At VMworld last week, I was lucky enough to have my first opportunity to participate in a VMworld breakout session – a vExpert Panel Deep Dive Review on Hyperconvergence. Through the hour-long conversation, we took questions from the audience and touched on many different topics, but a few seemed to really stand out to both those of us on the panel and the audience.
Elimination of Silos
While hyperconverged infrastructures can frequently be deployed for a specific use case or application (Development/Test, ROBO environments, etc.), the ability to incorporate so many functions beneath the hypervisor generally leads to less silos in the long run. This is because there is no longer a need to dedicate a team to building, maintaining and managing separate storage arrays, backup infrastructures or replication appliances. It allows for a single point of contact on the vendor side, which eliminates finger pointing and vendor support silos, not to mention a much easier implementation that doesn’t require a single admin to be the primary support person.
Individual and Organizational Change
Collapsing the silos leads to more need for IT generalists, the admins and engineers who know a lot about many different IT topics, but who may only master one or two. This doesn’t mean you don’t need specialists within an organization, you just don’t need to dedicate individuals to specific IT subsystems, like the storage array. This does cause a lot of fear in those who have made a career in dedicating themselves to a single silo, but the panel made assurances to them that this is an opportunity to broaden their knowledge and experience. Want to learn another silo within your organization? Hyperconverged infrastructure opens that door by bringing all the different disciplines under a single management umbrella. It’s a way to easy yourself into a new discipline.
Another common fear is that an organization simply won’t need as many IT staff members after moving to a hyperconverged infrastructure. In reality, the individuals on the panel almost never see staff reductions as a result of a hyperconverged infrastructure implementation. Instead they see business keeping up with their growth without needing to expand the IT staff. Not many organizations are able to increase IT staff in lockstep with business growth, so a hyperconverged infrastructure actually creates a great business advantage.
When asked, the panel actually struggled to come up with an application or use case that wouldn’t work with hyperconvergence. The consensus was that hyperconvergence is just an architecture on top of which virtualization lives, and if the application would work on virtualization, there should be no reason it wouldn’t work on a hyperconverged infrastructure. There are, however, some use cases that have significant advantages within a hyperconverged infrastructure solution, most notably is data protection. This is a place SimpliVity particularly shines.
We spent some time discussing the flexibility and options hyperconvergence can provide to customers. Multiple hypervisor and underlying hardware options make for a very wide set of choices in the industry. At SimpliVity we’ve designed our platform to be both hypervisor-agnostic and independent of any single hardware vendor. By creating tight partnerships with both our value added reseller community and major server vendors like Cisco and Lenovo, we allow customers to stick with their preferred hardware platform, and still have all the advantages of a true hyperconverged infrastructure.
The final topic that came up during the session was the fairly common topic of vendor lock-in. The full discussion may be worthy of it’s own blog post, but at a high level hyperconverged infrastructures pose no more of a lock-in situation than standard servers or storage arrays. Virtualization makes the mobility of the applications and data so easy that no one hardware platform can completely lock in your workloads. A simple vMotion/Storage vMotion can move workloads to a whole new infrastructure with little to no effort or impact.
It was a great experience to finally get on the VMworld stage and share some of my experience and knowledge. Special thanks to Mark Bowker of ESG for agreeing to be our moderator and to fellow vExperts James Green, Scott D. Lowe and Jim Millard for sharing the stage with me. Attendees can log in to watch the full video in the VMworld Content Catalog.