Converged Infrastructure: More than some Stapler?

|October 13, 2015 0
Bundling everything together sounds so great. Unless. Well, what about loose ends?

Pratima H

MUMBAI, INDIA: It is really a tempting idea. Very tempting to be precise. In one stroke one can chop away chaos, confusion, overlaps, latency, rigidity, redundancy, costs, fuzzy visibility and what not.

Converged infrastructure as a concept is not entering the IT swag-row for nothing. Come on, it is flexible, it is seamless, it is visibility-friendly and one-stop-answer for the many underlying elements of storage, networking, server hardware etc in the IT backyard.

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In fact, numbers seem to be corroborating the interest that they are whipping up. IDC has noted in a study recently that enterprises adopting converged infrastructures are reading 36 percent decrease in operating costs (on average); 96 per cent slide in IT downtime, accelerated application deployments and it appears that IT departments could spend $14.3 billion on converged infrastructure by 2018.

Well, at the same time, there is talk about how these extreme efficiencies delivered by converged infrastructure come at a cost, and issues around capital or increased training cannot be ignored out-rightly. In the parallel world, the global hyper-converged systems market jumped 162 per cent in 2014 and was slated to reach $807 million as per IDC. Integrated infrastructure, on the other hand, heats up for a global sales in Q1 2015 of $2.1billion, a pick of 8.3 per cent year on year, according to IDC.

Converged solutions can be awesome but what is the fine-print and the text on the margins there?

We have Sunil Chavan, Senior Director, Solution Sales, Asia Pacific, HitachiData Systems elaborating on the many ifs and buts marking this hot space.

Software-defined, converged, hyper-converged; is IT infrastructure donning new terminologies or new choices?

Every one in the industry has started at a different point and is blending slowly. Everything depends on what specifications, workload mix is to be addressed. Customers have different requirements and workloads so it is about fine-tuning offerings. Hitachi has converged infrastructure-aware processes and we are exploring various areas like EVO:RAIL, Dockers etc

Why would you call it a hot and relevant market? What has been the equation with Cloud’s ascent here – cause or effect?

It’s been three to four years now that converged infrastructure is a mature space. As Cloud came in, it has given rise to the pick-up even more. We are now in the next phase of the market. While many other vendors have a play here, what Hitachi brings here is the approach for launching application packages with an end-to-end support. We have fine-tuned our solutions around different areas like VMWare, Microsoft, SAP’s HANA, Kubernetes etc. In India, the space is growing by leaps and bounds specially in pockets like Telco, ITeS and Hitachi’s market-share has only expanded in last three years.

Is it a rope-walk? Balancing the standardized approach which is quintessential for bundling everything together and ensuring a push-button IT but without shrugging some bespoke IT needs?

CIOs are struggling with many challenges and they have seen a big shift. Today it is no more about IT but business needs. IT has to support business and what a CIO essentially asks is – this is my business needs from me, how can I deliver this? In Asia, the discussion is not about the IT components but about transformation. We simply want to help companies go where they go.

How is the trend towards commodity hardware impacting this space?

We cover a good range of products. They include smaller appliances as well. We can use different commodity solutions with a software layer. We support the idea of commodity hardware and our offerings have one goal – to support the customer strongly. Hitachi launched its Software defined infrastructure strategy earlier this year. Some of our solutions work with any industry standard server and storage. HDS industry leader product, Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) is sold as an appliance or just as a software. Customers have choice to buy the appliance with server and storage from HDS. They can buy HCP software and run it on any commodity storage.

What, if any, can be the flip side of converged infrastructure? Any lessons as you have explored the market?

On a general level, when it comes to the way all players are approaching this market I can say that one has to choose between being holistic and giving packages. Hitachi subscribes to the approach of giving a very focused solution.

Does converged IT finally allow the one-throat-to-choke advantage for buyers?

Yes, in a way. We have become a partner and not a vendor. We are inclined to be partners and consultants and we relish the part that most enterprises like that Hitachi really understands their problems and works in the background to make everything smooth.

You mentioned exploring Dockers etc. Can you elaborate?

Once every five years, the IT industry witnesses a major technology shift. In the past two decades, we have seen server paradigm evolve into web-based architecture that matured to service orientation before finally moving to the cloud. Today it is Containers. Google also works with Containers to run their cloud services (two billions containers per week). That’s a lot of containers to manage. Popular Google services such as Gmail, Search, Apps and Maps run inside containers. Kubernetes works in conjunction with Docker, one of the leading companies which made Containers popular. While Docker provides the lifecycle management of containers, Kubernetes takes it to the next level by providing orchestration and managing clusters of containers. This is new to the industry and HDS is educating our customers on the advantages the solution brings.

How?

We are used to Virtual Machine based cloud infrastructure. There are lot of hybrid cloud implementation both of HyperV and VMWare by HDS customers. Currently, Kubernetes is supported on Google Compute Engine, Rackspace, Microsoft Azure and vSphere environments. Red Hat and Pivotal are working towards integrating Docker and Kubernetes with Cloud Foundry and OpenShift PaaS. With this we expect Kubernetes to take shape in Cloud industry. With Google as strong platform, these are better days for Cloud providers with Kubernetes and Container as the new approach (Architecture) to manage IAAS and PAAS. HDS UCP is certified with Kubernetes.

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