Converged Infrastructure and Smartphone: Is there a difference?
Converged Infrastructure is mostly positioned as the solution of choice for ROBO (Remote Office and Branch Office), but it is also a good fit for a fully consolidated datacentre. Many small and medium sized organizations view converged infrastructure as a way to streamline and gain control back over their infrastructure, after years of “chaotic growth”.
I’d like to compare Converged Infrastructures to smartphones. The reason why enterprises move to converged systems is very similar to why people started buying smartphones a few years ago.
Today, most of us only have one device in our pocket or bag. However, it hasn’t been long when we were still carrying two or three devices: a (non-smart) mobile phone, a digital assistant and a camera. As a matter of fact, I can recall carrying a Nokia phone, a Palm Pilot and a small compact Cannon camera to every show I’ve visited.
This time is long gone. Now, we have the features of all three devices packed in only one device– our smartphone. Just as we stopped buying multiple devices, small businesses also stop buying disparate servers, networks and storage but are embracing converged systems. Why? They are easier to purchase, implement and own.
A good example of a small organization embracing this approach is SWITCH, a swiss organization in the educational market. SWITCH successfully implemented a comprehensive convergent IT solution using Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, and Red Hat Satellite with a pre-configured FlexPod solution, consisting of Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) servers and switches as well as NetApp storage components.
Versatile (any application)
Usually, when you buy a smartphone, you do not buy it for only six months or one year, but for two to three years. Your needs regarding apps are evolving during this time and that is why Android and iOS are the two OS of choice. With either one OS, you know that you’ll be able to run any app on it – the investment is future-proof.
Small and medium businesses have the same approach to infrastructure. Their requirements are changing and evolving and the system they invest in, needs to accommodate changes to strategy and business requirements. With a converged infrastructure like FlexPod, they can run any hypervisor and any application on it. Most of the customers I have spoken to need this flexibility, as they are moving slowly to a fully virtualized datacentre, but still need to run some workloads on bare metal.
The Kiel University of Applied Sciences invested in FlexPod for exactly this reason.
Easy to use
Smartphones do not need a lot of management. The settings are easy and apps are downloadable from the respective stores. That’s it.
This is exactly what customers, whom I spoke to, expect from their infrastructure. After an automated deployment, they want to be able to manage the full stack with a single-pane management provided by the vendor of the system. The 2nd option, perhaps the even more appealing one, is an integration is a management console that the administrators already know like VMware vCenter or Microsoft SystemCenter. Small companies have spare resources and do not always have experts for networking and storage. Therefore, this integration is saving a lot of time and resources.
The integration in vCenter is one of the reasons why Koch Automobile (German Case Study) has chosen FlexPod. Through vCenter, they can manage and monitor not just the VMs, but the servers, network and storage system with one single tool.
A converged Infrastructure is certainly not as simple to setup and use as an iPhone, but the ultimate goal is to have a one-touch installation, swipe your apps on the system and go to the next project.