The history of converged systems proves everything old becomes new again. The most popular data management systems started out as single, unified mainframes before the prevailing trend shifted and data management became decentralized in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2008, Oracle reinvigorated the converged infrastructure era when it debuted its HP Oracle Database Machine—and managed services providers (MSPs) have never looked back.
By 2010, MSPs were firm believers in using converged cloud infrastructure. Top software development companies started rolling out innovative converged platforms to help IT administrators manage their data centers. But what is a converged infrastructure exactly? What benefits does it bring to your current technology stack? In this article, we’ll define a converged infrastructure and discuss the various elements that might make it the right solution for your business.
What Is a Converged Infrastructure?
A converged infrastructure (also referred to as a converged architecture) is a comprehensive approach to data center management that combines management software in five key areas—network, sever, computing, storage, and virtualization—in one tool. Converged systems have grown more popular with MSPs who are trying to shift away from owning and managing their own hardware. In contrast to owning all the necessary hardware, a converged infrastructure is more of a self-service system. It allows IT administrators to use resources how they want, when they want—without shouldering the burden of managing an entire system.
Traditional data center management systems are comprised of many disparate silos that must be individually configured by a separate IT team before they can be integrated with other components. A converged infrastructure bundles multiple IT assets together so that MSPs can access everything they need for full data center management in one place. This also means they don’t have to cobble together a functioning stack from disparate technologies. By integrating hardware and management software, it becomes more efficient to provision resources as a single system.
Converged systems have a modular design that displays all your system’s resources in a single capacity pool so you can better monitor your resource usage as a whole. This is much more efficient and accurate than having to constantly calculate resource availability on a component-by-component basis.
The goal of a converged infrastructure is to drastically simplify the data center management process and eliminate any hardware compatibility issues. This is especially enticing for MSPs who write cloud-native applications, or who host and operate applications within their own private cloud.
Here’s a look at some of the potential pros of working with a converged infrastructure:
Reduced cabling, pooling, and cooling costs because of reduced infrastructure needs
Increased visibility into resource consumption
Embedded vendor support and vendor-validated solutions
The ability to independently tune different components of the converged IT infrastructure
As far as cons go, there are only a couple of them to consider. First, since converged systems are pre-configured to fit the needs of your specific infrastructure, you can’t alter that configuration. This shouldn’t be a problem if your business operations stay the same for your converged infrastructure’s entire tenure, but you might run into issues if you’re in a state of flux. Second, it’s expensive and complicated to add additional components—which might essentially cancel out the benefits of a converged system in the first place.
Converged Infrastructure vs. Hyper-Converged Infrastructure