Converging On the Hyper-converged Infrastructure

Storage, Virtualization

The world is converging these days.


On tour with Nutanix at their .NEXT events, I just spent the past few weeks hopping from one city to another, and I got myself a serious case of travel vertigo. Whether I was in Beijing, or Tokyo, or Vegas, I kept hearing the word ‘hyper-converged’ being bandied about by many people. Eyes lit up when the word was uttered, as if their owner was holding a ticket to the promised land.






Most of these people chatting up the notion of hyperconverged infrastructure were seasoned IT professionals who have seen many technologies. When they are so zealous about something, you know that it must be something that resonates very strongly. If you ask an IT pro what ‘hyper-converged’ means to them, they probably will give you a hundred different perspectives, ranging from “easy” to “replacing my storage array” to simply “amazing!”


Understand, the typical IT professional has long been plagued by thousand-page user manuals of big storage systems, hundreds of hours of installation, laborious integration of applications with storage, and calls from their managers pointedly questioning that big dent in the budget… As you listen, you start to realize they are so excited because this ‘hyper-converged’ thing is a technology that has truly changed their world.


The journey to the ‘hyper-converged’ world starts when the POC box arrives onsite – a 2U Nutanix appliance containing three or four nodes. Adding a couple of Mellanox half-width 10/40Gb Ethernet top-of-rack switches, most small or medium-sized business can consolidate all their existing databases and applications into this 3U combo. In a few hours, everything is up and running: installation consists of a few mouse clicks, and the same is true for provisioning virtual machines and managing your entire enterprise cloud.


2In a nutshell, with the Nutanix and Mellanox combo, compute, storage, network and virtualization are all converged into this invisible infrastructure, thereby allowing the end customer to focus on growing his business. The hardware is not literally invisible, though it’s so much smaller than what it replaced that it might be hard to find in the rack. Invisible infrastructure actually means the end customer no longer has to manage separate server clusters for compute and storage. With Mellanox invisible networking, the customer also doesn’t need to be a networking expert to deploy, configure and manage the network for their hyper-converged infrastructure.


As the business grows, this infrastructure is also seamless to scale. The customer can add as much as he needs, when he needs it. The days that he had to pay big money upfront for a monolithic tower are gone forever.


No wonder that there is so much buzz about “hyper-converged”.


Mike Dent, a datacenter architect in South Carolina, wrote in his recent blog: “To say we were successful is an understatement!”


Simplicity and ease-of-use are what people first experience. At the end of the day, what most profoundly impacts to the business bottom line is the efficiency – efficiency in CAPEX savings, and efficiency in OPEX reduction.


3What’s even better is the hyper-converged infrastructure protects the customer’s investment. New building blocks can be added to work with existing ones. Since the Mellanox networking solution is already 40GbE ready, the customer doesn’t even need to replace the switches when they need higher network speed in the future (for example, when using all-flash storage or running high performance applications). All they need to do is to replace the cables, and configure the new network speed with a few mouse clicks.


These were most revealing conversations I had with customers at these Nutanix .NEXT On Tour events. People flocked to learn more about the latest buzzword, and they left embracing the hyper-converged world. We had some futurists talking to us about when 25GbE becomes the mainstream, but for most customers, they immediately started formulating a POC plan and asked about how the cables match and how soon they would receive the POC unit.


As we continue this amazing tour, we just learned that our partner, Nutanix, just had a successful IPO on NASDAQ. Another vindication to the hyper-converged world, and we congratulate Nutanix for developing a solution that has addressed the needs of enterprise customers, large and small. As the partnership continues to grow, we will continue our journey to best serve the needs of modern enterprises.


Continue following us on the: Nutanix On Tour, and follow us on Twitter: @MellanoxTech and @Nutanix.



About Jeff Shao

Jeff Shao is Director, Ethernet Alliances at Mellanox Technologies. Prior to Mellanox, he held senior product management and marketing roles at LSI (Avago), as well as Micrel, Vitesse Semiconductor & Promise Technology. He holds a MBA from University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelor of Science in Physics from University of Science & Technology of China.

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