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Why IaaS Will Power the Next Phase of Hyperconverged Integrated Systems

At the recent Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure & Operations Management Conference in Las Vegas, Gartner presented their expectations for Hyperconverged Integrated Systems (HCIS) over the next decade. The ‘Prepare for the Next Phase of Hyperconvergence’ talk was given by Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst, George Weiss.

According to Weiss, 70% of HCIS deployments will be IaaS-enabled or HCI-aaS. Between 2015 and 2020, Gartner forecasts the HCIS market will grow at a 60.5% compound annual growth rate and is on track to be worth $5 billion by 2019.

Gartner calls HCIS the world’s fastest growing market for integrated IT systems. It predicts hyperconverged systems will become mainstream by the end of the decade, as part of the ‘Third wave of integrated systems’ that emerges in the data center.

Gartner_HCISgrowth

Source: Gartner, Prepare for the Next Phase of Hyperconvergence

Defining HCIS Today and Tomorrow

In essence HCIS, is a simplification of infrastructure that makes it more flexible and easier to manage. It achieves this by converging shared compute and storage resources based on software-defined storage, commodity hardware and a unified management interface on on platform. The real value of hyperconverged systems will be delivered through software and by commoditizing the underlying hardware stack.

Today, Hyperconverged Infrastructure can be in the form of an appliance, reference architecture or as flexible software in terms of the platform it runs on.

Gartner views HCIS as a progression of phases. We are on the cusp of the third phase of integrated systems where IaaS enables a new IT service delivery paradigm. This is where IT and developers are viewed as creators and we experience API-driven technology innovation and where new consumption models emerge.

This third phase will deliver dynamic fabric based infrastructure by offering modular hardware building blocks. Such flexibility will drive continuous application delivery and economic optimization possibilities. The evolving HCIS landscape presents a leadership framework to transform implementations and architectures.

Gartner_HCISevolution

Source: Gartner, Prepare for the Next Phase of Hyperconvergence

Phases of HCIS Development: Past, Present, Future

  • 2013 – 2018: HCIA = Hyperconvergence as an SW-defined appliance
  • 2015 – 2022: HCIS = Hyperconverged systems as reference architectures
  • 2016 – 2025: Hyperconverged service-based infrastructure

If using the cloud is in your future, this shift is particularly important. Only HCI-aaS readily accommodates the 5 Gartner Key Determinants: Simple, Flexible, Selective, Prescriptive and Economic. (Source: “Five Keys to Creating an Effective Hyperconvergence Strategy” )

Gartner_HCIaaSpriority

Source: Gartner, Prepare for the Next Phase of Hyperconvergence

When evaluating different technology vendors to power their cloud offering, companies should scrutinize the HCIS hardware/software blender effect for value plus, value basic and value depletion.

Gartner_HCISvendortypes2

Source: Gartner, Prepare for the Next Phase of Hyperconvergence

Gartner has dispelled a common myth that traditional vendor selection will remain the same. Based on a focus group, loyalty towards traditional vendors is tested by several criteria:

  • Is the vendor increasingly fluent in the new wave of HCIS?
  • Is it seriously willing to disrupt its conventional solutions?
  • Does it have the vision to drive innovation?
  • Can it keep ahead of emerging, agile competitors and increase its savings?

According to Gartner, the commodity pricing of parts and infrastructure will offset any implied risks in choosing an emerging vendor.

Why is Hyperconvergence Booming?

Major trends explain why Hyperconvergence is growing: IT departments are increasingly under pressure to provision resources instantly; applications are becoming more dependent on scale-out systems based on commodity components; software-defined storage provides better efficiency gains and data volume growth is unpredictable and exploding.

As enterprises reshape their view of creating software products and services as a revenue center, they will want to develop an agile development culture and require flexible IT. With the need to build and deploy more than ever, IT needs to be ready to launch new applications quickly and reliably.

Hyperconverged infrastructure has historically been used to deploy general-purpose workloads, virtual desktop infrastructure, analytics and remote office workloads. In some instances companies use it to run mission critical applications, server virtualization, or high-performance storage.

