Jun 21 2016

8 Ways a Converged Infrastructure Simplifies IT

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.

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.

How Converged Infrastructure Can Simplify IT Deployment

Converged infrastructure solutions aggregate commonly deployed IT infrastructure components — servers, storage, networking, virtualization and software — into prepackaged systems. The approach speeds and simplifies IT deployments in numerous areas.

Applications and platforms: Critical applications and platforms, such as Microsoft SharePoint and SAP Hana, demand high performance, high availability and strong security. Such deployments must also be able to seamlessly scale as an organization’s needs evolve.

A converged infrastructure, designed from the outset to meet the needs of specific applications and platforms, incorporates computing, storage, network and other components and resources designed for maximum compatibility and performance with the goal of keeping essential services running seamlessly and smoothly.

For example, HP has created numerous converged products that are preconfigured, tested and validated for specific workloads. Its CloudSystem supports integrated solutions based on OpenStack software, while its Big Data System, intended for data analytics, is optimized for SAP Hana or the Microsoft Analytics Platform. HP also markets a Client Virtualization System intended for virtual desktop infrastructures.

Similarly, FlexPod, a converged infrastructure solution from Cisco and NetApp, comes in configurations specifically designed for private cloud deployments, Oracle software or SAP, as well as Microsoft SharePoint and Exchange.

VCE, a converged infrastructure consortium established by VMware, Cisco and EMC, has created converged reference architectures for specific purposes, including hybrid cloud, business intelligence and mission-critical applications such as enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management.

Deploying sophisticated applications and platforms often requires specialized knowledge that an organization’s IT staff may not have. Offering a solution, a converged infrastructure, purposely designed for a specific technology deployment, can actually reduce the demands on IT professionals.

Server virtualization: A converged infrastructure takes server virtualization into a new world by tightly integrating, standardizing and optimizing both hardware and software. The approach also opens the door to the virtualization of network components and other IT technologies.

Prevalidated compatibility: An integrated infrastructure solution that has been prevalidated ensures that all hardware and software components have been extensively tested so that no incompatibilities exist within the system.

IT consolidation: According to a 451 Research study, when organizations reach 75 percent data center utilization, they begin to evaluate the need for additional capacity. Sixty percent of these organizations then opt to consolidate their IT infrastructure. Converged infrastructure solutions combine hardware integration, software orchestration and other features into compact, holistic rack architectures that are designed to operate harmoniously. All of this is instrumental in consolidating data center operations.

Simplified management: According to market research firm IDC, an IT operations team spends more than 70 percent of its time on day-to-day IT management operations — monitoring, troubleshooting, patching, updating and configuring resources.

A converged infrastructure allows organizations to automatically monitor, provision and troubleshoot across all elements of the system, leaving more time for focusing on mission-critical objectives.

Reduced real estate and energy footprints: A converged infrastructure lowers costs and reduces waste by requiring less space and energy.

Speedy deployment: With its “plug-and-play” approach, a completely configured converged infrastructure can be rolled out in far less time than a traditional data center infrastructure, reducing the process from months or years to weeks or even days. Converged environments are also designed to make upgrades faster and easier.

A converged infrastructure creates a new level of flexibility, allowing a data center to be sized and optimized to accommodate many different use cases.

Simplified support: Dealing with multiple vendors, who often blame each other when something goes wrong, is a major IT headache. An organization that deploys a converged infrastructure has to deal only with a single point of contact for service and support.

Learn more by downloading the white paper "The Ready-Made Data Center."