IT Brief New Zealand logo
Technology news for New Zealand's largest enterprises
Story image

Harnessing the force of converged and hyperconverged infrastructure

Thu 25 Feb 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Converged and hyperconverged infrastructure (or CI and HCI) are being framed as the new hope of enterprise IT. Both technologies promise to seamlessly integrate all elements of compute, network, and storage components into standardised building blocks that can be combined and scaled out with minimal disruption. This is a particularly big deal for what IDC calls “third-platform” applications, particularly in areas like Big Data and mobility where flexibility and scalability are critical to delivering the core value proposition for users.

However, system administrators need to cultivate some new basic skills in order to implement CI and HCI successfully. Some of these skills, particularly when it comes to systems monitoring, are technical in nature. However, the most important ones relate to process and change management. Sysadmins have a unique opportunity and responsibility to break down the silos between traditional IT specialties if they’re to reap the benefits and stay on the light side of convergence.

Building IT, block by block Both CI and HCI work on the same fundamental principle: bringing systems integration all the way forward to the factory line. Converged infrastructure integrates compute, network, and storage components into compact and scalable “building blocks” (such as the aptly-titled VBlocks of VCE). Adding a new system becomes, theoretically at least, as simple as plug-and-play. Hyperconverged infrastructure takes this further, simplifying these building blocks into appliances that can be instantly added onto one another.

The main difference between the two is how they scale: converged infrastructure does so by adding greater capacity into the existing building blocks, while hyperconverged infrastructure requires the addition of whole new appliances in tandem to existing ones. In both cases, though, the major stability and downtime issues of scaling are largely eliminated because all systems components are designed to be compatible with one another.

At a basic level, both infrastructural approaches promise to reduce CapEx costs, improve service quality, and generally simplify systems admin. This pays particularly large dividends when applied to technologies that are highly complex and demand high scalability – things like VDI, Big Data, and mobile services.

In the case of Big Data and analytics, for example, systems and applications have to scale extremely elastically to meet shifting demand, but a public cloud is rarely the most compliant or cost-effective solution. A CI or HCI approach allows for that sort of flexibility without locking resources into serving one particular application or stack. That, in turn, allows end-users to focus on the task at hand, without persecuting their sysadmins for unexpected downtime or performance drops.

However, there is a danger with relying on a single, all-in-one system – what happens if something goes wrong?

Out of sight, out of mind You have to know something’s gone wrong before you can fix it. Because CI and HCI systems encompass multiple technology domains, sysadmins now have to treat monitoring as their new first order of the day. This means establishing alerts on performance KPIs, streamlining remediation processes, and working out checklists that help IT quickly identify the critical issue in any troubleshooting scenario. It sounds simple – but doing so goes far beyond simply technical capabilities.

Troubleshooting, for example, requires sysadmins to understand not just one field, but many: everything from networks and storage to virtualisation, applications, and OS configurations. CI and HCI systems allow sysadmins unprecedented insight into how these elements are interacting. The issue is that most sysadmins are specialists in only a single area of expertise, and may not be able to effectively take advantage of CI and HCI’s all-in-one approach to monitoring and administration.

Not immediately, at least. The best way to dissolve traditional siloes is to focus on a common goal – in this case, delivering value for line-of-business outcomes. IT teams need to combine their skills and expertise in how they manage these new systems: for example, having several “generalist” sysadmins responsible for monitoring and spotting issues, with the option to call on deep specialists once they’ve identified the root cause. It also, where possible, means collaborating more with vendors and partners, particularly in the case of converged infrastructure where the hardware usually comes with a robust service and support ecosystem. After all, the ones who know the building blocks best are usually the ones who built them.

Look before you leap In fact, sysadmins should aim to break down these siloes and refresh their processes before they adopt either CI or HCI, as doing so can inform which model will best suit their business. Hyperconverged infrastructure typically lends itself to smaller use cases which only require linear scalability, with the ability to generate ROI extremely quickly. Converged infrastructure is typically mentioned in the same sentence as “business transformation” – it works best as a platform for whole-of-enterprise IT, where efficiencies may not be felt so immediately but are far deeper and sustainable when they take effect.

