Organizations are increasingly turning to the converged infrastructure architecture to achieve improved performance, business agility and cost savings. A converged infrastructure (CI) enables adopters to take virtualization to the next level by providing a readymade package or reference architecture that makes it faster and easier to deploy an array of sophisticated new technologies.
A converged infrastructure helps an organization break down a siloed management approach inside the data center. Enhanced management tools enable multiple IT teams and resources to cross-collaborate. By flattening data center architecture, the approach also offers a practical solution to efficiency-robbing silos, allowing computing, networking and storage resources to be efficiently abstracted from CPUs, racks, cabling, controllers and switches.
Simply put, a converged infrastructure allows an organization to transform its data center on its own terms, beginning or continuing its journey on the road to next-generation IT.
The Challenges of Advanced Technology
Data center technologies are evolving at a rapid pace. Virtualization, automation, cloud computing, software-defined networking and a host of sophisticated applications are just a few of the solutions that can help organizations achieve a competitive advantage — as long as they have the resources needed to deploy them.
Traditional data centers are plagued by a host of inefficiencies that can impede or even prevent the adoption of increasingly essential advanced technologies. Aberdeen Group recently surveyed organizations on their top data center and IT infrastructure pressures and found that leading concerns included aging infrastructure (40 percent), high capital costs (30 percent), high IT expenses (26 percent) and the long time needed to deploy devices (24 percent). A modern infrastructure can help an organization address all of these issues and many others, including:
IT sprawl: As a data center evolves over time, many organizations slide into poor hardware resource utilization, inadequate system- and software-level security and wasted energy. A recent study by Jonathan Koomey of Stanford University and the Anthesis Group found that up to 30 percent of servers in data centers are “comatose” — drawing power but not generating any useful output.
IT complexity: Complexity is a fact of life in today’s IT infrastructure. But sprawling data centers, that are pieced together over time with new technologies connected to older hardware via complicated workarounds and middleware, greatly increase this problem, hindering performance and growth.
Budget constraints: Newer data center infrastructures that employ modern architectures operate far more efficiently than their older counterparts. Older data centers are commonly plagued by higher maintenance and energy costs, along with needless expenses that can seriously dent an organization’s bottom line. Indeed, some experts estimate that 80 percent of IT spending goes toward maintaining legacy infrastructure.
Space limitations: As new technologies are periodically squeezed into an existing data center, space becomes increasingly limited. This situation often leads to installation shortcuts and compromises. Over time, something has to give, often leading to compromises in performance, efficiency and reliability.
Energy demands: Many older data centers are energy hogs, wasting power (and money) due to the use of less efficient IT equipment. They may also fail to take advantage of recent developments in power, cooling and other essential support services.
Personnel shortages: Inefficiently designed data centers require constant attention as IT administrators deal with poorly matched, configured and managed systems.
Lack of expertise: Many organizations have limited IT staff resources. Consequently, they may not have the experience to implement sophisticated next-generation IT projects in-house.
What Is a Converged Infrastructure?
To address the challenges posed by conventional data center architectures, a growing number of organizations are turning to a converged infrastructure solution as a platform on which to build their data centers. A converged infrastructure integrates multiple IT technologies, such as servers, storage, networking equipment and software — as well as service and support — into a single, comprehensive solution.
According to a study published by Infiniti Research, the global market for converged infrastructure products is projected to grow by more than 31 percent a year from 2014 to 2019.
One delivery model for CI involves preconfigured bundles of hardware and software. With this converged infrastructure approach, the vendor supplies an organization with specific storage, network, server and related technologies. The preconfigured components are integrated and standardized to help organizations achieve timely, repeatable, consistent deployments. The approach allows organizations to plan with accuracy their final deployment’s parameters for power, floor space, usable capacity, performance and cost.
Another common delivery model is via a reference architecture (RA), a system design developed by a provider or an independent party. The RA documentation specifies which components to buy and how to connect and configure them for maximum performance. An RA provides a great deal of flexibility, since it allows organizations to freely mix and match hardware and software that meet the RA’s specifications. This approach requires an organization’s IT staff to pay close attention to details for optimal planning and deployment.
Want to learn more about converged infrastructure? Download the free white paper, "The Ready-Made Data Center," to find out how this IT approach:
- simplifies virtual desktop infrastructure deployment
- improves data center efficiency
- saves time on day-to-day IT management operations
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