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Blending HCI and Hybrid Clouds

Arthur Cole

The two major trends affecting enterprise infrastructure these days are the cloud and hyperconverged systems, both of which seem to be enjoying more of a symbiotic relationship at the moment than parallel development tracks.

HCI is gaining favor not merely as a way to streamline hardware footprints and lessen management burdens but to support private cloud architectures that have so far failed to gain significant traction in traditional data center environments. This, in turn, is fueling greater demand for public cloud resources as organizations seek to push their data operations over a wide area to support distributed IoT and Big Data workloads.

For HCI vendors like Virtuozzo, the pitch isn’t so much about the hardware, however, but the ability to deliver and consume infrastructure in a more efficient manner. As profiles of customers like German software developer Dogado, GmbH show, a combined HCI-cloud environment makes it easier to deliver services to their customers while at the same time altering their development and delivery cost structures to enable the creation of targeted products for niche markets.

Indeed, says Dell EMC’s Trey Layton, the new generation of HCI customers isn’t thinking about infrastructure very much but is driven by service level objectives and business outcomes. Rather than concern themselves with CPUs or even hypervisors, this new enterprise only wants to make sure resources can support workloads, which for many involves an on-premises HCI platform supporting a cloud architecture that extends to off-premises infrastructure. In this environment, the cloud is not a technology but an operating model.


For Dell EMC itself, of course, the technology behind HCI and the cloud are very much front and center. The company recently expanded its relationship with long-time partner VMware to integrate multiple platforms in a bid to speed up traditional enterprises’ transformations into agile, digital entities. The most recent pairings link VxRail appliances and SDDC systems with Dell EMC turnkey hybrid cloud solutions in order to provide enhanced, multi-node scaling, as well as REST-based API management and improved security through tools like vSAN Encryption. At the same time, the companies have devised a series of pretested and validated “Ready Solutions” that offer rapid deployment and lower TCO.

Cisco is also looking to foster tighter integration between HCI and cloud architectures with its new Intersight management stack. The system is being made available as an as-a-service addition to its Unified Computing System (UCS) and HyperFlex platforms, taking on many of the functions performed by on-premises UCS Director and UCS Central solutions. In this way, users can implement a single management stack for their extended data architectures while at the same time giving up the burdens of software support and upgrades.

Working together, the cloud and hyperconverged infrastructure can help realize the dream of an abstract data environment that can scale on demand and dynamically adjust itself to provide a continuously low-resource profile without sacrificing performance levels or centralized control.

As the enterprise becomes more dependent upon fast-moving service delivery and high-scale analytics, the pressure is on to implement next-generation data ecosystems quickly and at low cost. By shrinking hardware at home while expanding resource availability through higher densities and greater use of public clouds, organizations will find that it is possible to satisfy users and IT budgets alike.

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 and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.


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