Hyperconverged Infrastructure Growing in IT, SMBs Lead the Way

Larger enterprises are steadily expanding their use of HCI.

Todd R. Weiss

March 23, 2019

4 Min Read

More large enterprises have been expanding their use of all-in-one hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) within their IT plans and systems over the last year, as larger companies continue to seek ways to simplify and improve their technology operations.


Evaluator Group’s Eric Slack

And small and medium-sized businesses are on the HCI bandwagon as well, with many of them adopting it over the last five years because they are often more agile when it comes to bringing in new technologies compared to slowly-moving large enterprises, Eric Slack, a senior analyst for Evaluator Group, told Channel Futures.

Both conclusions are among a wide range of patterns seen with HCI across the IT marketplace in 2018, according to a recently-released “Converged and Hyperconverged Infrastructure in the Enterprise 2019” report from Evaluator Group, which includes surveys and interviews with almost 300 IT professionals.

The latest study, which in now in its third year, found that about 79 percent of the enterprises surveyed reported they are expanding their use of HCI, particularly for mission-critical workloads, said Slack.

Companies using converged infrastructure (CI) and those using HCI are increasing their commitments to these technologies today, with the primary driver for CI and HCI projects being consolidation of IT infrastructures and simplification of their environments, the study concluded. The report includes comments from IT professionals from enterprise-level companies where CI or HCI is in use or in production and from companies where the technologies are being evaluated or are expected to be evaluated. Interview respondents represented a range of responsibility levels, from executive to operational administrator, and were distributed across most of the industries surveyed.

What stood out from the first two surveys over the previous two years is that HCI is now much more widely accepted in the business computing marketplace, said Slack.

“We felt it has reached a tipping point in the enterprise,” he said. “That doesn’t mean they are sweeping the floor and replacing systems. Nobody does that anymore.”

But what is happening, he said, is that a year ago large enterprises had more trepidation about HCI and today that attitude has changed.

“Now for the majority of people we talked to, they said ‘yes, we would essentially use this for anything,’ because it is easier to use,” added Slack.

HCI and CI are integrated systems where businesses can buy and deploy the combined resources they need at one time, making it faster to get them into operation. CI is made up of traditional components, including servers, storage and SAN networking which are tested and validated and then sold together in a rack.

HCI is completely different and includes servers with storage built into them, with the whole system tied together with a software-defined storage layer.

The only main similarity between HCI and CI systems is that they both run a hypervisor, said Slack.

One big improvement in the HCI products available to users today is that for the last several years, HCI vendors had been in denial about networking when it came to designing and offering the systems, said Slack.

“They’ve started to address this,” he added. “HPE and Dell EMC now have networking systems available with their systems. Customers say that networking is part of this. It never can be something you have to think about later.”

For channel partners, that’s a significant issue to pay attention to, said Slack. “Channel folks need to be sure they are answering that question for customers. If the systems they are selling don’t have it ,they will have to provide that for them.”

For users, the No. 1 use case HCI with enterprise buyers is IT consolidation by a two-to-one margin, he said.

Also notable in the report is that SMBs and midmarket companies appear to be …

… ahead of larger enterprises when it comes to adopting and using HCI, according to Slack.

“SMBs went ahead with HCI five years ago,” he said. “They’re not as conservative. They may have had a SAN and instead of replacing it they bought HCI. They did and it worked for them. They’ve gone all in already.”

That’s a different strategy than the one usually taken by large enterprises, which typically don’t go all in on anything when it comes to IT changes, said Slack.

When comparing HCI and CI, five out of six survey respondents rated HCI better than CI based on six characteristics, which surprised Slack because the respondents have been long-time users of CI components and are quite familiar with them.

“Every year [of this study] the acceptance has grown,” said Slack. “We’re across the threshold this year.”

Interestingly, in last year’s study respondents said the biggest shortcoming with HCI was handling mission-critical applications, he said. This year the number one answer to the question was “none,” with handling mission-critical applications in second place.

“This is a tool in the tool box now that enterprises are comfortable with,” said Slack. “This technology is not new, this is not on the way up – this technology is reaching its apogee at this point. If any of your readers aren’t selling this then they are probably out of business.”

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About the Author(s)

Todd R. Weiss

Todd R. Weiss is an award-winning technology journalist who covers open source and Linux, cloud service providers, cloud computing, virtualization, containers and microservices, mobile devices, security, enterprise applications, enterprise IT, software development and QA, IoT and more. He has worked previously as a staff writer for Computerworld and eWEEK.com, covering a wide variety of IT beats. He spends his spare time working on a book about an unheralded member of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, watching classic Humphrey Bogart movies and collecting toy taxis from around the world.

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