Modern hardware has made the three-tier architecture obsolete. Higher performance memory and CPUs combined with advanced storage technology lets you converge your entire infrastructure and run it all on x86-based servers with internal SDD drives. This approach is called hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI).

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Organizations today are running three-tier architecture consisting of computing, storage, and networking. They have been running the three-tier architecture for several years. While the architecture has served many of these organizations well in the past, it is an expensive complex to build and operate and difficult to scale up. It hardly responds quickly to today’s application demands.

Business units are considering public cloud services because of a lack of agility. Moreover, they do not want to wait for IT infrastructure to support their applications. They are concerned about losing control, higher costs, and lack of enterprise-class security.

What are the benefits of hyper-converged infrastructure?

HCI saves money and delivers higher quality agility. It dramatically lowers costs because you only need to buy x86 servers. That means you must get proprietary storage array controllers and fiber channel networking. With everything in the servers, operations become much simpler, requiring less time and expertise for routine tasks.

HCI also allows you to be more responsive to the business. You can have hardware up and running in a few hours and accelerate workloads within a shorter time. Configuration is based on policies aligned with the applications, eliminating the need for complicated constructs like LUNs and volumes.

You can scale up and out by adding drives and x86 servers without disruption, reconfiguration, or capital expense. With HCI, organizations can deploy cloud-like infrastructure on premises with lower costs, more control, and higher security than the public cloud.

What is the difference between hyper-converged infrastructure and cloud?

Hyperconvergence is primarily concerned with simplifying IT while following a strict node-based design, which significantly makes administration easy and reduces flexibility. In contrast, the cloud is an environment that directly affects the user experience by using high-tech automation and instrumentation to comprise the core infrastructure.

How does hyper-converged infrastructure work?

Hyperconvergence infrastructure is more or less like the multiple standalone servers that contain both computation and storage. While this is physically right, logically, it behaves more like a three-tier infrastructure. The computation uses virtualization so that logical servers can migrate between physical hosts.

Unlike with a standalone server, there is no hard link between the computation and storage resources in the same metal box. The actual data is distributed and replicated between servers like nodes in SAN. A virtual machine could feasibly be running on one physical server and using storage from another. Most importantly, it is the same as a three-tier infrastructure; however, the hypervisor and SAN nodes share the same physical hardware.

The first advantage of the hyper-converged approach is that you save hardware by collapsing your server and storage tiers. You only have to buy a few metal boxes: power, cool and fit them in a suitable place. Scaling out your infrastructure is, in theory, a nice and simple thing. Your capacity would now come in discrete units, including your computation and storage.


Important to note is that suppose you have five hyper-converged host servers and you need twenty percent more capacity; you buy another hyper-converged host, and everything increases by twenty percent. Furthermore, you get a simplified administration. Nonetheless, what you get varies between vendors. You should, therefore, know the proper vendor to select before settling for one.