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Why HCI Is Critical for Digital Transformation

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Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is more than just a convenient way to streamline today’s complex, silo-laden data center – it also provides the foundation for the transformation to a digital services business model that is crucial to success in a rapidly evolving economy.

Digital services, the kind that Uber and Airbnb are using to disrupt longstanding industries like transportation and hospitality, require a highly flexible and scalable data infrastructure. While virtualization has done wonders for traditional hardware platforms in this regard, the fact is that even fully virtualized physical infrastructure is expensive, difficult to build, and requires highly specialized training to manage and optimize.

HCI not only offers the promise of a vastly simplified physical plane, both in the initial deployment and as an ongoing operational construct, it also sits on a vastly streamlined footprint, with some solutions capable of packing an entire data center’s resources into a few square meters.

Small wonder, then, that many enterprise executives are balking at the prospect of shoe-horning digital transformation initiatives into legacy infrastructure and are launching new services on greenfield HCI platforms instead. Paul Nashawaty, product marketing strategist at backup and recovery specialist HCYU Inc., notes that HCI simplifies all of the key phases of digital transformation, from the initial data migration to integrating file and block services and linking to cloud-based B&R services. In this way, all digital services gain access to all available data under a unified system that is scalable, resilient, and easy to maintain.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are likely to benefit extremely well with HCI. For one thing, says BizTech Magazine’s Juliet Van Wagenen, it provides massive scale without the cost of a dedicated IT team, which levels the playing field with larger, well-heeled competitors. As well, it supports management automation, DevOps and a host of other capabilities that drive digital transformation. For these and other reasons, TechAisle Research is calling for SMB investment into HCI to double by 2020 as they pursue the same top-line platforms by Nutanix, Cisco and HPE that are currently making their way into the data ecosystems of top-tier enterprises.

In many ways, however, HCI’s benefit to digital transformation is not so much its scalability or its management simplicity, but its speed. As Tech Central’s Jason Walsh learned after talking to multiple HCI experts in the field, opportunities rise and fall in the blink of an eye in a digital economy so the underlying data infrastructure must have the ability to be deployed, upgraded and reconfigured quickly. With HCI eschewing much of the configuration and integration processes of traditional infrastructure in favor of a modularized plug-and-play model, enterprises gain an unprecedented ability to react, and even proact, in highly dynamic business environments.

While there are bound to be start-up organizations that adopt HCI from the very beginning, most established enterprises will likely deal with hybrid solutions mixing traditional, converged and hyperconverged infrastructure both within the data center and on the cloud. Eventually, however, it is wholly reasonable to expect HCI to become the de facto standard for IT.

Most enterprises have put up with expensive, complex and ultimately low-performing resources for decades because there was simply no other way to do it. Now that a faster, cheaper and more elegant solution has arrived, there is very little reason to keep building and maintaining infrastructure the hard way.

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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