Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Over the years, digital services have become an integral part of every firm and its operations. Networks continue to improve in complexity and extent. Many firms are adopting modern technology tools to regain control of their infrastructure. According to Insightforprofessionals, hyperconverged infrastructure is one of the most in-demand solutions. Converged infrastructure has gotten the attention of many enterprises since it offers an effective way to simplify their systems.

Hyperconverged solutions work by the principle of operating multiple components of infrastructure in a single, centralized system. As a result, Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) provides a more efficient and cost-effective way of managing sprawling IT infrastructure. Most developers and tech enthusiasts in the technology industry commend hyperconvergence for its simplicity, ease of management, and cost-saving ability. Let’s take a more detailed look at HCI to discover what it is, how it works, and other essential things about it.

What is Hyperconverged Infrastructure?

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is a technology solution that combines servers and storage into a distributed infrastructure platform with intelligent software to develop dynamic building blocks that fill in for legacy infrastructure. This is an aggregate of separate servers, storage networks, and storage arrays. Typically, HCI combines the hardware servers of commodity data centers with locally assigned storage devices. A distributed software layer activates HCI to eradicate common challenges associated with legacy infrastructure.

Hyperconverged Infrastructure follows the principle of hyperconvergence. Hyperconvergence is an IT framework that merges computing, storage, networking, and software into a single system to mitigate data center complexity and improve scalability.

Platforms that are compatible with this method are said to be hyperconverged. These platforms possess software-centric architecture that closely integrates and virtualizes all its resources. Basically, hyperconverged platforms have a hypervisor that handles virtualized computing, software-defined storage, and virtualized networking, and they are operated on standard off-the-shelf servers. These four compartments provide lots of performance power and save cost and rack space while eliminating dependence on external storage area networks.

How Does Hyperconverged Infrastructure Work?

A Hyperconverged Infrastructure enables the management of integrated technologies as a single system through a common toolset. In a hyperconverged system, each server is known as a node. A grouping of nodes is known as a cluster, and it includes x86 processors with Solid State Drives (SSD)s and Hard Disk Drives (HDDs). The functional software on each node distributes all operative functions across the cluster for improved performance.

Hyperconverged integrated systems require at least three hardware nodes for significant availability. These systems can be expanded by adding nodes to the base unit. To better understand how hyperconverged infrastructure works, an organization must create a model of its environment to have a more practical idea. To do this, the organization must consider certain things, such as:

  • The amount of computing power that is needed.
  • The number of data models that should be available.
  • Amount of usable storage that is needed.
  • The number and types of hypervisors that are available
  • The extent of data redundancy.

Based on these, an organization will need to decide to discover the necessary hardware requirements for each node in its HCI cluster. After finalizing hardware requirements, the next step would be to figure out the number of nodes that will be required for the uninterrupted running of the virtual machines, even if there is an unexpected disaster and a few nodes stop working. Each node requires a hypervisor installed and configured.

Afterward, internal networks are configured for virtual machine traffic, storage Input/Output traffic, and VM management. The best practice is to isolate all the different types of traffic and abstain from pushing them through one network link, as this will cause oversaturation at some point.

HCI combines all the functional data center stacks, including computing, storage, networking, and virtualization. Not only that, but it also incorporates commodity data center hardware with storage devices. Sophisticated and expensive legacy infrastructures are replaced with a platform that operates on industry-standard commodity servers, allowing enterprises to gauge their workloads precisely and scale flexibly.

Furthermore, hardware platform configurations can be done to fit any workload by independently scaling the available resources (CPU, RAM, and storage). Storage performance is improved by all-flash nodes consistently delivering maximum I/O throughput with minimum latency for all applications.

Lastly, HCI solutions also entail a seamless management plan that allows users to use HCI resources from a single interface. This saves organizations the stress and resource of having separate management solutions for servers, storage, storage networks, and virtualization.

Benefits of Hyperconverged Infrastructure

The motive of HCI is to make managing rapidly-expanding networks as easy as possible. And there are several benefits that businesses can expect from this.

