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Changing the World, The Era of Hyper-Converged

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Hyperconverged WorldToday, many of us still build our infrastructures like we have always done throughout our careers. We have become masters of building out data centers and putting hundreds or thousands of discrete components together uniquely to deliver IT projects. We tend to use the latest generation of servers, and a full complement of storage and security elements to go with it. We are thrilled when each project is completed and then put into production successfully. But if you were to step back and draw any of those project topologies on a white board, you would see a diagram that looks very much like the ones you had drawn 20 years ago. Did you change the world by purchasing a server with a faster CPU chip or more memory? Not hardly.

Changing the world takes some doing. Remember in 2000 when you first saw the Palm Pilot 7x? It was always connected via a little packet antenna and most importantly, you could get stock quotes and baseball scores. It was amazing. Now 15 years later, think iPhone (or Android). Again amazing? Yes, but for very different reasons. The iPhone changed the world.

The iPhone wasn’t just an update to the Palm, it was a fundamentally different approach. They didn’t just engineer a better screen and a faster network, they created a platform that shifted the way the entire world looked at the handheld phone. This platform also became the basis for the tablet market which together is now referred to as Mobile computing.

It was the introduction of a platform that allowed ANY imaginable activity to be programmed (there are literally MILLIONS of apps today), easily deployed to the masses and then connected to everything else in the world. They abstracted the complexity that had held true end-user consumable innovation back and provided it as a fully functional platform that any developer could leverage. It was an entirely new approach for developers and consumers alike, simplified to the point that there IS NO MANUAL needed.

Changing the world in this fashion is hard. I just got back from Nutanix’ annual user conference in Las Vegas and have to say, this their offering IS a fundamental platform shift with real value AND that shift has been validated (and adopted) by nearly 2000 companies! And not just little companies, but folks like Kellogg and Tractor Supply. Nutanix is part of a new category of providers delivering Hyper-Converged Infrastructure. These solutions allow end-users to think differently. Really different. They allow Public Cloud-like business practices to be combined with bite-size consumption models, all at a commodity price point. By doing so, Nutanix delivers what they call an “Enterprise Cloud” which is not just a marketing sound-bite, but a very accurate description of what they deliver.

 

Technology Increases – Visibility Decreases

Now during my time in Las Vegas, I sat in on a session delivered by Mark Leslie, long-time and now retired CEO of Veritas. One of the points he made is that Hyperconvergence solutions are largely successful because they abstract any number of traditional components (e.g. servers and storage) found in computing and virtually repackage them as a simple, easy to manage and easy to consumed single platform, perfect for virtualized workloads. He went on to remind us that as this abstraction of technology increases, the visibility of that very same technical foundation decreases. Again, a key design goal for the converged marketplace. He concluded his thought by suggesting that abstraction reduces the labor-intensive human element (and associated human errors found in all IT operations), and since this abstraction also enables automation, it clearly reduces the cost of doing business (OPEX) and the Time to Value.

Now wrapping a pretty little bow around all of the above, we have fundamental change occurring in the core of the IT we have all grown up on. Technology providers like Nutanix are delivering simplified solutions through their fanatical use of abstractions, and those abstractions reduce the cost of operations by reducing the amount of human intervention. That abstraction actually makes the infrastructure itself invisible to the beneficial end user as a main design goal. And lastly, as a technologist, you must still make sure you have the ability to support a hyper-converged infrastructure with the proper tools that can make the invisible, once again visible to the folks that need it. Enter Network Performance Monitoring.

If you are using hyper-converged Infrastructure, ask us about VCF-Insight Analytics. You’ll be glad you did.

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About the Author

Andrea Mallick