Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) evolved out of converged infrastructure (CI) and is a subset of software-defined storage (SDS). Recent HCI research looks at the market trends. Since its introduction, HCI has experienced an increase in adoption because of the dynamic computing environments currently in demand. The infrastructure solves the storage capacity problems required for dynamic networking, such as cloud hosting, remote office and branch-office networking.
Current HCI Research: The Market Trends
- “HCIS will be the fastest-growing segment of the overall market for integrated systems, reaching almost $5 billion, which is 24 percent of the market, by 2019,” according to Gartner’s research.
- Forbes concurs with Gartner’s prediction, and further adds that the rapid adoption will primarily be “in the small and medium business space.”
- Rack servers will be in vogue again combined with a customizable infrastructure that allows flexibility and scalability depending on real-time resource consumption.
- The factors promoting HCI’s high adoption rate are the need for virtualization, data protection, disaster recoverability, scalability, as well as the business factors of low CAPEX and total cost of ownership (TOC).
- VMware anticipates that “in 2018, we can expect that traditional storage development cycles will slow as the shrinking SAN market forces storage suppliers to sharply reduce development efforts at the same time that server hardware development increases because of expanded HCI and cloud markets opportunities.”
- “By end user, healthcare segment dominated the global market with a highest growth rate due to growing requirement for virtual data access and increasing usage of IT for maintaining patient’s information,” according to Stratistics.
These market trends developed from the ever-changing landscape of computing. It’s imperative to recognize the history of the technology to fully understand the HCI research predicting the surge in HCI usage.
The Evolution of HCI: The Circumstances that Led to HCI
“In the old days, storage systems were optimized around LUN [logical unit numbers] management,” according to the “Dummies Guide to Hyperconverged Infrastructure.” The guide further explains that a controller copied a LUN from one storage array and duplicated it for another storage array. These maneuverable LUNs moved from one host to another.
Next, enterprises swapped out the servers for virtual machines (VMs). One LUN may host hundreds of VMs at a time versus exchanging information from one LUN to another.
The booming trend of the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) brought another complication that forced IT enterprises to rethink the data center infrastructure. The VDI Boot Storm became a common headache for enterprise employees. This storm happens when servers cannot keep up with the massive number of requests coming from users attempting to access virtual desktops at the same time. Booting systems consume significant storage resources. The repercussion of users simultaneously logging into the same VDI is that it slowed down the booting process for all of the users.
These issues in performance led to the creation of the software-defined data center (SDDC), the first step in the evolution of HCI.
In SDDC, virtualization separates the hardware from VMs. SDDCs bring an enterprise several benefits, the top one being efficiency as it’s easier to monitor all components than checking individual platforms for each device within a data center. This consolidation of resources also frees up time for IT personnel to tackle other IT tasks and issues, and it helps the IT team to manage its resources. SDDC also allows for enterprises to create, manage, and provision the cloud.
Cloud computing itself pushed toward the implementation of HCI technology. Cloud computing shifted the approach of data centers toward scalability and cost-consciousness. In an ever-changing cloud environment, the IT structure needs flexibility and even more microscopic scalability to change as computing usage rises and falls in real-time.
The next solution to meet cloud computing’s requirements is converged infrastructure (CI). CI combines the networking, storage and compute components into one turnkey product. CI virtualize storage costs less than legacy data centers and is easier to manage. Despite those perks, CI does have some drawbacks, including data management challenges and fixed, non-flexible resources. CI often won’t work with legacy systems an enterprise already owns.
HCI branched off from the CI concept as a more fitting solution for dynamic computing environments. HCI, like CI, merges the compute, storage, and network functions. However, it does this through software-defined networking (SDN), and it’s not a turnkey product. HCI meets the needs of advanced computing in the following ways: enhanced data security, deduplication processes in place, solid-state drive (SSD) arrays and public cloud gateways. HCI is agile, scalable, cost-effective, and virtualized.