By Vikram K, Director, Servers, HP India
In most of my customer meetings over the last year, the foremost concern of IT executives is the need of a flexible, scalable infrastructure that can support their most critical workloads. Most of them are looking out for solutions that are architected to stand up on private or hybrid cloud premises. Being real-time is crucial for them – be it gaining insights from big data pools that they are storing, to increasing sales productivity through mobile apps, everything needs to be quick and efficient.
For any sustainable business, innovation is the key. IT execs are realizing this and redirecting investments into innovation for greater operational efficiency. These requirements demand a higher degree of automation within the datacenter so they can deliver new services at cloud scale to keep their business ahead of the competition. The realization is that the conventional approaches to IT are becoming less effective similar to the IT model they were built upon.
So what is the new IT X-factor that can give you the improved business agility you need to stay competitive even as you continue to reduce costs?
Converged systems (also known as integrated systems and unified computing) are rapidly gaining acceptance as the way to improve overall business agility, increasing productivity of IT staff and the quality and speed of services delivered to your clients. IDC forecasts the total integrated systems market will grow at a five-year 2014–2018 compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.6% to $17.9 billion in 2018, up from a value of $7.3 billion in 2013.
A converged system that is pre-built and workload-optimized governed by software-defined management software can now be efficiently delivered as infrastructure services and sets a new standard for how IT can successfully manage, automate and deploy infrastructure within the data center.
Let’s look at three key benefits that IT can gain using converged systems.
Converged systems can help minimize upfront design and testing costs and deployment time because they come pre-integrated and optimized, reducing complexity and improving system performance and uptime. Add in a single layer of software-defined management that unifies your existing and new infrastructure, tools and processes and manages them as one – all from a single management console. Now you can simplify everyday administrative tasks, reduce the number of tools you currently use to manage your infrastructure, and practically eliminate costly errors.
Converged systems can help you transition your IT organization to a cloud scale delivery model that provides open, modular architecture and scalability and cloud economics for private and hybrid cloud. This enables you to become a builder and broker of services. IT can now efficiently deploy blocks of scalable infrastructure that serve as dynamic pools of resources, workload optimized for specific applications and simply managed through a single management console. The infrastructure is interoperable with existing and future infrastructure and can quickly adjust to fit your business requirements.
Converged systems improve operational efficiency through hardware compatibility, optimized workload density that increases performance and reliability, and modular scalability. Now you have the ability to free up IT staff resources to research, design and tune infrastructure to handle the workloads you need to drive your operations. Policy-based automation such as software-defined templates and easy-to-use management software further maximize those operational efficiencies and frees up IT staff to pursue revenue-generating opportunities and other strategic work.
The best of both worlds
With the introduction of hyper-converged systems, IT executives have more choice in the deployment of infrastructure. With a condensed footprint and enterprise-grade features, performance and resiliency built in, hyper-converged systems are gaining lots of attention as a quick and affordable way to modernize IT infrastructure while letting you operate securely, efficiently and at scale. They retain all the attributes of a larger system yet are simpler turnkey appliances made up of integrated server, storage and networking building blocks. Their versatility offers fast setup and easy administration and provides lower costs for faster responses to business demands. And they scale just as easily; each additional system seamlessly adds the power of four servers and associated storage. Hyper-converged systems seem a perfect fit for small to medium size businesses, remote or branch offices, and lines of business with limited IT support. Complemented by a larger converged system, you can now choose which system best matches the location needing resources.
In a recent study to measure the business value of converged systems, IDC selected and interviewed 20 companies at different convergence maturity levels based on a composite ratio that included percentage of nodes using virtualized storage, percentage of storage linked via virtualized I/O, percentage of OS images configured or provisioned automatically and other measures of standardization and best practices. The results indicated “a marked correlation between higher levels of convergence and reduced IT costs per unit of workload, faster deployment, optimization of IT staff, and reduced downtime.”
Clearly, the speed, simplicity and efficiency of converged and hyper-converged systems are causing IT executives to rethink the way to improve business agility in their organizations, as these systems represent a very effective way to modernize their IT infrastructure.
Are these the makings of an X-factor for business agility? I’ll let you be the judge.