What Is HCI?
At its simplest, HCI is a way to provide the benefits of a cloud model but within your own data centre or computer room.
By combining compute, storage, and in some instances, network technology stacks altogther into one product offering, and overlaying a single pane of management, HCI can provide businesses a simple and flexible backend data centre offering.
HCI can give many of the benefits of the cloud whilst reducing business expenditure, not only in hardware technology but also in reduced effort. Additionally, it can be flexible to scale to your business needs, requiring only days instead of months to accommodate major projects or business growth.
The traditional way to provision a server estate is via physical servers being installed onsite, and in some instances by virtualising the processor and memory (compute) hardware. On top of that, storage controllers are deployed to provide resilient virtualised data storage. This all becomes quite a beast to manage with multiple layers and a complex set-up. Upgrades and updates become a time-consuming activity with issues being slow to ascertain and fix.
The diagram below shows a traditional complex set up on the left, and the simplification of HCI on the right.
With HCI, the focus is now on the virtual machines and the applications, allowing time and effort to be focused elsewhere. This works by using only the server hardware to provide all the compute, storage and some of the network needs.
These instances are known as nodes, allowing no single unit to be crucial to the running of the estate. Layered over the top of these nodes is the new element of software that provides an extended hypervisor and management layer virtualising all the hardware and making it look like one pool of resource.
If more is needed, then all that is required is another node racked and powered on. After a quick set-up that only takes a few minutes the node is added to the pool and ready to use.
What Are The Benefits HCI Provides?
With a simplified infrastructure there are many new benefits:
- Streamlined management - a single pane for management with only one product to maintain and update. No more having to manage multiple vendors, products, software or portals
- Elasticity – easy to scale up when resources are required, aligning to business demands. Add nodes with specific requirements when needed
- Resiliency and high availability – with multiple nodes, data protection and system up-time is built directly into the offering, no longer a need to maintain and manually distribute data
- Cost – because HCI is built on specified nodes and can scale to 1000’s of units, your business can purchase only the units you need. Nodes are also built on basic server infrastructure so no complex and expensive storage or blade systems and licensing
- Single system monitoring – with HCI being a single enhanced hypervisor, monitoring becomes easier to identify choke point or hardware issues
How Will It Help My Business?
We’ve seen a lot of technical benefits of HCI, but how does it help a business? The fact is HCI can provide genuine business benefits that can be slowly taken on, there is no need to replace your entire estate in a ‘big bang’ approach.
To start with, when a business looks to update or replace traditional infrastructure with HCI a noticeable cost difference is observed. Instead of having to purchase dedicated storage, servers and network, a great deal can be replaced with just nodes. These nodes only require one set of software to manage and monitor, therefore also reducing software licensing and maintenance costs.
With only one management portal, administration time is greatly reduced as well. This means that a business not only saves on capital expenditure but operational expenditure. No need to grow your IT staff at the same rate as before, more can be done with less allowing them to focus on the tasks important to the business, such as applications.
With a complete view of your virtual estate from one pane, finding areas where performance is constrained is easier to identify and fix. This allows improved productivity within the workplace and helps your business be more efficient. This, combined with HCI’s scalability, allows you to be much more reactive and even proactive to new challenges and growth.
HCI is built in a way that no single points of failure are present; if a node fails the others continue and pick up the workload needed. With high availability in place, downtime can be greatly reduced therefore increasing productivity. In addition, HCI can be designed across geographically separate sites, further reducing the risks from specific disaster scenarios.
How Can Excitech Help?
We are here to help businesses realise the potential of HCI. Not only do we sell HCI solutions, but we can help you realise the benefits, justify the costs, as well as setting it up, monitoring and continuing to support the platform once in place.
We can help from the very start with the creation of a business plan; this will include the growth of the HCI over time, migration plans, and a total cost of ownership report. Beyond this we can design the right HCI solution for your business, highlighting the rewards your business should see.
Finally, our HCI installation and migration services provide a fully managed and maintained platform.
Please get in touch with your Account Manager to find out more or call us on 01992 807 444. We look forward to helping you realise the potential of HCI…