Written by Contel Bradford
Whether you operate a huge facility or a handful of servers, upkeeping any data center is a major headache. The usual mix of legacy equipment and newer technology is costly and incredibly difficult to deploy, run, and scale. Sure, cloud computing and virtualization offer some degree of relief. But the provisioning of new servers, storage, and IT services still requires tedious labor. Enter the converged infrastructure.
Converged infrastructure combines resources from various ends of the IT spectrum into one unified solution. The goal is to achieve maximum optimization by standardizing technologies for the server, storage, and networking devices. Ideally, it creates an environment that is not only easier to manage but better responds to business demands.
Converged Infrastructure Adoption Rates
Some say it is the future of IT, so it’s not surprising converged infrastructure adoption is on the rise. Here are a few stats that show how adoption has grown in the last few years:
- A Techaisle survey showed that ten percent of small businesses and 27 percent of mid-sized businesses plan to adopt converged infrastructure.
- Techaisle expects those rates to further increase as the SMB market itself grows more advanced.
- In 2015, a Zenoss report found that 69 percent of respondents either had or planned to deploy a converged infrastructure by 2016.
- 33 percent felt that it needs a separate team to exclusively manage this newly created environment.
So what’s fueling converged infrastructure adoption? I’d say it’s it is the needs of end-users and service providers alike. End-user organizations are chasing benefits such as cost savings, centralized resource management, and greater overall flexibility. Vendors are looking at lower capital and operating expenses, more affordable IT services, and the continued rapid growth of cloud offerings for support.
Experts Weigh In
Converged infrastructure breaks down complex silos and ties IT systems together under a single point of management. Naturally, its ability to tame the data center environment is one of the main selling points. “People are getting tired of the do-it-yourself model,” said Duncan Campbell, VP of Hewlett-Packard’s Enterprise Group Solutions and Marketing Strategy division. “The dialogue is shifting from the DIY more toward these integrated systems.”
Scalability isn’t always about adding more. Sometimes you need to scale back just as easily as you upgraded. Converged infrastructure can be convenient for testing initiatives or accommodating immediate business needs in general. “The trend toward converged infrastructure has really promoted the ability to spin up environments quickly, take them down quickly and get people to work on innovation,” said Joo Lee. Lee is VP of digital transformation for IT services firm Sogeti USA.
Converged infrastructure brings flexibility to the hectic data center environments. But as one IT expert reminds us, the lack of flexibility on the vendor end may be cause for concern. “As all parts are pre-selected and pre-configured you have to apply the CI as the vendor intended,” said Gunnar Menzel VP and Chief Architect Officer for IT consulting firm Capgemini. “In addition, there are no ability to apply granular updates/patches or “tweak” the CI solution – you have to follow the vendor path.”
On the contrary, essentially being married to a single vendor does have its advantages. Having one solution with one support team is much better than troubleshooting problems with three or more different companies. There may be potential for issues if you wish to transition in the future. This is why it’s important to be highly selective when choosing a solution and vendor.
Increased adoption across the global business community has fueled a multi-billion dollar industry. According to Markets and Markets, converged infrastructure will grow to $33.89 billion by 2019. That’s a whopping 24.1 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) when factoring in the $11.53 billion the market was worth in 2014.
The converged infrastructure phenomenon has taken off like a rocket and already spawned a new trend in hyper-converged infrastructure. Gartner predicts that this super-charged variation will secure mainstream adoption in the next five years and will reach nearly $5 billion by 2019. Be it hyper or conventional, this strategy will forever change how we manage IT.