Those responsible for IT are always under pressure to do more for less and keep on top of rapid technology change. In big businesses, IT is demanded, without hesitation, to be an enabler of competitive advantage.
Although it’s not always the same with SMBs, expectations of what IT could and should do for SMBs are growing. Security, back-up and recovery are ever more important, and demands for advanced business and networking applications are further increasing the need for virtualised server solution, not to mention the need to keep everything safe and secure at all times. For IT professionals working with SMBs, these growing expectations are usually coupled with a chronic lack of resources.
Increasingly, “hyper-convergence”, an approach associated with big business and large data centres, looks to be a sensible and exciting answer for SMBs. Just like almost all IT buzzwords, it has become notorious for being overused, under-defined, and more complex than it needs to be. One of the most commonly accepted definitions is that hyper-convergence is an architecture that tightly integrates compute, storage, virtualisation and other IT functions into a single platform based on industry standard servers, and delivered from one vendor. As such, it offers a software defined and scalable method of deploying virtualised IT workloads, with resources being shared and dynamically allocated. It’s like bringing the benefits of the cloud to the premises, with flexible and expandable capability easily available without expensive and complex IT projects being required.
This approach to IT suffers from the way it has been historically presented. Commonly referred to in tandem with challenges of large data centres and complex enterprise IT, many individuals who look after IT for a small to medium business either do not have the time to consider and understand hyper-convergence, or are commonly mistaken in thinking that such advanced technology simply is not relevant to solving their business problems. However, this is no longer the case.
Imagine a working day, without numerous servers, multiple storage devices and networking equipment, but just a single appliance that contains state of the art versions of all your former devices running a mix of workloads from traditional Windows operating system to networking. This approach is about having a simple, uncomplicated infrastructure that is easier to use, less time consuming, that is remotely monitored, managed and kept up to date for you through the cloud by experts, so that upgrades, patches, back up, and security are all taken care of for you. This is the new reality of hyper-convergence for the SMB.
Moving to a hyper-convergence appliance removes complexity from IT for the SMB, freeing up valuable resources, reducing operational costs, and saving you valuable time. The virtual architecture allows multiple applications to run on a secure server which is easily managed no matter how distributed server resources may be. It gives you the choice of how to optimise the system for your business, meaning it has the built in potential to grow and adapt with you and your business. Having this agility is key for SMBs. It allows for the implementation of new applications that your business will inevitably need as and when it grows, applications that existing IT infrastructure simply would not be able support and therefore need to be replaced. With an advanced, scalable and expandable hyper-converged appliance, blockages will never occur as flexibility, expandability and scalability of the cloud is its foundation. And if delivered as a service, it can also deliver the cloud economic benefits of no upfront capital costs, and predictable subscription charges.
Most recently, companies like Zynstra are taking hyper-convergence a step further by utilising the latest virtualisation technology and marrying it with our on-premises Cloud Managed Servers. The server’s CPU, memory and storage are virtualised and allocated to each IT function. By using a common virtualisation layer for all network functions, whether the customer is using a group file share or running SQL Server based applications, they benefit from the underlying hyper-converged platform that ensures enterprise-grade system performance and reliability.
In the correct form, hyper-convergence can bring massive benefits to even the smallest of offices, bringing the benefits of the cloud to the premises, with flexible and expandable capability easily available without expensive and complex IT projects being required. It allows IT professionals to pick and choose what IT functionality stays onsite and what is delivered through the cloud, whether to scale up or scale down, with the security of having a physical onsite server, but the flexibility of having your own private integrated cloud. This approach ultimately brings autonomy, choice and control to the SMB IT professional.
Written by James Pullen, Product Management at Zynstra. Originally published by CCI.