Choosing the right option requires a deep understanding of the business’ current infrastructure situation, including levels of resource utilisation and desired use cases within different lines of business. In one instance that we saw, a multimillion-dollar converged infrastructure implementation ended up having less than 5% utilisation because the business had no idea what was actually being used in their previous data center. Hyperconverged infrastructure appliances proved a far more efficient solution for their regional offices, supporting the scale of line-of-business needs without incurring massive transformational costs.

Greater emphasis on systems monitoring, refined collaboration between technical silos, and a well-paced change roadmap can help sysadmins use the force of CI and HCI for lasting business good. While both technologies promise speed of scaling and implementation, a bit of restraint and foresight will help sysadmins ensure that their choice of infrastructure doesn’t land them in a trap.

Article by Patrick Hubbard, Head Geek, SolarWinds 

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cybersecurity
What every CISO must answer to enable a best-in-class security operations program
It has been widely reported recently that South Australian government employees have been the victims of a cyberattack.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
The post-pandemic workforce requires secure IAM capabilities
HID Global discusses what identity and access management means for organisations in today's convoluted digital world.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft previews Power Platform website design offering
Microsoft has announced the preview of Power Pages, the fifth product in its Power Platform family, designed for low-code makers and professional developers.
Story image
SaaS
The paradox of change, and how to get around it
The business decision to technologically transform should not come from an IT department but from the business itself.
Story image
Training
Trojan cyber attacks hitting SMBs harder than ever - Kaspersky
In 2022 the number of Trojan-PSW detections increased by almost a quarter compared to the same period in 2021 to reach 4,003,323.
Story image
Sustainability
Equinix announces milestones on sustainability commitments
Equinix has released its 2021 Sustainability Report which outlines progress, innovation and accomplishments on key ESG commitments.
Story image
Women in Technology
Huawei webinar emphasises the importance of women in tech
Industry findings by Coursera discussed as part of a webinar jointly organised by Huawei and Reuters Events found 6% more women enrolled in tech courses this year than in 2021.
Story image
Innovation
Fastly acquires Glitch, enables faster developer innovation
"This acquisition brings together two of the worlds best ecosystems for application development into a single, seamless developer experience."
Story image
Digital Transformation
Digital transformation increasing business complexities
A new survey suggests businesses must re-examine their digital transformation approach to better help employees adapt to change.
Story image
New Relic
New Relic launches vulnerability management platform
New Relic has introduced New Relic Vulnerability Management to help organisations find and address security risks faster and with greater precision.
Story image
Cyber attacks
Devastating cyber attacks expected to hit energy sector
Energy executives anticipate life, property, and environment-compromising cyber attacks on the sector within the next two years.
Darktrace
Threat actors are exploiting weaknesses in interconnected IT/OT ecosystems. Darktrace illuminates your entire business and takes targeted action to stop emerging attacks.
Link image
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Gartner reveals top three tech trends for banks this year
Gartner says generative artificial intelligence, autonomic systems and privacy-enhancing computation are gaining traction in banking and investment services.
Story image
Infosys
Consumer relationships with digital services continues to change
Two years of pandemic-induced reliance on technology for work has altered our relationship with digital apps and services, new research has found.
Story image
Sustainability
SoftIron named global leader for efficient DC infrastructure solutions
SoftIron has been named a global leader for supplying energy-efficient data infrastructure solutions for core-to-edge data centers after an assessment by Earth Capital Ltd.
Story image
Vectra AI
Vectra’s inaugural Partner of the Year Awards revealed
APAC companies Baidam, Firmus, ShellSoft and Macnica have been recognised in Vectra AI's inaugural Partner of the Year Awards.
Story image
DaaS
NetApp launches Spot PC, a new Desktop-as-a-Service solution
This is a new managed cloud DaaS solution with security, automation, observability and optimisation capabilities, designed for the needs of today.
Story image
MEC
MEC spending for private cellular networks to reach $5.8b
A new ABI Research report finds the revenue for Multi Access Edge Compute (MEC) deployments for private cellular networks will reach USD$5.8 billion by 2030.
Story image
Ransomware
APAC organisations fail to disclose ransomware breaches
85% of organisations in APAC were breached by ransomware at least once in the past five years, but only 28% publicly disclosed the incident.
