Converged infrastructure platforms are fully pre-integrated server, traditional storage arrays, and networking hardware “stacks”. Hyperconverged infrastructure platforms are solutions that deliver compute, software-defined storage, and networking infrastructure services in a cluster of industry-standard servers.
Hyperconverged infrastructure extends the converged infrastructure model by incorporating the virtualization capabilities of software-defined storage (SDS). Hyperconverged infrastructure collapses the core components of traditional datacenter – compute and storage – into a server, effectively eliminating expensive and complex SAN environments. See the figures below.
Figure 2. CI and HCI
Because HCI is software-defined – which means the infrastructure operations are logically separated from the physical hardware – the integration between components is much tighter than with CI. HCI manages everything as a single system through a common toolset.
Hyperconverged infrastructure is particularly valuable because it lets you scale up quickly without a ton of added expense. That is not the case in traditional settings: customers either must buy more resources than they need in anticipation of scaling up, or wait until current workloads exhaust the allocated resources, then add infrastructure after the fact. Buying at the inopportune time means that resources are not optimally allocated and can even slow down your business from expanding.
HCI enables a pay-as-you-grow approach start with what is needed today and expand incrementally rather than purchasing large amount of compute and storage up front. It also addresses the typical over-provisioning and over-purchasing that occurs when technology is intended to last for multiple year cycles.