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January 6, 2016updated 28 Mar 2017 5:32pm

Killing data centre complexity with convergence

By Joao Lima

Analysis: Storage, networking, compute and software as one in favour of business modernisation.

The world is ever more complex. Business is disrupted. IT should not add to the complexity but should provide simplicity. This means understanding the benefits of convergence, the traditional technologies and the new platforms.

Converged solutions are an option to simplify, but still deliver optimised business processes within the data centre.

By working together, converged products address data centre IT complexity of running several different components, allowing to streamline storage, networking and compute assets for greater efficiency – by enabling better alignment between IT projects and business objectives – and capital expenditure savings.

Converged infrastructure can be executed with a reference architecture, standalone appliances or with a software driven hyper-converged approach.

Converged infrastructure can ease the burden of deploying and managing networks, servers, storage, and other applications for the data-driven businesses.

According to analysts, more than 30% of customers are concerned about the inability to integrate new systems with current infrastructure and management tools.

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The convergence of multiple security functions into products that support a single function has also evolved to include policy management integration, according to HPE.

Converged infrastructure platforms are a trend that is gaining traction. In 2013, yoy sales were 30%, and in Q4 2014 yoy growth was nearly 32%, representing $1.8 billion for that quarter alone, according to IDC.

Business technology research firm Wikibon predicts the converged infrastructure market to top $402 billion as the total available market (TAM) by 2017.

Nearly two thirds of the infrastructure that supports enterprise applications will be packaged in some type of converged solution by 2017. Meanwhile, converged infrastructure is seeing trends that reveal the technology comes in two main flavours: a single SKU and a reference architecture.

Both of these categories will significantly outpace the growth of legacy, purpose-built infrastructure designed to support a single application. Reference architectures will capture half of the opportunity by 2017 and represent the largest piece of the converged pie.

The six-year CAGR from 2011 – 2017 for converged reference architectures is 52.5% while single SKU will grow at 63.2% over that same period. Legacy “roll-your-own” infrastructure will decline at an 11.9% CAGR over that same time period.

For the meantime, the overall sever, storage, network, and infrastructure market will grow at a six-year CAGR of between 3%-4% over the same timeframe, Wikibon predicted.

Despite the trend to simplification, converged infrastructure will drag along significant planning, design, deployment, management, and maintenance services. By 2017, services will capture 46% of spending from the $402B TAM.

The channel will play a significant role in converged infrastructure adoption. Virtually all suppliers are trying to increase the productivity of their sales teams, and the channel will provide leverage and scale for suppliers.

The channel will demand choice and flexibility in terms of hypervisor, server vendor, network technology, management software, and even storage.

HPE converged portfolio

The firm behind the term ‘converged infrastructure’, has several solutions aimed at this space. HPE has designed the ConvergedSystem that integrates compute, storage and networking resources. It also integrates software.

The company shows its ConvergedSystem 700 simplifies infrastructure. HPE says it takes 96% less server configuration time, 50% fewer management tools, and a 271% reduction in staffing costs.

The HP ConvergedSystem approach positions customers to move toward cloud-based models. HP ConvergedSystem 700 includes support for client virtualisation workloads with HP Verified Reference Architecture for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) with Citrix XenDesktop on VMware vSphere.

It also has built-in support for unified communication and collaboration workloads with HP Verified Reference Architecture for Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint 2013 and HP Verified Reference Architecture for Microsoft Lync 2013.

Lastly it provisions business continuity in virtualised workloads with HP Verified Reference Architecture for Disaster Recovery using 3PAR StoreServ Storage, VMware vCenter SRM, and HP Verified Reference Architecture for HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage and VMware vSphere 6.0

Another converged product by HPE is the OneView management platform. Used by companies like United Airlines, HP OneView unifies processes, user interfaces (UI’s) and the application programming interfaces (APIs) across HP server, storage, and Virtual Connect networking devices.

Recently, the firm launched OneView 2.0 to automate server change management and deliver automation, proactive monitoring and guidance for SANs so administrators can identify and resolve potential SAN issues before they impact the business.

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