What Is Converged Infrastructure (CI)?
Converged Infrastructure is a convergence of compute, storage, and networking infrastructure in the data center. The deployment of data center infrastructure as a complete system can simplify and accelerate the deployment of resources. Converged infrastructure also provides a platform for repeatable, modular deployment of data center resources for rapid scale and more consistent performance. This is especially desirable in virtualized environments requiring standardized foundations for virtual resources.
The deployment of converged infrastructure is compared to “do it yourself” deployment of compute, storage, and network components. These deployments may require additional test and validation resources from enterprises and their partners. This can also present risk in time to market for new applications. Converged Infrastructure reduces deployment risk by offering vendor validated solutions that reduce guesswork and speed time to application deployment with trusted infrastructure platforms.
Benefits of Converged Infrastructure
The primary benefit of converged infrastructure is to scale and bring new services to market rapidly. This is done through simplifying deployments, validating configurations, and providing lower costs. Simplifying deployments with preset modular configurations gives speed and agility for new service deployments. Validating configurations reduces guesswork and provides templates for new application instances. Costs can be lowered by reducing hours for repetitive installation tasks and system testing. Standardized components can also lower costs by reducing infrastructure silos and therefore consolidating infrastructure.
CI vs. HCI
Converged Infrastructure solutions were developed to simplify the deployment of compute, network, and storage resources. Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) solutions share the same goal, with a different approach. Although exact implementations and definitions may vary, Hyper Converged Infrastructure is typically built with software defined compute, storage and networking. Converged infrastructure simplifies the deployment of best in class hardware for compute, storage and networking. Hyper Converged Infrastructure is often deployed on commodity components; providing a simplified scale out architecture with commodity servers.
How Do You Deploy Converged Infrastructure?
The primary ways of deploying converged infrastructure are as a reference architecture and as a pre-racked configuration.
- Reference architectures are pre-validated configuration guidelines that provide blueprints for type, quantity, and connectivity of converged system resources. This approach allows for rapid, trusted configurations that can leverage existing equipment. Compute, storage, and network resources are allocated and deployed according to vendor blueprint requirements and recommendations. With this approach, individual components can be easily scaled up or out as required by application administrators.
- Pre-racked configurations have the compute, storage, and network components pre-installed in a data center rack. The components are often also pre-connected and cabled for rapid turn-up. This approach further accelerates deployments but often allows for scale-out only scalability.