What is Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI)?

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. 

With HCI, all key data center functions run in a tightly integrated software layer, simplifying the delivery of 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.

What is Hyper-Converged Infrastructure?

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What is Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI)?

What Are the Benefits of HCI Versus Traditional Three-Tier Architecture?


Operational Simplicity

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).


Greater Agility

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.

What is VMware’s Industry-Leading Software for Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI)?

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 VMware vSAN

HCI powered by vSAN consists of:

  • vSphere: industry-leading virtualization platform
  • vSAN: only vSphere-embedded storage for virtual machines and containers
  • vCenter Server: unified and extensible management solution

HCI powered by vSAN gives you the broadest choice of deployment options:

  • Over 500 certified x86 systems, vSAN ReadyNodes, available from 15 server vendors
  • Dell EMC VxRail, a turnkey HCI appliance, jointly engineered for a streamlined deployment experience
  • HCI-as-a-Service from the largest HCI cloud ecosystem including top cloud providers like Amazon and IBM

VMware-Powered Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Provides:

Simple Evolution to Full Stack HCI

  • Native to your hypervisor and leading clouds
  • Use existing virtualization tools
  • Protect and optimize current investments

Broadest Flexibility

  • Certified solutions with your preferred vendor
  • Day one support of latest technologies
  • Unify resources under policy-based management

Multi-Cloud Capabilities

  • Consistent operations from edge to core to cloud
  • Intrinsic security for data-at-rest and in-flight
  • Hundreds of public cloud providers

Customer Stories

iGov uses vSAN to deliver innovative HCI at the edge

iGov uses vSAN to deliver innovative HCI at the edge

“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

Wachter lowers storage costs by 80% with vSAN

Wachter lowers storage costs by 80% with vSAN

“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

Union Hospital Runs Business Critical Applications with HCI powered by vSAN

Union Hospital Runs Business Critical Applications with HCI powered by vSAN

“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

More About HCI

Download Gartner Magic Quadrant Report

VMware debuts as a leader in the 2018 Gartner MQ for HCI

What’s New with vSAN 6.7

Read about the latest innovations

vSAN Architecture 100 Series Videos

Learn how vSAN powers HCI


Take a Technical Deep Dive into vSAN

Join the Conversation

Follow us on Twitter @vmwarevsan and @VxRail, and learn more about HCI and vSAN on the Virtual Blocks blog.