Three Key Things to Rethink in an Era of Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Subbiah Sundaram<br/>Comtrade SoftwareSubbiah Sundaram
Comtrade Software

Subbiah Sundaram is Head of Data Protection for Comtrade Software.

The hyperconverged infrastructure (HCIS) market continues to grow as it unifies powerful data center resources and persists as the most efficient enabler of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). In fact, according to a recent Gartner report, hyperconverged integrated systems will represent more than 35 percent of total integrated system market revenue by 2019. However, with the onset of hyperconverged infrastructures, IT must also transform how they tackle key areas of business.

From budgets to organizational structures, to a product’s time-to-market, hyperconverged infrastructure is enabling the enterprise to revamp IT. But before a business jumps head-first into a HCIS system, here are the top three things it must address in order to be successful.

Monitoring

Most customers who adopt hyperconverged infrastructure already have some other infrastructure in place. They are bringing in HCIS for new and next-generation workloads, and to provide agility to their business. Anytime your business depends on its infrastructure, a continuous, at-a-glance monitoring of storage and compute resources is crucial to ensure technology applications are available and performing at a high-level. If proper monitoring is in place and if there is an issue, the infrastructure team will catch it and make adjustments before the business feels any disruption or negative impact.

This is especially relevant with HCIS because when the density of applications increases, monitoring becomes even more critical. Most organizations where HCIS is being introduced already have a centralized way of monitoring the infrastructure (if not they should invest in one!). For instance, a company will have a networks operation center (NOC) and invest in monitoring solutions, such as System Center Operations Manager (SCOM). Businesses should invest in HCIS as well as in integrating their HCIS monitoring into a centralized management infrastructure to avoid silos that are not managed. The solution a business uses to integrate into its centralized monitoring system should be “smart” and feed only synthesized and relevant data that is appropriate for this type of monitoring process. If you feed raw information to the centralized monitoring system, it will overwhelm the system and make the job of the NOC person a nightmare. Monitoring solutions should add enough data to the published information for the person in the NOC to be able to quickly identify the issue and activate the right course of action to resolve it.

Applications

The ability to discover, visualize, configure, backup and monitor modern IT applications in a traditional infrastructure is hard, and does not get easier in the hyperconverged infrastructure world. HCIS vendors do a much better job of providing good solutions for a virtual machine (VM)-centric approach of management. When organizations implement new solutions like HCIS, they can find themselves engrossed in the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) model and may miss the key reason that they are implementing the new infrastructure–for their business applications. The person running HCIS should also keep applications as their primary focus and everything they do should be in the context of what’s best for the business critical applications. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, and today in most cases it’s very hard for the person running the infrastructure to know what applications they are monitoring. The main reason being that most solutions take an “all-or-nothing” approach and require application credentials to provide the context.

IT operators should look for solutions that will give them a holistic view on what applications are running in each of the VMs without being too intrusive. This will enable them to make the right choice when it comes to making smart tradeoffs with applications and prioritizing which problem to solve first. When it comes to troubleshooting performance problems, knowledge of which applications are running where and their access patterns, are of top importance. Knowledge of the business applications is critical even for infrastructure sizing and planning.

Backup and Recovery

Legacy data backup and recovery solutions are not aligned with modern IaaS data protection requirements. When a business implements hyperconverged infrastructure, it has embarked on a journey to rethink the way it is going to buy and manage its infrastructure. Data backup and recovery is an integral part of the production infrastructure, and it’s ironic that businesses sometimes do not also rethink their data protection strategy when they decide to implement a HCIS. This can be equated to buying a new, high- performing, sports car and putting your old, worn-out tires on it.

HCIS solutions need data protection solutions that leverage built-in snapshots, clones and replicas. If you can recover data in seconds or minutes, why would you wait for the data to stream in from remote storage? Oftentimes businesses implement HCIS solutions and get carried away by VMs, and think that data backup and recovery at the VM level is sufficient. Organizations need to make sure their data protection solution delivers application-focused backup that provides application-specific, granular recovery.

Last but not least, organizations need to evaluate the simplicity of their data backup and recovery solutions. HCIS solutions make IaaS much easier and the backup and recovery solution the business chooses should make data protection as a service (DPaaS) simpler too. Setup of the DPaaS system should take equal to or less than the time it took to setup the HCIS system; backup should be enabled in just a few steps and automated recovery should be intuitive not just to the systems administrator, but also to the applications/database administrator.

Conclusion

As businesses adopt hyperconverged infrastructure systems, it is a great opportunity for them to rethink their infrastructure monitoring, applications management and data protection. Do not force-fit your traditional IT infrastructure and management software and processes into the next-generation solution. If you do, your organization will not realize the true value of your next-generation infrastructure and it is like asking your horse drawn cart to deliver your e-commerce services. Good luck!

Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Penton.

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