How hyperconverged infrastructure helps small businesses simplify IT infrastructure and management
The combination of increasing IT complexity and worsening tech skills shortages has been a double-whammy for small to midsized businesses (SMBs). Nearly three-quarters say the need to rapidly deploy new technologies in recent years has made it nearly impossible to effectively manage their IT environments, according to a Vanson Bourne survey.
The pandemic has driven a good deal of that complexity, with companies forced to support larger numbers of remote workers through the accelerated adoption of cloud services, remote access technologies, collaboration solutions and cybersecurity measures. Nevertheless, those are all essential technologies that will be required for years to come. As such, SMBs must explore solutions that can help them regain control of their IT environment.
“Whatever the source of their complexity, organizations must work to contain it and simplify their IT infrastructures,” IDC analysts noted in a recent report. “Simplification drives a number of benefits, including improved user expectations, reduced costs and improved operations.”
Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solutions offer a path to IT simplification.
HCI collapses the traditional three-tier data center architecture of compute, networking and storage into a single platform running on commodity hardware, with hypervisor software to create and run virtual machines. This “solution in a box” composition delivers a number of benefits over traditional IT architectural approaches.
Simplified Deployment. HCI solutions are preconfigured, tested and ready to deploy, which eliminates the need to design, implement and integrate infrastructure from scratch. Because they are closed systems, HCI appliances can be installed and configured with near plug-and-play simplicity.
Consolidated Infrastructure. HCI solutions have reduced cabling, power and cooling requirements, and they have sufficient CPU resources to support compute-intensive applications in limited space. In some cases, a single HCI appliance can replace an entire 12-bay rack of servers and storage appliances. Best-in-class solutions also ship with integrated local backup and replication, further simplifying the environment by diminishing the need for expensive backup infrastructures.
Simplified Management. Unlike traditional data center components that operate in silos, the entire HCI platform is centrally managed, maintained and supported. With consolidated resources, there are fewer boxes to manage — a game-changer for SMBs with limited IT staff. Additionally, a single, intuitive management interface removes the need to log on to multiple server interfaces.
Easy Scalability. HCI platforms make it easy to add storage capacity quickly and efficiently, with no need to size storage arrays or overprovision storage resources in anticipation of increased demand. Many also have the ability to “burst” storage, compute and backups out to a cloud provider, thus extending scalability through on-demand capacity. Resource pooling and horizontal scalability make it possible to boost performance and capacity as needed simply by adding nodes.
Enhanced Automation. Intelligent automation features further reduce IT operational overhead, allowing administrators to eliminate time-consuming manual tasks such as provisioning storage as well as more complex processes such as patching, updating and upgrading infrastructure.
Remote User Support. HCI supports desktop virtualization by enabling operating systems and applications to be hosted on VMs running in the data center. In the event of a disaster, end-users can access a personalized environment via a wide range of devices from any location. This also improves data security and simplifies the process of updating applications, distributing security patches and onboarding new employees.
Enhanced Resilience. HCI appliances create backup snapshots of virtual machines, allowing VMs to be restarted almost immediately in the event of an outage. Once the problem has been resolved, the workload is redirected to the original VM. Because the recovery occurs behind the scenes, users don’t know that anything unusual has happened.
Reduced Costs. Because they are built with commodity hardware, HCI appliances eliminate the need to deploy specialized server, storage or processing components. Since they are preconfigured and tested and ready to deploy, there’s no need for network technicians with specialized skills to configure, deploy and manage them.