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By Omer Asad
Overwhelmed with the ever-growing complexity of datacenters in the last decade, IT organizations have started to turn to hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and been quickly won over by HCI’s simplicity and ease-of-use. After all, when an entire IT stack of infrastructure components is combined into a compact, software-defined platform on which you can accomplish complex tasks in minutes instead of hours, it makes an impression.
In many respects, the HCI experience — fast deployments, streamlined management, and simple scale — has elevated expectations for all IT infrastructure, and the industry as a whole is now better for it. But HCI’s agility came at the expense of reliability, performance, and economics at scale, and these limitations made clear that key workloads were not the right fit for HCI.
Agility is Just One Among Several Critical Priorities
Let’s look at performance and resiliency. Traditional HCI has not been able to deliver either one at levels necessary to power business-critical apps or enterprise mixed workloads. That’s because HCI’s distributed environment means steadily rising latencies on the performance side, and on the resiliency side, loss of access to applications and data if a node goes down. Deploying and upgrading HCI is simple, but getting the performance and resiliency you need for your various workloads requires constant tradeoffs — and endless tuning.
From an economic perspective, HCI makes less and less sense as you grow. Having to scale compute and storage linearly means you’re always overprovisioning something, and that increases costs while leaving resources idle. Worse, in the case of compute you’re forced to pay a VM tax on top of the extra resource cost. Most HCI vendors have responded with compute- or storage-heavy nodes, but the added tuning requirement negates HCI’s essential simplicity.
In the end, HCI, though wonderfully simple and easy-to-use when it comes to small and edge deployments, needs to do more to be suitable for business-critical workloads. For evangelists of the HCI experience, the way forward was clear: to deliver HCI’s benefits across IT, a new architecture was needed — one that extended the HCI experience by offering enterprise performance, availability, and efficiency along with flexible scale.
A Brand New Architecture Emerges
At HPE, recognizing customer interest in taking HCI further sparked an evolution in our thinking about hyperconverged — and we set out to make good on the unfulfilled promise of HCI as a platform for all your apps. The result is a new kind of hyperconverged infrastructure, and an industry first: HPE Nimble Storage dHCI, a disaggregated hyperconverged platform powered by AI that provides all the simplicity of HCI alongside enterprise-grade performance and resiliency and the ability to scale compute and storage independently.
dHCI opens the HCI experience to all workloads, and it has generated excitement across industries. With dHCI, enterprises that want the agility of hyperconverged but have been held back by demanding business-critical apps or mixed workloads can now move forward. What’s more, HPE Nimble Storage dHCI is built for cloud and container-based workloads and makes a compelling infrastructure case in a container-based, cloud-first world.
The power and flexibility of the HPE Nimble Storage dHCI platform is evident in these two real-world examples of customers who modernized their datacenters by harnessing the benefits of HCI in the context of enterprise-grade performance, resiliency, and scale.
The Power of Disaggregated HCI in Action
An international airport needed help managing expanding growth in the context of a complex and aging IT infrastructure. The organization knew they had to modernize IT: they had a five-year plan to address growth challenges but concluded that their existing infrastructure would not be able to keep up. In particular, IT management had to be performed manually, consuming valuable time and keeping admins from focusing on higher-value initiatives.
Facing an impasse with their existing infrastructure, the airport needed to consolidate silos and simplify management without losing the performance, data efficiency, and flexible scale of their existing three-tier deployment. Additionally, the IT team wanted to move away from specialists and find a solution that could be handled by generalists.
The airport turned to HPE Nimble Storage dHCI. In doing so, they substantially consolidated their infrastructure and can now manage all of their servers and storage through VMware vCenter, without the need for extra software or resources. They can add storage or servers independently, in minutes, so there are no wasted resources.
The Cloud Experience Without the Cost
Here’s another powerful example. With a changing business model that suddenly included employees working from home, an insurance company had to find a new solution to support unpredictable workloads. The company was using AWS to handle their virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) through the public cloud, but increasing monthly expenses drove them to look for more sustainable alternatives. The insurance company wanted to retain the cloud experience with on-premises infrastructure that would not hold back new innovation and future growth.
The switch to dHCI produced dramatic benefits. IT now provides a superior VDI solution for their 380+ VDI users and 400+ sales reps working remotely. Even better, the organization reduced operating costs by 50%, improved performance 2X for their VDI workloads, and achieved 50% faster application provisioning. And although they’ve left AWS, the organization can still leverage the benefits of hybrid cloud via HPE Cloud Volumes, a suite of enterprise cloud data services deeply integrated with HPE Nimble Storage dHCI.
Taking the Hyperconverged Experience Further
dHCI delivers all the goodness of HCI — rack to apps in 15 minutes, fast provisioning from vCenter, and 1-click upgrades — but it’s a platform that’s performant and resilient for the most demanding workloads, efficiently scalable, and consumable as-a-service. As an intelligent solution ready to power all your apps, dHCI takes the HCI experience substantially further than it’s ever been.
Omer Asad is the Vice President & GM of Primary Storage in the HPE Storage & Big Data group. In this role, he leads HPE Primera/3PAR & Data Management Product Management, Nimble Product Management, and the Nimble Support teams. In addition, Omer is responsible for driving the Next-Gen strategy and overall business plan for our Primary Storage business. Omer holds a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from Duke University. He is based in San Jose, CA.