The upcoming 5G era relies on virtualization and network functions virtualization (NFV). Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is a storage architecture that contains virtualization components to deliver complex computing environments. Given HCI’s virtualization capabilities, will HCI be a possible 5G storage option? We review the tenants of HCI and how it might impact 5G performance.
Will HCI Help Deliver 5G?
HCI is the converging of compute, networking, and storage via software-defined networking (SDN) and commodity hardware. It’s basically “a highly evolved form of software-defined storage,” according to Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Operators select HCI over traditional storage centers because it streamlines the management process, is more cost-effective, deploys faster, is agile, and it’s customizable. The infrastructure houses the storage, compute, and virtualization function behind the hypervisor. HCI technology delivers cloud computing, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and remote office/branch office (ROBO).
It’s important to realize that 5G networks need virtualization to fully deliver on its potential. Virtualization at the network’s core, at the network’s edge (MEC), and even in the data center is required to deliver 5G capabilities. According to 365 DataCenters, HCI “provides the necessary flexibility that networks require to support IoT, cloud and 5G technologies.” In addition to its flexibility and scalability, HCI allows for greater data protection than traditional storage, which will be essential in the 5G era as more connected devices, such as smart home appliances and Internet of Things (IoT), operate on these networks. Another attractive component of HCI to the 5G future is its ability to collect and store analytics in a centralized management system. Viewing collected data in a single pane of glass is a significant plus currently and will continue to be an asset when 5G arrives.
The HCI 5G Limitations
While HCI offers attractive qualities for 5G, it doesn’t adequately address all the needs to support 5G networking. HCI is generally used for enterprise-wide networking. 5G networking covers a wider geographical area than HCI’s original intention of providing secure, flexible, and scalable enterprise networking. Given HCI’s limited geographic coverage for networking, it’s not the data center to deliver 5G.
Discussion on the full potential of HCI on the 5G landscape has yet to occur, however, it appears that HCI capabilities will benefit some of the requirements for 5G, including the need for heightened data security, scalability, and faster deployment.