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Charting a course for the hyper-converged market

From the basic principles of hyper-convergence to the competitive nature of the hyper-converged market, get started on your path to hyper-converged enlightenment with these five tips.

The next step in the evolution of convergence, hyper-convergence, has been a major player in the data center infrastructure market for a few years now and it shows no sign of slowing down. This software-centric architecture combines storage, compute and virtualization resources in a neat commodity hardware package and can offer advanced data services, such as deduplication and compression. This level of integration and service promises scalability, efficiency and, most importantly, simplicity for virtual environments.

Want to learn more about hyper-convergence and what it can do for your data center? Consider these five tips your official roadmap to the hyper-converged market and set up the perfect hyper-converged infrastructure.

The difference between convergence and hyper-convergence

Though they both offer prepackaged, fully integrated compute and storage as a singular unit, hyper-converged infrastructure has the upper hand over its predecessor, converged infrastructure. Convergence has been plagued by a number of issues, particularly a difficult transitioning process from a traditionally integrated infrastructure to a converged one. Hyper-converged infrastructure eliminates this issue as well as others, and promises additional benefits, including disaster recovery tools. Although HCI is a relatively new technology, it's rapidly evolving and is suitable for most organizations, contributing to its significant adoption rate.

Evaluating hyper-convergence in your data center

It's easy to understand why hyper-convergence has inspired so much enthusiasm, and as it matures and hyper-converged infrastructure grows more robust, adoption rates will likely continue to rise. It all seems very exciting, but before you get in on the trend, you should step back and evaluate whether hyper-converged infrastructure is the right option for your data center.

Although it is quickly gaining ground, converged infrastructure has some drawbacks. Due to its prepackaged nature, converged infrastructure tends to come at a higher cost, though users arguably save money in the long run because it can eliminate certain networking and storage needs, such as expensive SAN hardware. Converged infrastructure merges traditional IT silos, which requires a shift in mindset for organizations. Ultimately, it's up to customers to decide whether the benefits of converged infrastructure outweigh the risks for their organization.

The hyper-converged market continues to grow

The past year has been big for hyper-convergence: Hyper-converged infrastructure continued to mature in 2015, leading many large vendors to throw their hat into the ring and release their own hyper-converged technologies. VMware was chief among these vendors, making significant changes to its EVO:RAIL licensing and configuration plan in the hopes of drawing in customers. Storage vendors followed suit, with Dell introducing the high-density XC6320 hyper-converged appliance and Nutanix releasing Distributed File System hyper-converged software. With such exponential growth came stiff competition as Nutanix went head-to-head with VMware with its Acropolis hypervisor, and SimpliVity moving down-market with its OmniCube CN-1200. With these advancements, as well as many more, the hyper-converged market is rapidly expanding, meaning big things are still to come in 2016.

A buyer's guide to the hyper-converged market

As the hyper-converged market makes the move from a virtual desktop platform to hosting other data center applications, hyper-converged infrastructure products are growing increasingly self-contained. Customers now have the option to run appliances with pre-integrated software or select a software-only approach and build a hyper-converged platform on their hardware. With this new degree of hands-on application and control and a seemingly unlimited number of offerings available from companies like VMware, Nutanix and SimpliVity, customers are well advised to carefully weigh their options before buying into the hyper-convergence hype.

Foolproof hyper-converged infrastructure integration

As previously stated, different vendors give customers the option to purchase hyper-converged infrastructure with a pre-existing hardware estate, while others offer software options to achieve the same ends. While both options are completely viable, customers who choose a software-only approach -- such as VMware's VSAN -- and build their own hyper-converged platforms are faced with the task of integrating existing hardware. This can cause some issues, as outside storage hardware can create undesired complexity, so it is essential to evaluate your options and plan of attack before adopting a hyper-converged platform. A solid plan for integrating external compute servers and external storage can make all the difference in creating a successful hyper-converged infrastructure.

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