What is Hyperconverged Infrastructure?

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is a software-defined, unified system that combines all the elements of a traditional data center: storage, compute, networking, and management. This integrated solution uses software and x86 servers to replace expensive, purpose-built hardware. With hyperconverged infrastructure, you’ll decrease data center complexity and increase scalability. 

Traditional three-tier architecture is expensive to build, complex to operate, and difficult to scale. Don't wait on the IT infrastructure that can support your modern application demands. Adopt HCI without losing control, increasing costs, or compromising security.

Hyperconverged Infrastructure Explained 

Introduction to HCI

Learn more about hyperconverged infrastructure, the benefits of making the switch, and how to get started.

Watch the Video (2:22) 

Three Reasons to Adopt HCI

What is hyperconvergence? Discover what’s involved and why organizations across industries are consolidating to help reduce complexity, cost and risk.

Read the eBook 

 

 

Hyperconverged Infrastructure Infographic

How Does Hyperconverged Infrastructure Work?

Four tightly integrated software components make up a hyperconverged platform: 

  • Storage virtualization
  • Compute virtualization
  • Networking virtualization
  • Advanced management capabilities including automation 

The virtualization software abstracts and pools underlying resources, then dynamically allocates them to applications running in VMs or containers. Configuration is based on policies aligned with the applications, eliminating the need for complicated constructs like LUNs and volumes.

 

What Can You Do with HCI?

  • Build a private cloud: Deploy cloud-like infrastructure on-premises with lower costs, more control, and improved security. Choose from multiple hardware possibilities from our certified partners.
  • Extend to public cloud: Choose an as-a-service option from the largest HCI cloud ecosystem for faster speed of deployment and less time spent managing infrastructure.
  • Achieve true hybrid cloud: Manage a mix of VM- and container-based applications, deployed across a mix of data center, public cloud and edge environments with VMware hybrid cloud.

Explore HCI Deployment Options >>

Advantages of Hyperconvergence vs. Traditional, Three-Tier Architecture

HCI transforms the traditional IT operational model with simple, unified management of resources. This results in:

HCI Makes Operations Simpler

Increased IT Efficiency

Eliminate manual processes and the need for siloed operational expertise on your team. Now, a single, converged IT team can monitor and manage resources and improve storage capabilities. Plus, with HCI, IT resources are presented as pools of storage that can be dynamically allocated to deliver the right amount of capacity, performance, and protection.

Lower Costs with HCI

Better Storage, Lower Cost

Reduce your CAPEX by using a scale-up/scale-out architecture that requires only industry-standard x86 servers, not expensive, purpose-built networking. Then simply add capacity as needed with no disruptions. With HCI, you avoid vendor lock-in and eliminate overprovisioning, meaning greatly reduced infrastructure spending across your data center.

Greater Agility with HCI

Greater Ability to Scale

Be more responsive to rapidly changing business needs. Set up hardware in a few hours; spin up workloads in minutes. Accelerate the performance of business-critical applications like relational databases. HCI scales better than traditional infrastructure. It enables a future-proof IT environment that allows you to scale up and scale out to easily meet specific application needs.

What Impact Can HCI Have on Your Organization?

Hear more about the key benefits of HCI compared to more traditional architectures. VMware’s Lee Caswell and IDC’s Eric Burgener discuss how to enable ease of management, deployment, scaling, and more.

Watch the Full Interview (20:28)

FAQ

Find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about hyperconverged infrastructure.

How does an HCI solution make IT teams more efficient?

Eliminating traditional IT silos and managing everything from a single tool means lower OPEX and CAPEX for your IT infrastructure. And with HCI, you don’t have to sacrifice security, flexibility or scalability. But some solutions make capitalizing on HCI efficiency easier than others. Learn why VMware has the most HCI customers in production worldwide in this infographic.

How will HCI integrate with my existing environment?

The components of hyperconverged infrastructure can be implemented separately and one at a time, depending on existing architecture and your IT needs. To deliver on its potential, an HCI solution shouldn’t be tied to a specific hardware platform. VMware HCI allows you the freedom to choose your preferred platform, fully integrate with your existing infrastructure, and protect and optimize existing investments.

Can an HCI solution efficiently and cost-effectively grow when, where and how I need it?

Data center scaling and evolving can be a costly, complicated process. Luckily, a key benefit of HCI is its ability to scale and change as needed. VMware HCI in particular is designed for simplicity and scalability for rapidly changing business needs. Only VMware has the complete set of offerings for a fully software-defined data center in production today.

What is the difference between hyperconverged and converged infrastructure?

Hyperconverged and converged IT infrastructures both integrate the four components of a data center: storage, compute, networking and management. While hyperconverged systems accomplish this through software, making it hardware-agnostic, converged solutions rely on hardware. A converged infrastructure data center uses many of the same products as traditional IT, just with a simplified architecture and easier management.

What applications do companies run on hyperconverged infrastructure?

Companies are using hyperconverged infrastructure to run most types of business-critical, or tier-one, applications thanks to its high availability. Other common workloads that run on hyperconverged systems include database software like Oracle,  virtual desktop infrastructure, collaboration applications, analytics, remote management, and testing environments.

Can I manage my current SAN through HCI?

VMware HCI allows you to integrate your existing storage within the hyperconverged infrastructure solution. vSAN is VMware’s software-defined storage solution for hyperconverged infrastructure. vSAN is natively integrated with VMware vSphere, which manages compute resources, including storage. This means you can access and use traditional datastores along with hyperconverged storage—all in the same cluster.

