Hyper-Converged Systems: Trend or Fad?
In a bid to cut costs and streamline maintenance, many companies are turning to single-vendor IT systems as opposed to a “best of breed” solution. Experts are divided over this strategy, however, with some even blaming the rise of hyper-convergence for job losses.
IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and many other IT vendors offer their own hyper-converged systems, providing network, computing, and data storage services at a single rate. The logic behind this packaging of services, referred to as a hyper-converged system, is that it will make the tasks of IT maintenance simpler and more accountable.
However, simple doesn’t always mean best. By committing to one vendor over any other, your company risks a huge loss in flexibility and market overview. For many industries and business models, these losses aren’t worth the added ease of use. To help you decide if hyper-converged systems are a trend or a fad, here are the pros and cons associated with reliance on a single vendor.
When trying to convince clients to turn to them for all their disparate IT needs, vendors tend to point to the same values: simplicity and problem management. A recent Telogis blog argues that by using products specifically designed to work together, you minimize the risk of compatibility problems. Staff training is also made easier, as hyper-converged products use similar interfaces.
Additionally, the single vendor has to take on full responsibility for any problems within the IT infrastructure, and will often offer new products to you that don’t require the same kind of preflight checks that come with the alternatives.
From a client’s point of view, being free from the software incompatibility issues and onboarding headaches is a tempting prospect. Instead of having to spend time trying to find the best individual vendors for each required system part, the single vendor will provide everything you need.
As with all simple solutions, though, there are drawbacks. Companies like Cisco have been attacked in the past for making claims based on no clear evidence. One Gartner report argued, “it is clear that in most cases today there is no financial, operational, or functional basis for [Cisco’s single vendor] arguments.”
The main issue is that in taking the simpler route towards good IT infrastructure, you lose a degree of control over that infrastructure. TechTarget highlights a particular disadvantage: with a hyper-converged system, your company can find itself stuck with specific technology that may lose its relevance in the future, or be unable to adapt to a new OS or protocol. In short, your company becomes powerless to the whim of a single vendor.
That risk of absolute power is also the reason that hyper-converged systems have been blamed for job losses. Critics argue that going with a single vendor means that you don’t need much of a team to oversee the connections and interplay between various systems and environments. Whether this is true or not is debatable, with vendors pointing out that IT operations could focus on more important jobs instead.
The main alternative to the hyper-converged system is a best-of-breed solution, where a company seeks the vendors who are best at each individual IT task — for instance, turning to HP for data storage and Cisco for network services This allows your company a much larger degree of control than with a single vendor and increased adaptability for the future.
Best-of-breed is also flexible enough that you can tailor your system around the needs of your company. You can choose to use IBM for data storage, even though you know IBM lacks the network expertise you know you could get elsewhere. Under an IBM hyper-converged system, you would have to use IBM for both storage and network, while with best-of-breed, you can pick and choose what you need the most.
A hyper-converged system suits companies for which simplicity and ease-of-use is key. Sometimes, time constraints can mean that going to a single vendor seems absolutely necessary, but whether they really save your company money is up for debate.
Either way, you will need great capacity and performance management to augment your IT infrastructure and gain the most from your selection of vendor(s). TeamQuest software can manage and optimize any number of vendor systems for all your needs, regardless of how many vendors, types of environment, or servers you need to manage.