Hyperconvergence Cuts IT Costs and Inefficiencies

HCI is well-positioned to streamline operations and reduce costs.

Cost savings have long been a concern for the federal government agencies, and it’s a principal goal of data center consolidation. A 2015 IDC report, several years after the Obama Administration launched the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI), found most federal operational IT dollars were still going to maintain large, older data centers.

As agencies become more familiar with the benefits of hyperconverged infrastructures (HCI), the more they are realizing the potential it has to help them control and reduce costs, and improve data center efficiencies. Overall, two-thirds of federal IT budgets are still spent on routine maintenance of legacy infrastructure. That places tremendous pressure on agency IT resources, with most personnel support devoted to inefficient applications ill-suited for modern requirements such as cloud deployment. Consequently, there’s little staff time available to respond to new service requests or support developing more innovative applications and services.

Not only is that increase in IT infrastructure complexity and overhead unsustainable, even in the short term, but increasingly runs against the business trends agencies are adopting to better meet mission needs. Faster development and deployment of new applications and services has become a core concern, for example, and that’s something traditional data center infrastructure simply can’t support. HCI helps with these concerns in several ways:

  • Even with a converged infrastructure, there have to be changes made to compute, networking, and storage elements to meet different workload demands. This can take time. HCI is software-defined, which means there are no extra components required. Infrastructure elements can be configured almost instantly to fit workload needs such as agile software development.
  • There are no ongoing maintenance fees for ancillary appliances and services, as there would be for separate compute, storage, and networking stacks.
  • The reduced hardware needed with HCI cuts down substantially on the power and cooling costs associated with legacy data centers.
  • HCI is managed through a single console by one person, cutting out the myriad professionals needed to administer separate infrastructure stacks.
  • Training costs are reduced because there’s no longer a need to manage so many different platforms. The number of IT personnel can be cut, or redirected to other more valuable work.

Converged infrastructure, a step before HCI, also helps with data center costs and efficiencies by integrating the compute, storage, and networking components in a single solution; typically using pre-configured hardware. For example, each of those components can be infinitely expanded by adding more compute blades to a server cluster or additional shelves or controllers to storage.

HCI doesn’t provide that level of physical expansion since, by design, all infrastructure components are included as a shared resource. That means agencies can’t add extra physical resources to an HCI box. To get more capacity you have to add another HCI node. However, agencies can allocate those fixed HCI resources using software, as each workload requires them. It’s a much faster and usually less expensive process than with converged infrastructure.

HCI will not fit every agency need. Depending on mission requirements, there will still be a demand for more traditional converged infrastructure, where the compute, storage, and networking elements can be scaled independently. Considering the squeeze on agency budgets though, and on the various IT operational and governance dynamics, increasingly makes HCI a good fit for modern data center workloads.