As the market evolves and users become more familiar with the architecture, hyperconverged infrastructure will underpin private or hybrid cloud or agile environments that support rapid software-release cycles.

From Gartner’s findings, the new wave of hyperconvergence will see an evolution from appliance to service paradigms, leading to HCI-aaS.

Hyperconverged infrastructure’s promises simplicity and flexibility. But those terms can be subjective. Gartner’s advice is to determine what those words mean to your business and then see which vendor’s offering resonates the most with you.  

HostingCon Global 2015: why taking a cloud position means big bucks.

 

HosstinCon_Team

We wrapped up an exciting and eventful HostingCon Global 2015 last week in sunny San Diego and wanted to share some key takeaways and impressions from the show. During the three day conference we met many hosting companies, tech vendors and IT pros at our booth, the wholesale cloud panel, and various parties and sessions.

When it comes to wholesale cloud, it’s fascinating to watch potential clients discover a solution like OrionVM, and realize what it truly enables for them in terms of features, time-to-market and revenue upside. At first they can be a little incredulous…”Really? You can’t be 50% less expensive than AWS and actually deliver a higher performing platform?!??” Then there usually is a “light bulb” moment when they understand that OrionVM’s cloud architecture really is different from anything else on the market. Suddenly the excitement of how easily they can deploy premium cloud services and what this means for their business hits them – especially in contrast to traditional approaches that had framed their expectations in the past.

Timing also is a key factor, as many orgs we spoke with already had million dollar investments in OpenStack or VMware deployments still being leveraged for ROI.  The irony is that their commitment to these legacy systems often prevents them from achieving the very benefits they seek e.g. increasing operational agility, ability to layer in new services, and generating enough profit margin vs. the price drops of the IaaS retailers like AWS that they must continually compete against.

“The reason why it is so difficult for existing firms to capitalize on disruptive innovations is that their processes and their business model that make them good at the existing business actually make them bad at competing for the disruption.” – Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School

From MSP to CSP – hosting companies that have traditionally sold hardware know they need to offer cloud, but they often do not see a clear, profitable path to doing this. Wholesale cloud has emerged as the disruptive third option between the complexity/cost of building their own infrastructure, and the thin margins, limited support, and hidden scaling costs of using a public IaaS retailer.

Wholesale Superstructure presentation and panel

hostingcon15_panel
The themes of Cloud 2.0 and the wholesale business model were hot topics during our presentation and panel on Tuesday: Wholesale Superstructure: Evolving Cloud via Tech Innovation. The presentation focused on showing the dynamic relationship between tech innovation, the wholesale business model, and the growing segment of MSPs, SIs and VARs now able to compete against larger players. We explored how building and deploying enterprise-grade cloud is a difficult task – but one that has been radically transformed via technical breakthroughs and the extreme design efficiency of new cloud architecture. Leveraging these advancements, wholesale cloud now allows service providers to 1) quickly launch infrastructure services under their own brand. 2) generate new recurring revenue streams, and 3) concentrate on what they do best to gain a competitive advantage and succeed.

Cumulus Networks and Centered Networks, valued technology partners also joined our panel and both eloquently spoke about the IT trends and issues they were seeing amongst their clients and in the market.  Some of the questions we tackled included:

  • Where are you seeing the most traction?  Who’s driving cloud projects in organizations?
  • What are some of the biggest infrastructure challenges or concerns you have seen from clients or partners?
  • Is Cloud a pure commodity (e.g., race to the bottom) or is it more of a strategic decision?

While there was some debate and differing opinions, one thing that everyone agreed on were the tremendous opportunities new technologies (software-defined datacenter, hyperconverged infrastructure, open networking etc.) have brought to the industry. Stay tuned for more analysis and a deeper exploration of these themes as they are central to our thought leadership and content roadmap.

