Converged vs. Hyperconverged Infrastructure

What is converged infrastructure?

Converged infrastructure (CI) is a form of datacenter management that merges legacy infrastructure components like compute, networking, and virtualization onto a turnkey appliance. More businesses nowadays are choosing converged infrastructure because they’ve realized there’s little reason to continue owning and managing their own hardware. For many, the self-service model CI delivers is more appealing.

With converged infrastructure, resources can be consumed on-demand. Rather than multiple IT resources sitting in their own separate silos, converged infrastructure marries hardware components with software to orchestrate and provision these resources through a unified system.

As a step up from legacy, multi-tiered infrastructure, CI aims to reduce the complexity that comes with datacenter management. Its design eliminates hardware incompatibility issues, and its ease of deployment is appealing to organizations that need to support cloud-native applications or host a hybrid or on-premises cloud.

hyper converged infrastructure benefits

Figure 1: Hyperconverged infrastructure merges the traditional components of virtualization into a single, unified platform.

What is hyperconverged infrastructure?

On the other end of the spectrum, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) uses intelligent software to combine x86-based server and storage resources into a 100% software-defined solution. It replaces the components of legacy infrastructure, i.e., separate servers, storage networks, and storage arrays, with one unified system, creating a highly scalable datacenter.

While both converged and hyperconverged infrastructure hope to eliminate the pain-points associated with legacy infrastructure, there are unique differences between how the two tackle those challenges. 

Converged infrastructure vs. legacy infrastructure

In a traditional, multi-tiered datacenter (aka, legacy infrastructure), the design requires that servers, storage networks, storage arrays, and other components be individually configured and linked together. In this structure, a dedicated IT team would be responsible for managing a single component, which unquestionably becomes costly and complex.

legacy infrastructure challenges

 

Converged infrastructure, on the other hand, offers unified products where each of these separate components coexist on a hardware appliance. As a result, businesses can minimize their datacenter footprint and reduce high costs associated with cabling, cooling, power, and hiring dedicated teams of IT specialists.

Hyperconverged infrastructure vs. legacy infrastructure

Where converged infrastructure minimizes some of the pains of legacy infrastructure—namely its associated upkeep costs—hyperconvergence tackles more

Like CI, many organizations choose hyperconvergence because they hope to see financial benefits. Instead of paying a big licensing fee upfront, customers pay software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscription fees on a regular cadence. On top of being more economically sound, this method ensures businesses don’t overuse or underuse their resources, which is often the case with the 3-5 year consumption that legacy infrastructure asks businesses to predict. 

Pay-as-you-grow model

Figure 2: Pay-as-you-Grow Model
Nutanix offers a fractional consumption model, enabling businesses to add nodes when needed.

In addition, SaaS eliminates the need for organizations to buy, house, run and maintain hardware on their own—their hyperconvergence vendor takes care of those tasks by working with an array of hardware vendors. As a result, businesses enjoy lower utility bills and a reduced datacenter footprint. 

Converged vs. hyperconverged: benefit breakdown

To better understand the advantages of both infrastructure solutions, consult the side-by-side comparisons of the most sought-after benefits companies require. 

Benefit Converged Infrastructure Hyperconverged Infrastructure
Reduces operational expenses    
Streamlines acquisition, deployment, support, and management X  
Reduces “moving” parts, i.e., hardware    
Enables cloud-level economics    
Provides a highly scalable environment    
Enables centralized management of virtual environments    
Optimizes resource consumption    
Improves mobility by shifting management over to apps and VMs X  
Includes built-in data protection and disaster recovery X  
Reduces the total cost of ownership    
Enables rapid application deployment X  
Reduces the risk of over-provisioning and over-purchasing    
Cuts down on labor-intensive activities    
Prepares datacenters for DevOps X  

Should businesses choose CI or HCI?

Simply put, converged infrastructure still incorporates hardware, running the technology natively on hardware. On the other hand, hyperconvergence is fully software-defined and completely integrated, which means that it cannot be broken down into separate components.

Ultimately, HCI is far more flexible, maneuverable, and scalable, delivering a simple, speedy deployment model: “[Hyperconverged infrastructure] is often deployed on commodity components, providing a simplified scale out architecture with commodity servers.” 

Related resources

Building a Business Case for HCI

Top 20 HCI Questions Answered

The Definitive Guide to HCI

9 Top Hyperconverged Infrastructure Resources

10 Signs It's Time to Upgrade your IT Infrastructure

5 Problems Hyperconverged Infrastructure Solves

Top 7 Hyperconverged Infrastructure Webinars

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