Today’s businesses are constantly changing and developing at a rapid pace that’s pushing IT departments and data centres to deliver applications that are fast, scalable and interoperable in a shorter time scale. Because of this, customers are now contemplating how to deliver improved OPEX in their data centres and are increasingly searching for ways to move towards the ‘private cloud.’ This could be driven by what customers are seeing in the public cloud – with instant provisioning of IT services – and expecting the same in their own dedicated data centres.
Changing workloads, such as Desktop Virtualisation, Business Analytics, ERP systems or even new application services, mean that companies are considering ways of centralising and consolidating their IT systems to meet demand, streamline company information and improve cost efficiency.
The question is: how can companies organise these pools of resources quickly enough to be able to implement repeatable, secure, manageable and cohesive applications? The answer... Converged systems.
It seems to me that converged systems are becoming more and more appealing to vendors to address this challenge. We’re certainly seeing an increase in interest from customers and partners who want to find out more about these solution opportunities and what they can offer the channel.
IDC’s 2012 European Storage Survey highlights the rapid rate at which converged systems are being adopted in European organisations. This year alone, more than a third of the surveyed organisations reported deploying some type of converged infrastructure. According to IDC, this interest in converged systems is the result of the rise in private cloud deployments – 20 percent cited they have implemented private clouds in 2012, compared with only six percent in the previous European storage survey, conducted in 2011.
Because of the increasing demand for this type of IT management process, many vendors, like HP, Cisco, Oracle and IBM, are now offering these solutions. However, it is also true that some vendors and resellers are still unaware of the market opportunity.
In this case, it’s essential to understand what converged systems are, what this technology can do and what exactly the benefits are.
So, with that being said, what is a converged system?
- A converged system can be defined as a ‘pre-integrated, vendor-certified system’
- The combination of storage and computing into a single entity is known as converged storage
- It can contain: servers, data storage devices, networking equipment, middleware and application software in addition to software for IT infrastructure management, automation and orchestration
- An operating system and virtualisation can also be part of a converged solution
- It’s also worth noting IT vendors and industry analysts use various terms to describe the concept of a converged infrastructure. These include: ‘converged system,’ ‘unified computing,’ ‘fabric-based computing,’ and ‘dynamic infrastructure’
Why use converged systems?
- Converged systems are a step up compared to reference architectures, as they are typically sold as pre-integrated solutions, even a SKU – a number or code used to identify each unique product to enable inventory to be tracked
- They create a group of virtualised servers, storage and networking capacity that is shared by multiple applications and lines of business, making it more streamlined and more manageable
- Converged infrastructure provides technical and business efficiencies, stemming from the pre-integration of technology components, the pooling of IT resources and the automation of IT processes
Converged systems address the key challenges of managing evolving workloads and copious amounts of data. I would highlight the key customer benefits as:
- Ease and speed of deployment
- Lower operating expenses
- Improved security
- Higher utilisation
- Ease of management
- Improved application performance and application availability
One thing’s for sure, these systems simplify the use and optimisation of application environments by integrating hardware, software and services into turnkey solutions. It can be noted that this converged approach allows resellers’ and partners’ customers to quickly get to grips with the full potential of virtualisation, cloud and next-generation applications, such as real-time analytics. In addition, it also helps to speed up the consolidation of legacy applications, data and infrastructure – quite simply to drive business growth and promote cost efficiency.