Many moons ago when I was but a lad, I handed in a draft of my dissertation for my MSc in Technology and Innovation and had used the phrase ‘bleeding edge’ to which my supervisor was not too happy about. She thought it was rather nasty. I did point out that it is a legitimate term for those in the technology industry that are first through the door with a new innovation – I’ve steered clear of the term since then. However, changes in the virtualisation of IT infrastructure have really brought it to the front of my mind again.

Over the last few days I’ve been reading random articles, let’s face it – it’s recession time and you’ve got a bit of time to expand your brain and have a good think about what you do and how you’re doing it. In fact, I have just read something from one of our new hyperconvergence vendors, Nutanix who make claims of having staff well versed to producing ‘disruptive’ technologies that change the nature of a marketplace…

I actually like disruptive, it happens when a new technology comes along, that is so radical that everything else that was used to carry out the same task previously becomes obsolete overnight. Disruptive innovations are game changers. For example, you don’t need a horse and cart once the Ford Model T arrived. The important thing to note that the Model T wasn’t the first car, however its mass-production allowed a price point for it to become in the reach of those who would be traditionally buying horse and carts. It ultimately disrupted the horse and cart market.

Whilst I have absolutely no qualms on the theory of Innovation (Tidd et al, Managing Innovation – my former coursebook if you care to follow at home), the claims that assembling a bunch of people together who have experience in changing markets, doesn’t necessarily guarantee it’ll happen again. Nor does their presence in a particular company make it likely to happen when there are other companies such as Scale Computing and Simplivity also with similar thoughts on virtual infrastructure convergence.

The brave innovators of this world, have first mover advantage, they’re taking a gamble on whether they can disrupt markets but there is never a guarantee.

I personally, don’t see converged or hyperconverged infrastructure as such a radical leap in technology. I’m sure my suppliers would be quite annoyed with me for making that statement, but ultimately what I’m trying to say, it’s not as risky as a game-changing innovation and everyone should really feel happy with that.

Ultimately it’s the next logical step in virtualisation, creating homogenous building blocks that provide compute, storage and memory resources that can be added as required but provide optimised performance and resilience as standard.

All of our converged virtualisation infrastructure suppliers also have their own specific take on the market too:

  • Scale Computing’s HC3 specifically addresses the needs for Small and Medium Business with a solution that requires no VMware licensing, and offers ease of use.
  • Nutanix’s solution is heavily VMware integrated, with flash memory acceleration, leading itself well to high-performance virtual desktop (VDI) applications.
  • Simplivity have developed their own hardware acceleration technology that sits on board a standard Dell server, sitting well between Scale Computing and Nutanix’s technology and having the ability to scale out to other VMware connected systems.

Whilst I’ve drastically oversimplified what these vendors are doing, they all have a couple of things in common:

  • Proprietary ‘under the hood’ software, to manage the systems and integrate with management tools – each company therefore offers its own ‘special sauce.’
  • A clustered architecture, with individual nodes providing resiliency should a failure occur – if you require more resources in terms of memory, storage or processing power, it’s just a case of adding a node.

There is no doubt to us that a converged archictecture is the future of virtualisation, it captures some key trends in both storage and the virtualisation market in terms of scale out storage, ease of management, resilience and lately the trend of adding accelerator flash boards to improve iOps.  Just also to annoy my former supervisor, these three vendors also stand out as the ‘bleeding edge’ players in the market too, Cisco, NetApp, IBM and HP are waking up to the converged virtualisation market however are simply repackaging existing solutions with management tools – it is certainly an interesting time.

Unleashed can help you navigate this minefield and also find the most appropriate solution for your company and if you’re still feeling worried, remember despite the names it’s still just virtualisation, it’s still just storage and it’s still just industry standard servers and hardware involved – hyperconvergence is just the glue holding it all together. For an impartial chat on the subjects involved, feel free to give us a call on 0161 871 8730.