The datacentre.

 

The heart of an organisation.

 

The place where, almost certainly, the most critical processes and applications are run.

 

The home to all of your business’s data, applications and content.

 

The operational outlet for your ICT infrastructure that supports the day-to-day running of your business.

 

Since the 1970s, the datacentre has been through a whirlwind of disruption and transformation. And, let’s not tiptoe around the fact that, since then, it’s become increasingly complex, time-consuming and expensive to manage.

 

That’s not to say that technologies like server and storage virtualisation, data deduplication and flash-based storage systems (to name just a few) haven’t contributed to improvements of performance and resiliency for most organisations though. Because I’m sure, over time, they have.

 

The problem is the complexity and inefficiencies of these scale-up infrastructures. And this complexity is caused in part by the clash between legacy architectures and emerging technologies. While virtualisation has enabled extraordinary fluidity in compute resources, network-based storage commonly used in these environments are still based on traditional scale-up architectures.

 

These silos created by traditional infrastructures have made every aspect of the infrastructure lifecycle a challenge and become a barrier to change and progress, adding complexity to every step from ordering and scaling to deployment and management.

 

Now, I’m not the most technically savvy person on the planet but even I get that a traditional infrastructure as it stands, with separate hardware and management systems for storage, servers and storage networks is a pretty big drain. But more than anything, it’s draining any capabilities of infinite scaling and preventing you from being innovators of your own destiny and driving business growth.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this has done a good enough job before, otherwise you wouldn’t be using it. But wouldn’t it be so much better if it could have been a bit simpler, less complex and with fewer limitations?

 

And, what if your datacentre infrastructure could all be run from just one single pane of glass instead?

 

In an industry where you’re under constant pressure to drive efficiency and optimisation, yet reduce capital and operational expenses, what if there was a solution that consolidated it all, that allowed you to achieve unprecedented business agility, predictable scale and lower TCO?

 

What a transformation to the operation of your business, bank balance and budget that would be!

 

Well there is and it’s known as web-scaling.

 

So, what’s it all about I hear you ask? What exactly is it? How did it come about? How can it help public sector organisations? And why should you be considering making the move?

 

Let me give you the lowdown…

 

What is a hyperconverged infrastructure?

 

According to our friends over at Nutanix, a hyperconverged infrastructure combines x86-based compute and storage resources with intelligent software that removes common pain points associated with legacy infrastructures, and creates flexible building blocks that replace your traditional architecture which consists of separate servers, storage networks and storage arrays.

 

That’s a mouthful to say the least. Put simply, it integrates it all into one single appliance.

In a nutshell, it’s a building block within a cloud platform that helps to bridge the gap between a legacy infrastructure and public cloud services and leads the way for the cloud generation to enable the complete mobility of virtual machines and data.

 

Implementing a hyperconverged infrastructure into your organisation brings with it a host of benefits that we’ll touch on later, but also provides a fast, highly scalable and efficient datacentre solution that’s accessible to organisations of all sizes.

 

Take a look for yourself in this short video from Nutanix and see for yourself:

 

 

So, where did it all begin?

 

It all started with Google, Amazon and Facebook – possibly three of the most successful internet giants of today.

 

And what did they do? The pushed the boundaries of their legacy infrastructure systems and processes in ways that no other business had ever dared to do.

 

The more they pushed, the more they realised that their existing infrastructure architecture wasn’t right for what they wanted to achieve. They needed something that could scale and support their ever expanding business requirements, such as rapid application, development, deployment and the need to scale on demand whilst keeping costs to a minimum.

 

And rather than just ‘making do’ they responded in the only way they could and that was to develop a better approach to datacentre infrastructure that leveraged a whole new set of technologies, processes and structure. They eliminated the traditional scale-up architecture, such as SAN and NAS that were the root cause of many problems (sound familiar?!), and instead created scale-out architecture systems.

 

These companies weren’t afraid of change and knew that the only way they could possibly help their businesses to become more innovative, efficient and help to drive growth was to make a radical and powerful transformation to their datacentre.

 

With the help of a huge team of researchers, specialist engineers and scientists they developed a new approach to IT infrastructure, known today as web-scale IT.

 

In 2003, Google published a research paper entitled ‘The Google File System’ and many others from the likes of Amazon have since followed, raising awareness of what these companies have done and setting a whole new standard of datacentre architecture.

 

The cost, simplicity and operational efficiency of Amazon, Google and Facebook is now the bar that many IT managers are aiming for. So now you can stop wondering what if and actually start to look at the endless possibilities that transforming your datacentre can bring.

 

Whilst your organisation may not be on the same scale as the likes of Google or Amazon, you probably still face the same challenges and limitations of legacy architectures like they once did.

 

And, you know what they say, if you can’t beat them – join them.

If Google, Amazon and Facebook can nail it – why can’t you?!

 

So, after all that, I guess you should know what the key characteristics and benefits are to adopting a hyperconverged infrastructure into your organisation.

 

Well, here you go:

 

Key Characteristics

  • Hyper-convergence on x86 nodes – integrating traditional architecture reduces the complexity and strains on network performance, allowing the infrastructure to be scaled one server at a time
  • Intelligent software – 100% software based with no reliance on hardware for resilience, performance, management or any core functions, allowing new capabilities to be added without any hardware upgrades so your IT environment can be scaled out and in small increments
  • Everything distributed – absolutely everything on your system gets distributed across the entire stack, reducing resource contention and enabling predictable scalability without limits
  • Self-healing – recovers quickly from individual component failures without degrading data or application availability through fault isolation and automatic recovery
  • Lowers space and power requirements – up to 90% less space and power required in your datacentre
  • Configurable – can be configured on the fly to support all your different application and data needs
  • No bottlenecks – meaning your business can grow without limits

 

Benefits to you and your organisation

  • Uses less energy
  • Cost effective
  • Business agility
  • High speed, high efficiency
  • Less bottlenecks
  • Breaks down organisational barriers
  • Streamlines operations
  • The list is endless!

 

After all that you may well ask “well isn’t this just virtualisation?”

 

The answer to that is no. It’s not.

 

There are key differences – namely the integrated platforms into one single appliance, for which virtualisation is a part of, and the intelligent software layer (i.e Acropolis and Prism from Nutanix) that allows you to scale-out infinitely and without disruption to any other data or applications. But that’s one for another time.

 

Legacy architectures are rightly becoming a thing of the past and hyperconverged infrastructure or web-scaling is suggestively a new future.

 

And according to a 2014 report by Gartner, over 50% of organisations will have adopted a web-scale IT architecture by 2017. That’s a 40% uplift from 2013.

 

Now that’s infinite scaling right there!

 

So, finally then – why should you be making the move and scaling out?

 

Pretty sure I just told you ?