Why Converged Infrastructure Technologies are important


Converged infrastrucutre has gained a lot of momentum over the last couple of years. The ability for vendors to provide the server, storage and networking all bundled into one solution is an easy win both the vendor and customer. Let’s step back and understand how this converged technology is changing the game of IT.

What is Converged Infrastructure

Gartner defines it as a class of data center systems that deliver a combination of server, shared-storage and network devices in a pre integrated stack. Hewlett-Packard coined the term Converged Infrastructure a little over three years ago. Gartner calls it integrated systems, while Cisco Systems calls it the unified computing system (UCS). Regardless of the lingo, the idea is the same: Merge compute, storage and networking into a self-provisioning pool of shared resources that can be pre-configured to drop into your data center. That way, it’s up and running in hours or days, not weeks or months.

A Converged infrastructure essentially turns various data center components into an appliance form factor that can be centrally managed. The goal of a converged infrastructure is to minimize compatibility issues and simplify the management of servers, storage systems and network devices while reducing costs for cabling, cooling, power and floor space. Depending on the vendor, Converged infrastructure has been called a number of things. We sometimes hear integrated systems, unified computing, datacenter-in-a-box or infrastructure-in-a-box.

The Converged Infrastructure Market

Research firm IDC estimates that total worldwide spending on converged infrastructure will hit $17.8 billion in 2016, up from $4.6 billion in 2012. Converged infrastructure will account for 12.8 percent of total storage, server, networking and software spending by 2016, up from only 3.9 percent in 2012, IDC estimates.

IDC worldwide spending converged systes 2012-2016-1cloudroadWith the momentum in hyper-drive, how can solution providers make the most of the opportunity? Cisco Systems, Dell, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, NetApp, Oracle and VCE have placed bets on the market, delving into where their respective channel partners are seeing the most growth today and into the future.

Market is Divided into 3 types
Integrated Workload Systems: Server, storage and network integrated with database and/or application software to provide appliance or appliance-like functionality.

Integrated Infrastructure Systems: Server, storage and network integrated to provide shared compute infrastructure.

Integrated Reference Architectures: Products in which predefined, pre-sized components are designated as options for an integrated system, whereby the user and/or channel can make configuration choices between the predefined options
Converged infrastructure refers to the tying together of server, storage, networking, virtualization and sometimes other resources into an integrated solution that is managed as a whole rather than through separate management systems.

Why is Converged Infrastructure Important

Now the important part. Why is the Converged Technology such an important piece in today’s organization. From a vendor perspective the benefits are easy to quantify. The ability to solidify their footprint with a customer in various areas of their IT spend and hopefully grow as the entire business and IT organization grow. From an enterprise perspective, there is also tremendous benefits associated with converged infrastructure.

Quick Wins with Converged Infrastructure

  • Reduced energy consumption
  • Accelerated IT service deployment
  • Increased efficiency across the entire IT services lifecycle
  • Converged Management
  • Less vendors to deal with when worrying about technology road-maps and technology going forward

I was speaking with a customer last week who has a rather large data center spread over several locations across the city. Over the years they have accumulated a long list of technologies in the data center and is often faced with trying to retire legacy systems with newer technology. In a long conversation about the pros and cons, these 3 sentences struck me the most.

“With converged infrastructure, I could shrink my data center by almost 50 percent.”

“Now I would be able to deal with 1 vendor and make my vendor management headaches go away. Now I only have 1 headache to deal with :-)”

“Now I just need to figure out how this converged infrastructure can slowly replace the silos and technology which I currently have in my Data Center. That’s the initial challenge”

When he began his journey to possibly converging and shrinking his data center, he had conducted an inventory of the various physical technologies and realized over 20 different vendors have equipment in his data center. This is an accumulation of server, storage and network over the last 15 years.

​Converged Infrastructure: The Next Big Thing Which Converged Infrastructure Vendors get IT!

A converged infrastructure should come from a mature vendor who truly understands heterogeneous environments, integration with legacy systems in order to have a smooth replacement plan and of course a management layer which replaces the various point solutions which exist. Being a software advocate, there is nothing I dislike more than having to look at 10 different screens to manage my data-center. In some cases no management tools exist, which makes it even worse.

Converged Infrastrucutre Vendor Selection benefits-1cloudroadGartner Magic Quadrant

If you are currently searching for a Converged or Integrated Infrastructure vendor, here is the list of Top Vendors Analyzed according to Gartner.
Cisco
Dell
EMC
Hitachi/Hitachi Data Systems
HP
IBM
NetApp
Oracle
VCE

Gartner Data Center Research Team delivered a webcast almost 1 year ago which if you listen to today is still relevant in today’s world.
Integrated Systems: The Key Arena for Data Center Success

Material referenced while publishing this blog

http://my.gartner.com/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=202&mode=2&PageID=5553&ref=webinar-rss&resId=2404616&srcId=1-2920760825

http://www.dell.com/learn/us/en/555/converged-infrastructure
http://www.ibm.com/midmarket/ca/en/article_Systems2_1312.html
Several YouTube videos. (converged infrastructure related)
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