There’s a relatively new term being discussed in the world of hybrid IT: hyper-convergence. If you aren’t already familiar with it, you should be because it is likely to play a big role in the future of your data center.

In this first post in our multi-part series on hyper-convergence, we’ll talk a bit about what it is and the benefits it offers to your IT department and your organization. In later posts, we’ll dig deeper into the use cases for hyper-convergence as well as take a closer look at a couple of leading hyper-converged hardware offerings from HPE so you can see how they can be applied to common IT challenges.

What is Hyper-Convergence?

Hyperconverged integrated system (HCIS) — Tightly coupled compute, network and storage hardware that dispenses with the need for a regular storage area network (SAN). Storage management functions — plus optional capabilities like backup, recovery, replication, deduplication and compression — are delivered via the management software layer and/or hardware, together with compute provisioning. ~ Gartner Magic Quadrant for Integrated Systems, August 11, 2015

In everyday language, hyper-convergence combines resources that are typically sold separately: servers, storage, networking, etc., into one package. For those of you managing an on-premises data center, a number of immediate benefits should jump out at you such as:

— Less hardware to purchase and maintain

— Smaller footprint

— Expand capacity faster

— One vendor for support

— No component compatibility issues

— Management is simplified

We’ll revisit some of these a bit more in later posts, especially when we get into HPE’s hyper-converged offerings.

What’s the Difference Between Convergence and Hyper-Convergence?

If it seems like “converged” infrastructure was all the talk in tech circles not too long ago, you’d be right. And to many, hyper-convergence may sound like nothing more than a “hyped-up” version of that technology. However, there are some very important differences.

Converged infrastructure was a giant leap forward when it came to making it easier to procure and maintain data center resources. In the “old days” resources were purchased separately, often on different upgrade cycles and from different vendors. IT departments needed to be staffed with integration experts who could implement these systems and address the inevitable compatibility issues.

With converged technology, different vendors came together to offer a preconfigured solution for the core components: compute, data storage and networking. And that certainly solved some issues such as compatibility between components and support. In theory at least, the vendors included in the packaged solution tested their offering ahead of time to ensure compatibility and gave customers fewer numbers to call when they needed support services.

Hyper-convergence brings all of these resources together and puts them in one appliance.

So while convergence does give you some of the same benefits as hyper-convergence, such as single vendor support and inherent compatibility, hyper-convergence provides additional benefits such as a smaller footprint and native unified management from one console.

As importantly, data center expansion is also much simpler and faster with hyper-convergence. For example, you can add another HPE appliance with just a few clicks and in as little as 15 minutes. Imagine your CEO calls and tells you the organization is acquiring a company, and you need to expand capacity to accommodate 1500 additional users spread across three continents. It would feel pretty good to tell that CEO she can have it within the hour, wouldn’t it?

Video: See how easy it is to set up and manage the HC380.

Now that we’ve discussed what hyper-convergence is, it’s time to talk about scenarios where it can add the most value. In our next post, we’ll dig deeper into the benefits of hyper-convergence to illustrate some of the most common use cases. Until then, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section or reach out to me directly at Glenn.Bontje@lvs1.com.