Why Hyperconverged Infrastructure?
Companies adopt HCI for the same reason they adopt virtualization: operational simplicity and ease of use and management, says IDC analyst Ashish Nadkarni.
HCI is a good solution for 80 percent of general purpose applications, and because of that, small businesses can standardize on HCI for all their server and storage needs, he says. With HCI, IT departments don’t need separate server, storage and network administrators to provision computing, storage and network resources individually — which is a hassle and takes time, he says.
“If you are a small IT shop with limited resources, you can have one person do all of it,” Nadkarni says. “An HCI cluster can take care of all your workloads. You can have a single console to provision the resources, and you are up and running. HCI creates agility.”
Grow Financial, which has about 25 branches in South Carolina and Florida, initially considered HCI as a stand-alone environment to host its virtual desktop infrastructure. The credit union also plans to deploy a new document imaging and workflow management system and move its core banking application from a proprietary database to Microsoft SQL Server.
Because Grow Financial’s hardware vendor plans to phase out support for its equipment, it made sense for the organization to migrate all its x86 workloads to HCI, Jensen says. After researching options, Jensen and his team standardized on 12 Nutanix NX series HCI appliances and software because of their performance and affordability.
“We asked ourselves, ‘Can HCI fit our regular core compute needs as well?’ and it absolutely does,” Jensen says. “I’m not a fan of managing multiple vendors, so we got ourselves a unified system.”
The organization installed the new hardware in January 2021. Workers placed six appliances at the primary data center in Tampa and the other six at a secondary site for redundancy.
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HCI Is Simple and Reliable
Overall, Jensen loves Nutanix’s ease of use and scalability. When he needs more server and storage resources, he can purchase new appliances and quickly configure them with Nutanix’s Prism management software. “When you add compute and storage together, overall performance grows with each node,” he says.
Jensen also likes Nutanix’s reliability. He replicates data between the two data centers using snapshots. With Nutanix’s one-click failover feature, he can recover data with a snapshot in just one click if a software patch goes awry, for example.
“That has been a lifesaver for us a few times,” he says. “Those snapshots are fast and efficient.”
With the new hardware in place, the credit union is pursuing new projects, including plans to fully deploy VDI by the middle of 2022. Because of the ongoing pandemic, most employees still work from home. The virtual desktops will provide users a better experience at home and in the office while reducing hardware costs and simplifying IT management, Jensen says.
“If there’s an issue with someone’s virtual desktop, we can provision a new one and they’re back to a good working image,” he says.
Grow Financial has also begun migrating its applications off the old hardware and onto the Nutanix hardware. Overall, Jensen and his team are impressed.
“Everything just runs and works better,” Jensen says. “We’ve been happy with it.”