various misconceptions about hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) from unfriendly scalability conditions and complex operability to unjustified costs and overkill requirements.

There is some truth to some of them. However, it depends on which HCI vendor you’re looking at, what your business really needs, and how best you should approach your mission-critical applications.

Hyperconverged Infrastructure FAQ

StarWind HCI Appliance is an example of hardware HCI. In terms of software HCI, you can check out StarWind Virtual SAN and StarWind SAN&NAS. Either of the solutions has been created to provide maximum performance, fault tolerance, unrestricted scalability, easy operation, and significantly increased cost-efficiency.

Hyperconverged infrastructure simplifies the work of system administrators by allowing them to manage and monitor the entire IT infrastructure from a “single pane of glass”. The hardware footprint is significantly reduced since all components are tightly integrated and delivered in a single building block. Such infrastructure provides higher flexibility, allowing not only to Scale Up by adding more drives, memory, or CPUs, but also to Scale Out by adding additional cluster nodes. Moreover. HCI deployment and operational costs become significantly lower with less hardware to purchase and maintain.

Hyperconverged storage is an element of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). Storage is combined with compute and networking resources into a unified virtualized system. There is usually a software-defined storage (SDS) solution that pools all available underlying storage capacity into a resilient virtualized storage pool for further distribution and allocation.

Data processing is moving to the point of origin at a rapid speed. Workload and infrastructure investment are shifting from Enterprise to Edge by leaps and bounds. HCI makes sure all applications can store and process data at the point of inception in a cost-efficient manner. There’s also no need for dedicated IT staff at every ROBO or Edge location — everything is turnkey.

HCI brings lowered IT infrastructure cost, increased ROI, simplified IT environment operation, and IT infrastructure resiliency. All storage resources are unified into one fault-tolerant, Highly Available storage pool from which you can satisfy even the most demanding applications. HCI is an entire datacenter enclosed in a smaller footprint. It’s easy to master and manage, so there’s no need for an IT squad. StarWind takes it to the next level with its included ProActive Premium Support that makes sure everything is clockwork 24/7/365.

Unfortunately, this is the main issue with the HCI market: there is no mean price for HCI products. Vendors price HCI differently, frequently bumping up the price for more features. HCI cost depends also on your business needs and mission-critical applications. StarWind HCI, as proven by peer opinion, is the best price-quality HCI option for Enterprise ROBO, SMB & Edge on the market.

You can run any business-critical application on hyperconverged infrastructure. Your application works on your OS or container and not directly on hardware or on distributed software associated with HCI. HCI exists to virtualize and pool hardware resources together for the most optimal use and distribution for your applications. You can run any application on StarWind HCI.

StarWind HCI is software- and hardware-agnostic. Our engineers will pre-configure, deploy, and help migrate workload to StarWind HCI absolutely free of cost. There are no hardware compatibility lists and StarWind is certified with all industry-standard hypervisor vendors, so you’ll enjoy unrestricted scalability and total smoothness of operation.

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