For more information, read the Solution Overview.

What is a hyperconverged infrastructure appliance?

A hyperconverged infrastructure appliance combines all the data center components—storage, compute, networking and management—within a single, pre-configured hardware box. Deploying HCI with an appliance reduces operational costs and simplifies set-up and maintenance. You don’t have to worry about building the architecture or configuring and managing the underlying infrastructure. Dell EMC VxRail is a turnkey HCI appliance jointly engineered by VMware and Dell.

When should I use hyperconverged infrastructure?

Common uses of hyperconverged infrastructure include:

  •  Virtual desktop infrastructure: HCI streamlines and simplifies VDI, which has the potential for lots of IT complexity and storage needs. HCI combines everything that’s needed for VDI into one package, and provides just enough storage needed, remaining cost-efficient.
 
  •  Edge computing: HCI makes it easy to design and build small edge or branch environments without a lot of on-site IT staff, and to scale up quickly as needed.
 
  • General workload consolidation and file storage: HCI makes sizing and migrating workloads simpler. These workloads can include infrastructure (DNS, DHCP, Active Directory, print servers), database servers, application servers and file servers. 
 
  • Testing and development: HCI gives developers a cost-effective testing environment that runs similarly to production but without a lot of investment needed.
 
  • Enabling a hybrid cloud environment: HCI can reduce the time and cost involved with transitioning to a hybrid cloud and when moving virtual machines between on-premises servers and private or public clouds.

Benefits of VMware Hyperconverged Infrastructure

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Broadest Flexibility

Ensure a common operating environment across hybrid cloud with vSphere, the industry-leading virtualization platform.

  • Get certified solutions with your preferred vendor
  • Use existing virtualization tools
  • Ensure consistent operations from edge to core to cloud

 

Vsan-icon

Simple Evolution to Full Stack HCI

Transform your environment smoothly with vSAN, the only vSphere-embedded, flash-optimized storage for virtual machines and containers.

  • Stay native to your hypervisor and leading clouds
  • Protect and optimize current investments
  • Reduce TCO by as much as 50%
  •  

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Intrinsic Security

Gain a complete L2–L7 networking and security and virtualization platform with NSX Data Center.

  • Ensure intrinsic security, with data protection at rest and in flight
  • Bring one-click provisioning to your networking and security services
  • Defend against lateral threats across multi-cloud environments
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Multi-Cloud Capabilities

Get a modern platform for infrastructure automation, consistent operations, and governance with vRealize Suite, the leading cloud system management software.

  • Access infrastructure and application resources easily, on any cloud
  • Unify resources under policy-based management
  • Choose from hundreds of public cloud providers

 

Hyperconverged Infrastructure Solutions for Business Continuity

Enable remote working with an agile IT platform that scales both on premises and to the public cloud and simplifies disaster recovery

Read Solution Overview

vSAN is the Leading Software for HCI

Seamlessly evolve to a modern data center with VMware, the #1 choice for hyperconverged infrastructure. VMware vSAN is the only vSphere-native storage software for private and public cloud deployments. Ensure a consistent operating experience plus all-flash performance and unlock a key building block of a complete digital foundation.


See why VMware is once again positioned as a Leader in the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Hyperconverged Infrastructure.

Download the Report >>

Customer Success with VMware Hyperconverged Infrastructure

HCI is well suited to a wide range of use cases, from business‐critical applications (BCAs) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to disaster recovery and more. See how VMware-powered HCI delivers simplicity, cost savings and scalability for our customers.

Anytime, Anywhere Deployment for Cubic

“We’re using vSAN for hyperconverged infrastructure because of its reliability; it’s stable and lives depend on it. VMware systems are designed to just keep running…it’s an unstoppable system.”

– Tom Lynott, Director of Software Architecture


Watch the Video (2:22) 

Harro Höfliger Achieves Greater Agility with Hyperconverged Infrastructure

“Overall, we’re extremely satisfied with the performance, high availability, manageability and scalability of our new hyper- converged infrastructure, thanks to the Fujitsu Integrated System PRIMEFLEX for VMware vSAN.”

- Karsten Ehrlich, Division Leader of IT, Harro Höfliger


Read the Case Study 

Angel MedFlight Saves Patients’ Lives at 40,000 Feet

“Without VMware, I don't think that we would have the up time or the reliability to be able to perform what we do at 40,000 feet on a global scale and do what we do best, save patient lives.”

- Paul Green, CIO, Angel MedFlight


Watch the Video (2:37) 

Get Started with Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Request Your Free HCI Assessment

Ready to get started on the simplest path toward hyperconverged infrastructure and hybrid cloud? Start by evaluating the readiness of your current environment for HCI with a free, online assessment.

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VMware HCI Assessment

More About Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Moving from Traditional Architecture to Hyperconverged Infrastructure  

Check out the infographic to see why more organizations are making the switch to address today’s IT challenges.

vSAN is the Leading Software for HCI  

Learn more about the only vSphere-native, flash-optimized storage for private and public cloud deployments.

Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Dummies  

Understand what HCI is all about, how you can get started, and where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck in this Dummies guide.

HCI Deployment Options  

Find out which factors to consider when deploying hyperconverged infrastructure, explore the countless options, and then choose the one that’s right for you.

Join the Conversation

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