Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI)

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Hyper-converged infrastructure replaces discrete server, storage and networking equipment and puts it all in one box that is pre-configured for easy deployment. Usually, hyper-converged appliances come with a built-in virtualisation hypervisor plus scale-out capability so that nodes can be added to scale capacity and performance easily.

The primary difference between converged infrastructure (CI) and hyper-converged infrastructure is that in HCI, both the storage area network and the underlying storage abstractions are implemented virtually in software (at or via the hypervisor) rather than physically, in hardware. Because all of the software-defined elements are implemented within the context of the hypervisor, management of all resources can be federated (shared) across all instances of a hyper-converged infrastructure.

The potential impact of the hyper-converged infrastructure is that companies will no longer need to rely on different compute and storage systems, though it is still too early to prove that it can replace storage arrays in all market segments. It is likely to further simplify management and increase resource-utilization rates where it does apply.