Aug 07 2023

Is Hyperconverged Infrastructure a Viable Cloud Alternative?

HCI is an on-premises option that offers cloudlike benefits. But how does It compare with cloud services at scale?

Hyperconverged infrastructure remains the gold standard for financial firms that rely on local data centers and servers. And despite increasing public cloud investment, HCI spending isn’t slowing down. The HCI market is expected to reach a value of more than $32 billion by 2028.

Additionally, 80 percent of businesses say they’re expanding HCI deployments at the edge to help connect disparate tools and technologies.

But is this approach a viable cloud alternative?

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What Is HCI and How Does It Compare with Cloud?

Hyperconverged infrastructure is a software-defined approach that unifies key components including storage, computing, networking and management. It essentially allows companies to manage multiple infrastructure functions from a single control panel.

HCI and cloud also share the same core process of virtualization. By creating virtual representations of servers, storage architecture and network connections, cloud services and HCI solutions allow companies to easily manage and scale their IT environments.

The difference between HCI and cloud is their location. While HCI deployments are primarily on-premises, cloud solutions leverage offsite resources. As a result, clouds often outpace HCI when it comes to add-on services. So, if companies need new applications or tools, they are simply adding to existing frameworks for an additional cost.

HCI solutions, by contrast, excel at data protection and data management. Since hardware is on-premises and under direct IT control, companies benefit from increased visibility and data security.

DISCOVER: Find out how HCI helps organizations do more with less.

HCI or Cloud? A Case-by-Case Approach

HCI and cloud fill different roles in the IT environment. As a result, it’s not about replacing HCI with cloud or avoiding cloud for HCI: It’s about matching the technology to the use case. For example, HCI offers streamlined management of large data sets and lays the groundwork for companies to shift specific pieces of their infrastructure into the cloud. Cloud computing also makes it possible to handle rapidly growing data sets.

Another difference is cost. Many companies have adopted cloud-first strategies because of the low upfront costs. In the cloud, businesses don’t pay for hardware or maintenance, only for resource consumption.


The percentage of businesses that are expanding HCI deployments at the edge

Source:, "Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) Use is Growing at the Edge, According to 451 Research," July 12, 2022

HCI deployments offer a clearer picture of overall costs. Businesses can choose to buy or lease hardware and can plan for regular maintenance and replacement. In the cloud, however, spending steadily increases along with use, which means that cloud costs can gradually rise over the cost of HCI.

It’s also worth noting that this isn’t an either/or situation. Companies can — and should — make use of cloud and HCI solutions simultaneously. HCI excels at data management and control, making it ideal for data sources that are relatively static or that have a steady rate of growth. Cloud computing, meanwhile, is naturally dynamic, allowing organizations to easily add or remove services as needed.

If used in concert, HCI and cloud offer a two-way ecosystem that facilitates ongoing IT evolution.

CASE STUDY: Discover why hyperconverged infrastructure offers greater agility.

Is HCI a Viable Cloud Alternative?

Yes and no. Yes, in that HCI offers a cloud-like experience in terms of scalability and management. No, in that on-premises solutions will rarely be as dynamic and adaptable as those in the cloud. Instead of thinking of HCI as an alternative, companies can consider HCI an analog: a solution that’s similar but not identical to the cloud, and that makes it possible for businesses to get the best of both worlds.

This article is part of BizTech's EquITy blog series. Please join the discussion on X (formerly Twitter) by using the #FinanceTech hashtag.


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