Hyperconverged infrastructure promises to make organisations more agile and cost-effective, with new storage technologies replacing legacy systems within a high-performance software-defined IT architecture.
Monolithic storage has held back data centres from delivering digital transformation. The trend toward hyperconvergence and the active decoupling of software from traditional hardware constraints is enabling greater freedom for IT leaders and making IT infrastructure more portable.
Storage, networking and virtualisation in a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) work together to meet the overwhelming need for business agility in unstable times, when competition could be a startup based anywhere in the world.
Breaking infrastructure barriers
Hyperconvergence means the whole stack is software-driven and breaks the barriers of traditional infrastructure design, says Justin Wheeler, a technical architect in Intel’s Non-Volatile Solutions Group (NSG).
“It increases choice, as hardware does not have to be from a specific vendor, which reduces costs and increases agility,” he says.
HCI also allows businesses to move from capital expenditure to an operating expenditure model focused on software licensing and cloud services.
“A hyperconverged IT infrastructure is more malleable around what businesses want to do. It creates agility around data and getting data in and out of the cloud. Low latency is not possible with monolithic storage,” says Wheeler.
“Organisations need to be able to scale up without a 10-month lead time. Solutions must be readily repeatable and easy to move elsewhere.”
This emphasis on standards and high levels of portability are pertinent to organisations in every sector.
“The more you can standardise, the more portable you become from a technology and business perspective. For example, a bank does not want to have to re-architect a solution. If you create a global agreement when procuring, it leads to agility,” says Wheeler.
“Every business, small or large, can take advantage of the efficiency of hyperconvergence. It has evolved a new way of thinking. Software vendors are driving this change as they are creating code that takes advantage of the infrastructure and design.”
Faster innovation, greater benefits
A hyperconverged infrastructure allows data to be exploited by the business to take advantage of innovation and bring products and services to market quickly, often within three to four months.
“People talk about data as the new oil or the new gold―it is. Data is a massively useful commodity which can be exploited to improve the user experience,” says Wheeler.
“As a result, everything can be addressed much quicker. It makes sense to the bottom line, and the customer experience is fantastic. It gives organisations the edge and the ability to do what they want to fulfil business requirements and meet the expectations of users.”
CEOs have been seeking the same benefits―faster, cheaper, more flexible―from IT infrastructure for many years, but the emergence of HCI begins to offer a step change in the realisation of benefits.
“Organisations want it faster, less of it and cheaper,” says Wheeler. “Hyperconvergence allows you to do that with a solution that fits needs. To a bank, milliseconds means millions. In an A&E department, accessing patients’ records faster means saving lives.”
Intel Optane for storage innovation
Intel provides a solutions-based approach that utilises world-class technologies. CPU, network and storage with different options are available to future-proof the business to ensure growth and agility.
"It is not an overnight migration. It is a question of where do you want to go now and in the medium and long term. Intel’s focus is on how to get there faster while improving the efficiency of the business," says Wheeler.
"Some organisations want a strategic deployment; some want to replace traditional storage infrastructure; some want to prolong the life of hardware. It comes back to agility and allows organisations to be strategic in application."
Storage innovation through Intel’s Optane technology has made the benefits of hyperconvergence possible.
"Optane is built on NVMe [Non-Volatile Memory Express] with greater throughput, lower latency and a lot more efficiency," says Wheeler.
"By comparison, NAND is silicon-based and processes associated with it are slow. SAS and SATA hard drives designed for hard disks are inefficient and costly. They are the walking dead, and software companies are not developing for them," he says. "The end is in sight."
Optane is a strategic technology for hyperconvergence and for the critical 10% of the infrastructure’s performance tier that makes or breaks the solution if it is deployed correctly.
"Optane is the first iteration of a storage medium which is part of a storage revolution," says Wheeler. "Where performance matters, it is proving itself to be without parallel. Software companies are writing code that takes advantage of this revolution."
As a vendor-agnostic technology company, Intel's relationship with the broader software ecosystem puts it in a unique position to help maximise the efficiency of enterprise IT. For example, Intel can help prevent the sprawl of maintenance contracts, as businesses no longer have to go to multiple vendors.
"Businesses can benefit as applications are developed to take advantage of hardware performance by doing more with less, faster," says Wheeler.
A number of breakthrough deployments in the hyperconverged space are revealing―in some cases, a return on investment almost overnight, he says: "The cost benefits have become very real. The end of 2018 saw a lot of movement, and in 2019, the revolution has dawned."
If you would like to find out how Intel Optane can help move your business toward a hyperconverged infrastructure, please visit www.intel.de/content/www/de/de/storage/data-storage-innovations.html.