Data Center Solutions
Software-defined and hyper-converged: an introduction
Tikiri Wanduragala, Lenovo’s EMEA x86 Server Systems Snr. Consultant, writes for Think Progress on software-defined and hyper-convergence – two of technology’s...
Legacy enterprise customers could be stifling innovation due to how they procure technology, but there are ways hyper-convergence can break this cycle.
Having worked in two of the major industry verticals – telco and financial services – I can recognise one of the major frustrations that IT departments face: how budgets are allocated and its consequences.
An overview of how companies buy and consume technology
Traditionally, enterprises are complex organisations that work in silos, with the high-level budget also allocated in a complex way. Year 1 storage may be refreshed, with Year 2 compute prioritised, Year 3 networking improved and the cycle inevitably repeating itself by Year 4.
Without realising it, IT organisations could be creating a number of challenges:
1. The storage team will often over-spec its current requirements in order to futureproof its environment for the following three years. However, this effort to obtain a budget margin will generally lead to higher capex, also resulting in an IT department with more capacity than it requires.
2. This model will affect the infrastructure-downtime window. Usually carried out during non-office hours, it makes implementing the technology expensive – from equipment-procurement prices to overtime costs.
3. As the operational challenges grow, these will become the focus of enterprise customers. Time for innovation will gradually cease to exist, making it difficult to deliver perceived value back to the business – and causing animosity between the internal IT department and management.
How hyper-convergence addresses these challenges
Very simply, hyper-convergence by way of design allows enterprise customers to break the cycle of procuring hardware platforms. Customers can now refresh compute, network and storage in a single cycle, freeing up IT departments to react quicker to their business needs.
Constant change is not only expensive, but as experienced IT professionals will attest to, things can go wrong.
Consider the following example: after working for a company that implemented a hyper-converged solution, the turnaround time to provision a virtual machine (VM) to the business decreased from 42 days to a four-day cycle. By scaling the environment with a new node via an IP address, IT departments could forecast their immediate requirements more accurately, assured that the process went from months to a few hours. And as this work could now be executed during normal office hours, operational costs dramatically decreased – overtime was no longer part of the balance sheet.
Enterprises don’t make a difference by playing at the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) layer – the game has changed. Companies now stand out via the applications or services they offer to customers, and it is by implanting a resilient, almost self-healing IaaS layer that a business can operate higher up the value chain.