Next-Generation Convergence is the Future of Cloud and Data Center

The future of cloud and the modern data center will revolve around business agility and an organization's ability to control resources, so what is the best IT architecture to support that?

Bill Kleyman

February 11, 2016

7 Min Read
Silver Servers
(Photo by Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)



This month we focus on data centers built to support the Cloud. As cloud computing becomes the dominant form of IT, it exerts a greater and greater influence on the industry, from infrastructure and business strategy to design and location. Webscale giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook have perfected the art and science of cloud data centers. The next wave is bringing the cloud data center to enterprise IT... or the other way around!

New levels of resource management are introducing new challenges in cloud computing and the modern data center. We’re seeing different kinds of applications, users, and even entire business units accessing data center resources, and there are no signs of data center and cloud utilization slowing down.

Cloud computing adoption is growing, and by 2016 will increase to become the bulk of new IT spend, according to Gartner. 2016 will be a defining year as private cloud begins to give way to hybrid cloud, and nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017.

“Overall, there are very real trends toward cloud platforms, and toward massively scalable processing. Virtualization, service orientation, and the internet have converged to sponsor a phenomenon that enables individuals and businesses to choose how they'll acquire or deliver IT services, with reduced emphasis on the constraints of traditional software and hardware licensing models,” said Chris Howard, research vice president at Gartner.“Services delivered through the cloud will foster an economy based on delivery and consumption of everything from storage to computation to video to finance deduction management.”

Today, the data center is tasked with supporting more users, who are accessing more applications and resources. All of this translates to creating better data center controls and enabling even greater levels of multi-tenancy.

But what type of architecture can actually support this level of growth? What kind of ecosystem can aggregate resources and allow entire data centers to be truly agile? What options are out there which can redefine data center economics and improve management, automation, and even cloud integration?

The answer may very well revolve around new technologies from various converged and hyperconverged architectures. According to a recent Gartner report, “hyperconverged integrated systems will represent over 35 percent of total integrated system market revenue by 2019.” This makes it one of the fastest-growing and most valuable technology segments in the industry today.

Read more: Why Hyperconverged Infrastructure is so Hot

And there are good reasons for this kind of growth. Let’s examine where converged technologies will be impacting both the data center and the cloud architecture of the future.

  • Convergence will create new levels of resource controls. There’s been a major resurgence behind a number of virtualization technologies, including VDI, application delivery, and user management. Because of this, resource management has been a critical initiative for a number of organizations. The challenge revolves around resources which are isolated, hard to get to, or not properly utilized. This is where converged infrastructure comes in. Remember, this spans logical and physical deployments of convergence. Converged infrastructure solutions act as central points for resource control; it’s as simple as that. Data center and cloud administrators have fewer management points and greater levels of control over their critical (and expensive) resources. Moving forward, there will be more virtual technologies and even more integration with cloud. Organizations challenged with growth and resource management need to look at converged architecture solutions to simplify management.

  • Converged infrastructure integrates APIs and creates a more open architecture. There are two ways to look at converged infrastructure: either you have a physical architecture or you have a virtual appliance which aggregates resources. Both will create a much more interconnect-friendly architecture and allow for the integration of third-party solutions. This can be monitoring, security, networking services, application management, cloud services, and more. One of the biggest goals of a good converged infrastructure solution is to actually create an open architecture capable of integrating with other data center and cloud resources. All of this allows administrators to quickly integrate tools which help keep the overall architecture running healthy. It also helps prevent infrastructure lockdown. Even if you chose one converged infrastructure vendor, the best will still allow you to integrate with other ecosystem components. This is a big initiative for many cloud and data center environments – the ability to create a robust architecture that can support the business, while still integrating with a number of external resources.

  • Converged infrastructure allows for better data center economics. Data center environmental variables are always critical concerns for data center efficiency. Converged infrastructure systems actually help with the overall data center footprint, power utilization, and even cooling efficiencies. As you structure your next-generation data center or cloud platform, converged infrastructure can help redefine data center economics. During hardware refreshes, it’s critical for organizations to understand their use cases, where their business is going, and how IT will support these goals. Also, they need to look at the underlying ecosystem built around efficiency. Converged infrastructure can remove older, isolated components and allow you to aggregate critical resources. Similarly, you can create greater levels of multi-tenancy where you can segment user groups and applications, while still delivering a powerful user experience.

  • Convergence will allow for data center and business agility. Converged infrastructure will absolutely allow for greater levels of business agility. You can provision and deprovision resources based on context, application, desktops, and even business unit. This means that organizations can adapt to very quickly changing business dynamics. Ultimately, by being able to be truly agile, convergence helps create very real competitive advantages. By supporting more business use cases and allowing for greater resource agility, your business can quickly support a very diverse user-base and a growing business. The ability to respond to market dynamics is absolutely impacted by the capabilities of your cloud and data center ecosystem. This is why it’s so critical to deploy components which are capable of rapid scale and business support.

  • Converged architecture will impact security design. With the rise of virtualization delivery and new levels of content delivery, the conversation around security is only heating up. Converged infrastructure actually plays a big role in creating the next-generation security architecture. You can aggregate resources, set very specific control and management policies, and even allow access to workloads based on user context. Lost resources can be very real security concerns. By aggregating data around application, desktop, and content delivery you create controls over sensitive data points. From this converged architecture you can control where these resources go and how they interact with cloud technologies. Moving forward, organizations will be fighting a number of advanced persistent threats (APTs). Converged infrastructure introduces new levels of management, workload controls, and cloud integration. Now, organizations can deploy convergence in more use cases, especially where security might be a priority. From there, they can set strict multi-tenancy policies and manage access based on a number of granular administrative controls.

New converged infrastructure solutions come in both physical and logical forms. You can have a virtual appliance which aggregates distributed resources or a physical converged infrastructure deployment. This can be a multi-rack ecosystem or even a smaller, node-based, architecture supporting a specific use case. The point is that converged infrastructure helps combine critical resources into one logical management layer.

One point to remember here is that the concept around “converged infrastructure” isn’t entirely new. Many will argue that converged systems have been around for some time. The major difference, however, has been the major optimizations, management tools, and even API integration points that now make up the modern converged ecosystem. Furthermore, connecting into the entire backplane and reducing the amount of hops that data must take greatly helps with content and resource delivery.

So, although the concept has been around, the next-generation convergence environment is helping redefine how organizations deploy cloud and data center solutions. Your future data center and cloud ecosystem may very well be a part of a powerful converged infrastructure solution. Either way, these types of systems (both logical and physical) can impact a number of different organizations and many different verticals.

About the Author(s)

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise technology. He also enjoys writing, blogging, and educating colleagues about tech. His published and referenced work can be found on Data Center Knowledge, AFCOM, ITPro Today, InformationWeek, NetworkComputing, TechTarget, DarkReading, Forbes, CBS Interactive, Slashdot, and more.

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