• Traditional data centers are increasingly being engulfed by a cloud of better capabilities. Credit: Shutterstock
     Traditional data centers are increasingly being engulfed by a cloud of better capabilities. Credit: Shutterstock

Cloud-Based Architectures Offer Silver Lining

March 27, 2018
By Beverly Cooper

Organizations find lower costs, flexibility and easier management of real time data through agile HCI approaches.

The competitive strengths of the past cannot be counted on in a digital, cloud-based environment, making access to real-time data a critical requirement for success. A company must not only be agile, but also be able to leverage a highly automated infrastructure and incorporate real-time data analytics when making business decisions. As a result, organizations are increasingly pulling away from traditional data centers in favor of architectures that are more automated, software-defined and flexible, according to a recent study by International Data Corporation (IDC).  

A hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) architecture enables organizations to build private enterprise clouds, offering attributes such as storage, compute, virtualization, infrastructure management and monitoring software through a highly virtualized, scale-out approach. Sales of HCI systems have increased dramatically over the past few years, partly because of their ability to collapse core compute, storage and network services onto a highly virtualized cluster of x86 server resources.

The effect an HCI solution can have on information technology (IT) and business operations can lead to significant improvements in business processes and reduction in costs, as documented in IDC interviews with 11 organizations using such a system.

The participants in the study reported that the platform was effective and efficient for a variety of enterprise-type applications. Reductions in the cost of operations for supporting new business workloads decreased by an average of 60 percent.

Lower costs can be attributed to the use of x86 servers as core building blocks and the scale-out architecture of HCI. The commodity pricing of x86 servers drives down hardware costs, while the scale-out architecture allows for relatively small initial deployments that scale (compute and storage) over time by simply adding nodes to a cluster.

Eliminating the need for dedicated storage systems and storage area network (SAN) switches further contributes to lower costs. Together, these factors can have a profound effect on capital costs and, ultimately, lead to higher infrastructure utilization rates, according to the study.

IDC projects that customers using the system in their study will realize value worth an average of $4.24 million per organization per year ($51,077 per 100 users) over five years, which would mean a return on their investment of 534 percent and breakeven in seven months.

The study also noted that the scale-out architecture of these HCI solutions also contributes to increased agility, allowing IT departments to scale compute and storage resources quickly by adding more nodes to existing clusters without taking the application offline.

Reduced management burdens often begin with simplified deployment and high levels of automation. Many solutions are designed to be up and running with the fewest possible steps and geared toward the IT generalist or a virtual machine (VM) administrator. Automation is a critical part of the simplified installation. HCI suppliers automate as many storage tasks as possible with their offerings. HCI solutions usually do away with logical unit numbers, or LUNs, and allow for VM-level managing and monitoring. This increases the granularity of the management and allows non-storage experts to manage the storage in constructs they know well, according to IDC.

The system examined for this study was Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform. More information about the study and the Nutanix product can be found in the AFCEA Resource Library.

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