  • Easier Management

Once hyperconverged systems are deployed, maintaining and running them effectively is also straightforward. Monitoring and optimizing these systems are less complicated than legacy alternatives that offer several automated software functions that are gradually taking much of the day-to-day administration out of the hands of IT professionals. Moreover, administrators can operate from a single management platform at a remote location when changes are required. At the same time, necessary processes like backups are being completed through simple point-and-click operations.

  • Better Scalability

The simplicity of HCI extends to its scalability. Since HCI solutions are easy to deploy and come in blocks called nodes, adding them to a cluster and removing them is pretty straightforward. This makes HCI a highly scalable solution. Since the nodes being used are from the same vendors, administrators don’t have to be concerned about integration issues. This implies they can kick off on a relatively small scale and test HCI as proof of concept before building out. This eliminates the need to restructure their initial deployments.

  • Better Performance

Since HCIs operate as a single system, they can be helpful tools for handling workloads. An HCI solution can utilize both HDDs and SSDs for storage, ensuring that the demands of various applications are satisfied most cost-effectively. Furthermore, because storage and processing functions are optimized, the need for cabling is reduced. This mitigates latency.

Setbacks of Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Although HCI has much to offer, it still has its downsides.

  • Hardware Linkage

Some HCI services are developed around the idea that all the needed resources are gotten from the same manufacturer, and this can cause several issues, such as vendor lock-in to guarantee performance. Although expanding the HCI environment with low-cost commodity hardware is possible, there’s a possibility that it will cause performance issues. This is because this low-cost hardware won’t work effectively on a fully-converged platform configured to work in that environment.

Ultimately, businesses are left to choose between price and performance when they intend to scale up their systems.

  • Power Consumption

HCI frameworks house a significant amount of workload in a confined space. This often means they’ll require more power than what the data centers can possibly offer. A way of solving this issue is by offloading some workloads. Administrators may need to restructure their locations to ensure enough power and cooling strategies are in place to ensure uninterrupted running.

Why You Still Need Backup

Digital data and applications are among the driving forces of business growth. Protecting business-critical and related VMs and data is vital for business continuity. Backing up hyperconverged infrastructure typically means backing up virtual machines. Virtual machine backup protects virtual machines, the primary components of modern IT.

Backing up your hyperconverged infrastructure ensures the safety and easy recovery of your data, configurations, and files after disruptions. One of the best practices for protecting an HCI system is to ensure that the backup software is compatible with your platform. Although general-purpose backup tools work well with HCI systems, it’s better to stick to HCI backup options that are guaranteed to be fully compatible. In addition, your HCI vendor may be in the best position to recommend a hyperconverged backup product for you.

In this respect, Storware Backup and Recovery may be the best data protection solution. Not only is it certified by key HCI vendors, but it also has excellent integration capabilities and supports the largest range of hypervisors on the market.

Backup Options For Hyperconverged Systems

Choosing the most appropriate backup option is one of the most complicated aspects of migrating to hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). Nevertheless, there are some factors to consider that can help you with the selection process.

  • Incremental Backup

An incremental backup is a perfect option for a physical server setup. It can run during downtimes, such as during slow traffic or in stages where there are singular changes.

  • Block-level Backup

Here, the system only uploads the modified parts of the files rather than the entire file. Source duplication eliminates any redundancy before transmission to the backup site. Also, this backup method mitigates the Input/Output requirements without affecting the hypervisor.

  •  Hypervisor-level Backup

This uses software that operates directly at the hypervisor level. Every primary hypervisor entails an application programming interface (API) that interacts with the backup systems to obtain the blocks that have changed since the previous backup from the hypervisor.

  • Snapshots-based Backup

This is also an effective method of creating HCI backups. It operates on a series of schedules where snapshot systems interact with the hypervisor to place various virtual machines in backup mode. At that point, a snapshot of the data is taken and copied into a separate storage system.

HCI is a business technology that brings everything under one umbrella. As a result, it eliminates most of the complexities usually associated with data center operations.

text written by:

Paweł Piskorz, Presales Engineer at Storware