Next Generation Virtualization: The Converged Datacenter

By Ben Putano
| min

Are you moving large portions of your datacenter workloads to the cloud? If so, you’re not alone.

According to the IDC, 46% of IT infrastructure spending in Q1 2018 was in the cloud, up from just under 42% a year ago. Reasons to move to the cloud are clear: agility, cost-savings, and ease-of-use are among the most cited benefits.

But according to the same IDC study, on-premise IT spending grew even faster at 22%. While cloud spend is reaching new heights, on-premise data centers are still growing.

This is because some workloads will always remain in traditional data centers, such as big data use cases that simply move too much data for cloud computing to be viable. Highly-regulated industries like healthcare and finance are also more likely to retain large on-premise datacenters for the time being.

This doesn’t mean that your on-premise IT should be drudgery to work with. Next generation virtualization tools are working hard to make the on-premise experience feel more and more like the cloud until the two are virtually indistinguishable to the end user. Enterprises can have the best qualities of cloud while keeping their data in-house.

The key to improving the on-premise experience is a completely converged datacenter that simplifies the virtual IT operations down to a few simple clicks of a mouse.

And it’s not as impossible as you may think.

Not All Virtualization is Created Equal

Virtualization has been a core part of three-tier infrastructure for decades. There are VM and hypervisor tools at nearly every price point, any of which could be viable additions to your stack.

But that’s just the problem with traditional on-prem virtualization– it is a stand-alone technology layer that must be procured, integrated, and managed. More components means more complexity, and therefore higher costs.

By contrast, consider the experience of procuring public clouds. Virtualization is a fundamental piece of cloud computing, but do you know which hypervisor your vendor is using? Do you even care?

The answer is a resounding ‘no’. When it comes to public clouds, all you care about is how your application will perform. You don’t have to think about the virtualization layer– it just works.

As virtualization technology has evolved, most vendors have kept up with new capabilities by expanding their product lines. As a key stakeholder, this means more tools for your team to procure and manage. Moreover, each tool runs on its own software lifecycle, with updates happening intermittently throughout the year. Your team has to stay on top of each update to ensure ongoing compatibility.

Other pieces of the virtualization stack are even more fragmented. Most vendors have several different tools for infrastructure management, including networking, automation, and orchestration. Product lines have ballooned out of control; instead of the simplicity customers hoped to achieve with these new capabilities, they have just been giving more to manage.

Again, more components = more complexity = higher costs.

In 2018, shouldn’t on-premise virtualization be as simple and “invisible” as it is in the cloud?

The New Datacenter Should Be Converged

The modern datacenter has evolved in distinct stages. First came hyperconverged infrastructure, which removed complexity by eliminating standalone storage and compute layers. Enterprises could run their entire datacenter off their commercial-off-the-shelf hardware of choice. Still, a standalone virtualization layer was necessary to maximize HCI’s potential.The next generation of the virtualized datacenter is the convergence of virtualization itself. Instead of dealing with the complexity of a proprietary hypervisor, enterprises could choose a hypervisor that comes built-in to their HCI stack. Not only does a native hypervisor work better, it also comes included with the HCI stack. You are now cutting costs by removing complexity as well as saving cash on infrastructure.

And yet, there are still bolt-on tools for infrastructure management, automation, orchestration, and networking. These capabilities are among the most important for running an efficient and secure datacenter. However, most vendors continued to treat these components as afterthoughts, building new tools for each feature and forcing customers to integrate them on their own.

Herein lies the final piece of the puzzle: End-to-end virtual datacenter management. With end-to-end management, running your datacenter is literally reduced to a few mouse clicks. Imagine having one tool for:

  • Infrastructure Management
  • Storage Management
  • Networking
  • Security
  • Automation
  • Orchestration
  • Planning
  • Performance monitoring
  • Application & Virtual Machine Management

Nine tools reduced to one. With fewer moving parts, complexity is reduced to a minimum, saving operational costs while also enhancing the user experience to rival that of cloud computing.

Benefits of the Converged Datacenter

So, what does all this mean for you and your datacenter? The benefits of a fully converged datacenter are numerous, but here are the highlights:

Reduced Operational Costs

Time is your team’s most important asset. Currently, your team spends too much time in the day-to-day minutia of keeping the datacenter running. Even in the traditional virtual environment, software updates and complex integrations keep teams busy ensuring everything stays compatible.

Pre-integrated virtualization stacks reduce the number of moving parts, saving hours or even days of your team’s time. All features come built-in to the software, so upgrading is as easy as flipping a switch.

Cloud Experience On Premise

The simplicity of the public cloud is a major draw for enterprises, but many companies are opting for a multicloud option that includes both cloud and on-premise infrastructure. Unfortunately, teams with legacy virtual datacenters are forced to manage two different user environments– the simple, enjoyable cloud interface and the cumbersome, complex on-premise experience.

When your on-premise infrastructure is fully converged, it feels more and more like using the cloud. Everything– hypervisor, networking, orchestration, automation– it just works. Plus, when a consumer-grade user interface is built on top of a first-rate virtualization platform, enterprises get the very best of both worlds. The lines between cloud and on-premise begin to blur, allowing your team to effortlessly run workloads wherever they reside.

Driving Business Value from IT

The management of a legacy virtual environment requires a full-time team of highly-specialized IT professionals, whose time is mostly spent ensuring things don’t blow up. In the new virtual datacenter, these talented people can focus on driving business value for the organization.

Optimizing costs and resources is just the beginning; IT teams can help improve business processes, streamline the data analytics program, and even discover new incremental revenue channels. The bottom line is, you don’t know what your team is capable of until you set them free from the daily grind of IT management.

Bringing On-Premise into the Cloud Age

Despite the shrinking proportion of workloads on on-premise infrastructure, there is no denying that the overall size of the pie is growing. As big data, edge computing, and IoT feed more data into the enterprise, on-premise infrastructure– as well is the on-premise experience– will be just as important as ever.

There will always be a need for on-premise infrastructure, and its usability and capabilities should be built to match that of cloud computing. With the next generation of virtual datacenters, this is completely possible, and it’s happening right now. Learn more about how Nutanix AHV can make this future a reality for you.

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