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What is hyperconverged infrastructure?

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Hyperconvergence is an approach to IT infrastructure that consolidates compute, storage and networking resources into a unified system. A hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) consists of compute resources (virtual machines) managed with a hypervisor, software-defined storage, and software-defined networking. Hyperconvergence of virtualized resources allows you to manage your resources from a single, unified interface.

With software-defined compute and storage integrated together, you can reduce data center complexity and footprint and support more modern workloads with flexible architectures on industry-standard hardware.

Replacing a traditional infrastructure with an integrated, software-defined infrastructure might seem like a daunting task. So, why do it?

Virtualizing all aspects of your infrastructure can be helpful in a variety of cases and for many kinds of organizations, including telcos, oil and gas, and retail. Hyperconvergence provides advantages for remote offices, small datacenter deployments and private clouds, as well as for development testing and edge computing applications. The benefits of a hyperconverged infrastructure include:

  • Lower cost - Software-defined infrastructures are often less expensive than their hardware counterparts because they run on commercial-off-the-shelf servers rather than expensive single-purpose appliances. They also occupy a smaller footprint since multiple functions can be run on a single server. This means that less physical hardware is needed, which allows for resource consolidation that results in less of a need for physical space, power, and overall reductions in cost. 
  • Greater scalability and flexibility - Hyperconvergence of your infrastructure allows you to expand your compute, storage, and networking resources as you see fit—and when you need them—instead of scrambling to add another piece of proprietary hardware. Having a software-defined infrastructure puts enormous flexibility in your hands.
  • Simplified management - Hyperconvergence leads to an overall easier-to-operate infrastructure because it does not require highly specialized IT experts, like storage specialists, to manage it. 

The software-defined-everything approach of hyperconvergence necessitates virtualizing storage infrastructure. Software-defined storage (SDS) is a storage architecture that separates storage software from its hardware. Unlike traditional network-attached storage (NAS) or storage area network (SAN) systems, SDS is designed to perform on any x86 system, removing the software’s dependence on proprietary hardware. This approach abstracts the things that control storage requests, not what’s actually stored. It’s a software layer between the physical storage and the data request—allowing you to manipulate how and where data is stored.

Like storage, software-defined networking (SDN) virtualizes networking functions in a hyperconverged infrastructure. SDN separates network forwarding functions from network control functions with the goal of creating a network that is centrally manageable and programmable. SDN allows an IT operations team to control network traffic in complex networking topologies through a centralized panel instead of handling each network device manually.

Who better to provide integrated HCI software than an open source leader in Linux®, virtualization, and software-defined storage technologies? Multi-vendor interoperability is fundamental to the flexibility offered by a hyperconverged infrastructure but bringing it all together can be a challenge. Red Hat makes things easier with a unified solution built on open source technology. 

You can be confident that your hyperconverged infrastructure will continue to serve you in the future because Red Hat is also a leader in emerging technologies, like container management with Kubernetes. As you adopt containers your virtualization efforts won’t be left behind—Red Hat offers container-native virtualization using Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform. Ready to take the next step?

Keep reading


What is hyperconverged infrastructure?

Hyperconvergence is an approach to IT infrastructure that consolidates compute, storage and networking resources into a unified system.


What is software-defined networking?

Software-defined networking (SDN) is an approach to IT infrastructure that abstracts networking resources into a virtualized system.


What is NFV?

Network functions virtualization (NFV) is a way to virtualize network services that have traditionally been run on proprietary hardware.