A converged infrastructure can be generally defined as wrapping multiple information technology (IT) components into a single, optimized computing solution. These systems have been described as infrastructure-in-a-box, cloud-in-a-box, campus-in-a-box, data center-in-a-box; you get the idea. While they may not be the best solution for every company, for most the advantages of these in-a-box systems provide a level of agility that can’t be matched by tradition best-of-class deployments.
One of the best advantages of converged infrastructures is in implementation. A business could decide that they need to open a new campus, call their vendor with the details of their infrastructure needs, and have the hardware shipped to the site ready to be plugged in. This is as close to a plug-and-play situation as you can get with this level of computing and results in being able to easily deploy and remove devices from the core to the edge networks. This is especially beneficial for companies that are expanding operations to new markets and can save huge sums of money when going international.
Another benefit of the converged infrastructure is in scale. These systems were developed to be infinitely scalable instantaneously. That means that you can shrink or grow your infrastructure with the demands on the system versus the amount of capital in the bank. Converged systems can also hyper-scale for the largest of enterprises. That means that a company could add hundreds and thousands of servers in a single implementation without the hassle of complex integrations and configuration.
One of the main reasons that a lot of companies are converting to converged infrastructures are due to the efficiencies of the systems. The hardware and software for these systems was developed and preconfigured to work with one another. This allows for huge optimizations and efficiencies while maintaining performance. Not only do they normally require less capital expenditure on implementation, they also utilize resources more effectively to reduce the operating expenditures required for power and management. This characteristic alone can be reason enough for a company to implement this form of infrastructure.
Converged infrastructures also reap the rewards of tight hardware and software integration. The entire infrastructure can be managed from a singular interface. The systems are also normally able to dynamically monitor themselves in real time. Plug in a new storage drive they can recognize the device and ask you what you want to do next. The management software can also detect when devices are malfunctioning, know if they’re within warranty, and order a replacement part to be shipped without any human intervention. Features like these allow current IT administration to be able to manage more and with higher efficiency than other, more high-touch infrastructures.
The final benefit I will cover is how converged infrastructures can also provide one of the fastest pathways to the cloud. The combination of the above characteristics combined with the ability to come preconfigured for cloud deployments. They can also be easily partitioned for public, private, or hybrid cloud strategies and their tight integration makes them less susceptible to security threats.
In my estimation, best-of-class infrastructures will continue to proliferate and make sense as the backbone of a lot of organizations but the trend in IT infrastructure will progressively move towards converged systems. There are just too many advantages to ignore and converged infrastructures can be a defining characteristic for the agile businesses of the future.