What is hyper converged infrastructure?

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Hyper converged infrastructure (HCI) is a convergence of compute and storage infrastructure that is easy to deploy and manage with a single UI. HCI removes complex manual steps in deployment and is designed for simplicity. Because it is designed to be administered by virtualization or cloud administrators, HCI eliminates the need for team members with specialized hardware skills in storage, compute, or networking. It scales incrementally and is designed for a pay-as-you-go cost model.

Benefits of HCI

As IT teams look to move to DevOps, support new Internet of Things (IoT) and edge use cases, and leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to optimize virtually every aspect of business operations, hyper converged infrastructure simplifies delivery of services on premises. The benefits of HCI as an on-premises solution to meet the demands of today’s workloads are:

  • Predictability. One of the biggest challenges in any data center is delivering predictable results, especially in the face of proliferating applications and workloads. Any time you have multiple applications sharing the same infrastructure, it's possible for one application to interfere with the performance of another.
  • Flexibility.  The relentless pace of business change means you need maximum flexibility to adapt to any workload while using existing investments.
  • Simplicity. A common goal of IT organizations is to automate all routine tasks, eliminating the risk of user errors associated with manual operations.

Why NetApp HCI

NetApp® HCI is an enterprise-scale hyper converged infrastructure that delivers predictable performance on a highly flexible, efficient architecture that is simple to deploy and manage. With NetApp HCI, you can run multiple applications with predictable performance to confidently deploy a hybrid multicloud experience across your entire data center. NetApp HCI is:

  • Predictable. NetApp HCI solves predictability challenges with industry-leading performance capabilities that allow the granular control of every application. NetApp HCI's performance settings eliminate resource contention and variable application performance.
  • Flexible. NetApp HCI offers a highly configurable design that enables cloud-native application development and agile operations for virtualized environments. Innovate and deliver applications faster on a platform designed for the applications of today and tomorrow.
  • Simple. NetApp HCI streamlines installation so that it takes minutes instead of hours, and simple, centralized management with VMware lets you control NetApp HCI through tools you already use. NetApp HCI thus allows you to focus valuable resources on higher priorities that drive business growth.

Unleash the true power of your infrastructure by simplifying management and independently scaling both compute and storage resources. Our hyper converged architecture is data fabric–ready out of the box so you can access all your data across any cloud—public, private, or hybrid.

NetApp HCI versus other hyper converged systems

All hyper converged solutions must be easy to buy, be simple to control, and have consolidated management. All HCI must also make private cloud easy, provide a single vendor for support, provide pay-as-you-go expansion and economics, be easy to plan and scale, and respond rapidly to business demands. Different HCI vendors approach these business objectives differently. 

NetApp HCI took an enterprise approach to the current HCI market by separating compute and storage in our architectures. This new architecture is what IDC calls disaggregated hyperconverged infrastructure (dHCI). No data center or application requires compute and storage at the same rate or ratio. NetApp HCI provides flexibility to scale your infrastructure according to what your data center and applications require. This predictable performance is based on an HCI industry first: quality of service (QoS) that guarantees minimum performance by application. NetApp HCI integrates with hybrid cloud on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and our proprietary data fabric. 

Traditional HCI vendors chose to deliver a shared core architecture that virtualized the storage operating system or integrated it into the hypervisor. Running this architecture can consume up to 30% of infrastructure costs, and this approach leads to unpredictable performance at utilization rates of 70% or above. Software licenses are charged when applications only need more capacity. Traditional HCI also requires dedicated hardware and awareness of the location of customer data to ensure an optimal experience. It is simple enough for single application, remote office deployments but quickly escalates into complexity in multiapplication scenarios.

Why NetApp for hyper converged infrastructure

Gartner predicts that by 2020, "at least 20% of all business-critical applications will have moved from traditional infrastructure to HCI." No other hyper convergence solution delivers enterprise-grade features like NetApp HCI. These features include no-tax efficiencies such as inline deduplication, inline compression, and postprocess compression turned on by default. 

With NetApp HCI you can lower enterprise license agreement and hypervisor costs by up to 30%, enable 50% greater workload consolidation, create application and data mobility across hybrid multiclouds and be "cloud native." You can deliver a seamless end user computing experience for all your users, running virtual desktops and other user applications side by side with guaranteed performance. Use IoT and edge computing to improve operations, gather analytics and help optimize your business model with HCI edge inferencing

The NetApp HCI architecture is designed for private clouds and can scale to 40 storage nodes and 64 compute nodes, so you can scale at the ratio and rate that the application needs for compute and storage. 

To learn more about HCI architectures, read the white paper architecture.

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