Cost reduction is driving newer forms of IT infrastructure and datacenters. Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) is the latest development in this area, and uses software-defined infrastructure to deliver cloud-like performance using commodity infrastructure.
As a CIO who is exploring how HCI can benefit your organization, you need to answer two questions:
What are the right use cases where my organization will achieve the returns from HCI, and
How do I gear my existing IT ecosystem to work alongside an HCI implementation?
How should I align my cloud strategy, (including Hybrid Cloud options) to an HCI initiative?
The first question, around identifying the right use cases, is rather complex and difficult to answer. This is because it involves many factors and variables. The answer also varies from one industry to another, and may also depend on the size / scale / security needs of the workload. However, CIOs can identify a few elementary use cases, where the benefits are obvious.
Here are some scenarios where HCI is a good option:
I have large data storage needs, with high security
HCI is a good option to rapidly create a private cloud. This is especially useful when you have a large amount of data that needs to be stored securely for a long period (typically 3+ years). You can also use HCI services through a CSP (using virtualized, software-defined legacy infrastructure). Typical use cases include regulatory and financial information stored by banks, hospitals, insurance companies, etc., both from a compliance and analytics perspective.
I need to move mission critical applications to new infrastructure
Often, certain mission critical applications need high-performance infrastructure with minimum latency and 100% availability. Examples of such applications include core banking systems, data warehousing applications, aviation applications, e-commerce websites, etc. The technology infrastructure for such applications need to be upgraded on a regular basis, to improve performance and align to a growing user base. Application migration also becomes an imperative for organizations that want to leverage best-in-class technology infrastructure. An HCI box is a good way to improve system performance, without incurring high costs of migration or infrastructure replacement.
I need to pilot new products / markets / geographies
When new business requirements crop up, it may be advisable to use HCI appliance to scale applications. The advantage of using HCI boxes is that they integrate very easily with other cloud infrastructure and can very quickly extend your storage to accommodate new markets and geographies. We have many cases where multiple new bank branches are opened in a year, or e-commerce services are started in new countries, and the storage / performance needs are initially unclear.
Of course, you may have many other use cases where HCI may be a cost effective and high ROI solution. Make sure you clearly understand how and where HCI can make quick, significant impact before your invest. Also, you need to work closely with your CSP to understand available HCI deployment options (appliance, own infrastructure or third-party hosted infrastructure).