Hyper Converged

A dramatic new way for educational institutions to deliver modern infrastructure.

GUEST COLUMN | by Victoria Grey

CREDIT Gridstore chartHyper-converged is a new term appearing on the IT landscape, to describe a dramatic new way to deliver modern infrastructure to the data center. Hyper-converged systems are comprised of compute, storage, networking, and the hypervisor, all in a single system. It’s essentially a data center in a box. There are many advantages to this approach, starting with TCO – total cost of ownership, as seen not only by the attractive initial expense of the systems themselves, but very meaningfully in the lowered cost of management. Additionally, some hyper-converged systems have solved the problem of scaling, by enabling not only scale via incremental hyper-converged systems, but also independently via incremental storage and/or servers.

A well designed hyper-converged infrastructure can offer colleges and universities several important benefits.

IT organizations are looking for ways to increase the ROI while decreasing TCO in their environments. Hyper-converged infrastructure enables with its turnkey deployment, scalability, and integrated management. For a college or university looking to maximize their investment while delivering powerful capabilities to their users, hyper-converged infrastructure is highly attractive.

Winthrop University is a public liberal arts college with over six thousand students, located just outside Charlotte, SC. The university had wrestled with the data storage growth problems that many entities of its size experience. The school had limited IT staff and the cost of management was becoming prohibitive. In this setting, hyper-converged infrastructure was the perfect solution to accelerate operations, increase scalability and eliminate the need to over-provision storage resources.

Winthrop University manages centralized storage infrastructure that includes 100’s of Windows and Linux servers, as well as a hodgepodge of direct-attached storage, network-attached storage and storage area network resources. Similar to many educational environments, Winthrop had storage limitations that were impacting application performance and reliability, as well as hurting their ability to expand in the future.

Deploying an innovative solution based on hyper-converged infrastructure enabled Winthrop to lower costs, improve performance, and modernize their data center to provide for the future growth expected. Winthrop expects to add to their environment in the coming year.

A well designed hyper-converged infrastructure can offer colleges and universities several important benefits. But not all systems are designed the same, or take advantage of intelligent software that delivers powerful capabilities on top of standard hardware, which allows for sophisticated features with lowered costs. Analyzing and selecting carefully is important. The following considerations should be taken into account when deciding on a hyper-converged system:

Ability to deliver dramatically improved performance – Optimization and management on a per-VM basis in order to realize better application performance as well as the control needed to set Quality of Service (QoS) levels.

Ability to start small and scale as needed – Be able to start with a small initial deployment but grow to hundreds of nodes with petabytes of storage.

Independent scaling – Although hyper-converged systems offer the benefit of easy expansion with additional systems, it is beneficial to be able to expand storage independently of compute to meet rapidly growing storage needs.

Efficient use of resources – Leverage modern data protection processes to avoid having to over provision storage for multiple copies of the data to ensure against faults.

Easy management – Single-pane-of-glass management enables easy daily management of the environment.

Lower cost initially and over time: Solid price/performance value in initial purchase, as well as decreased management cost can save many times legacy systems.

Many organizations are beginning to realize the benefits of a hyper-converged deployment, both at initial deployments and over time. For an educational institution whose goals are about creating the next generation of the educated citizenry, worrying about IT infrastructure is not their mission. Hyper-converged infrastructure offers them a way to meet the most demanding environments, while keeping costs low and still able to adapt for future needs. This shift has begun and is expected to grow rapidly in the next year as more and more organizations tap into its benefits.

Victoria Grey is the CMO at Gridstore, a company delivering hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Victoria has over 20 years experience in technology sales and marketing, with a specialty in the data storage business. She was named a “Woman of the Channel” in both 2013 and 2014, “Channel Chief” in 2014, awarded a Stevie Award in 2014 and has served on a number of industry boards.

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