Hyper converged infrastructure (HCI) is scale-out, software-defined infrastructure that converges core data services on flash-accelerated, industry-standard servers, delivering flexible and powerful building blocks under unified management. All key data center functions run in a tightly integrated software layer—delivering services that previously required purpose-built hardware.
HCI consists of three software components: compute virtualization, storage virtualization and management. The virtualization software abstracts and pools the underlying resources and dynamically allocates them to applications running in virtual machines or containers. Users enjoy a sleek new operational model where they manage the compute, storage and networking from a single tool. Advanced management features further reduce manual tasks or help automate entire operations.
Before HCI, IT leaders needed to procure compute resources (servers) and storage resources (external storage arrays) separately. Each component required siloed operational expertise, and management utilized highly manual processes. HCI reduces operational costs with a tightly integrated hardware and software solution that eliminates the complexities associated with fiber channel networks, purpose-built storage, and complex LUN planning. A single, converged IT team can now monitor and manage the compute and storage resources in less time, freeing personnel to focus on other strategic priorities.
Today, businesses purchase storage arrays with up to five years' worth of capacity. In addition, external storage arrays require expensive, purpose-built networking for peak performance. HCI allows businesses to lower their CAPEX by using a scale up / scale out architecture with industry-standard x86 servers. IT can buy the compute and storage they need for a short period of time and add capacity as needed, either by adding nodes to a cluster (scale out) or storage drives to existing nodes (scale up).
HCI delivers day 0 support for the latest technologies, providing the agility to increase application performance, from business-critical applications to VDI, without a major infrastructure change. Because of the flash-accelerated capabilities of HCI, virtual desktop interface (VDI) and cloud native applications are common workloads due to their need for high-throughput, low latency storage that scales out. Business-critical applications, such as relational databases, have become the primary HCI use case.
As a building block to the VMware Digital Foundation, VMware vSAN is the only vSphere-native software for hyper-converged infrastructure. vSAN helps customers seamlessly evolve to a modern data center with a consistent operating experience and all-flash performance—capabilities that have made it the #1 HCI software choice for both on-premises deployments and public cloud providers.
HCI powered by vSAN consists of:
HCI powered by vSAN gives you the broadest choice of deployment options:
“We almost fell out of our chairs when we saw the performance from this tiny little server running vSAN. It was staggering. The numbers we got were just unbelievable.” – Tom Lynott, Software Engineering Manager
“Most of the traditional SAN options would have given us 15 to 20 terabytes at a cost of somewhere between $5 and $7 a gigabyte. With the new Cisco servers and vSAN we got cost savings at the rate of 1/5th of the traditional SAN, with 45 terabytes that cost less than $1.50 a gigabyte. It was a massive difference.” – Carl Shriver, IT Operations
“We actually had clinics calling us up to say how much faster the apps were running once they were in a pure vSAN environment. ... It seems like the more things we migrate to vSAN, the more people are begging to be on it.” – Chad Elliot, Network Systems Consultant