Converged vs. Hyperconverged Infrastructure

What is converged infrastructure?

Converged infrastructure (CI) is a form of datacenter management that combines legacy infrastructure components like storage arrays, servers, network switches, and virtualization onto a single SKU that makes purchasing and deployment easier and more predictable. 

Many businesses choose converged infrastructure because they’ve realized the amount of time and expense involved with sizing, deploying, configuring, and troubleshooting their own hardware. For many, the packaged model CI delivers is more appealing.

With converged infrastructure, systems are designed and integrated by a vendor, packaged into a discrete set of pre-configured options. Rather than needing to buy the various components separately and working through compatibility and integration challenges manually, converged infrastructure marries pre-integrated 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 reduces hardware incompatibility issues, and its ease of deployment is appealing to organizations that are looking to reduce time and resources spent integrating and deploying datacenter infrastructure.

hyper converged infrastructure benefits

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

What is Hyperconverged Infrastructure?

In contrast, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) takes a completely different approach to support enterprise applications, using intelligent distributed software to combine pools of 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 distributed 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 becomes costly and complex and creates friction that slows down business initiatives.

legacy infrastructure challenges

 

Converged infrastructure is comprised of the same underlying components as traditional infrastructure, but packages them together into a single purchasable unit for simplified purchasing and deployment. As a result, businesses can minimize the amount of time they spend designing, deploying, and integrating datacenter infrastructure, but the underlying technology is the same as traditional infrastructure with many of the same problems and challenges.

Hyperconverged Infrastructure vs. Legacy Infrastructure

Where converged infrastructure minimizes some of the pains of legacy infrastructure—namely its associated deployment and 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 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, the intelligent distributed software powering HCI solutions enables more efficient use of compute and storage resources and removes the need for much of the additional hardware required to power traditional infrastructure. 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 X  
Enables cloud-level economics X  
Provides a highly scalable environment    
Enables centralized management of virtual environments    
Optimizes resource consumption X  
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 X  
Enables rapid application deployment X  
Reduces the risk of over-provisioning and over-purchasing X  
Cuts down on labor-intensive activities    
Prepares datacenters for DevOps X  

Should Businesses Choose CI or HCI?

Simply put, converged infrastructure is the same technology as traditional infrastructure, but is packaged to be easier to consume and deploy. On the other hand, hyperconverged infrastructure takes a completely different approach: using cloud computing technologies implemented entirely in software to enable clusters of commodity server hardware to reliably and predictably power enterprise software services.

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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