Discover What’s Possible

The theme of HostingCon was highly relevant, given that “discovering what’s possible” is key to making better informed IT purchasing decisions and choosing the best product/services for your specific requirements. And this, really, is what infrastructure hosting is all about. As discovery is an ongoing process, events like HostingCon are great touch points for staying abreast of the latest advancements and learning how your IT options may have evolved/expanded.

hostingcon15_DP win

In addition to winning a Sony Playstation PS4 (thank you Staminus) and eating way too much pasta in the Gaslight district – we left San Diego with some new friends and serious momentum to drive us as we continue to evangelize wholesale cloud and the new opportunities/profitability it brings to the hosting industry and beyond.

Did we miss you at the show? No worries, drop us a line here and take advantage of our HostingCon special (limited time offer!).

Hyperconvergence & Why It Matters for Enterprise Cloud

Converged-Infrastructure_OVM

“A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.” – John Gall

Hyperconvergence is all the IT rage these days—even Gartner recently created a magic quadrant dedicated to the topic. With weekly announcements about multi-million dollar VC investments and new product releases, this space is still relatively young and pits some of the larger traditional vendors against a cast of emerging startups.

For all the buzz and spin around it, however, hyperconvergence itself is about simplicity—a minimalist approach that addresses many of the current cloud limitations and headaches. For example, a big challenge for today’s high-level IT decisions makers is finding a careful balance between the often competing technical, financial, and strategic priorities of their companies or clients. For most organizations, reducing the amount of time and effort that it takes to deploy new business-facing IT services is a complicated mess, and there are no clear paths for doing this easily, quickly, and affordably from launch to scale. The datacenter architecture is simply too rigid or too complex. Business units have to wait while IT prepares the environment, and then everyone crosses their fingers hoping there is sufficient resources to support demand and critical operations.
Hyperconverged infrastructure has the potential to help effectively address these issues, and in turn reduce or maybe even end the need for IT finger-crossing.

What is Hyperconvergence?

Converged systems are a natural progression from traditional IT infrastructure, which typically involves separate silos of systems and operations. In these legacy environments, storage, servers, and network are discrete elements that need to be coordinated, connected, and managed. The concept of converged systems combines two or more of these infrastructure components as a unified pre-engineered solution usually deployed on commodity hardware.

Hyperconverged systems take this concept of convergence to the next level. While converged systems are separate components engineered to work well together, hyperconverged systems are modular systems designed to scale out by adding additional modules.

Why Does it Matter to Enterprise IT?

“Software licenses for virtualization often cost more than the actual systems, and companies with hyper-scale data centers (e.g., Google and Amazon) don’t pay VMware or Microsoft for virtualization licenses — why should you?”  – Nimbox

One of the most significant advantages of this approach is leveraging a relatively simple design for a complex infrastructure environment. Normally, it could take months to design an infrastructure using a mix of best-in-class technologies. The differences between a hyperconverged system and servers with a bunch of disks are evident in engineering and software, with hyperconverged solutions leveraging improvements at the storage controller software layer to allow these systems to scale out.

In addition to the simplified architecture, there’s also a simplified administration model. The hyperconverged systems are managed via “a single pane of glass.” Instead of having a set of applications and a team to manage your storage array, a team to manage virtualization, and a team to manage the server hardware, one team (or in some environments one person) can manage the complete hyperconverged stack. What all this hardware simplification and architectural consolidation boils down to are immense savings and finally reasonable costs for scaling and growing out your Cloud IT footprint.

Platform or Appliance?

Most common definitions of hyperconvergence focus on appliances. The drawbacks to these appliances include the inability to make granular upgrades or tweaks to the system. Storage growth and performance tuning are also pain points for most organizations. If a cluster runs low on storage but not compute, you must still upgrade overall compute capability by adding another appliance. Likewise, if you want to tune storage disk configuration for a particular application, this can be a challenge, too.

In the past, the remedy for these drawbacks was the “build-your-own platform” approach. For many, the risk, lead-time, and cost of doing so were prohibitive, and most preferred to wait for solutions to mature and cover their platform requirements.

