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Boosting data center efficiency with converged infrastructure hardware

To the naked eye, converged infrastructure hardware may appear like another ploy by hardware vendors. But it’s important to recognize the added value that converged infrastructure

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has over white box servers and pre-configured servers.

More on converged infrastructure hardware

Navigating the converged infrastructure hype cycle

Converged infrastructure not for everyone

What converged infrastructure brings to private cloud

Ultimately, converged infrastructure hardware simplifies the delivery of IT services and increases data center efficiency by using four types of virtualization to create a flexible resource pool in a box.

Making the case for converged infrastructure hardware
For the first time, you can finally deploy IT services atop a converged infrastructure with full support for high availability and the assurance that you can meet the service levels over the long term.

This assurance stems from converged infrastructure’s design: It’s comprised of a common server architecture, enclosures, management tools, networking and storage. The individual pieces of converged Infrastructure hardware arrive onsite having already been designed to operate as a unit. That consistency is central to converged infrastructure’s value proposition: It provides a logical overview of the infrastructure’s physical resources.

A logically managed network, for example, adds incredible efficiency to the provisioning and management of virtual machine I/O. Monitoring those connections -- particularly the aggregation of that monitoring for holistic, root-cause analysis -- means that virtualization’s added complexity will no longer impede troubleshooting. An IT administrator who monitors a converged infrastructure’s network is in a better position to know why problems are occurring, and not just that they’re occurring.

In addition, converged infrastructure hardware shifts the focus away from physical storage connections to logical ones. Because of logical storage connections, you can provision converged infrastructure storage far more efficiently to meet virtual machine demands, and you still enjoy all the benefits of compression, deduplication and the scalability of large data sets.

In the end, with converged infrastructure hardware, you’re buying a unit of capacity. Need more? Buy more. The networking and storage aspects of delivering IT services no longer matter. They are replaced by what is essentially an appliance.

Bolstering data center efficiency through virtualization
Converged infrastructure products use various types of virtualization to deliver a resource pool in a box and streamline data center operations. The recent e-book HP Converged Infrastructure for Dummies outlines how a converged data center enjoys the following four types of virtualization:

  1. Server virtualization partitions physical servers into multiple virtual servers, each running its own operating environment and applications, to increase resource utilization and data center efficiency. The virtual machine acts like a physical computer.
  2. I/O virtualization delivers the connection capacity and flexibility for a wide range of workloads and applications.
  3. Storage virtualization continually balances performance and capacity, not just within an array, but across the entire storage environment for scaling up and out.
  4. Network I/O virtualization, along with the creation of virtual LANs, increases network efficiency and flexibility to quickly allocate bandwidth.

The book also discusses client virtualization as a possible fifth type of virtualization, for environments that deploy virtual desktop to end users.

Improving data center efficiency with less effort
Converged Infrastructure hardware is only now beginning to see in widespread use. Purchasing today’s hardware as an entire product, rather than just components that any IT shop can piece together, results in a more consistent platform for delivering IT assets.

Indeed, converged infrastructure products may take away from the fun of connecting hardware. But the payoff is a more stable operating environment; one that’s been engineered to meet exacting specifications with low tolerances for failure.

This was first published in March 2012

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