Data centre and cloud infrastructure shouldn’t be an operational drain.
Twenty years ago the idea of powerful servers delivering software services to client machines was first attempted. Too ahead of its time, the network PC had to wait for high-speed networks, the Internet, browsers and smart devices. As connectivity became pervasive, the cloud was born. Today we use services such as Gmail and iCloud, where all the heavy lifting is done by data centres, not your local device.
“Data centre technology, which includes the cloud, is not a new phenomenon,” said Jonas Bogoshi, EMC Southern Africa Country Manager. “But it has matured and become more palatable for companies. It’s the bedrock of all digital progress going forward. Practically every service we use on a phone or the web is tied to data centre architecture.”
The hidden challenges of data centres
But where backend infrastructure is concerned, the concept still complicated and financially demanding. Small companies are happy to rent, but larger enterprises require more control over their investment.
Yet engineering servers with the hardware and software of different vendors is a time-consuming task. They need to be constantly maintained and upgraded. A data centre environment is a lot like a military platoon: if different parts fall behind, the battle is lost.
“Complexity remains a challenge. Architecture needs to be elastic to handle different workload requirements, to scale as demand grows and shrinks, and to be kept in good shape. This requires skill, time and a deep understanding of the nuances involved. Most companies cannot waste their resources herding the cats of data centres. They need straightforward, affordable yet powerful solutions.”
Hyper Convergence to the rescue
To meet this problem head-on, the IT industry has developed Hyper-Converged Infrastructure. Consider the laptop. Made from components supplied by different vendors yet still a self-contained unit, a laptop promises simple unity and clarity of purpose. It can also be easily retired and replaced with a superior successor.
Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) delivers this to data centres through a more convenient ‘buy and use’ solution:
“At EMC we like the example of a car,” said Bogoshi. “You don’t buy a vehicle by sourcing every part, then putting it together. That makes no sense. It will cost more and you will need specific skills just to get that done. Even if the skills exist in your organisation, they have better things to do. The buy-it-build-it principle is antiquated. With HCI you get all the benefits of cutting edge data centre solutions without the headaches of manufacturing your environment.”
HCI has matured to serve enterprises. Vendors such as EMC offer a wide range of HCI options, covering startups to multinationals, with everything from power, CPUs, memory and connectivity to management and inter-compatibility ready out of the box. Best-of-breed HCI solutions offer security, control, virtual machines and more in one package.
“You don’t need to buy the farm in order to get started. With an HCI approach you can plan for modernisation in a way that makes business sense.”
According to a Total Economic Impact Study by analyst firm Forrester, HCI strategies are favoured by forward-planning organisations. Through solutions such as the EMC VCE Vblock Systems family, entities invested in cloud and data centre operations realise considerable performance jumps and falling costs.
Nobody builds a car from scratch, not unless they want an expensive vehicle made for only one purpose. The era of Hyper Converged Infrastructure is paving the way forward, delivering the technology advantage that every company, big or small, public or private, should grab with both hands.