Why Schools Should Move to a Hyper-converged Infrastructure

It’s no secret that the legacy IT infrastructure is at risk of failure, threatened by the growing demands of future enterprise applications and the nature of modern business. Having separate storage networks and servers results in the creation of silos which prove to be a barrier to the evolution of the infrastructure and add complexity to every single step from deployment to management. So what’s in the store for most modern businesses in the coming times? It’s Hyper-converged Infrastructure. Read on to learn more about this topic and understand why schools need to move to a Hyper-converged Infrastructure.

Evolution of the IT Infrastructure Until the early 2000s, physical infrastructure, which comprised of a traditional data center, was the norm. Between 2003 and 2010, companies started the adoption of virtualized data centers as the virtualization revolution made it easy to pool together the resources of the network, computing, and storage from multiple siloed data centers to form a central, more reliable and flexible resource which could be reallocated based on the requirements. By 2011, close to 72% of organizations claimed at least 25% of their data centers were virtual. Then came the age of SAN and use of fiber channels, and IT infrastructure seemed to evolve rapidly. Fast forward to today, one of the significant challenges in IT today is that organizations tend to spend 70 to 80 percent of their total budget on operations alone, which includes optimization and maintenance of the infrastructure. Server virtualization did offer the benefit of improved utilization of computing resources but had a negative impact on the networking and storage components. So, for IT, though server virtualization wasn’t the definitive answer, it was a step closer to the ultimate solution – hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI).  It makes sense for organizations to move to environments that are relatively easy to manage and require much lesser resources to maintain.

So, there are mainly two options available: Make the environment simplified by using a hyper-converged infrastructure, or outsource all (or part) of the Infra to some third-party cloud provider which can be a very costly affair (more on this later). What Are the Main Benefits of Using Hyper-converged Infrastructure?

 

 

1. Simplified Datacenter Operations: By using hyper-converged infrastructure, it becomes possible to streamline the deployment, management and consequent scaling of the data center resources by merging x86-based server and storage resources along with an intelligent software solution. Instead of using separate servers, storage arrays and storage networks, we can go with a hyper-converged infrastructure solution and create an agile datacenter which can scale as your needs grow.

2.Ability to Extend to the Public Cloud: Both HCI and the public cloud leverage flash-enabled servers along with a software abstraction layer which is hardware-agnostic. As a result of having a standard hardware building block and an architectural affinity, it becomes possible to extend the common storage control planes of HCI to the public cloud

3.Cost Savings: An efficient HCI design results in as much as 40 to 60 percent savings on costs by eliminating the need for separate storage networking hardware and proprietary storage. This significant economic benefit will drive the adoption of HCI in scenarios where cost savings are required. Furthermore, HCI reduces operational costs by up to 50 percent by consolidating the storage and virtual computing management into one management console. In the case of HCI, there’s no need to have independent storage administrators as storage is just an attribute of a virtual machine.

 

Case Study: American School of Doha

This example will help you understand the nature of benefits that HCI offers. While I was the Sytems and Network Admin there, I proposed, researched and helped implement the Hyper-Converged Nutanix Infrastructure. Here are some of the challenges that I was trying to solve

  • Management overheads
  • A high amount of time required for maintenance
  • Significant licensing costs
  • Limited physical space
  • The need for a separate SAN and Virtualization specialist.

We had to make a tough call between Cisco Hyper-Converged Infra and the Nutanix Hyper-Converged Infra, in the end, we were convinced that Nutanix was the way to go. They were the pioneers and the ability to use the inbuilt Nutanix Hypervisor and not having to manage a separate layer of hypervisor like Vmware or Citrix on top of the HCI was a huge benefit for us in terms of licensing and time spent.

Considering downsides that come with the infrastructure that relies on traditional SAN’s and Blade Servers, it made complete sense to switch to the Nutanix Hyper-Converged Infrastructure in this case. The transition resulted in significant cost savings plus other hosts of benefits that I’ve shared above. The need to improve efficiency Not only will it be easy to deploy, manage and scale an HCI, but it will also be far more efficient as compared to a traditional virtualization solution that your school might be currently using. This means lesser overheads and better performance. This point alone makes it a no-brainer to go for HCI than a SAN solution. Ask yourself, What would you want your school’s tech department to focus on: helping teachers and students in teaching and learning OR managing the infrastructure? The answer is simple: helping teachers and students! It just makes sense for your tech staff to focus on the more critical aspects like this rather than solving technical redundancies. It’s all about priorities and what matters to you the most, so pick your options wisely!

Conclusion:  By relying on HCI solutions such as Nutanix. It becomes less time-consuming to maintain the server infrastructure. As a result, it frees up the time of your tech staff to focus more on helping teachers and students, This way your school can achieve far better results from the available resources (staff and operation costs). So if you want to gain the host of benefits that come with hyper-converged infrastructure, maybe it’s time to switch. Just like the significant success of the IT infrastructure changes I helped carry out at the American School of Doha, your school too can lead the wave of change 

Thanks for reading this article! Share your views on this topic in the comments section below. Good luck!

 

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