Cisco Systems, Big Switch Networks and Big Switch Networks
Software and hardware disaggregation is driving new product categories for next-generation data centers that include converged appliances, high-density servers, and software-defined storage and networking equipment. Among the hottest areas of hardware innovation are converged infrastructure platforms that integrate hyper- and rack-scale hardware with virtualized software stacks for compute and storage.
Converged infrastructure (CI) is typically a large, rack-scale platform that combines compute, storage and networking into a packaged, turnkey product while Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) usually refers to 1U or 2U (rack-unit) systems that consolidate one or more multi-core servers with a local storage array. The nodes are controlled by a centrally-managed HCI software stack that provides a hypervisor, software-defined storage and virtual networking that pools resources among all nodes in an HCI cluster. Often, these HCI clusters are connected via high-speed flexible networking fabrics to ensure performance. These all-in-one designs have several significant advantages compared to traditional servers: easier to purchase, faster to deploy and manage and potentially lower operating and capital costs.
Both CI and HCI help mitigate the inherent difficulty of scaling performance of monolithic designs. Infrastructure designers have learned that it’s much easier to scale capacity and performance using connected, yet distributed building blocks versus large, monolithic systems. Through their ease of deployment, CI and HCI systems can facilitate rapid growth in cloud environments, while supporting lower OpEx through unified and consistent management consoles. Likewise, the scalability and central manageability of CI and HCI platforms allows organizations to consolidate their data center footprint by aggregating applications onto fewer systems or a single logical pool by migrating applications from smaller data centers and computer rooms into a few large, more efficient facilities.
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