Very few things in life are constant, right? This, of course, includes technology, which is ever-evolving. Many companies are now taking advantage of enterprise-level virtualization, which enables these organizations to do more, thanks to physical computer hardware utilization.
Plus, virtualization is the very foundation of cloud computing, and when 90 percent of organizations are run on the cloud, there’s no end in sight for complex data management centers.
As virtualization becomes more widespread, redundant data is increasingly generated by the virtualization workloads, which prompted the development of both hyper-converged and converged infrastructures to manage the data with superior scalability.
But what are the differences between converged and hyper-converged infrastructure types? What do they do, and what should you know about each?
About Converged and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure
Converged and hyper-converged infrastructures are two particular approaches to data center management. For both solutions, compute, networking, servers, storage, and virtualization tools are all packaged into a single appliance. They’ve been game-changers for those who work with enterprise virtualization and data management centers.
All too frequently, hardware is cobbled together from various vendors to make virtualization happen. It’s been tied together through poor networking connections that can make it nearly impossible to provision and manage it all with one tool. This can lead to a strange, incompatible array of devices and software that causes confusion, oversights, and performance issues that waste the time of your IT team.
The main goal of converged and hyper-converged infrastructure is to reduce these headaches and remove the unnecessary complexities for how organizations manage their virtualized data centers. This is achieved by eliminating the hardware incompatibilities that can make it hard for enterprise solutions to run smoothly from end to end. This is particularly appealing for enterprises that write cloud-native applications and/or those that host an internal hybrid or private cloud.
Rather than requiring multiple independent silos for powering and storing data, converged infrastructures bundle hardware components with one single management software program that organizes the provision of resources in an integrated system. Both converged, and hyper-converged infrastructures are categorized as integrated infrastructure systems or integrated stack systems.
Comparing Converged and Hyper-Converged Infrastructures
So what is the difference between converged infrastructures (CI) and hyper-converged infrastructures (HCI)? While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. The technologies used in these two infrastructures differ slightly in how they are implemented and the features they offer.
Like converged infrastructures, hyper-converged infrastructures combine everything in one place: Storage, computing, virtualization tools, and networking are all merged into a single system. They still reduce the complexity of large enterprise data centers, which makes scaling the entire infrastructure simpler.
The concept of converged infrastructures arose from hyper-converged infrastructures. What is the main difference between converged and hyper-converged infrastructures? In a converged infrastructure, each discrete hardware component can be separated and used independently, which is not supported by a hyper-converged infrastructure.
Also, HCI platforms contain a hypervisor, enabling virtualized computing, software-defined storage, and virtualized networking. Since its software is defined, HCI can maximize data centers’ capacity, empower better scalability, and improve data availability. Using this architecture, users can add nodes in stack form to expand the HCI’s cluster capacity.
A converged infrastructure combines storage and computing into one small, dynamic appliance that minimizes compatibility issues. CI is available in all-flash, hard disk, and hybrid arrays, and because not all infrastructure elements are fused, CI makes it easier to add new components.
Converged infrastructure combines compute, storage, networking, and server virtualization—a data center’s four core components—into a single building block. The HCI integrates even more components, including:
- Backup software
- Snapshot capabilities
- Data deduplication
- Inline compression
- WAN optimization
- And much more
Hyper-converged infrastructure is defined by its software, which means that the operations are separate from the physical hardware itself. All the components have to remain together for the infrastructure to function the way it should.
CI relies on hardware and uses building blocks to create the infrastructure. Each component can be used for its intended purpose and can be taken apart. Stand-alone devices can be used as they are. This means the server can be removed and used on its own, and individual storage components can be used independently from each other. It can monitor your data center infrastructure through data recognition in private and enterprise clouds and data centers.
CI technology also comes pre-configured. It “snaps into place,” which for some is positive, and for others, it is the chief argument against it. Because all the parts are preconfigured, users must rely on the predefined configuration.
HCI and CI systems are both powered by rack systems. HCI solutions consist of one or two racks that consolidate one or more multi-core servers. CI requires a large-scale rack platform to merge compute, storage, and networking into one appliance.
Hyper-converged infrastructures give IT teams the flexibility to build, scale, and protect the system. It’s streamlined, which means it’s decently affordable and relatively effective. With converged infrastructure, IT specialists don’t have to do as much hands-on work to manage the system and keep it running. It eliminated redundancies, which saves more in the long-term, thanks to lowered support and maintenance costs.
Overall, HCI allows for fast-deployment, a robust and software-driven program, and a fair amount of flexibility. It also allows you to run services on every node of the cluster for a fast, efficient, scalable datacenter.
If you are looking for better agility and efficiency, fewer compatibility issues, and on-demand growth, you’ll find that and more in a converged infrastructure. In CI, you can also implement centrally managed computing, storage, and network resources that handle multiple applications at once. This can help you consolidate your systems, better utilize IT resources, and lower your overall operational costs.
At VIOLIN Systems, we’re passionate about championing technology that serves our customers, which is why we have the cloud and on-premises flash arrays to maximize the potential of HCI and CI infrastructure.
Regardless of which infrastructure style you choose, we are here to guide you. Want to discuss which combination of storage arrays or infrastructure options are right for you? We can help. Contact us today to start the conversation.