Story image
Red Sift
Entrust expands strategic partnership with Red Sift
Entrust has expanded its strategic partnership with Red Sift to make it easier for businesses to adopt Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) standards for email identification and security.
Story image
Ransomware
CERT NZ releases first Cyber Security Insights for 2022
CERT NZ has released Quarter One: Cyber Security Insights 2022, which offers an overview of reports about cybersecurity incidents affecting New Zealanders.
Story image
Surveillance
i-PRO releases smallest AI-based surveillance camera on the market
The new i-PRO mini network camera is now available, with a pocket-sized form factor and full AI analytics functionality.
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Story image
Manhattan Associates
Shortening the click-to-customer cycle through smart technologies
Speed of delivery without accuracy is a dealbreaker for consumers. How can retailers operating in an omnichannel environment overcome the challenge of click-to-customer cycle times.
Story image
Digital Signage
MAXHUB's Digital Signage range to bolster boardroom productivity
The new MAXHUB Digital Signage technology is purpose-built to make every kind of team meeting more effective.
Story image
Kubernetes
Sysdig unveils new Kubernetes troubleshooting and cloud innovations
Sysdig has introduced two new innovations that look to help bolster cloud services and simplify Kubernetes troubleshooting.
Story image
Sift
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Alteryx
Alteryx releases updates, empowers data insights for enterprise
Alteryx has released new advancements designed to aid enterprises with cloud analytics, democratise insights and ensure data governance.
Story image
Microsoft
Elevation of Privilege the top 2021 Microsoft vulnerability
BeyondTrust has released its 2022 Microsoft Vulnerabilities Report, finding that Elevation of Privilege is the top vulnerability category for the second consecutive year.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft, Cloudian partnership offers data center flexibility
Cloudian’s HyperStore object storage platform is now integrated and validated to work with Microsoft SQ Server 2022, offering more flexible and scalable data centers.
Booster
Booster Innovation Fund. A fund of Kiwi ingenuity – for Kiwi investors.
Link image
Story image
Data Protection
Information management capabilities to meet privacy requirements
Organisations with customers or operations across more than one country face a spate of new and proposed privacy and data protection laws.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity prompts upgrade for 1.3 billion electricity meters
ABI Research finds Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and cybersecurity concerns are prompting the upgrade of 1.3 billion electricity meters by 2027.
Story image
GapMaps
GapMaps Live to improve brand decisions on physical locations
GapMaps has released its latest service GapMaps Live, giving more insights and features to help brands make better decisions about physical locations.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Accenture - a collective security approach a driving factor for cyber resilience
With the approaching Davos World Economic Forum upon us, it is even more imperative to discuss the impact of cybersecurity on business operations leading into the future.
Story image
Check Point
Check Point and CCTV expert join forces to boost protection
The partnership will involve Check Point Quantum IoT Protect Nano Agent being embedded in Provision-ISR’s CCTV cameras for on-device runtime protection.
Story image
Ponemon Institute
Email revealed to be riskiest channel for data loss
More than half (60%) of organisations experienced data loss or exfiltration caused by an employee mistake on email in the last 12 months.
Story image
Managed service provider
Barracuda MSP Day 2022 highlights MSP opportunities
Barracuda Networks has released a report showing global services-related MSP revenue is set to increase by more than a third in 2022 compared to 2021.
Exabeam
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
CrescoData
SPS network now available to CrescoData eCommerce customers
CrescoData, a Pitney Bowes Company and PaaS business in the commerce space, says its customers can now connect to the SPS Commerce Retail Network.
Story image
Silver Peak
The path to an adaptive, modern network
Managing and securing the network looks different than it did just two years ago—especially given that most of these networks are made up of multi-generations of infrastructure stitched together over time.
Story image
Rackspace
Skills shortages hold orgs back from capitalising on cloud 2.0
Organisations are becoming more comfortable with sophisticated 'cloud 2.0' technologies, even as they confront difficulties in hiring and retaining IT talent.
Story image
Sustainability
Aligned Data Centers increases sustainability-linked loan
Aligned Data Centers has increased its sustainability-linked loan from $375 million to $1.75 billion to speed up the next phase of its strategic growth.
Story image
Digital Marketing
Similarweb acquires SEO and rank tracking company Rank Ranger
Digital intelligence company Similarweb, which specialises in analysing web traffic, has acquired Rank Ranger, a market leader in SEO and rank tracking.