IDC reports that global revenue from converged systems increased 4.6 percent to $2.67 billion in the first quarter of 2017. Researchers indicate that converged systems are a driving force behind data center modernization involving technologies such as flash storage, software-defined infrastructure and private cloud platforms.
IDC breaks converged systems into four segments – integrated infrastructure, certified reference systems, integrated platforms and hyper-converged systems.
- Integrated infrastructure (more widely referred to as converged infrastructure) include server, storage and networking hardware, as well as basic management software. These systems are pre-integrated and certified by the vendor prior to being shipped to the customer.
- Certified reference systems are similar to integrated infrastructure except they use hardware and software from multiple vendors.
- Integrated platforms include additional, pre-integrated software packages, as well as custom engineering that supports specific use cases such as application development, databases, testing and integration.
- Hyper-converged systems provide all infrastructure and functionality in one highly virtualized platform. Unlike other converged systems, hyper-converged systems have a scale-out architecture and deliver compute and storage through the same x86 server resources.
Converged and hyper-converged infrastructure both eliminate the complexity, risk and slow process of building IT infrastructure from the ground up with components from multiple vendors. Converged and hyper-converged systems are pre-configured and pre-tested by the vendor. Deployment can be as simple as plugging into the network and power source.
Hyper-convergence raises the bar by tightly integrating compute, networking, storage, virtualization resources, and other functionality through a software-defined architecture. This makes it possible to use commodity hardware and centrally manage the entire system through a single pane of glass. Software also makes it possible to automate provisioning and increase capacity simply by adding nodes.
Cisco and NetApp recently introduced FlexPod SF, which is designed to support data-intensive, scale-out workloads in next-generation data centers and cloud environments. Although Cisco and NetApp refer to the solution as “software-defined converged infrastructure,” it doesn’t fit perfectly into either the converged or hyper-converged category as defined by IDC.
Built on the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS), FlexPod SF allows you to run hundreds of applications on one platform with predictable performance. With Cisco UCS, which has more than 120 world record benchmarks, organizations can deliver up to 59 percent more business applications to end-users.
Programmable NetApp SolidFire all-flash storage eliminates 93 percent of storage performance issues and accelerates virtual machine deployment by up to five times. The SolidFire software-defined architecture automates provisioning, management and reporting to ensure that technology meets business demand.
FlexPod SF allows you to buy only the resources you need and “scale as you grow,” which reduces both capital and operational expenses – up to 46 percent in infrastructure cost savings. Additional efficiencies are realized through infrastructure consolidation, automation and fast application delivery.
For organizations moving forward with digital transformation initiatives, the new FlexPod SF solution from NetApp and Cisco checks all the boxes. It simplifies management, accelerates deployment, supports new business applications, delivers reliable, predictable performance, and offers seamless scalability – all while maximizing cost-efficiency.