That wait is now over. OrionVM has built a platform that can be branded and deployed as an organization’s own hyperconverged cloud. The white-label functionality of this solution allows an organization to have unlimited levels of resellers and end users, bringing the advantages of simple design, decreased administrative overhead, and simplified vendor management to highly virtualized environments without the common drawbacks associated with appliances.

Simplifying the Datacenter

While the cloud continues to be considered not suitable for everything, the datacenter will continue to play an integral role for many companies. Even those companies that embrace the cloud are unlikely to move everything, so there remains a need to simplify the datacenter, especially when it comes to supporting new initiatives. Building datacenter environments is a lot of work and requires significant planning to ensure capacity. The emerging hyperconverged market can be of great assistance in meeting datacenter integration needs and can scale to fulfill requirements of even the largest of organizations. It also simplifies the datacenter by providing a one-stop shop for the entire environment with a single phone number for support.

With the demand for these solutions expected to rise significantly in the coming years, it seems likely that these organizations will dramatically alter the landscape of cloud providers, redefining how and by whom cloud services are sold. As IT departments are continually being directed more toward the business and less toward the technology, the need and desire to turn to solutions like the cloud and hyperconverged infrastructure will cause CIOs to simplify their datacenter and redistribute workloads in new and agile ways.

OrionVM – Taking Hyperconvergence to the Next Level Since 2010

OrionVM Hyperconverged architecture

Hyperconverged solutions are the future of cloud IT. These systems continue to garner a tremendous amount of momentum in the marketplace. Hyperconvergence is at the heart of what differentiates OrionVM from every other CSP out there, and is the cornerstone of what makes us different. But not all hyperconverged systems are created equal—OrionVM has a custom-built platform that possesses some unique features and, as a result, passes along some significant advantages. OrionVM has built its hyperconverged stack from the kernel up – we use open source tech e.g. Linux and XEN hypervisor, then combine that with supercomputer mojo (e.g., 40 gig low latency Inifniband interconnect as opposed to 10gig Ethernet.)  The end result is a complete homogenous, fully distributed scale-out architecture that delivers efficiencies and COGS reduction (power/hardware) unprecedented and unmatched in terms of cost/performance and combination of features.

The differentiators and advantages inherent in OrionVM’s hyperconverged wholesale cloud platform include:

  • Solves storage issues with a fully distributed block store that integrates compute, memory, and storage into single replicated nodes
  • No CAPEX: hyperconverged infrastructure offered as a platform vs. the high up front cost of buying an appliance
  • Can utilize preexisting assets such as datacenter capacity, network connectivity
  • Complete white label capability
  • Multi-tier reseller org management functionality
  • Wholesale model delivers sustainable cost advantages that increase in savings based on capacity commitments
  • Extreme performance/resiliency – up to 100,000 IO @ 4k in a VM with self-healing fully redundant architecture

For more detailed technical information on OrionVM technology, explore this blog post and keep an eye out for future posts that will expand on other groundbreaking technical advancements of the platform. OrionVM’s hyperconverged tech is market-tested and market-proven, running production workloads for Tier 1 telecoms, publicly traded SaaS orgs, and government agencies since 2010.

Conclusion: The Future of Hyperconvergence—“To Infinity and Beyond!”

Hyperconverged infrastructure will continue to gain market traction, marginalize legacy systems, and underpin the massive migration of IT to the cloud. Some interesting drama lie ahead as big name incumbents battle the upstarts and, in some cases, go head to head with the very vendors they enabled (see Nutanix vs. VMware). With its tech innovation, OrionVM is uniquely positioned to carve out a differentiated role and shake up this industry, as we empower a whole sector of service providers to instantly leverage all the benefits of hyperconverged infrastructure… but with a no-CAPEX IT-as-a-service business model and wholesale pricing.

Stay tuned for more posts, analysis, and exploration on this topic as it is fundamental to so much that is happening in the current cloud ecosystem.  Hyperconvergence is a key factor that finally allows businesses to leverage and benefit from the long-touted promise of the cloud.

For further information on partnering with OrionVM please visit our Channel Partner page, or contact us