Today, the complexity of datacenter IT environment is continuously growing as the amount of data increases and applications require more compute power with more infrastructure components needed to support it. At the same time, IT departments are required to be able to provision resources instantly while maintaining flexibility and scalability of the infrastructure to handle unpredictable data growth
Traditional IT infrastructures are 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.
The problem of datacenter’s IT environment complexity and large hardware footprint is partially solved by deploying a converged infrastructure (CI). The main idea behind this concept 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 datacenter’s IT infrastructure to a certain extent, such 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 take unnecessary place and translate into limited flexibility and scaling options. Additionally, due to a large amount of hardware utilized, CI requires significant deployment and operational expenses.
Hyperconverged architecture (HCI) takes this approach to entirely new level by combining compute, storage and networking resources in a single “building block” and adopting Software-Defined Everything approach. Software-Defined Storage (SDS) stack eliminates the 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. It dramatically improves IT infrastructure efficiency by automating provisioning and configuration of the entire networking stack.
Hyperconverged infrastructure simplifies the work of system administrators 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-out by adding more drives, memory, or CPUs but to scale-out by adding additional cluster nodes. More to say, with less hardware to purchase and maintain, HCI deployment and operational costs become significantly lower.
Hyperconverged architecture simplifies management by combining all nodes into a single resource pool. This allows managing aggregated resources across individual nodes from a single pane of glass instead of having a set of separate management interfaces for different components.
HCI delivers higher flexibility and allows businesses to scale as needed by adding new modules or nodes. Unlike converged systems, which require considerable investments to scale out, hyperconverged solutions have a much smaller step size, reducing costs for infrastructure development. Hyperconverged systems are also built around the low-cost commodity x86 hardware significantly lowering upfront and operational costs.
Hyperconvergence allows organizations to deploy different applications in a shared resource pool without worrying about the I/O blender which affects VM performance. Hyperconverged infrastructure’s mix of different storage types enables systems to handle both random and sequential workloads smoothly. Since the HCI is VM-centric, it allows the system to see through the I/O blender and to optimize individual VMs based on their I/O profile.
Hyperconvergence became a perfect fit for deploying virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) as it solved all the challenges around VDI. First, HCI scales out by adding additional nodes increasing both compute and storage resources which is also necessary for VDI environments, as with the appearance of new virtual desktops, more CPU cores, RAM and storage must be assigned to those systems. Further, hyperconverged systems usually feature several data optimization technologies, such as deduplication and compression, allowing to reduce virtual desktops at the storage layer and thus, increase storage density.
Another use case for HCI is remote office/branch office (ROBO) scenario. Hyperconverged systems are designed to be self-contained and remotely managed, making them a perfect choice for hosting virtual machines at branch offices. With centralized management capabilities of HCI, there’s no need for specialized IT staff to perform manual operations such as running backup jobs or creating logical unit numbers (LUNs) or quality-of-service policies. Another benefit here is that hyperconverged infrastructures are fast to deploy and deliver a vast amount of resources that are still tightly managed. Network, storage, and compute resources can be deployed at a new site and start working for the company from the first day.
StarWind is a one-stop virtualization shop and the only provider for full-stack datacenter infrastructure that you need. StarWind products are extremely easy to use. A typical system administrator would do the job without any special storage network (SAN/NAS) management skills.
StarWind brings virtualization infrastructure resilience to an entirely new level by putting High Availability “on steroids” and bringing it to Fault Tolerance. StarWind ensures highest achievable performance of datacenter infrastructure without any overkill overprovisioning.
StarWind is cost efficient to the extreme, up to being completely free, and serves a wide range of customers, including the most budget-conscious ones.
For those who need to build a new virtualization infrastructure from scratch, our solution is StarWind HyperConverged Appliance – the all-in-one simple turn-key hyper-converged platform. It unifies commodity servers, disks and flash, hypervisor and Software-Defined Storage, and associated software into a single manageable layer.Learn more
For those who have sufficient compute resources and need to scale storage capacity without breaking the bank, our solution is StarWind Storage Appliance – the turbocharged storage platform. It serves storage as a single namespace to multiple virtualization environments and easily handles unpredictable data growth.Learn more
For those, who already have server hardware and need to build a datacenter infrastructure based on the existing setup, our solution is StarWind Virtual SAN – the versatile Software-Defined Storage. It eliminates the need in physical SAN or NAS by “mirroring” disks and flash between servers to create a resilient shared storage.Learn more