Converged Infrastructure Is on the Upswing

Arthur Cole
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Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2016

Some interesting data came out this week regarding the deployment of converged infrastructure (CI) in the enterprise, and while it is too early to say that CI is “taking over” the data center, it certainly is shaping up to be a significant growth area.

According to 451 Research, only 17 percent of data executives are planning to increase spending on traditional servers, while 40 percent are looking to up their investment in CI. Naturally, speed and convenience were cited as top reasons for going the converged route, with the biggest headwind being a lack of expertise in the field, which should ease over time as familiarity with highly dense, highly modular platforms grows. But perhaps even more significant is that 17 percent of respondents said they were “very likely” to switch vendors as converged infrastructure takes hold, which could lead to a major market realignment for HP, Dell, NetApp and others who are vying for CI dominance.

This also provides a unique opportunity for smaller infrastructure providers to steal market share from the top players. Pivot3, for example, is looking to leverage the large installed base of VMware infrastructure to push its CI platform into the data center. The company recently launched the new vSTAC OS 7 software that integrates with the vSphere 6 web interface to enable a single management console for the Pivot3 HCI platform. The vSTAC platform features a patented Scalar Erasure Coding technology for data protection across distributed clusters, as well as a streamlined dashboard for virtual SAN/compute environments. Pivot3 is also extending support for the VMware Horizon 6 desktop virtualization platform.

Meanwhile, Pluribus Networks is working with Nutanix and Dell to implement hyperconverged infrastructure on top of automated fabric architectures. At Dell World this week, the companies demonstrated a system consisting of Nutanix’ Acropolis modular appliances, Dell’s 10G/40G open network switches and the Pluribus Open Netvisor Linux (ONLV) operating system. The intent is to show that highly flexible, broadly scalable converged infrastructure solutions can be deployed quickly and easily at price points that are comparable to current data center solutions.

How exactly will all of this play out in production enterprise environments? According to F5 Networks’ Gary Newe, one of the biggest benefits will be in application delivery. This will mainly come about through the simplification of network and infrastructure management that comes from the increased abstraction of converged and hyperconverged infrastructure. With CI consisting of modular components designed for broad scalability right from the start, adding new devices and new compute/storage/network resources is not nearly as complicated and time-consuming as in present-day infrastructure. Entire data environments can be deployed and removed from a single user interface. As applications face an increasingly diverse client universe – everything from traditional PCs to virtual desktops to tablets, smartphones and wearables – speed and flexibility of the distributed data architecture will become paramount.

Converged infrastructure is best viewed as the foundation for forward-looking data environments rather than a more convenient, efficient way to support legacy applications. Anything that is functioning perfectly well within current infrastructure is best left alone.

But as new applications emerge that utilize diverse sets of resources and leverage data from multiple sources to drive new levels of productivity, organizations will find that CI is the best way to meet those demands without blowing the IT budget.

Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata, Carpathia and NetMagic.

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