How we got to Hyperconverged Infrastructure

By Ines Marjanovic
| min

With hyperconvergence adoption on the rise, it’s hard to believe HCI is a relatively new player in the grand scheme of IT. In fact, according to the State of the Enterprise Datacenter report, 67% of respondents are either using or are planning to adopt hyperconverged infrastructure.

Growing demands for simplified management, increased performance, and reduced time-to-market mean nowadays, technologies like hyperconvergence are business necessities, not just “nice to have’s.” Maintaining a competitive advantage is an increasingly difficult task, so benefits like scalability, operational efficiency, and reduced costs that help foster innovation and drive execution are integral in reaching that goal.

How did we get here? Let’s take a look at a brief timeline of IT and hyperconvergence before we dive deep into the history.

The Need for Change

Understanding why hyperconvergence arose in the first place means understanding its predecessor: legacy infrastructure. Legacy three-tier infrastructure, made up of dedicated storage, network and server tiers, no longer meets the speedy needs of modern businesses.

These silos are responsible for halting innovation, complicating both management and deployment, and more. With budgets shrinking, the vendor lock-in associated with legacy infrastructure presents avoidable challenges for organizations. Plus, required refreshes ask IT to predict needs 3 to 5 years in advance, which is nearly impossible to get exactly right.

Its clear legacy infrastructure has become archaic in the modern age, tips negotiating power to vendors, and forces IT to lag behind needs of the business. A new approach was needed.

The Early Years

To begin, we can’t discuss HCI without discussing its predecessor: storage virtualization. During the 1990s, Intel and Linux led the wave of storage modernization. For companies, storage virtualization allowed for software development, and many storage vendors offered turnkey solutions as a result, which were largely popular.

Following its infancy, the mid-2000s gave birth to software-defined storage (SDS), which could then be delivered as a unified software package. Not to mention, the introduction of SDS eliminated the need for close surveillance and management, automating a once tedious, laborious task.

While a step up, this form of storage still relied on a shared storage system, which, for a technologically eager future, was not enough.

In the Meantime …

Compute virtualization gave birth to several innovations. As digitization grew within enterprises and they found themselves adopting new applications, they needed compute power to be able to run them. IT at the time typically stood up dedicated infrastructure to support these applications. In time IT leaders found opportunities to increase utilization and ultimately reduce costs.

This led to the adoption of virtualization where hypervisors were able to abstract the underlying compute from multiple virtual machines that ran upon it. This had an immediate impact to how infrastructure was provisioned.

These innovations in software-defined storage and compute virtualization ran alongside each other and continued separate the two. They left the complexity of deployment, management, and planning to the IT teams.

Enter Hyperconverged Infrastructure

To tackle pain points caused by legacy infrastructure and expedite the path software-defined storage had set, hyperconverged infrastructure combines x86-based compute and storage resources with intelligent software. This powerful combination provides flexible building blocks, replacing separate servers, storage networks, and storage arrays integral to legacy infrastructure.

It’s no wonder many enterprises are leaning toward hyperconverged solutions to meet their business needs. In fact, customers cite improved operational efficiency, reduced costs, and scalability as expected benefits from HCI at 27%, 26%, and 24% respectively.


While hyperconverged infrastructure is relatively young, its impact is growing, making it an attractive choice for top enterprises. As adoption rises, it’s important to understand why companies are choosing to switch to HCI; read more about the inner workings of hyperconvergence in the Definitive Guide to Hyperconverged Infrastructure.

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