Monday, July 22 2024

What is Hyperconverged Infrastructure and how does it work?

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is a software that provides computing, storage and network operations for a company from a single point on a company’s hardware.

Originally, computing, storage and network operations were divided in a company’s hardware infrastructure and potentially provided by separate vendors with different management systems. HCI software allows all these functions to be combined into a single management platform.

Why is HCI useful?

Computing, storage and network operations are all important to a company’s cyber infrastructure. The separation of each part into different management platforms means there are more potential points of weakness for a cybercriminal to attack. Given the different management systems of each part, it could be easy for IT and cybersecurity professionals to miss possible breaches until significant damage occurred.

HCI software allows one to catch an attack on computing, storage or network operations in a single virtual space. One platform means cybersecurity professionals’ attention is less divided. More focus creates a more secure system.

Many HCI offerings provide scanning and reporting features. The features allow cybersecurity professionals to see where in its data center a company may require more cyber protection. The increased automatic cyberthreat vigilance also means HCI makes data centers more reliable.

Additionally, HCI is more scalable than traditional hardware setups. As companies grow, the number of programs and data they use often grows as well. Companies can scale their systems more easily with HCI because instead of having to duplicate multiple forms of hardware with a variety of vendors, companies can choose to increase the capabilities of the software from its HCI vendor.

HCI also adapts better to cloud environments than traditional, divided hardware data centers. Similar to how HCI combines hardware operations management, HCI can also be used with different public cloud services, such as Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

Some HCI are also designed so companies can make personalized, private clouds, which minimizes the security threats that can stem from using a public cloud, such as data leaks. HCI’s flexibility is particularly advantageous given many companies are moving to a more cloud-based workforce.

What companies provide HCI services? How do they differ from each other?

There are a variety of hyper-converged infrastructure offerings available on the market. The following are only a few. The review lists below are compiled from general customer sentiment across review websites. They will allow one to get a sense of different HCI offerings, their strengths and their weaknesses.

VMware

vSAN by VMware is a popular hyper-convergence product. Many people positively commented on the array of features the offering has. However, many people voice displeasure at the offering’s price. Overall, reviews state the following about the software:

Pros:

·  Flexible product that is compatible with a number of cloud services

·  Successfully minimizes the points of failure for an IT system

·  Easy to integrate and scale with current hardware and software systems

·  Simple to understand because of the technical documents and customer support provided to customers

·  Minimal administrative efforts are required to keep the software operational.

Cons:

·  It is a very expensive software due to licensing costs.

·  Each infrastructure cluster needs its own license.

·  Not always compatible with certain types of hardware

·  Hard to troubleshoot problems without company’s technical support

Nutanix

Nutanix HCI platform, the Nutanix Cloud Infrastructure, is thoroughly reviewed. Many customers are impressed at how easy it is to manage but disappointed at its limited compatibility with some cloud providers and the infrequency of security patches. 

Pros:

·  Great role-based access control and reporting system

·  Ability to clone infrastructure clusters and minimize disruption if patch errors occur

·  Unique methods for securing scalability

·  Single-click upgrades minimize time needed to dedicate to upkeep.

·  Reliable software due to centralized management

Cons:

·  Difficult to transfer information if one utilizes older forms of storage hardware

·  Acronyms used by the platform can be hard to understand and easy to confuse with each other.

·  Life cycle management interface can be overwhelming to understand and software itself provides no guidance on what one should do next.

·  Incompatibility with non-major cloud providers

·  Security patches are infrequent, which can pose problems for regulatory compliance.

Scale Computing

Scale Computing’s SC//Platform is widely reviewed. Many think the offering has great customer support but has less features then other available HCI offerings. 

Pros:

·  Clear documentation makes the product easy to use.

·  Centralized platform allows for efficient infrastructure management.

·  Easy to setup without specialized knowledge

·  Quick customer support

Cons:

·  Less features than other HCI offerings on the market

·  Limited compatibility with certain hardware systems

·  Initial set up can be slow.

·  Poor backup solution that uses a third-party software

StarWind

Many people commented that StarWind’s Virtual SAN was a great product for small business but can be difficult to set up. In general, people mentioned the following in their reviews:

Pros:

·  Quick responses from customer service

·  Easy to synchronize servers

·  Data recovery is effective after disruptions due to external events such as weather or electrical outages.

·  Great pricing for small and midsize businesses

Cons:

·  Difficult to read the documentation required for initial setup

·  Management portal provides minimal reporting on problem areas.

·  Minor performance problems possible

·  Scaling can be difficult due to how the offering is configured.

DataCore

DataCore’s SANSymphony software is regarded as having efficient threat mitigation features and data recovery capabilities by customers. However, the cloud compatibility and data reporting are thought to need further improvements. 

Pros:

·  Wide array of documentation that allows one to understand the software

·  Versatile software that supports a wide range of software and hardware technologies

·  Great features to recover data after a ransomware attack

·  Stable solution with ample storage available

·  Great automatic tiering of systems

Cons:

·  Cloud reporting interface is lacking compared to other vendors.

·  Needs better cloud compatibility to prevent need for other software to connect storage and cloud components

·  Software is run on Microsoft Windows Server, which can add licensing costs

·  The visual interface is sometimes unavailable.

·  Offering is not suited to large or transactional databases.

The Future of HCI

In April 2023, Gartner released a report discussing the future of HCI. The report forecasts that “through 2024, more than 75% of data center x86 workloads will continue to use hypervisor-based virtualization…despite cloud migration and container adaption.”

While other migration-to-cloud systems continue to be a popular technical solution, it does not mitigate the value of HCI. HCI provides specific benefits for those with various hardware and software components in terms of minimizing complexity and maximizing security.

Explore CISOstack for in-depth insights, practical tips, and expert interviews on the latest cyber threats. Subscribe for regular updates to keep your company ahead in digital defense. Stay informed and secure with us.

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